Joel Chandler Harris

"I GOT one tale on my min'," said Uncle Remus to the little boy one night. "I got one tale on my min' dat I ain't ne'er tell you; I dunner how come; I speck it des kaze I git mixt up in my idees. Deze is busy times, mon, en de mo' you does de mo' you hatter do, en w'en dat de case, it ain't ter be 'spected dat one ole broke-down nigger kin 'member 'bout eve'ything."

"What is the story, Uncle Remus ?" the little boy asked.

"Well, honey," said the old man, wiping his spectacles, "hit sorter run dis away: One time dey wuz a man w'at had a mighty likely daughter."

"Was he a white man or a black man ? "the little boy asked.

"I 'clar' ter gracious, honey! " exclaimed the old man, "you er pushin' me mos' too close. Fer all I kin tell you, de man mout er bin ez w'ite ez de driven snow, er he mout er bin de blackes' Affi'kin er de whole kit en bilin'. I'm des tellin' you de tale, en you kin take en take de man en w'itewash 'im, er you kin black 'im up des ez you please. Dat 's de way I looks at it.

"Well, one time dey wuz a man, en dish yer man he had a mighty likely daughter. She wuz so purty dat she had mo' beaus den w'at you got fingers en toes. But de gal daddy, he got his spishuns 'bout all un um, en he won't let um come 'roun' de house. But dey kep' on pesterin' 'im so, dat bimeby he give word out dat de man w'at kin clear up six acres er lan' en roll up de logs, en pile up de bresh in one day, dat man kin marry his daughter.

"In co'se, dis look like it unpossible, en all de beaus drap off 'ceppin' one, en he wuz a great big strappin' chap w'at look like he kin knock a steer down. Dis chap he wuz name Simon, en de gal, she wuz name Susanna. Simon, he love Susanna, en Susanna, she love Simon, en dar it went.

"Well, sir, Simon, he went ter de gal daddy, he did, en he say dat ef anybody kin clear up dat lan', he de one kin do it, least'ways he say he gwine try mighty hard. De ole man, he grin en rub his han's terge'er, he did, en tole Simon ter start in in de mornin'. Susanna, she makes out she woz fixin' sumpin in de cubberd, but she tuck 'n kiss ter hen' at Simon, en nod 'er head. Dis all Simon want, en he went out er dar des ez happy ez a jay-bird atter he done robbed a sparrer-nes'.

"Now, den," Uncle Remus continued, settling himself more comfortably in his chair, " dish yer man woz a witch."

"Why, I thought a witch was a woman," said the little boy.

The old man frowned and looked into the fire.

"Well, sir," he remarked with some emphasis, "ef you er gwine ter tu'n de man inter a 'oman, den dey won't be no tale, kaze dey 's bleege ter be a man right dar whar I put dis un. Hit 's des like I tole you 'bout de color er de man. Black 'im er whitewash 'im des ez you please, en ef you want ter put a frock on 'im ter boot, hit ain't none er my business; but I'm gwine ter'low he wuz a man ef it's de las' ac'."

The little boy remained silent, and Uncle Remus went on:

"Now, den, dish yer man was a witch. He could cunjer folks, mo' 'speshually dem folks w'at ain't got no rabbit foot. He bin at his cunjerments so long, dat Susanna done learn mos' all his tricks. So de nex' mornin' w'en Simon come by de house fer ter borry de ax, Susanna she run en got it fer'im. She got it, she did, en den she sprinkles some black san' on it, en say, 'Ax, cut; cut, ax.' Den she rub 'er ha'r 'cross it, en give it ter Simon. He tuck de ax, he did, en den Susanna say:

" 'Go down by de branch, git sev'n w'ite peb- bles, put um in dis little cloth bag, en whenever you want the ax ter cut, shake um up.'

" Simon, he went off in de woods, en started in ter clearin' up de six acres. Well, sir, dem pebbles en dat ax, doy done de work-dey did dat. Simon could 'a' bin done by de time de dinner-horn blowed, but he hung back kaze he ain't want de man fer ter know dat he doin' it by cunjerments.

