Brer Rabbit: Mr. Fox Tackles Old Man Tarrypin

Here you will meet Old Man Tarrypin, the turtle inhabitant of Brer Rabbit's world. The word "terrapin" is, like opossum, another Native American word, also Algonquian (Abenaki turepe, Delaware tolpew).

If you are interested in parallel stories, there are both Buddhist and Native American stories about a turtle who tricks his enemies into throwing him back into the water. For a Buddhist version, see the Jataka unit: How the Turtle Saved His Own Life. For Native American versions, see the Senecan story Turtle on the War Path and the Pawnee story The Big Turtle's War Party. Here in the UnTextbook, you can find a Cherokee version here: The Terrapin's Escape From The Wolves.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Brer Rabbit unit. Story source: Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris (1881).


Mr. Fox Tackles Old Man Tarrypin

ONE day — one day Brer Fox strike up wid Brer Tarrypin right in de middle er de big road. Brer Tarrypin done heerd 'im comin', en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he'd sorter keep one eye open; but Brer Fox wuz monstus perlite, en he open up de confab, he did, like he ain't see Brer Tarrypin sence de las' freshit.

"Heyo, Brer Tarrypin, whar you bin dis long-come-short?" sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Lounjun 'roun', Brer Fox, lounjun 'roun'," sez Brer Tarrypin.

"You don't look sprucy like you did, Brer Tarrypin," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Lounjun 'roun' en suffer'n'," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

Den de talk sorter run on like dis:

"W'at ail you, Brer Tarrypin? Yo' eye look mighty red," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Lor', Brer Fox, you dunner w'at trubble is. You ain't bin lounjun 'roun' en suffer'n'," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"Bofe eyes red, en you look like you mighty weak, Brer Tarrypin," sez Brer Fox, sezee.




"Lor', Brer Fox, you dunner w'at trubble is," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"W'at ail you now, Brer Tarrypin?" sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Tuck a walk de udder day, en man come long en sot de fiel' a-fier. Lor', Brer Fox, you dunner w'at trubble is," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"How you git out de fier, Brer Tarrypin?" sez Brer Fox, sezee.




"Sot en tuck it, Brer Fox," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee. "Sot en tuck it, en de smoke sif' in my eye, en de fier scorch my back," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"Likewise hit bu'n yo' tail off," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Oh, no, dar's de tail, Brer Fox," sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee, en wid dat he oncurl his tail fum under de shell.

En no sooner did he do dat dan Brer Fox grab it, en holler out: "Oh, yes, Brer Tarrypin! Oh, yes! En so you er de man w'at lam me on de head at Miss Meadows's is you? You er in wid Brer Rabbit, is you? Well, I'm gwineter out you."

Brer Tarrypin beg en beg, but 'twan't no use. Brer Fox done been fool so much dat he look like he termin' fer ter have Brer Tarrypin haslett.

Den Brer Tarrypin beg Brer Fox not fer ter drown 'im, but Brer Fox ain't makin' no prommus, en den he beg Brer Fox fer ter bu'n' 'im, kase he done useter fier, but Brer Fox don't say nuthin'.

Bimeby Brer Fox drag Brer Tarrypin off little ways b'low de spring-'ouse, en souze him under de water.

Den Brer Tarrypin begin fer ter holler: "Tu'n loose dat stump root en ketch holt er me—tu'n loose dat stump root en ketch holt er me."




Brer Fox he holler back: "I ain't got holt er no stump root, en I is got holt er you."

Brer Tarrypin he keep on holler'n: "Ketch holt er me—I'm a drownin'—I'm a drownin'—tu'n loose de stump root en ketch holt er me."

Sho nuff, Brer Fox tu'n loose de tail, en Brer Tarrypin, he went down ter de bottom—kerblunkity-blink!

Ole man Tarrypin 'wuz at home I tell you, honey. Kerblinkity-blunk!


(500 words)














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