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Mr. Hare Tries to Get a Wife by Anne Virginia Culbertson

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Mr. Hare Tries to Get a Wife by Anne Virginia Culbertson

Mr. Hare Tries to Get a Wife

by Anne Virginia Culbertson

One day the children's mother told them that she was going to spend a few days at a plantation some miles away, taking with her Aunt Nancy, who was anxious to pay a little visit to a daughter living in that neighborhood. Aunt 'Phrony, she told them, had promised to come and look after them during her absence.

"Oh, please, mamma," they begged, "let Aunt 'Phrony take us nutting? She told us one day that she knew where there were just lots and lots of walnuts." So it was arranged that they should take a luncheon with them and make a day of it, Aunt 'Phrony being perfectly willing, for her Indian blood showed itself not only in her appearance, but in her love for a free out-of-door life, and her fondness for tramping. She would readily give up a day's work at any time to discharge some wholly insignificant errand which involved a walk of many miles.

The day was a bright and beautiful one in October, warm, yet with a faint nip of last night's frost lingering in the air. They made a fine little procession through the woods, Aunt 'Phrony leading, followed by children, a darky with baskets, her grandson "Wi'yum," and lastly the dogs, frisking and frolicking and darting away every now and then in pursuit of small game. A very weary and hungry little party gathered about the baskets at one o'clock, and three little pairs of white hands were stained almost as brown as those of Aunt 'Phrony and William. But everybody was happy, and there was a nice pile of walnuts to go back in the large bag which William had brought for the purpose. The dogs sat around and looked longingly on, a squirrel frisked hastily across a log near-by, the birds chattered in the trees high above and looked curiously down on the intruders, and presently a foolish hare went scurrying across the path, so near the dogs that they sat still, amazed at his presumption, and forbore to chase him.

"Hi! there goes 'ol' Hyar'!'" shouted Ned; "I'm going to see if I can't catch him." But he soon gave up the hopeless chase.

"Was that your 'ol' Hyar',' Aunt 'Phrony; your ol' Hyar' you tell us all about?" asked little Kit.

"Bless de chil'!" said she. "Naw, 'twuz de ol', ol' Hyar' I done tol' you 'bout, de gre't-gre't-gre't-sump'n-ru'rr grandaddy er dis one, I reckon."

"Aunt 'Phrony," said Janey, "couldn't you tell us some more about the old hare while we sit here and get rested?"

"Now de laws-a-mussy," said 'Phrony, "ef we gwine 'mence on de ol' tales I reckon I mought ez well mek up my min' ter spen' de res' er de day right yer on dis spot," and she leaned back against a pine tree and closed her eyes resignedly. Presently she opened them to ask, "Is I uver tol' you 'bout de time Mistah Hyar' try ter git him a wife? I isn'? Well, den, dat de one I gwine gin you dis trip. Hit happen dis-a-way: Hyar' he bin flyin' all 'roun' de kyountry fer right long time, frolickin' an' cuttin' up, jes' a no-kyount bachelder, an' las' he git kind er tired uv hit, an' he see all tu'rr creeturs gittin' ma'ied an' he tucken hit inter his haid dat 'twuz time he sottle down an' git him a wife; so he primp hisse'f up an' slick his hya'r down wid b'argrease an' stick a raid hank'cher in his ves'-pockit an' pick him a button-hole f'um a lady's gyarden, an' den he go co'tin' dis gal an' dat gal an' tu'rr gal. He 'mence wid de good-lookin' ones an' wind up wid de ugly ones, but 'twan't nair' one dat 'ud lissen to 'im, 'kase he done done so many mean tricks an' wuz sech a hyarum-skyarum dat dey wuz all 'feared ter tek up wid 'im, an' so dey shet de do' in his face w'en he git ter talkin' sparky, dough dar wan't no pusson cu'd do dat sort er talkin' mo' slicker 'n w'at he cu'd. But he done gin de creeturs jes' li'l too much 'havishness, so 'twan't no use.

