Race Improvement by Joel Chandler Harris

Story type: Literature

“Dere’s a kind er limberness ’bout niggers dese days dat’s mighty cu’us,” remarked Uncle Remus yesterday, as he deposited a pitcher of fresh water upon the exchange table. “I notisses it in de alley-ways an on de street-cornders. Dey er rackin’ up, mon, deze yer cullud fokes is.”

“What are you trying to give us now?” inquired one of the young men, in a bilious tone.

“The old man’s mind is wandering,” said the society editor, smoothing the wrinkles out of his lavender kids.

Uncle Remus laughed. I speck I is a gittin’ mo frailer dan I wuz ‘fo’ de fahmin days wuz over, but I sees wid my eyes an’ I years wid my year, same ez enny er dese yer young bucks w’at goes a gallopin’ roun’ huntin’ up devilment, an’ w’en I sees de limberness er dese yer cullud people, an’ w’en I sees how dey er dancin’ up, den I gits sorter hopeful. Dey er kinder ketchin’ up wid me.”

“How is that?”

“Oh, dey er movin’,” responded Uncle Remus. “Dey er sorter comin’ ‘roun’. Dey er gittin’ so dey bleeve dat dey ain’t no better dan de w’ite fokes. W’en freedom come out de niggers sorter got dere humps up, an’ dey staid dat way, twel bimeby dey begun fer ter git hongry, an’ den dey begun fer ter drap inter line right smartually; an’ now,” continued the old man, emphatically, “dey er des ez palaverous ez dey wuz befo’ de war. Dey er gittin’ on solid groun’, mon.”

“You think they are improving, then?”

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“You er chawin’ guv’nment now, boss. You slap de law onter a nigger a time er two, an’ larn ‘im dat he’s got fer to look after his own rashuns an’ keep out’n udder fokes’s chick’n-coops, an’ sorter coax ‘im inter de idee dat he’s got ter feed ‘is own chilluns, an’ I be blessed ef you ain’t got ‘im on risin’ groun’. An’, mo’n dat, w’en he gits holt er de fack dat a nigger k’n have yaller fever same ez w’ite folks, you done got ‘im on de mo’ners’ bench, an’ den ef you come down strong on de p’int dat he oughter stan’ fas’ by de fokes w’at hope him w’en he wuz in trouble de job’s done. W’en you does dat, ef you ain’t got yo’ han’s on a new-made nigger, den my name ain’t Remus, an’ ef dat name’s bin changed I ain’t seen her abbertized.”

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