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Some folks say Brer Fox was no count and good for nothing Others

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Some folks say Brer Fox was no count and good for nothing Others

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									Brer Fox and Mr. Man
Julius Lester∗

ome folks say Brer Fox was no ’count and good for nothing. Others say he was a schemer and a conniver, and them was his good qualities! Of all the things I heard folks say about him, though, I never did hear nobody say Brer Fox was smart. One morning Brer Fox was going through the woods when he heard a wagon coming along the road. He hid behind a tree. In a few minutes here come Mr. Man in his wagon, which was loaded down with eggs and butter and chickens. He was on his way to market. If Brer Fox had his way, Mr. Man might get to market but not with his eggs, butter and chickens. He was sorry Brer Rabbit wasn’t around, because Brer Rabbit would’ve found a way to get the eggs, butter and chickens and Mr. Man’s horse and wagon too. But Brer Rabbit had won the lottery and was off scuba diving in Jamaica. Thinking of Brer Rabbit reminded him of the time he went hunting and on his way home with a big bag of game, he came across a dead rabbit lying in the road. About a half mile farther along there was another one. A quarter mile farther along there was another one. A quarter mile after that there was still another one. Not being a man to turn down a gift from the Lord, Brer Fox had put down his game bag and gone back to get the rabbits. But when he got back to the place where the first rabbit had been, it wasn’t there. What he had thought was
From “Further Tales of Uncle Remus” written by Julius Lester, based on the original stories by Joel Chandler Harris.
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a dead rabbit wasn’t nothing but Brer Rabbit pretending to be dead. Brer Fox was looking for rabbits what didn’t exist, and Brer Rabbit was making off with his game bag. That was a good trick, and Brer Fox figured that since it had worked on him, it would work on Mr. Man. That tells you right there that Brer Fox’s elevator didn’t go all the way to the top. Brer Fox ran through the woods until he got a ways in front of Mr. Man, and he lay down in the road like he was dead. A few minutes later Mr. Man come along, singing to himself. I don’t know what he was singing. It was probably the blues, ’cause when a body is feeling good, they got to sing the blues. Then again, when a body is feeling bad they got to sing the blues. Just goes to show how powerful the blues is. No matter how you feeling, singing the blues’ll make you feel better. So Mr. Man is sitting there in his wagon singing the blues, and all of a sudden his horse whinnied and reared up. Mr. Man took his mind off the blues and put it on the horse and he hollered, “Whoa!” and the horse whoa’d. Mr. Man saw Brer Fox laying on the ground looking as dead as a New Year’s resolution on January second. Mr. Man laughed. “Well, well, well. There’s the one what’s been stealing my chickens. Looks like somebody shot him with a gun. Too bad they didn’t use two guns.” Mr. Man told the horse to “Giddup,” drove around Brer Fox and went on his way. Brer Fox got up, ran through the woods until he was a ways in front of Mr. Man, and lay down in the road again. A few minutes later here come Mr. Man. Mr. Man told his horse to “Whoa!” and the horse whoa’d. “Well, well, well. There’s the one what’s been stealing my pigs. Looks like somebody killed him. Wished they’d done it when Noah was a little boy.” Mr. Man told the horse to “Giddup!”, the wagon wheel came so close to Brer Fox that it rolled over the hairs growing out of his nose. That didn’t bother Brer Fox none. He did the same as be-2-

fore, and when Mr. Man come up on him this time, Mr. Man was perplexed. “How come there are all these dead foxes in the road this morning?” Deciding that he better investigate, Mr. Man got down from the wagon. He felt Brer Fox’s ears; they were right warm. He felt Brer Fox’s neck; it was warm too. He examined Brer Fox’s short ribs; they were all intact. He investigated Brer Fox’s bones; they were solid. He turned Brer Fox over; Brer Fox was as limber as the double-jointed man who was in the carnival which came to town last year. Mr. Man scratched his head. “What’s going on here? This pig-eating chicken-stealer looks like he’s dead, but ain’t none of his bones broke. I didn’t feel no bruises. On top of that, he’s warm and limber. This pig-eating chicken-stealer might be dead. Then again he might not be. I better make sure!” Mr. Man took his whip, and pow! He hit Brer Fox so hard, it hurt me. Brer Fox didn’t need to hear the same message twice. While Mr. Man was drawing back his arm to hit him again, Brer Fox got on away from there. He ran so fast, his shadow had to take the bus home.

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