" W'en he shuck de pebbles de ax 'ud cut, en de trees 'ud fall, en de lim's 'ud drap off, en de logs 'ud roll up terge'er, en de bresh 'ud pile itself up. Hit went on dis away twel by de time it wuz two hours b' sun, de whole six acres wuz done cleaned up.

"'Bout dat time de man come 'roun', he did, fer ter see how de work gittin' on, en, mon! he wuz 'stonish'. He ain't know w'at ter~do er say. He ain't want ter give up his daughter, en yit he ain't know how ter git out 'n it. He walk 'roun' en 'roun', en study, en study, en study how he gwine rue de bargain. At las' he walk up ter Simon, he did, en he say:

" 'Look like you sort er forehanded wid your work.'

" Simon, he 'low: 'Yasser, w'en I starts in on a job I 'm mighty restless twel I gits it done. Some er dis timber is rough en tough, but I bin had wuss jobs den dis in my time.'

" De man say ter hisse'f: 'W'at kind er folks is dis chap ?' Den he say out loud: 'Well, sence you er so spry, dey 's two mo' acres 'cross de branch dar. Ef you 'll clear dem up 'fo' sup- per you kin come up ter de house en git de gal.'

" Simon sorter scratch his head, kaze he dun- ner whedder de pebbles gwine ter hol' out, yit he put on a bol' front en he tell de man dat he'll go 'cross dar en clean up de two acres soon ez he res' a little.

" De man he went off home, en soon 's he git out er sight, Simon went 'cross de branch en shook de pebbles at de two acres er woods, en 't want no time skacely 'fo' de trees wuz all cut down en pile up.

"De man, he went home, he did, en call up Susanna, en say:

"'Daughter, dat man look like he gwine git you, sho'.'

"Susanna, she hang 'er head, en look like she fretted, en den she say she don't keer nuthin' fer Simon, nohow."

" Why, I thought she wanted to marry him," said the little boy.

"Well, honey, w'en you git growed up, en git whiskers on yo' chin, en den atter de whiskers git gray like mine, you 'll fin' out sumptn 'n'er 'bout de wimmin folks. Dey ain't neter say 'zackly w'at dey mean, none er um, mo' speshually w'en dey er gwine on 'bout gittin' married.

"Now, dar wuz dat gal Susanna what I 'm a-tellin' you 'bout. She mighty nigh 'stracted 'bout Simon, en yit she make 'er daddy b'lieve dat she 'spizetim. I ain't blamin' Susanna," Uncle Re- mus went on with a judicial air, " kase she know dat 'er daddy wuz a witch en a mighty mean one in de bargain.

' Well, atter Susanna done make 'er daddy b'lieve dat she ain't keerin' nothin' 't all 'bout Simon, he 'gun ter set his traps en fix his tricks. He up 'n tell Susanna dat atter'er en Simon git married dey mus'go upsta'rs in de front room, en den he tell 'er dat she mus' make Simon go ter bed fus'. Den de man went upsta'rs en tuck 'n tuck all de slats out'n de bedstid ceppin one at de head en one at de foot. Atter dat he tuck 'n put some foot-valances 'roun' de bottom er de bed -- des like dem w'at you bin see on yo' gran'ma bed. Den he tuck 'n sawed out de floor und' de bed, en dar wuz de trap all ready.

" Well, sir, Simon come up ter de house, en de man make like he mighty glad fer ter see 'im, but Susanna, she look like she mighty shy. No matter 'bout cat; atter supper Simon en Susanna got married. Hit ain't in de tale wedder dey sont fer a preacher er wedder dey wuz a squire browsin' 'roun' in de neighborhoods, but dey had cake wid reezins in it, en some er dish yer silly- bug w'at got mo' foam in it den dey is dram, en doy had a mighty happy time.

