Friday, December 18, 2009

XII. Mr. Fox Tackles Old Man Tarrypin. Translation. Uncle Remus His Songs and His Sayings

 Legends of the Old Plantation


"One day," said Uncle Remus, sharpening his knife on the palm of his hand -- "one day Brer Fox strike up with Brer Terrapin right in the middle of the big road. Brer Terrapin heard him coming, and he allowed to himself that he'd sort of keep one eye open; but Brer Fox was monstrous polite, and he opened up the confab he did, like he aint' see Brer Terrapin since the last flash flood. FN 1

" 'Heyo, Brer Terrapin, where you been this long come short?' says Brer Fox, says he.

" ' Lounging around, Brer Fox, lounging around," says Brer Terrapin.

" 'You don't look sprucy like you did, Brer Terrapin,' says Brer Fox, says he.

" 'Lounging around and suffering,' says Brer Terrapin, says he.

" 'Lord, Brer Fox, you don't know what trouble is. You ain't been lounging around and suffering,' says Brer Terrapin, says he.

" 'Both eyes red, and you look like you mighty weak, Brer Terrapin, says he.

" 'What ails you now, Brer Terrapin?' says Brer Fox, says he.

" 'Took a walk, the other day, and man come along and set the field afire. Lord, Brer Fox, you don't know what trouble is,' says Brer Terrapin, says he.

" 'How you get out off the fire, Brer Terrapin,' says he.

" 'Sort of took it, Brer Fox,' says Brer Terrapin, says he. 'Sort of took it, and the smoke sift in my eye, and the fire scorched my back,' says Brer Terrapin, says he.

" 'Likewise it burned your tail off,' says Brer Fox, says he.

" 'Oh no, there's the tail, Brer Fox,' says Brer Terrapin, says he, and with that he uncurled his tail from under the shell, and no sooner did he do that than Brer Fox grab it and holler out:

" 'Oh, yes, Brer Terrapin! Oh yes! And so you're the man what lam me on the head at Mis Meadows's (FN 2) is you? Well, I'm going to out you.'

"Brer Terrapin beg and beg, but it wasn't any use. Brer Fox had been fooled so much that he looked like he was determined to have Brer Terrapin haslett FN 2. Then Brer Terrapin begged Brer Fox not to drown him, but Brer Fox was making no promise, and then he begged Brer Fox to burn him, in case he was used to fire, but Brer Fox don't say nothing. By and by Brer Fox dragged Brer Terrapin off a little ways below the spring-house, and shoves him under the water. The Brer Terrapin begin to holler:

" 'Turn loose that stump root and catch hold of me -- turn loose that stump root and catch hold of me.'

"Brer Fox he holler back:

" 'I ain't got hold of no stump root, and I have got hold of you.'

"Brer Terrapin he kept on hollering:

" 'Catch hold of me -- I'm drowning -- I'm drowning -- turn loose the stump root and catch hold of me.'

"Sure enough, Brer Fox turned loose the tail, and Brer Terrapin, he want down to the bottom -- kerblunkity-blink!"

No typographical combination or description could do justice to the gutteral sonorousness -- the peculiar intonation -- which Uncle Remus imparted to this combination. It was so peculiar, indeed, that the little boy asked:

"How did he go to the bottom, Uncle Remus?"


"Was he drowned, Uncle Remus?"

"Who? Ole man Terrapin? Is you drowned when your ma tucks you in the bed?"

"Well, no," replied the little boy, dubiously.

"Ole man Terrapin was at home I tell you, honey. Kerblinkity-blunk!"


* Tarrypin - a terrapin, or kind of "Chelonian" -- of which there appear to be three kinds. One is a turtle (sea-farer), and another is a tortoise (land-lubber). A terrapin, however is different. It lives in or near brackish water, part salt; or fresh water; and its shell is in two parts, joined at the center. Horny mouths, no teeth. See more at

FN 1 Freshit. Perhaps a flood, a flash flood. See these references, fair use of tiny bits:
"Y-a-as -- y-a-as," drawled old Toler, "but you know's well as I do that ther great freshit of four year' ago turned that crick outen ther old bed an' it cut right out inter the path of that little brook of mine, ****"

And this one:
" 'Yes, pard,' he said, 'that's the real stuff an' no mistake. We've struck it now ! An' to think that that there freshit what we thought was goin' to destroy all our work has jest done the hull thing fer us ! '***"

FN 2. Mis Meadows' is the local ladies entertainment house. What was the event with Brer Tarrypin? Look back at Chapter X - Mr. Terrapin Appears Upon the Scene. Remember that Terrapin is Tarrypin.

FN 3. Haslett - Hash perhaps?? We find "beef haslett" as in this snippet, a gullah archive: When he open he jaw, he throat red like beef haslett or close to that -- in the Lion of Lewisburg section, D

W'en 'e op'n 'e jaw, 'e t'roat red
lukkuh beef haslett!
With that Gullah derivation, "have Brer Tarrypin haslett" - have Brer Tarrypin hash?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

XI. Mr. Wolf Makes A Failure. Translation, Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings

Uncle Remus: Legends of the Old Plantation
"I bet your ma got company," said Uncle Remus, as the little boy entered the old man's door with a huge piece of mince-pie in his hand. "And if she ain't got company, then she dropped the cupboard key somewhere where you run up with it."

"Well, I saw the pie lying there, Uncle Remus, and I just thought I'd fetch it out to you."

