Told by Uncle Remus: New Stories of the Old Plantation | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in July 2019 with all known ATU Classifications.

Brother Fox Follows the Fashion

THE little boy was not sure whether Uncle Remus had finished the story; it would have been hard for a grown man to keep up with the whimsical notions of the venerable old darkey, and surely you couldn’t expect a little bit of a boy, who had had no experience to speak of, to do as well. The little lad waited a while, and, seeing that Uncle Remus showed no sign of resuming the narrative, he spoke up. “I didn’t see anything to cry about,” he remarked.

                “Well, some folks cries, an’ yuther folks laughs. Dey got der reasons, too. Now, I dunno dat ol’ Brer Rabbit wuz hard-hearted er col’-blooded any mo’ dan de common run er de creeturs, but it look like he kin see mo’ ter tickle ’im dan ye yuthers, an’ he wuz constant a-laughin’. Mos’ er de time he’d laugh in his innerds, but den ag’in, when sump’n tetch his funny-bone, he’d open up wid a big ha-ha-ha dat ’ud make de yuther creeturs take ter de bushes.

                “An’ dat ’uz de way he done when ol’ Craney-Crow had his head tooken off fer ter be in de fashion. He laugh an’ laugh twel it hurt ’im ter laugh, an’ den he laugh some mo’ fer good medjur. He laughed plum twel mornin’, an’ den he laugh whiles he wuz rackin’ on todes home. He’d lope a little ways, an’ den he’d set down by de side er de road an’ laugh some mo’. Whiles he gwine on dis a-way, he come ter de place whar Brer Fox live at, an’ den it look like he can’t git no furder. Ef a leaf shook on de tree, it ’ud put ’im in min’ er de hoppin’ an’ jumpin’ an’ scufflin’ dat ol’ Craney-Crow done when Dock Wolf tuck an’ tuck off his head fer ’im.

                “Ez luck would have it, Brer Fox wuz out in his pea-patch fer ter see how his crap wuz gittin’ on, an’ huntin’ roun’ fer ter see ef dey wuz any stray tracks whar somebody had bin atter his truck. Whiles he wuz lookin’ roun’ he hear some un laughin’ fit ter kill, an’ he looked over de fence fer ter see who ’tis. Dar wuz Brer Rabbit des a-rollin’ in de grass an’ laughin’ hard ez he kin. Brer Fox ’low: ‘Heyo, Brer Rabbit! what de name er goodness de matter wid you?’ Brer Rabbit, in de middle er his laughin’ can’t do nothin’ but shake his head an’ kick in de grass.

                “’Bout dat time, ol’ Miss Fox stuck ’er head out’n de winder fer ter see what gwine on. She say, ‘Sandy, what all dat fuss out dar? Ain’t you know dat de baby’s des gone ter sleep?’ Brer Fox, he say, ‘’Tain’t nobody in de roun’ worl’ but Brer Rabbit, an’ ef I ain’t mighty much mistooken, he done gone an’ got a case er de highstericks.’ Ol’ Miss Fox say, ‘I don’t keer what he got, I wish he’d go on ’way fum dar, er hush up his racket. He’ll wake de chillun, an’ dem what ain’t ’sleep he’ll skeer de wits out’n ’um.’

                “Wid dat, ol’ Brer Rabbit cotch his breff, an’ pass de time er day wid Brer Fox an’ his ol’ ’oman. Den he say, ‘You see me an’ you hear me, Brer Fox; well, des ez you see me now, dat de way I been gwine on all night long. I speck maybe it ain’t right fer ter laugh at dem what ain’t got de sense dey oughter been born wid, but I can’t he’p it fer ter save my life; I try, but de mo’ what I try de wusser I gits. I oughter be at home right now, an’ I would be ef it hadn’t ’a’ been fer sump’n I seed las’ night,’ an’ den he went ter laughin’ ag’in. Ol’ Miss Fox, she fix de bonnet on her head, an’ den she say, ‘What you see, Brer Rabbit? It mus’ be mighty funny; tell us ’bout it, an’ maybe we’ll laugh wid you.’ Brer Rabbit ’low, ‘I don’t min’ tellin’ you, ma’am, ef I kin keep fum laughin’, but ef I hatter stop fer ter ketch my breff, I know mighty well dat you’ll skuzen me.’ Ol’ Miss Fox say, ‘Dat we will, Brer Rabbit.’

                “Wid dat Brer Rabbit up an’ tol’ all ’bout ol’ Craney-Crow comin’ in de Swamp, an’ not knowin’ how ter go ter bed. He say dat de funny part un it wuz dat ol’ Craney-Crow ain’t know dat when anybody went ter bed dey oughter take der head off, an’ den he start ter laughin’ ag’in. Ol’ Miss Fox look at her ol’ man an’ he look at her; dey dunner what ter say er how ter say it.