"W'en bedtime come, Simon en Susanna went upsta'rs, en w'en dey got in de room, Susanna kotch 'im by de han', en heft up her finger. Den she whisper en tell 'im dat ef dey don't run away fum dar dey bofe gwine ter be kilt. Simon ax 'er how come, en she say dat 'er daddy want ter kill 'im kase he sech a nice man. Dis make Simon grin; yit he wuz sorter restless 'bout gittin' 'way fum dar. But Susanna, she say wait. She say:

" 'Pick up yo' hat en button up yo' coat. Now, den, take dat stick er wood dar en hol' it 'bove yo' head.'

" W'iles he stan'in' dar, Susanna got a hen egg out 'n a basket, den she got a meal-bag, en a skillet. She'low:

" 'Now, den, drap de wood on de bed.'

" Simon done des like she say, en time de wood struck de bed de tick en de mattruss went a-tumblin' thoo de floor. Den Susanna tuck Simon by de han' en dey run out de back way ez hard ez dey kin go.

" De man, he woz down dar waitin' fer de bed ter crap. He had a big long knife in he hen', en time de bed crapped, he lit on it, he did, en stobbed it scan'lous. He des natchully ripped de tick up, en w'en he look, bless gracious, dey ain't no Simon dar. I lay dat man wuz mad den. He snorted 'roun' dar twel blue smoke come out'n his nose, en his eye look red like varmint eye in de dark. Den he run upsta'rs en dey ain't no Simon dar, en nudder wuz dey any Susanna.

" Gentermens! den he git madder. He rush out, he did, en look 'roun', en 'way off yander he see Simon en Susanna des a-runnin', en a-holdin' one nudder's han'."

" Why, Uncle Remus," said the little boy, " I thought you said it was night? "

" Dat w'at I said, honey, en I'll stan' by it. Yit, how many times dis blessed night is I got ter tell you dat de man wuz a witch ? En bein' a witch, co'se he kin see in de dark.

"Well, dish yer witch-man, he look off en he see Simon en Susanna runnin' ez hard ez dey kin. He put out atter um, he did, wid his knife in his hen', an' he kep' on a gainin' on um. Bime- by, he got so close dat Susanna say ter Simon:

" 'Fling down yo' coat.'

"Time de coat tech de groun', a big thick woods sprung up whar it fell. But de man, he cut his way thoo it wid de knife, en kep' on a-pursuin' atter um.

"Bimeby, he got so close dat Susanna drap de egg on de groun', en time it fell a big fog riz up fum de groun', en a little mo' en de man would a got los'. But atter so long a time fog got blowed away by de win', en de man kep' on a-pursuin' atter um.

" Bimeby, he got so close dat Susanna drap de meal-sack, en a great big pon' er water kivered de groun' whar it fell. De man woz in sech a big hurry dat he tried ter drink it dry, but he ain't kin do dis, so he sot on de bank en blow'd on de water wid he hot breff, en atter so long a time de water made hits disappearance, en den he kep' on atter um.

" Simon en Susanna wuz des a-runnin', but run ez dey would, de man kep' a-gainin' on um, en he got so close dat Susanna drapped de skillet. Den a big bank er darkness fell down, en de man ain't know which away ter go. But atter so long a time de darkness lif' up, en de man kep' on a-pursuin' atter um. Mon, he made up fer los' time, en he got so close dat Susanna say ter Simon:

" 'Drap a pebble.'

" Time Simon do dis a high hill riz up, but de man clum it en kep' on atter um. Den Susanna say ter Simon:

" 'Drap nudder pebble.'

"Time Simon crap de pebble, a high mountain growed up, but de man crawled up it en kep' on atter um. Den Susanna say:

" 'Drap de bigges' pebble.'

" No sooner is he crap it den a big rock wall riz up, en hit wuz so high dat de witch-man can't git over. He run up en down, but he can't find no end, en den, atter so long a time, he turn 'roun' en go home.

" On de ynther side er dis high wall, Susanna tuck Simon by de han', en say:

" 'Now we kin res'.'

" En I reckon," said the old man slyly, " dat we all better res'."

From Daddy Jake the Runaway by Joel Chandler Harris