"To be sure, honey," replied the old man, regarding the child with admiration. "To be sure, honey, that changes matters.  Christmas doings is out of date, and they ain't got no business laying around loose.  Dish your pie," Uncle Remus continued, holding it up and measuring it with an experienced eye. "Give me strength to pursue after Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit and the other creatures that they roped in along with them."

Here the old man paused, and proceeded to demolish the pie -- a feat accomplished in a very short time.  Then he wiped the crumbs from his beard and began:

"Brer Fox felt so bad, and he got so mad 'bout Brer Rabbit, that he didn't know what to do, and he looked mighty down-hearted.  By and by, one day while he was going along the road, old Brer Wolf came up with them.  When they done howdying and asking after one another's family connection, Brer Wolf, he allowed, he did, that there was something wrong with Brer Fox, and Brer Fox, he allowed there weren't, and he went on and laugh and make great to-do 'cause Brer Wolf looked like he suspected something.  But Brer Wolf, he got a mighty long head (FN 1) and he sort of broached about Brer Rabbit's carryings on, because the way that Brer Rabbit deceived Brer Fox had got to be the talk of the neighborhood.  Then Brer Fox and Brer Wolf they sort of palavered * on, they did, until by and by Brer Wolf he up and said that he had a plan fixed  to trap Brer Rabbit.  Then Brer Fox say how.  Then Brer Wolf up and tell him that the way to get the drop on Brer Rabbit was to get him in Brer Fox House.  Brer Fox knew Brer Rabbit had a hole, and he know that sort of game done wore him to a frazzle, but Brer Wolf, he talked mighty persuading.

" 'How you going to get him there?' says Brer Fox, says he.

" 'Fool him there,' says Brer Wolf, says he.

" 'Who going to do the fooling,' says Brer Fox, says he.

" 'I'll do the fooling,' says Brer Wolf, says he, 'if you'll do the gaming,' says he.

" 'How you going to do it?' says Brer Fox, says he.

" 'You run along home, and get on the bed, and make you're dead, and don't you say nothing until Brer Rabbit comes in and put his hands on to you,' says Brer Wolf, says he, 'and if we don't get him for supper, Joe's dead and Sal's a widow,' says he.

"This looked like a mighty nice game, and Brer Fox agreed. So then he ambled off home, and Brer Wolf, he marched off to Brer Rabbit's house. When he got there, it looked like nobody at home, but Brer Wolf he walk up and knock on the door' --blam! blam!  Nobody came.  Then he let loose and knock again -- blim! blim!

" 'Who's there?" says Brer Rabbit, says he.

" 'Friend,' says Brer wolf.

" 'Too many friends spoils the dinner,' says Brer Rabbit, says he, 'which one's this?' says he.

" 'I fetch bad news, Brer Rabbit,' says Brer Wolf, says he.

" 'Bad news is soon told,' says Brer Rabbit, says he.

"By this time, Brer Rabbit done come to the door, with his head tied up in a red handkerchief.

" 'Brer Fox died this morning,' says Brer Wolf, says he.

" 'Where's your mourning gown, Brer Wolf?' says Brer Rabbit, says he.

" 'Going after it now,' says Brer Wolf, says he.  'I just called by for to bring the news.  I went down to Brer Fox house a little bit ago, and there I found him stiff,' says he.

"Then Brer Wolf loped off.  Brer Rabbit sat down and scratched his head, he did, and by and by he say to himself that he believe he sort of drop around by Brer Fox house for to see how the land lay.  No sooner said than done.  Up he jumped, and out he went.  When Brer Rabbit got close to Brer Fox house, all looked lonesome.  Then he went up nigh.  Nobody stirring.  Then he looked in, and there lay Brer Fox stretched out on the bed just as big as life.  Then Brer Rabbit made like he was talking to himself.

" 'Nobody around for to look after Brer Fox --  not even Brer Turkey Buzzard ain't come to the funeral,' says he. 'I hope Brer Fox ain't dead, but I expect he is,' says he. 'Even down to Brer Wolf done gone and left him.  It's the busy season with me, but I'll set up with him.  He seems like he dead, yet he may not be,' says Brer  Rabbit, says hee.  'When a man goes to see dead folks, dead folks always raises up their behind leg and hollers, wahoo! says he.

" 'Brer Fox he stay still.  Then Brer Rabbit he talk a little louder:

" 'Mighty funny.  Brer Fox looks like he dead, yet he don't do like he's dead.  Dead folks hoists their behind leg and hollers wahoo! when a man come to see him,' says Brer Rabbit, says he.

"Sure enough, Brer Fox lifted up his foot and holler wahoo! and Brer Rabbit he tear out of the house like the dogs was after him.  Brer Wolf mighty smart, but next time you hear from him, honey, he'll be in trouble.  You just hold your breath and wait."

* Palaver - a long discussion or "parley" between people of different culture levels or sophistication; beguiling or idle speech, see ://  From late Latin, "parable" to Portuguese "palavra" or word.

FN 1 - Dialect, idiom.  Long head.  A long face, or "sad"?  Not necessarily at all.

Other uses:  Abraham Lincoln, the lawyer, was said to have a long head for managing a case, in the views who wanted his services, "and he's honest and friendly to us...." See :// (do a search for "long head")

Here is means, perhaps, independence - "a long head of your own" - see

Here it seems to mean courage - see ://