                “Brer Rabbit see how dey er doin’, but he ain’t pay no ’tention. He ’low, ‘Dat ol’ Craney-Crow look like he had travel fur an’ wide; he look like he know what all de fashions is, but when he got in de Swamp an’ see all de creeturs--dem what run an’ dem what fly--sleepin’ wid der heads off, he sho’ wuz tuck back; he say he ain’t never her er sech doin’s ez dat. You done seed how country folks do--well, des dat a-way he done. I been tryin’ hard fer ter git home, an’ tell my ol’ ’oman ’bout it, but eve’y time I gits a good start it pop up in my min’ ’bout how ol’ Craney-Crow done when he fin’ out what de fashion wuz in dis part er de country.’ An’ den Brer Rabbit sot inter laughin’, and Brer Fox an’ ol’ Miss Fox dey j’ined in wid ’im, kaze dey ain’t want nobody fer ter git de idee dat dey don’t know what de fashion is, speshually de fashion in de part er de country whar dey er livin’ at.

                “Ol’ Miss Fox, she say dat ol’ Craney-Crow must be a funny sort er somebody not ter know what de fashions is, an’ Brer Fox he ’gree twel he grin an’ show his tushes. He say he ain’t keerin’ much ’bout fashions hisse’f, but he wouldn’t like fer ter be laughed at on de ’count er plain ignunce. Brer Rabbit, he say he ain’t makin’ no pertence er doin’ eve’ything dat’s done, kaze he ain’t dat finnicky, but when fashions is comfertubble an’ coolin’ he don’t min’ follerin’ um fer der own sake ez well ez his’n. He say now dat he done got in de habits er sleepin’ wid his head off, he wouldn’t no mo’ sleep wid it on dan he’d fly.

                “Ol’ Miss Fox, she up ’n’ spon’, ‘I b’lieve you, Brer Rabbit--dat I does!’ Brer Rabbit, he make a bow, he did, an’ ’low, ‘I know mighty well dat I’m ol’-fashion’, an’ dey ain’t no ’nyin’ it, Miss Fox, but when de new gineration hit on ter sump’n dat’s cool an’ comfertubble, I ain’t de man ter laugh at it des kaze it’s tollerbul new. No, ma’am! I’ll try it, an’ ef it work all right I’ll foller it; ef it don’t, I won’t. De fus’ time I try ter sleep wid my head off I wuz kinder nervious, but I soon got over dat, an’ now ef it wuz ter go out fashion, I’d des keep right on wid it, I don’t keer what de yuthers ’d think. Dat’s me; dat’s me all over.’

                “Bimeby, Brer Rabbit look at de sun, an’ des vow he bleeze ter git home. He wish ol’ Miss Fox mighty well, an’ made his bow, an’ put out down de road at a two-forty gait. Brer Fox look kinder sheepish when his ol’ ’oman look at ’im. He say dat de idee er sleepin’ wid yo’ head off is bran new ter him. Ol’ Miss Fox ’low dat dey’s a heap er things in dis worl’ what he dunno, an’ what he won’t never fin’ out. She say, ‘Here I is a-scrimpin’ an’ a-workin’ my eyeballs out fer ter be ez good ez de bes’, an’ dar you is a projickin’ roun’ an’ not a-keerin’ whedder yo’ fambly is in de fashion er not.’ Brer Fox ’low dat ef sleepin’ wid yo’ head off is one er de fashions, he fer one ain’t keerin’ ’bout tryin’. Ol’ Miss Fox say, ‘No, an’ you ain’t a-keerin’ what folks say ’bout yo’ wife an’ fambly. No wonder Brer Rabbit had ter laugh whiles he wuz tellin’ you ’bout Craney-Crow, kaze you stood dar wid yo’ mouf open like you ain’t got no sense. It’ll be a purty tale he’ll tell his fambly ’bout de tacky Fox fambly.’

                “Wid dat Ol’ Miss Fox switch away fum de winder an’ went ter cleanin’ up de house, an’ bimeby Brer Fox went in de house hopin’ dat brekfus wuz ready; but dey wa’n’t no sign er nothin’ ter eat. Atter so long a time, Brer Fox ax when he wuz gwine ter git brekfus’. His ol’ ’oman ’low dat eatin’ brekfus’ an’ gittin’ it, too, wuz one er de fashions. Ef he ain’t follerin’ fashions, she ain’t needer. He ain’t say no mo’, but went off behin’ de house an’ had a mighty time er thinkin’ an’ scratchin’ fer fleas.

                “When bedtime come, ol’ Miss Fox wuz mighty tired, an’ she ain’t a-keerin’ much ’bout fashions right den. Des ez she wuz fixin’ fer ter roll ’erse’f in de kivver, Brer Fox come in fum a hunt he’d been havin’. He fotch a weasel an’ a mink wid ’im, an’ he put um in de cubberd whar dey’d keep cool. Den he wash his face an’ han’s, an’ ’low dat he’s ready fer ter have his head tooken off fer de night, ef his ol’ ’oman’ll be so good ez ter he’p ’im.

