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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908)

Uncle Remus Has Peculiar Dreams

From “Told by Uncle Remus”

ONE afternoon, while Uncle Remus was sitting in the sun, he drifted across the dim and pleasant borderland that lies somewhere between sleeping and waking. He must have drifted back again immediately, for it seemed that he was not so fast asleep that he was unable to hear the sound of stealthy footsteps somewhere near him. Instantly he was on the alert, but still kept his eyes closed. He knew at once that the little boy was trying to surprise him….

By opening one eye a trifle, Uncle Remus could watch the youngster, who was creeping, Indian-like, upon him, and this gave the old negro an immense advantage, for just as the little boy was about to jump at him, Uncle Remus straightened himself in his chair and uttered a blood-curdling yell that would have alarmed a much larger and older person than the lad.

“Why, what in the world is the matter with you, Uncle Remus?” he asked as soon as he could speak.

“Wuz dat you comin’ ’long dar, honey?” said Uncle Remus, by way of response. “Well, ef ’twuz, you kin des go up dar ter de big house an’ tell um all dat you saved my life, kaze dat what you done. Dey ain’t no tellin’ what would ’a’ happen ef you had n’t ’a’ come creepin’ ’long an’ woke me up, kaze whiles I wuz dozin’ dar I wuz on a train, an’ de bullgine look like it wuz runnin’ away. ’Twant one er deze yer ’commydatin’ trains, kaze de man what tuck up de tickets say he w’a n’t in no hurry fer ter see how fur anybody gwine; dey wuz all boun’ fer de same place, an’ when dey got dar dey ’d know it. De kyars wuz lined wid caliker, an’ de brakeman wuz made out ’n straw. It went on, it did, an’ de bullgine run faster an’ faster twel it run so fast you could n’t hear it toot fer brakes, an’ des ’bout de time dat eve’ything wuz a gittin’ smashed up, here you come an’ wokened me—an’ a mighty good thing, kaze ef I ’d ’a’ stayed on dat train, dey would n’t ’a’ been ’nough er me left fer de congergation ter sing a song over. I’m mighty thankful dat dey ’s somebody got sense ’nough fer ter come ’long an’ skeer me out er my troubles.”

This statement was intended to change the course of the little boy’s thoughts—to cause him to forget that he had been frightened—and it was quite successful, for he began to talk about dreams in general, telling some peculiar ones of his own, such as children have.

“Talkin’ ’bout dreams,” remarked Uncle Remus, “it put me in min’ er de man what been sick off an’ on, an’ he hatter be mighty keerful er his eatin’. One night he had a dream. It seemed like dat somebody come ’long an’ gi’ him a great big hunk er ol’ time ginger-cake, an’ it smell so sweet an’ taste so good dat he e’t ’bout a poun’. He wuz eatin’ it in his sleep, but de dream wuz so natchal dat de nex’ mornin’ dey hatter sen’ fer de doctor, an’ ’twuz e’en ’bout all dey could do fer ter pull ’im thoo.”