XXVIII. THE END OF MR. BEAR
The next time the little boy sought Uncle Remus out, he found the
old man unusually cheerful and good-humoured. His rheumatism
had ceased to trouble him, and he was even disposed to be
boisterous. He was singing when the little boy got near the cabin,
and the child paused on the outside to listen to the vigorous but
mellow voice of the old man, as it rose and fell with the burden of
the curiously plaintive song-a senseless affair so far as the words
were concerned, but sung to a melody almost thrilling in its
"Han' me down my walkin'-cane
(Hey my Lily! go down de road!),
Yo' true lover gone down de lane
(Hey my Lily! go down de road!)."
The quick ear of Uncle Remus, however, had detected the
presence of the little boy, and he allowed his song to run into a
recitation of nonsense, of which the following, if it be rapidly
spoken, will give a faint idea:
"Ole M'er Jackson, fines' confraction, fell down sta'rs fer to git
satisfaction; big Bill Fray, he rule de day, eve'ything he call fer
come one, two by three. Gwine 'long one day, met Johnny Huby,
ax him grine nine yards er steel fer me, tole me w'ich he couldn't:
den I hist 'im over Hiekerson Dickerson's barn-doors; knock 'im
ninety-nine miles under water, w'en he rise, he rise in Fike straddle
un a hanspike, en I lef' 'im dar smokin' er de horupipe, Juba reda
seda breda. Aunt Kate at de gate; I want to eat, she fry de meat en
gimme skin, w'ich I fling it back agin. Juba!"
All this, rattled off at a rapid rate and with apparent seriousness,
was calculated to puzzle the little boy, and he slipped into his
accustomed seat with an expression of awed bewilderment upon
"Hit's all des dat away, honey," continued the old man, with the air
of one who had just given an important piece of information. "En
w'en you bin cas'n shadders long ez de ole nigger, den you'll fine
out who's w'ich, en w'ich's who."
The little boy made no response. He was in thorough sympathy
with all the whims and humors of the old man, and his capacity for
enjoying them was large enough to include even those he could not
understand. Uncle Remus was finishing an axe-handle, and upon
these occasions it was his custom to allow the child to hold one
end while he applied sand-paper to the other. These relations were
pretty soon established, to the mutual satisfaction of the parties
most interested, and the old man continued his remarks, but this
time not at random:
"W'en I see deze yer swell-head folks like dat oman w'at come en
tell yo' ma 'bout you churkiin' at her chilluns, w'ich yo ma make
Mars John strop you, hit make my mine run back to ole Brer B'ar.
Ole Brer B'ar, he got de swell-headedness hisse'f, en ef der wuz
enny swinkin', hit swunk too late fer ter he'p ole Brer B'ar. Leas'
ways dat's w'at dey tells me, en I ain't never yearn it 'sputed."
"Was the Bear's head sure enough swelled, Uncle Remus?"
"Now you talkin', honey!" exclaimed the old man.
"Goodness! what made it swell?"
This was Uncle Remus's cue. Applying the sand-paper to the
axe-helve with gentle vigor, he began.
"One time when Brer Rabbit wuz gwine lopin' home fum a frolic
w'at dey bin havin' up at Miss Meadows's, who should he happin
up wid but ole Brer B'ar. Co'se, atter w'at done pass 'twix um dey
wa'n't no good feelin's 'tween Brer Rabbit en ole Brer B'ar, but Brer
Rabbit, he wanter save his manners, en so he holler out:
"Heyo, Brer B'ar! how you come on? I ain't seed you in a coon's
age. How all down at yo' house? How Miss Brune en Miss
"Who was that, Uncle Remus?" the little boy interrupted.
"Miss Brune en Miss Brindle? Miss Brune wuz Brer B'ar's ole
'oman, en Miss Brindle wuz his gal. Dat w'at dey call um in dem
days. So den Brer Rabbit, he ax him howdy, he did, en Brer B'ar,
he 'spon' dat he wuz mighty po'y, en dey amble 'long, dey did,
sorter familious like, but Brer Rabbit, he keep one eye on Brer
B'ar, en Brer B'ar, he study how he gwine nab Brer Rabbit. Las'
Brer Rabbit, he up'n say, sezee:
"'Brer B'ar, I speck I got some bizness cut out fer you,' sezee.
"'What dat, Brer Rabbit?' sez Brer B'ar, sezee.
"'W'iles I wuz cleanin' up my new-groun' day 'fo' yistiddy,' sez Brer
Rabbit, sezee, 'I come 'cross wunner deze yer ole time bee-trees.
Hit start holler at de bottom, en stay holler plum der de top, en de
honey's des natally oozin' out, en ef you'll drap yo' 'gagements en
go longer me,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, you'll git a bait datil las' you
en yo' fambly twel de middle er nex' mont',' sezee.
"Brer B'ar say he much oblije en he bleeve he'll go long, en wid
dat dey put out fer Brer Rabbit's newgroun', w'ich twa'n't so mighty
fur. Leas'ways, dey got dar atter w'ile. Ole Brer B'ar, he low dat he
kin smell de honey. Brer Rabbit, he low dat he kin see de
honey-koam. Brer B'ar, he low dat he can hear de bees a zoomin'.
Dey stan' 'roun' en talk biggity, dey did, twel bimeby Brer Rabbit,
he up'n say, sezee:
"'You do de clim-'in', Brer B'ar, en I'll do de rushin' 'roun'; you
clime up ter de hole, en I'll take dis yer pine pole en shove de
honey up whar you kin git 'er,' sezee.
"Ole Brer B'ar, he spit on his han's en skint up de tree, en jam his
head in de hole, en sho nuff, Brer Rabbit, he grab de pine pole, en
de way he stir up dem bees wuz sinful-dat's w'at it wuz. Hit wuz
sinful. En de bees dey swawm'd on Brer B'ar's head, twel 'fo' he
could take it out'n de hole' hit wuz done swell up bigger dan dat
dinner-pot, en dar he swung, en ole Brer Rabbit, he dance 'roun' en
"'Tree stan' high, but honey mighty sweet-
Watch dem bees wid stingers on der feet.'
"But dar ole Brer B'ar hung, en ef his head ain't swunk, I speck he
hangin' dar yit-dat w'at I speck."