One of the most amusing stories in "Uncle Remus" is No. II, "The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story" (versions also in "Riverside Magazine," 1868, p. 505, and "Lippincott," December, 1877, p. 750), in which the Fox made "a contrapshun wat he call a Tar-Baby," out of tar and turpentine, and put it in the way of the Rabbit, who got stuck to it, and thus fell into the Fox's clutches. In the "South-African Folk-Lore Journal," I, p. 69, there is a curious parallel to the above story. A number of animals build a dam to hold water, and the jackal comes and muddies the water. A baboon is set to guard the dam, but the jackal easily outwits him. Then the tortoise offers to capture the jackal and proposes "that a thick coating of 'bijenwerk' (a kind of sticky, black substance found on beehives) should be spread all over him, and that he should go and stand at the entrance of the dam, on the water-level, so that the jackal might tread on him, and stick fast." The jackal is caught, but, with his customary craft, escapes.
In the last of Uncle Remus's stories. No. XXXIV, "The Sad Fate of Mr. Fox," the Fox and the Rabbit jump down the mouth of a cow and help themselves to meat, the Fox warning the Rabbit not "to cut 'roun' de haslett." The Rabbit disobeys the injunction, and the cow falls dead. The owner cuts her open to see what was the matter, and the Rabbit betrays the Fox, who was hiding in the "maul," and who is thereupon killed. In Bleek, p. 27, the Elephant and the Tortoise have a dispute, and the former determined to kill the latter, and asked him, "Little Tortoise, shall I chew you or swallow you down?" The little Tortoise said, "Swallow me, if you please!" and the Elephant swallowed it whole. After the Elephant had swallowed the little Tortoise, and it had entered his body, it tore off his liver, heart, and kidneys. The Elephant said, "Little Tortoise, you kill me." So the Elephant died; but the little Tortoise came out of his dead body and went wherever it liked.
More remarkable, however, than the above casual points of resemblance is the substantial identity of these stories with those of a tribe of South American Indians. In 1870 Professor C. F. Hartt heard, at Santarem on the Amazons, from his guide in the lingua geral, a story, "The Tortoise that outran the Deer," a version of which he afterward published in the "Cornell Era" (January 20, 1871), and which attracted the attention of a writer in "The Nation" (February 23, 1871), who gave a variant of the same myth, as found among the negroes of South Carolina (the same story occurring in "Uncle Remus," p. 80).
- Mr. Harris includes among the animal fables a story which properly does not belong there, and which is nothing but a well-known European tale which Uncle Remus must have heard from the whites, although Mr. Harris, p. 136, note, says, "This story is popular on the coast and among the rice-plantations, and, since the publication of some of the animal-myths in the newspapers, I have received a version of it from a planter in southwest Georgia." The story in question is No. XXXII, "Jacky-my-Lantern," and is nothing but a version of the French story of "Bonhomme Misère," which is of Italian origin. (See Pitrè, "Fiabe," Nos. 124, 125; De Gubernatis, "Novelline di Sto. Stefano," No. 32, etc.)