"He think de marter all over an' he say ter hisse'f: 'Dem fool gals dunno w'at dey missin', but ef dey s'pose I gwine gin up an' stay single, dey done fool derse'fs dis time. I ain' gwine squatulate wid 'em ner argyfy ner beg no mo', but I gwine whu'l right in an' do sump'n.'

"Atter he study a w'ile he slap one han' on his knee, an' he 'low, he do: 'Dat's de ticket! dat's de ticket! I reckon dey'll fin' ol' man Hyar' ain' sech a fool ez he looks ter be, atter all.'

"He go lopin' all roun', leavin' wu'd at ev'y house in de kyountry dat a big meetin' bin hilt an' a law passed dat ev'yb'dy gotter git ma'ied, young an' ol', rich an' po', high an' low. He say ter hisse'f, 'ev'yb'dy, dat mean me, too, so dish yer whar I boun' ter git me a wife.'

"De creeturs place der 'pennance on him, dough he done tucken 'em in so often, an' on de 'pinted day dey met toge'rr; de gals all dress' up in der Sunday clo'es an' de mens fixed up mighty sprucy, an' sech a pickin' an' choosin' you nuver see in all yo' bawn days. De gals dey all stan' up in line an' de men go struttin' mighty biggitty up an' down befo' 'em, showin' off an' makin' manners an' sayin', 'Howdy, ladiz, howdy, howdy!' An' de gals dey'd giggle an' twis' an' putt a finger in de cornders er der moufs, an' w'en a man step up ter one uv 'em ter choose her out, she'd fetch 'im a li'l tap an' say, 'Hysh! g'way f'um yer, man! better lemme 'lone!' an' den she'd giggle an' snicker some mo', but I let you know she wuz sho' ter go wid him in de een'.

"All dis time Hyar' wuz gwine up an' down de line, bowin' an' scrapin' an' tryin' ter mek hisse'f 'greeable ter ev'yb'dy, even de daddies an' de mammies er de gals, whar wuz lookin' on f'um tu'rr side. Dar wuz whar he miss hit, 'kase w'ile he wuz talkin' ter de mammy uv a mighty likely li'l gal whar he think 'bout choosin', lo an' beholst, de choosin' wuz all over, an' w'en Mistah Hyar' turnt roun' dar wan't nair' a gal lef', an' ev'y man have a wife asseptin' him.

"Den dey hilt a big darnsin' an' feastin', an' ev'yb'dy wuz happy an' in a monst'ous good humor, de gals 'kase dey done wot ma'ied, an' de paws an' de maws 'kase dey done got redd er de gals,--ev'yb'dy 'scusin' Hyar'. Dey mek lots er game uv 'im, an' w'en dey darnse pas', dey sings out: 'Heyo! Mistah Hyar', huccome you ain' darnse?' 'Bring yo' wife, ol' man, an' jine in de fun!' 'Hi! yi! Mistar Hyar', you done ma'y off ev'yb'dy else an' stay single yo'se'f? Well, dat de meanes' trick you done played us yit! 'tain' fair!' An' dey snicker an' run on 'twel Hyar' wish he ain' nuver year de wu'd ma'y.

"Atter w'ile dey got tired er darnsin' an' tucken der new wifes an' went off home leavin' Hyar' all by hisse'f, an' I tell you he feel right lonesome. He git a bad spell er de low-downs an' go squanderin' roun' thu de woods wid his years drapt an' his paws hangin' limp, studyin' how he kin git revengemint. Las' he pull hisse'f toge'rr an' he say: 'Come, Hyar', dis ain't gwine do. Is you done fool ev'yb'dy all dese 'ears an' den let yo'se'f git fooled by a passel er gals? Naw, suh! I knows w'at I gwine do dis ve'y minnit. Ef I kain't git me a gal, I kin git me a widdy, an' some folks laks dem de bes', anyhows. Ef you ma'y a widdy, she got some er de foolishness knock' outen her befo' you hatter tek her in han'.'

