Brer Rabbit's New House.


Long ago an old man called Uncle Remus used to tell stories to a little boy. The two of them lived on a plantation in the southern states of America, and the stories were always about certain animals. Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox in particular, but several others too, Brer Bear and Brer Possum for instance. All too often Brer Rabbit, who was an impudent scoundrel, came out best, although he was one of the smaller creatures. Of course, to do this he had to use his wits.
  One evening, Uncle Remus ate his supper as usual and then looked at the child over his spectacles.
  "Now then, honey", he said. "Let's see if I can call to mind how old Brer Rabbit got himself a two-storey house without paying much for it".
  He paused a moment. Then he began:
  It turned out one time that a whole lot of creatures decided to build a house together. Old Brer Bear, he was among them, and Brer Fox and Brer Wolf and Brer Coon and Brer Possum, and possibly Brer Mink too. Anyway, there was a whole bunch of them, and they set to work and built a house in less than no time.
  Brer Rabbit, he pretended it made his head swim to climb the scaffolding, and that it made him feel dizzy to work in the sun, but he got a board, and he stuck a pencil behind his ear, and he went round measuring and marking, measuring and marking.
  He looked so busy that all the other creature were sure he was doing the most work, and folks going along the road said, "My, my, that Brer Rabbit is doing more work than the whole lot of them put together". Yet all the time Brer Rabbit was doing nothing, and he had plenty of time to lie in the shade.
  Meanwhile, the other creatures, they built the house, and it sure was a fine one. It had an upstairs and a downstairs, and chimneys all round, and it had rooms for all the creatures who had helped to make it.
  Brer Rabbit, he picked out one of the upstairs rooms, and he got a gun and a brass cannon, and when no one was looking he put them up in the room. Then he got a big bowl of dirty water and carried it up there when no one was looking.

  When the house was finished and all the animals were sitting in the parlour after supper, Brer Rabbit, he got up and stretched himself, and made excuses, saying he believed he'd go to his room. When he got there, and while all the others were laughing and chatting and being sociable downstairs, Brer Rabbit stuck his head out of the room and hollered.
  "When a big man wants to sit down, whereabouts is he going to sit?" says he.
  The other creatures laughed, and called back, "If a big man like you can't sit in a chair he'd better sit on the floor".
  "Watch out, down there", says old Brer Rabbit, "because I'm going to sit down", says he.
  With that bang! Went Brer Rabbit's gun. The other creatures looked round at one another in astonishment as much as to say, "What in the name of gracious is that?"
  They listened and listened, but they didn't hear any more fuss and it wasn't long before they were all chatting and talking again.
  Then Brer Rabbit stuck his head out his room again, and hollered, "When a big man like me wants to sneeze, whereabouts is he going to sneeze?"
  The other creatures called back, "A big man like you can sneeze anywhere he wants".
  "Watch out down there, then", says Brer Rabbit, "because I'm going to sneeze right here", says he.
  With that Brer Rabbit let off his cannon - bidder-um-m-m! The window panes rattled. The whole house shook as though it would come down, and old Brer Bear fell out of his rocking chairkerblurnp!
  When they all settled down again Brer Possum and Brer Mink suggested that as Brer Rabbit had such a had cold they would step outside and get some fresh air. The other creatures said that they would stick it out, and before long they all got their hair smoothed down and began to talk again.
  After a while, when they were beginning to enjoy themselves once more, Brer Rabbit hollered out:
  "When a big man like me chews tobacco, where is he going to spit?"
  The other creatures called back as though they were getting pretty angry:
  "Big man or little man, spit where you please!"
  Then Brer Rabbit called out, "This is the way a big man spits", and with that he tipped over the bowl of dirty water, and when the other creatures heard it coming sloshing down the stairs, my, how they rushed out of the house! Some went out the back door, some went out the front door, some fell out of the windows, some went one way and some another way; but they all got out as quickly as they could.
  Then Brer Rabbit, he shut up the house, and fastened the windows and went to bed. He pulled the covers up round his ears, and he slept like a man who doesn't owe anybody anything.
  "And neither did he, owe them", said Uncle Remus to the little boy, "for if the other creatures got scared and ran off from their own house, what business is that of Brer Rabbit? That's what I'd like to know".