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A Ghost Story

Joel Chandler Harris

The next time the little boy visited Uncle Remus he persuaded 'Tildy to go with him. Daddy Jack was in his usual place, dozing and talking to himself, while Uncle Remus oiled the carriage-harness. After a while Aunt Tempy came in.

The conversation turned on Daddy Jack's story about "haunts" and spirits. Finally 'Tildy said:—

"W'en it come ter tales 'bout ha'nts," said she, "I year tell er one dat'll des nat'ally make de kinks on yo' head onquile deyse'f."

"W'at tale dat, chile?" asked Aunt Tempy.

"Unk' Remus, mus' I tell it?"

"Let 'er come," said Uncle Remus.

"Well, den," said 'Tildy, rolling her eyes back and displaying her white teeth, "one time dey wuz a 'Oman en a Man. Seem like dey live close ter one er n'er, en de Man he sot his eyes on de 'Oman, en de 'Oman, she des went 'long en 'ten' ter her bizness. Man, he keep his eyes sot on 'er. Bimeby, de 'Oman, she 'ten' ter her bizness so much tel she tuck'n tuck sick en die. Man, he up'n tell de folks she dead, en de folks dey come en fix 'er. Dey lay 'er out, en dey light some candles, en dey sot up wid 'er, des like folks does now; en dey put two great big roun' shiny silver dollars on 'er eyes fer ter hol' 'er eyeleds down."

In describing the silver dollars 'Tildy joined the ends of her thumbs and fore-fingers together, and made a figure as large as a saucer.

"Dey wuz lots bigger dan dollars is deze days," she continued, "en dey look mighty purty. Seem like dey wuz all de money de 'Oman got, en de folks dey put um on 'er eyeleds fer to hol' um down. Den w'en de folks do dat dey call up de Man en take'n tell 'im dat he mus' dig a grave en bury de 'Oman, en den dey all went off 'bout der bizness.

"Well, den, de Man, he tuck'n dig de grave en make ready fer ter bury de 'Oman. He look at dat money on 'er eyeleds, en it shine mighty purty. Den he tuck it off en feel it. Hit feel mighty good, but des 'bout dat time de Man look at de 'Oman, en he see 'er eyeleds open. Look like she lookin' at 'im, en he take'n put de money whar he git it fum.

"Well, den, de Man, he take'n git a waggin en haul de 'Oman out ter de buryin'-groun', en w'en he git dar he fix ever'thing, en den he grab de money en kivver up de grave right quick. Den he go home, en put de money in a tin box en rattle it 'roun.' Hit rattle loud en hit rattle nice, but de Man, he ain't feel so good. Seem like he know de 'Oman eyeled stretch wide open lookin' fer 'im. Yit he rattle de money 'roun', en hit rattle loud en hit rattle nice.

"Well, den, de Man, he take'n put de tin box w'at de money in on de mantel-shel-uf. De day go by, en de night come, en w'en night come de win' 'gun ter rise up en blow. Hit rise high, hit blow strong. Hit blow on top er de house, hit blow und' de house, hit blow 'roun' de house. Man, he feel quare. He set by de fier en lissen. Win' say 'Buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o!' Man lissen. Win' holler en cry. Hit blow top er de house, hit blow und' de house, hit blow 'roun' de house, hit blow in de house. Man git closte up in de chimbly-jam. Win' fin' de cracks en blow in um. 'Bizzy, bizzy, buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o!'

"Well, den, Man, he lissen, lissen, but bimeby he git tired er dis, en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he gwine ter bed. He tuck'n fling a fresh light'd knot in de fier, en den he jump in de bed, en quile hisse'f up en put his head und' de kivver. Win' hunt fer de cracks—bizzy-buzz, bizzy-buzz, buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o-o! Man keep his head und' de kivver. Light'd knot flar' up en flicker. Man ain't dast ter move. Win' blow en w'issel Phew-fee-e-e-e! Light'd knot flicker en flar'. Man, he keep his head kivvud.

"Well, den, Man lay dar, en git skeer'der en skeer'der. He ain't dast ter wink his eye skacely, en seem like he gwine ter have swamp agur. W'iles he layin' dar shakin', en de win' a-blowin', en de fier flickin', he year someyuther kind er fuss. Hit mighty kuse kind er fuss. Clinkity, clinkalinkle! Man 'low:—

"'Hey! who stealin' my money?'