"Wid dat he step out ez gaily ez you please. He go an' knock at de do' uv ev'y house, an' w'en de folks come ter de do' dey say, 'W'y, howdy, Mistah Hyar', whar you bin keepin' yo'se'f all dis time?' He say, he do: 'Oh, I bin tendin' ter de 'fairs er de kyountry, an' I is sont unter you ez a messenger. I is saw'y ter tell you dey done hilt nu'rr big meetin' an' mek up der min's de worl' gittin' too many creeturs in hit, so dey pass de law dat dar mus' be a big battle, an' you is all ter meet toge'rr at de 'pinted time, an' each man mus' fall 'pun de man nex' him an' try fer ter kill 'im.'

"De creeturs assept dis wid submissity, dey ain' 'spicion Hyar' 't all. On de 'pinted day dey met toge'rr, an' each wuz raidy ter defen' hisse'f. Hyar' wuz dar lak all de res', an' ef you'd 'a seed all de spears an' bows an' arrers he kyarry, an' all de knifes stickin' in his belt, you'd 'a thought he wuz de bigges' fighter dar. But sho! W'en de fightin' begin, hit wuz far'-you-well, gentermans! 'Twan't no Hyar' dar; he jes' putt out tight 'z he kin go. W'en dey see him goin' dey sing out: 'Hi, dar! Whar you gwine? Whyn't you stay wid we-all?'

"Hyar' ain' stop ter talk, he jes' look roun' over his shoulder w'iles he 'z runnin' an' he say, sezee: 'De man I wanster kill, he done runned 'way an' I'se atter him. Kain't stop to talk; git outen my way, ev'yb'dy,

'Cle'r de track, fer yer me comin',
I'se ol' Buster whar keep things hummin'.'

"W'en de battle wuz over, de creeturs miss Hyar', an' dey say he mus' be 'mongs' de kilt, so dey go roun' lookin' at de daid, but 'twan't no Hyar' dar. Dey hunt ev'ywhar fer him an' las' dey foun' him squattin' in de bresh, tremlin' ez ef he have de ager an' nigh mos' skeert ter de'f. Dey drug him outen dat an' dey ses: 'So dish yer's Buster whar keep things hummin'! Well, we gwine mek you hum dis time, sho' 'nuff. You putts we-all ter fightin' an' gits heap er good men kilt off, an' yer you settin' tuck 'way safe in de bresh.'

"Den ol' Hyar' he up an' 'fess he done de hull bizness so's't de kyountry mought be full er widdies an' he git him his pick fer a wife, fer he 'lowed widdies wan't gwine be so p'tickler ez de gals. De creeturs jes' natchully hilt up der han's at him, dey wuz plumb outdone. 'De owdacious vilyun!' dey ses, 'we boun' ter exescoot him on de spot an' git shed uv 'im onct fer all.' But he baig mighty hard an' some uv 'em think he be wuss punish ef dey jes' gins 'im a good hidin' an' lets 'im live on alone, a mis'able ol' bachelder, widout no pusson ter tek notuss uv 'im, 'kase none er de widdies wuz gwine ma'y a cowerd."

"Why, Aunt 'Phrony," said Ned, "he must have found a wife at last, for how about Mis' Molly Hyar'?"

"Shucks!" said she, "is I uver tol' you 'bout Mis' Molly Hyar'? Naw, suh, she b'longs in dem ol' nigger tales whar Nancy tells you. De Injun tales ain' say nuttin' 'bout no wife er his'n. He wuz too gre't a fighter an' too full er 'havishness uver ter sottle down wid a wife; an' now lemme finish de tale.

"Dey gin him a turr'ble trouncin' an' den turnt him aloose, an' stidder gittin' him a wife he got him a hide dat smart f'um haid ter heels; but w'en my daddy tell dat tale he useter een' her up dis-a-way, 'An' mebby Hyar' git de bes' uv 'em, atter all, 'kase w'en you git a hidin', de smart's soon over, but w'en you git a wife, de mis'ry done come ter stay.'"

~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~

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