Brer Rabbit: The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story

The "tar-baby" is probably the most famous of the Brer Rabbit stories, and it even has its own Wikipedia article: Tar-Baby. This story is a follow-up to Brer Rabbit using the "got to go get calamus root" excuse to escape from Brer Fox earlier; Brer Fox will make reference to that here. The story ends with Brer Fox as the apparent winner but, don't worry, Harris comes back to this story later on and tells us what happens next.

[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).


The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story

One day after Brer Rabbit fool him with that calamus root, Brer Fox went to work and got him some tar, and mix it with some turpentine, and fix up a contraption what he call a Tar-Baby, and he took this here Tar-Baby and he sat her in the big road, and then he lay off in the bushes for to see what the news was going to be.

(image source; colorized)

And he didn't have to wait long, neither, 'cause by and by here come Brer Rabbit pacing down the road — lippity-clippity, clippity-lippity — just as sassy as a jaybird. Brer Fox, he lay low.


Brer Rabbit come prancing along till he spy the Tar-Baby, and then he fetch up on his behind legs like he was  astonished.


The Tar Baby, she sat there, she did, and Brer Fox, he lay low.


"Morning!" says Brer Rabbit, says he — "Nice weather this morning," says he.

Tar-Baby ain't saying nothing, and Brer Fox he lay low.


"How does your symptoms seem to segashuate?" says Brer Rabbit, says he.

Brer Fox, he wink his eye slow, and lay low, and the Tar-Baby, she ain't saying nothing.


"How you come on, then? Is you deaf?" says Brer Rabbit, says he. "'Cause if you is, I can holler louder," says he.

Tar-Baby stay still, and Brer Fox, he lay low.


"You is stuck up, that's what you is," says Brer Rabbit, says he, "and I'm going to cure you, that's what I'm a going to do," says he.

Brer Fox, he sort of chuckle in his stomach, he did, but Tar-Baby ain't saying nothing.

"I'm going to learn you how to talk to respectable folks if it's the last act," says Brer Rabbit, says he. "If you don't take off that hat and tell me howdy, I'm going to bust you wide open," says he.

Tar-Baby stay still, and Brer Fox, he lay low.

Brer Rabbit keep on asking him, and the Tar-Baby, she keep on saying nothing, till presently Brer Rabbit draw back with his fist, he did, and blip he took her side of the head. Right there's where he broke his molasses jug. His fist stuck, and he can't pull loose. The tar hold him. But Tar-Baby, she stay still, and Brer Fox, he lay low.


"If you don't let me loose, I'll knock you again," says Brer Rabbit, says he, and with that he fetch her a wipe with the other hand, and that stuck. Tar-Baby, she ain't saying nothing, and Brer Fox, he lay low.


"Turn me loose, 'fore I kick the natural stuffing out of you," says Brer Rabbit, says he, but the Tar-Baby, she ain't saying nothing. She just hold on, and then Brer Rabbit lose the use of his feet in the same way. Brer Fox, he lay low.

Then Brer Rabbit squall out that if the Tar-Baby don't turn him loose he butt her cranksided. And then he butted, and his head got stuck. Then Brer Fox, he sauntered forth, looking just as innocent as a mocking-bird.

(image source; colorized)

"Howdy, Brer Rabbit," says Brer Fox, says he. "You look sort of stuck up this morning," says he, and then he rolled on the ground, and laughed and laughed till he couldn't laugh no more.


"I expect you'll take dinner with me this time, Brer Rabbit. I done laid in some calamus root, and I ain't going to take no excuse," says Brer Fox, says he.




(600 words)














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