Thursday, June 16, 2011

XVIII. Mr. Rabbit Finds His Match At Last. Uncle Remus Translation.

Legends of the Old Plantation


"Her look like to me, that I let on the other night that in them days when the creatures was sauntering around same like folks, none of them was brash enough for to catch up with Brer Rabbit," remarked Uncle Remus, reflectively.

"Yes," replied the little boy. "That's what you said."

"Well, then," continued the old man with unction, *"there's where my remembrances give out, 'cause Brer Rabbit did get caught up with, and it cool him off like pouring spring water on one of these here biggity little dogs. **

"How was that, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"One day when Brer Rabbit was going lippity-clippiting down the road, he meet up with old Brer Terrepin, and after they pass the time of day with one another, Brer Rabbit, he allow that he was much obliged to Brer Terrepin for the hand he took in the rumpus that day down at Miss Meadows's."

"When he dropped off of the water-shelf on the Fox's head," suggested the little boy.

"That's the same time, honey. Then Brer Terrapin he allow that Brer Fox run mighty fast that day, but that if he'd have been after him instead of Brer Rabbit, he'd have caught him. Brer Rabbit say he could have caught him himself, but he didn't care about leaving the ladies/ They keep on talking, they did, until by and by they got to spouting about which was the swiftest. Brer Rabbit, he say he can outrun Brer Terrapin, and Brer Terrapin, he just vow that he can outrun Brer Rabbit. Up and down they had it, until first news you know Brer Terrapin say he got a fifty-dollar bill in the chink of the chimney at home, and that bill done told him that he could beat Brer Rabbit in a fair race. Then Brer Rabbit say he got a fifty-dollar hill what say that he can leave Brer Terrapin so far behind that he could sow barley as he went along and it'd be ripe enough for to cut by the time Brer Terrapin passed that way.

"Any how, they make the bet and put up the money, and ole Brer Turkey Buzzard, he was summoned for to be the judge, and the stakeholder; and it wasn't long before all the arrangements were made. The race was a five-mile heat, and the ground was measured off, and at the end of every mile a post was stuck up. Brer Rabbit was to run down the big road, and Brer Terrapin he say he'd gallop through the woods. Folks told him he could get along faster in the road, but old Brer Terrapin, he know what he doing. Miss Meadows and the gals and most all the neighbors got wind of the fun, and when the day was set, they determined for to be on hand. Brer Rabbit he train himself every day, and he skip over the ground just as gaily as a June cricket. Old Brer Terrapin, he lay low in the swamp. He had a wife and three children, old Brer Terrapin did, and they was all the very spit and image of the old man. Anybody what know one from the other got to take a spy-glass, and then they are liable for to get fooled.

"That's the way matters stand until the day of the race, and on that day, old Brer Terrapin, and his old woman, and his three children, they got up before sun-up, and went to the place. The old woman, she took her stand near the first mile-post, she did, and the children near the others, up to the last, and there old Brer Terrapin, he took his stand. By and by, here come the folks: Judge Buzzard, he com, and Miss Meadows and the gals, they come, and then here come Brer Rabbit with ribbons tied around his neck and streaming from his ears. The folks all went to the other end of the track for to see how they come out. When the time come Judge Buzzard strut around and pull out his watch, and holler out:

" 'Gents, is you ready?'

"Brer Rabbit, he say 'yes,' and old Miss Terrapin holler 'go' from the edge of the woods Brer Rabbit, he lit out on the race, and old Miss Terrapin, she put out for home. Judge Buzzard, he rose and skimmed along for to see that the race was run fair. When Brer Rabbit got to the first mile-post, one of the Terrapin children crawled out of the woods, he did, and made for the place. Brer Rabbit, he holler out:

" 'Where is you, Brer Terrapin?'

" 'Here I come a bulging,' says the Terrapin, says he.

"Brer Rabbit so glad he's ahead that he put out harder than ever, and the Terrapin, he make for home. When he come to the net post, another Terrapin crawled out of the woods,

" 'Where is you, Brer Terrapin,' says Brer Rabbit, says he.

" 'Here I come a boiling,' says the Terrapin, says he.

"Brer Rabbit, he lit out, he did, and come to the next post, and there was the Terrapin. Then he come to the next and there was the Terrapin. Then he had one more mile for to run,and he feel like he getting out of breath *** By and by, old Brer Terrapin look way off down the road and he see Judge Buzzard sailing along and he know it's time for him for to be up.  So he scramble out of the woods, and roll across the ditch, and shuffle through the crowd of folks and get to the mile-post and crawl behind it.  By and by, first news you know, here come Brer Rabbit.  He look araound and he don't see Brer Terrapin, and then he squall out:

" 'Gimme the money, Brer Buzzard, Gimme the money!'

"Then Miss Meadows and the gals, they holler and laugh fit to kill themselves, and old Brer Terrapin, he raise up from behind the post and says, says he:

" 'If you'll give me time for to catch my breath, gents and ladies, one and all, I expect I'll finger that money myself,' says he, and sure enough, Brer Terrapin tie the purse around his neck and skaddle FN 1 off home.

"But, Uncle Remus," said the little boy, dolefully, "that was cheating."

"Of course, honey.  The creatures began to cheat, and then folks took it up, and it keep on spreadin'. It's mighty catching, and you mind your eye, honey, that somebody don't cheat you before your hair get gray as the old nigger's."


* Unction. In secular usage, said with exaggerated earnestness; an act that serves to soothe, heal, see ://

** "Fices" in the text -- Fices is dialect for "small dogs", see :// Also feist (feisty?), fyce. An obsolete usage for feist is "fisting hound," and fist there means breaking wind, c. 1770

*** "Bellust" in the text -- out of breath, see JSTOR research source that would make you pay to find out anything more than an inch, at :// This definition is from the search for "bellust" that led to the JSTOR.


FN 1   Footnote in the text: That "skaddle" was usage among Virginia negroes, skaddle deriving from "scatter".  Skedaddle came into use in the Civil War as a derivation from skaddle. There was some controversy during the Civil War as to the origin of the words.

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