A Georgia Folktale
Well, it happened one year that the crops dried up mighty good. If you’d ‘a struck a match anywhere near the town, the whole county would have blazed right up. The only animal doing right was Br’er Bear, who could just sleep and live off his fat. And Br’er Rabbit, too; he had himself some turnips and carrots and sugar cane so his wife and kids were OK, but all that was running out mighty fast.
So the animals had a meeting one day, and when they weren’t drinking up the last of the lemonade they were talking about Old Man Hongriss, the only person in town who was sitting pretty and always seemed to have lots of money. “Say,” Br’er Wolf said, “I heard Big Money Hongriss talking to his grampa about a gold mine near Br’er Bear’s house.
“Boy oh boy,” said Br’er Bear with a growl. “He’d better not let me find it before he does, cause after I’m done with it, there won’t be no gold left.”
Everyone had a good laugh at that, but when they went home later in the evening they were all thinking about that gold mine. Every animal except Br’er Bat, who was thinking about all those fat juicy bugs gathering by the lantern outside his house.
The next morning, just about every animal in town was digging somewhere. A couple were digging in the fields, a couple were digging in the woods … heck, a couple were even digging in their own backyards. Some were so hungry and tired that they could scarcely hold their own shovels. The sun was beating down, too, and no one liked that except Br’er Lizard, who was mighty lazy.
The next day, Br’er Wolf said they’d best just work together, so they grouped up and started digging next to one another. Now, Br’er Wolf wasn’t thinking with his brain too much at this point … he was thinking with his stomach. And his stomach told him any one of these hard-working animals might cure what was ailing him.
It just so happened that Br’er Rabbit got stuck with Br’er Wolf, and he knew he had to keep his eyes open. Instead of digging, which Br’er Rabbit didn’t like doing anyway, he made a good show of just going through the motions, pretending he was the best darned digger in the group.
Pretty soon, Br’er Wolf started to get a rumbling in his stomach, and figured some rabbit would be mighty good. “Hey, Br’er Rabbit!” he called out. “Guess what? I found me some gold! Get over here and help yourself!”
Br’er Rabbit, still pretending to dig, replied, “Oh, you just take whatever you want, Br’er Wolf. I’ll take what’s left. I’m hardly picky, after all.”
Br’er Wolf dug a bit more, then said, “Hey, Br’er Rabbit … come here! I wanna show you something.”
Br’er Rabbit just kept digging nice and slow. “My eyes ain’t big for nothing, Br’er Wolf.”
Br’er Wolf grumbled to himself, dug a bit, then said, “Hey, Br’er Rabbit … come here! I wanna tell you a secret about this here gold mine.”
Br’er Rabbit dug his hole just a little bit deeper. “My ears ain’t big for nothing, Br’er Wolf.”
Well that was the last straw. Br’er Wolf dropped his shovel and went right after Br’er Rabbit, ready to pounce. Br’er Rabbit hopped over the little hole he’d dug, but the hungry wolf stepped right in it, getting his paw stuck right good. Before his big snout even hit the ground, Br’er Rabbit was a good twenty feet away.
“I think I’ll just go looking for the gold on my own!” Br’er Rabbit called over his shoulder. “Don’t worry about me, Br’er Wolf … I wasn’t much for digging anyway!”