"Yit he keep his head kivvud w'iles he lay en lissen. He year de win' blow, en den he year dat yuther kinder fuss—Clinkity, clink, clinkity, clinkalinkle! Well, den, he fling off de kivver en sot right up in de bed. He look, he ain't see nothin'. De fier flicker en flar' en de win' blow. Man go en put chain en bar 'cross de do'. Den he go back to bed, en he ain't mo'n totch his head on de piller tel he year de yuther fuss—clink, clink, clinkity, clinkalinkle! Man rise up, he ain't see nothin' 'tall. Mighty quare!

"Des 'bout time he gwine ter lay down 'g'in, yer come de fuss—clinkity, clinkalinkle. Hit soun' like it on de mantel-shel-uf; let 'lone dat, hit soun' like it in de tin box on de mantel-shel-uf; let 'lone dat, hit soun' like it de money in de tin box on de man-tel-shel-uf. Man say:—

"'Hey! rat done got in box!'

"Man look; no rat dar. He shet up de box, en set it down on de shel-uf. Time he do dat yer come de fuss—clinkity, clinkity, clinkalinkle! Man open de box en look at de money. Dem two silver dollars layin' in dar des like he put um. W'iles de man dun dis, look like he kin year sump'n' say 'way off yander:—

"'Whar my money? Oh, gim me my money!'

"Man, he sot de box back on de shel-uf, en time he put it down he year de money rattle—clinkity, clinkalinkle, clink!—en den fum 'way off yander sump'n' say:—

"'Oh, gim me my money! I want my money!'

"Well, den, de Man git skeer'd sho' nuff, en he got er flat-iün en put on de tin box, en den he tuck'n pile all de cheers 'gin' de do', en run en jump in de bed. He des know dey's a booger comin'. Time he git in bed en kivver his head, de money rattle louder, en sump'n' cry way off yander:—

"'I want my money! Oh, gim me my money!'

"Man, he shake en he shiver; money, hit clink en rattle; booger, hit holler en cry. Booger come closter, money clink louder. Man shake wusser en wusser. Money say: 'Clinkity, clinkalinkle!' Booger cry, 'Oh, gim me my money!' Man holler, 'O Lordy, Lordy!'

"Well, den, hit keep on dis a-way, tel dreckly Man year de do' open. He peep fum und' de kivver, en in walk de 'Oman w'at he done bury in de buryin'-groun'. Man shiver en shiver, win' blow en blow, money rattle en rattle, 'Oman cry en cry. 'Buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o!' sez de win'; 'Clinkalink!' sez de box; 'Oh, gim me my money!' sez de 'Oman; 'O Lordy!' sez de Man. 'Oman year de money, but look like she ain't kin see, en she grope 'roun', en grope 'roun', en grope 'roun' wid 'er han' h'ist in de a'r des dis away."

Here 'Tildy stood up, pushed her chair back with her foot, raised her arms over her head, and leaned forward in the direction of Daddy Jack.

"Win' blow, fier flicker, money rattle, Man shake en shiver, 'Oman grope 'roun' en say, 'Gim me my money! Oh, who got my money?'"

'Tildy advanced a few steps.

"Money look like it gwine ter t'ar de tin box all ter flinders. 'Oman grope en cry, grope en cry, tel bimeby she jump on de man en holler:—

"'You got my money!'"

As she reached this climax, 'Tildy sprang at Daddy Jack and seized him, and for a few moments there was considerable confusion in the corner. The little boy was frightened, but the collapsed appearance of Daddy Jack convulsed him with laughter. The old African was very angry. His little eyes glistened with momentary malice, and he shook his cane threateningly at 'Tildy. The latter coolly adjusted her ear-rings, as she exclaimed:—

"Dar, now! I know'd I'd git even wid de ole vilyun. Come a-callin' me pidjin-toed!"

"Better keep yo' eye on 'im, chile," said Aunt Tempy. "He 'witch you, sho'."

"'Witch who? Ef he come witchin' roun' me, I lay I break his back. I tell you dat right pine-blank."

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