XXI. THE FOURTH OF JULY
UNCLE REMUS made his appearance recently with his right arm
in a sling and his head bandaged to that extent that it looked like
the stick made to accompany the Centennial bass-drum. The old
man evidently expected an attack all around, for he was unusually
quiet, and fumbled in his pockets in an embarrassed manner. He
was not mistaken. The agricultural editor was the first to open fire:
"Well, you old villain! what have you been up to now?"
"It is really singular," remarked a commencement orator, "that not
even an ordinary holiday--a holiday, it seems to me, that ought to
arouse all the latent instincts of patriotism in the bosom of
American citizens--can occur without embroiling some of our most
valuable citizens. It is really singular to me that such a day should
be devoted by a certain class of our population to broils and
This final moral sentiment, which was altogether an impromptu
utterance, and which was delivered with the air of one who
addresses a vast but invisible audience of young ladies in white
dresses and blue sashes, seemed to add to the embarrassment of
Uncle Remus, and at the same time to make an explanation
"Dey ain't none er you young w'ite men never had no 'casion fer ter
strike up wid one er deze Mobile niggers?" asked Uncle Remus.
'Kaze ef you iz, den you knows wharbouts de devilment come in.
Show me a Mobile nigger," continued the old man, an I'll show
you a nigger dat's marked for de chain-gang. Hit may be de fote er
de fif' er July, er hit may be de twelf' er Jinawerry, but w'en a
Mobile nigger gits in my naberhood right den an' dar trubble sails
in an' 'gages bode fer de season. I speck Im ez fon' er deze Nunited
States ez de nex' man w'at knows dat de Buro is busted up; but
long ez Remus kin stan' on his hine legs no Mobile nigger can't flip
inter dis town longer no Wes' P'int 'schushun an' boss 'roun' 'mong
de cullud fokes. Dat's me, up an' down, an' I bonn' dere's a nigger
some'rs on de road dis blessid day dat's got dis put away in his
"How did he happen to get you down and maul you in this startling
manner?" asked the commencement orator, with a tone of
exaggerated sympathy in his voice.
"Maul who?" exclaimed Uncle Remus, indignantly. "Maul who?
Boss, de nigger dat mauled me ain't bomded yit, an' dey er got ter
have anudder war 'fo one is bomded."
"Well, what was the trouble?"
"Hit wuz sorter dis way, boss. I wuz stannin' down dere by Mars
John Jeems's bank, chattin' wid Sis Tempy, w'ich I ain't seed 'er
befo' now gwine on seven year, an' watchin' de folks trompin' by,
w'en one er deze yer slick-lookin' niggers, wid a bee-gum hat an' a
brass watch ez big ez de head uv a beerbar'l, come long an' bresh
up agin me-so. Dere wuz two un um, an' dey went long gigglin' an'
laffin' like a nes'ful er yaller-hammers. Bimeby dey come long agin
an' de smart Ellick brush up by me once mo'. Den I say to myse'f, 'I
lay I fetch you ef you gimme anudder invite.' An', sho' 'nuff, yer he
come agin, an' dis time he rub a piece er watermillion rime under
my lef' year.
"What did you do?"
"Me? I'm a mighty long-sufferin' nigger, but he hadn't no mo'n
totch me 'fo' I flung dese yer bones in his face." Here Uncle Remus
held up his damaged hand triumphantly. "I sorter spramed my han',
boss, but dog my cats if I don't bleeve I spattered de nig ger's
eyeballs on de groun', and w'en he riz his count'nence look fresh
like beef-haslett. I look mighty spindlin' an' puny now, don't I,
boss?" inquired the old man, with great apparent earnestness.
"Well, you des oughter see me git my Affikin up. Dey useter call
me er bad nigger long 'fo' de war, an hit looks like ter me dat I gits
wuss an' wuss. Brer John Henry say dat I oughter supdue my
rashfulness, an' I don't 'spute it, but tu'n a Mobile nigger loose in
dis town, fote er July or no fote er July, an', me er him, one is got
ter lan' in jail. Hit's proned inter me.