                “By dat time ol’ Miss Fox had done got over de pouts, but she ain’t got over de idee er follerin’ atter de fashions, an’ so she say she’ll be glad fer ter he’p ’im do what’s right, seein’ dat he’s so hard-headed in gin’ul. Den come de knotty part. Na’er one un um know’d what dey wuz ’bout, an’ dar dey sot an’ jowered ’bout de bes’ way fer ter git de head off. Brer Fox say dey ain’t but one way, less’n you twis’ de head off, an’ goodness knows he ain’t want nobody fer ter be twis’in’ his neck, kaze he ticklish anyhow. Dat one way wuz ter take de ax an’ cut de head off. Ol’ Miss Fox, she squall, she did, an’ hol’ up her han’s like she skeer’d.

                “Brer Fox sot dar lookin’ up de chimbley. Bimeby his ol’ ’oman ’low, ‘De ax look mighty skeery, but one thing I know, an’ dat ain’t two, it ain’t gwineter hurt you ef it’s de fashion. Brer Fox kinder work his under jaw, but he ain’t sayin’ nothin’. So his ol’ ’oman went out ter de woodpile an’ got de ax, an’ den she say, ‘I’m ready, honey, whenever you is,’ an’ Brer Fox, he ’spon’, ‘I’m des ez ready now ez I ever is ter be,’ an’ wid dat she up wid de ax an’ blip! she tuck ’im right on de neck. De head come right off wid little er no trouble, an’ ol’ Miss Fox laugh an’ say ter herse’f dat she glad dey follerin’ de fashion at las’.

                “Brer Fox sorter kick an’ squirm when de head fus’ come off, but his ol’ ’oman ’low dat dat wuz de sign he wuz dreamin’, an’ atter he lay right still she say he wuz havin’ a better night’s res’ dan what he’d had in a mighty long time. An’ den she happen fer ter think dat whiles her ol’ man done gone an’ got in de fashion, dar she wuz ready fer ter go ter bed wid ’er head on. She dunner how ter git ’er head off, an’ she try ter wake up her ol’ man, but it look like he wuz one er dem stubborn kinder sleepers what won’t be woken’d atter dey once drap off. She shake ’im an’ holler at ’im, but ’tain’t do no good. She can’t make ’im stir, spite er all de racket she make, an’ she hatter go ter bed wid her head on.

                “She went ter bed, she did, but she ain’t sleep good, kaze she had trouble in de min’. She’d wake up an’ turn over, an’ roll an’ toss, an’ wonder what de yuther creeturs’d say ef dey know’d she wuz so far outer de fashion ez ter sleep wid ’er head on. An’ she had bad dreams; she dremp dat Brer Rabbit wuz laughin’ at ’er, an’ she start fer ter run at ’im, an’ de fust news she know’d de dogs wuz on her trail an’ gwine in full cry. ’Twuz dat a-way all night long, an’ she wuz mo’ dan thankful when mornin’ come.

                “She try ter wake up her ol’ man, but still he won’t be woke. He lay dar, he did, an’ won’t budge, an’ bimeby ol’ Miss Fox git mad an’ go off an’ leave ’im. Atter so long a time she went back ter whar he wuz layin’, an’ he wuz des like she lef’ ’im. She try ter roust ’im up, but he won’t be rousted. She holler so loud dat Brer Rabbit which he wuz gwine by, got de idee dat she wuz callin’ him, an’ he stick his head in de do’ an’ ’low, ‘Is you callin’ me, ma’am?’

                “She say, ‘La! Brer Rabbit? I ain’t know you wuz anywheres aroun’. I been tryin’ fer ter wake up my ol’ man; he mo’ lazier dis mornin’ dan I ever is know ’im ter be. Ef my house wa’n’t all to’ up, I’d ax you in an’ git you ter drag ’im out an’ git ’im up.’

                “Brer Rabbit say, ‘Ef dey ain’t nothin’ de matter wid Brer Fox he’ll git up in good time.’ Ol’ Miss Fox ’low, ‘La! I dunner what you call good time. Look at de sun--it’s ’way up yander, an’ dar he is sleepin’ like a log. ’Fo’ he went ter bed he made me take his head off, an’ he ain’t woke up sence.’ ‘An’ how did you git it off, mum?’ sez ol’ Brer Rabbit, sezee. ‘I tuck an’ tuck de ax an’ cut it off,’ se’she. Wid dat Brer Rabbit flung bofe han’s over his face, an’ mosied off like he wuz cryin’. Fum de way he look you’d ’a’ thunk his heart wuz broke; yit he wa’n’t cryin’.”

                “Then what was he doing, Uncle Remus?” the little boy asked.

                “Des a-laughin’--laughin’ fit ter kill. When ol’ Miss Fox see ’im gwine long like he wuz cryin’, she spicion’d dat sump’n wuz wrong, an’ sho ’nuff ’twuz, kaze Brer Fox ain’t wake up no mo’. She ’low, ‘Ol’ honey look like he dead, but he better be dead dan outer de fashion!’

                “I take notice, honey, dat you ain’t use yo’ hankcher yit. What de matter wid you? Is yo’ weeps all dry up?”

                The child laughed and stuffed his handkerchief back in his pocket.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Brother Fox Follows the Fashion
Tale Author/Editor: Harris, Joel Chandler
Book Title: Told by Uncle Remus: New Stories of the Old Plantation
Book Author/Editor: Harris, Joel Chandler
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1903
Country of Origin: United States
Classification: unclassified

Back to Top