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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/847

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PLANTATION FOLK-LORE.

Some of the stories contain incidents which are common to European popular tales, as in No. XX, "How Mr. Rabbit saved his Meat." Brer Wolf suspected Brer Rabbit of stealing some of his fish, and killed Brer Rabbit's best cow. The latter frightened the Wolf away by telling him that the "patter-rollers" (patrol, policemen) were coming, and proceeded to skin the cow and salt down the hide and stow away the carcass in the smoke-house. The end of the cow's tail he stuck in the ground, and called Brer Wolf. "Run yer. Brer Wolf, run yer! Yo' cow gwine in de groun'!" When Brer Wolf arrived, he found Brer Rabbit holding the tail with all his might to keep the cow from going into the ground. Brer Wolf caught hold, and off came the tail. The Wolf was not going to give the matter up so, and got a spade, a pick-axe, and a shovel, and began to dig for his cow, while Brer Rabbit sat on his front-porch smoking his cigar and watching him. This episode is found in a Basque story (Webster's "Basque Legends," p. 10) and in an Italian tale ("Jahrbuch für roman. und eng. Lit.," VIII, 252), and in many others that we have not space to mention.

No. XIII, "The Awful Fate of Mr. Wolf," relates how the Wolf persecuted Brer Rabbit, and carried off some of his family. To protect those left, "Brer Rabbit b'ilt 'im a straw house, en hit wuz tored down; den he made a house outen pine-tops, en dat went de same way; den he made 'im a bark house, en dat wuz i-aided on; en eve'y time he los' a house, he los' wunner his chilluns." Finally, he built a plank house with rock foundations, and then could live in peace. One day the Wolf, pursued by dogs, took refuge in Brer Rabbit's house, and begged him to hide him from the dogs. The Rabbit told him to get into a chest, and, the Wolf once secure, the Rabbit bored holes in the top of the chest, and poured boiling water in and scalded the Wolf to death. A similar story, except that seven Pigs and a Fox take the place of the Rabbits and Wolf, is told by Mr. Owens ("Lippincott," December, 1877, page 753), who cites as a parallel the Anglo-Saxon story of "The Three Blue Pigs." Another parallel may be found in a Venetian story (Bernoni, "Tradizioni Popolari Veneziane," p. 69, "El Galo").

One of the incidents in No. XX, "A Story about the Little Rabbits," is also familiar, and seems like a curious metamorphosis of a well-known trait of fairy tales. The Fox goes to Brer Rabbit's house, and the sight of the fat little Rabbits makes his mouth water, and he endeavors to invent some excuse for killing them. He finally sets them difficult tasks to do, intending to devour them if they fail; but a little Bird on top of the house sings the solution of all the difficulties, which are: to break off a piece of sugar-cane; to bring water in a sieve; and to put a big log on the fire. The second task is the one found in European folk-lore, an example occurring in another Venetian story (Bastanielo, Bernoni, "Fiabe," No. 6).