Uncle Remus at the Telephone

ONE night recently, as Uncle Remus's Miss Sally was sitting by the fire sewing and sing ing softly to herself, she heard the old man come into the back yard and enter the dining- room, where a bright fire was still burning in the grate. Everything had been cleared away. The cook had gone and the house girl had dis appeared, and the little boy was asleep. Uncle Remus had many privileges in the house of the daughter of his old mistress and master, and one of these was to warm himself by the dining-room fire whenever he felt lonely, es pecially at night. To the lady there was a whimsical suggestion of pathos in everything the old negro said and did; and yet her atti tude toward Uncle Remus was one of bustling criticism and depreciation. By leaning back in her chair a little, she could see him as he sat before the fire enjoying the warmth.

"I should think it was time for you to be in bed," she exclaimed.

"No'm, 't ain't," responded Uncle Remus. "I year tell dat w'en ole folks git ter bed soon, dey feelin's bin hurted; en goodness knows dey ain't nobody hurted my feelin's dis day."

"Well, there isn't anything in there that you can pick up. I 've had everything put under lock and key."

"Yessum dey is sump'n n'er in; yer, too, kaze yer Mars John supper settin' right down yer 'fo' de fier, en little mo' hit 'ud a bin dry spang up, if I hadn't 'a' drapt in des w'en I did. I year Mars John tell dat ar nigger 'oman w'at you call yo' cook fer ter have 'im some fried aigs fur supper, en ef deze ain't fried en dried I ain't never see none w'atis. W'en Mars John come, you kin set plum' in dar en year 'im crack um up in his mouf, same lak cow chawin' fodder. Las' Sat'd'y night Mars John fotch some fried isters home, en ef dish yer nigger 'oman stay on dis hill many mo' days, he ull git all his vittles cooked down town en fetch it home in a baskit. Whar Mars John now?"

Just then there was a call at the telephone. The little gong rattled away like a house on fire. As the lady went to answer it, Uncle Remus rose from his chair and crept on his tip-toes to the door that opened into the sitting- room. He heard his Miss Sally talking.

"Well, what's wanted? ... Oh - is that you? Well, I couldn't imagine ... No ... Fast asleep too long ago to talk about ... Why of course! No! ... Why should I be frightened! ... I declare! you ought to be ashamed ... Remus is here ... Two hours! I think you are horrid mean! ... By-by!"

Uncle Remus stood looking suspiciously at the telephone after his Miss Sally had turned away.

"Miss Sally," he said presently, "wuz you talkin' ter Mars John?"

"Certainly. Who did you suppose it was?"

"Wharbouts wuz Mars John?"

"At his office."

"Way down yan on Yallerbamer Street?"

"Yes."

At this piece of information, Uncle Remus emitted a groan that was full of doubt and pity, and went into the dining-room. His Miss Sally laughed, and then an idea seemed to strike her. She called him back, and went again to the telephone.

"Is that you, Central! ... Please connect eleven-forty with fourteen-sixty." There was a fluttering sound in the instrument, and then the lady said: "Yes, it's me ! ... Here's Re mus. ... Yes, but he wants to talk to you."

"Here, Remus, take this and put it to your ear. Here, simpleton! It won't hurt you."

Uncle Remus took the ear-piece and handled it as though it had been a loaded pistol. He tried to look in at both ends, and then he placed it to his ear, and grinned sheepishly. He heard a thin, sepulchral, but familiar voice calling out, "Hello, Remus!" and his sheep ish grin gave place to an expression of uneasy astonishment.

"Hello, Remus! Hello-ello-ello-ello-o-o!"

"Is dat you, Mars John?"

"Of course it is, you bandy-legged old vil lain. I have no time to be standing here. What do you want?"

"How in de name er God you git in dar, Mars John?"

"In where?"

"In dish yer - in dish yer appleratus."

"Oh, you be fiddle-stick! What do you want?"

"Mars John, kin you see me - er is she all dark in dar?"

"Are you crazy? Where is your Miss Sally?"

"She in yer, hollun en laughing'. Mars John, how you gwine git out'n dar?"

"Dry up! Good-night!"

"Yer 't is, Miss Sally," said Uncle Remus, after listening a moment. "Dey 's a mighty zoonin' gwine on in dar, en I dunner whe'er Mars John tryin' ter scramble out, er whe'er he des tryin' fer ter make hisself comfertuble in dar."

"What did he say, Remus?"

"He up en 'low'd dat one un us wuz a vil yun, but dey was such a buzzin' gwine on in dar dat I could n't 'zactly ketch de rights un it."

Uncle Remus went back to his place by the dining-room fire, and after a while began to mutter and talk to himself.

"What 's the matter now?" his Miss Sally asked.

"I 'uz des a-sayin' dat I know Mars John mus' be suffun some'rs."

"Why?"

"Oh, I des knows it; kaze' ef he ain't, wa't make he talk so weak ? He bleedz ter be in trouble. I 'm a-tellin' you de Lord's trufe dat w'ite man talk like he ain't bigger den one er deze yer little teenchy chany dolls. I boun' you," he continued, "ef I 'uz a w'ite 'oman en Mars John wuz my ole man, I 'd snatch up my bonnet en I 'd natally sail 'roun' dish yer town twel I fine out w'at de matter wid 'im. I would dat."

The old man's Miss Sally laughed until the tears came in her eyes, and then she said: -

"There 's a piece of pie on the sideboard. Do get it, and hush so much talking."

"Thanky, mistiss, thanky!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, shuffling across the room. He got the pie and returned to his chair. "Dish yer pie," he continued, holding it up between his eyes and the fire - " dish yer pie come in good time, kaze Mars John talk so weak en fur off it make me feel right empty. I speck he be well time he git home, en ef he 'uz ter git holt er dish yer pie, hit mought make 'im have bad dreams."

In a few moments the pie had disappeared, and when his Miss Sally looked at him a little later, he was fast asleep.



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