Sacred Texts  Americana  Index  Previous  Next 

Coffee in the Gourd, ed. J. Frank Dobie [1923], at



    A Brazos River fisherman caught a mud turtle on one of his throw lines and to get his hook back cut off the turtle's head and left the turtle scrambling and struggling on the ground.

    Presently two young negro men came by and one said to the other: "Dar's a daid turtle."

    To which the other replied: "Nigger, dat turtle am not daid, hit's a-crawlin'."

   "Course hit's daid, hits haid's cut off. How cum anybody with hits haid cut off hain't daid?"

   "How cum any body crawlin' round is daid? Daid bodies don't crawl."

   "Go yer a dime he's daid," said the first.

    "I fades yer," said the other.

    And they took the still struggling turtle and hurried to Uncle Toby, who was a good judge of small matters and always decided important things for the rest of the community.

    Each one pleaded his case eloquently; there was a dime at stake, and both were anxious to win. After much questioning and deliberation, Uncle Toby made his decision as follows: "I done tole yer boys hit's jest lack dis, that are turkle am daid but he don't know hit!"


    Ole sis goose wus er-sailin' on de lake, and ole brer fox wus hid in de weeds. By um by ole sis goose swum up close to der bank and ole brer fox lept out an cotched her.

    "O yes, ole sis goose, I'se get yer now, you'se been er-sailin' on mer lake er long time, en I'se got yer now. I'se gwine to break yer neck en pick yer bones."

    "Hole on der', brer fox, hold on, I'se got jes as much right to swim in der lake as you has ter lie in der weeds. Hit's des as much my lake es hit is yours, and we is gwine to take dig matter to der cotehouse and see if you has any right to break my neck and pick my bones."

    And so dey went to cote, and when dey got dere, de sheriff, he wus er fox, en de judge, he wus er fox, and der tourneys, dey wus foxes, en all de jurrymen, dey was foxes, too.

    End dey tried ole sis goose, en dey 'victed her and dey 'scuted her, and dey picked her bones.

    Now my chilluns, listen to me, when all de folks in de cotehouse is foxes, and you is jes er common goose, der ain't gwine to be much jestice for you pore nigger.

Next: The ''Blues'' As Folk-Songs, by Dorothy Scarborough