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There are two kinds of bears - smart bears and foolish bears. Folks in Mississippi used to say Mississippi bears were the smartest in the whole U.S.A.
That's what Mike Hooter, the great Bear-Hunter and Preacher of the Magnolia State, used to say when he was alive, and he sure knew all anybody ever knew about bears. Fact is, he was the greatest bear hunter ever was in Mississippi.
Some folks called him Mike Shouter, for he was forever roaring louder than ten waterfalls when he was preaching sermons or when he was arguing about the smartness of the Mississippi bears. Whenever anyone tried to argue about bears, Mike would tell them about Ike Hamberlin and his time with the smart bears.
One time Mike Hooter and Ike Hamberlin were talking about bears and they decided to go out hunting together. But Ike was monstrously jealous of Mike, so he thought he'd get a head start and go out alone before him. He set out in the early morning, just he and his dogs.
Well, Mike caught wind of this, so he got up early himself that morning, took his two-shooter, and went off looking for Ike. But Mike didn't take his dogs.
After a time he spotted Ike and just followed him for a distance. Ike had gone pretty deep into the woods when his dogs started growling and barking. They heard another kind of deep noise and their hairs stood straight up their backs like tomcats in a fight.
"Run go get 'em," Ike shouted to the dogs. But the dogs wouldn't. They just ran around Ike yapping and crying, as if they were scared to death.
"Sic 'em! Sic 'em!" Ike kept on hollering to the dogs, but they minded him like birds in flight.
Mike was watching all the time, wondering what was going to happen next.
Ike was mad as a hornet, but he was trying to keep his temper, he just kept coaxing the dogs to stir up the bear that he knew was in there somewhere. Those dogs just weren't acting natural. Mike was watching, and he even felt kind of sorry for Ike.
After all, there was the man out hunting for bear. And there was a bear just waiting to be got. And there were the bear-hunting dogs who were supposed to be stirring up the bear. But instead of doing their duty as good hunting dogs should, they just kept whining and standing there with their tails between their legs. It sure wasn't right. You'd think a curse had been cast on them.
Ike was fit to be tied. "I'll teach you good-for-nothin' critters to tend to your business as you ought to," he shouted. Then he took his single barrel, leaned it against a tree, and ran to the creek. There he began picking up stones and throwing them at his dogs. Those dogs started howling to the heavens.
Just then Ike ran out of stones so he turned around to gather some more. As his back was turned, and his dogs were still howling up a storm, there was a sudden crackling and breaking sound coming from the woods. Mike was watching and out came the biggest and most powerful bear he'd ever seen. Ike heard the sound too and figured he must have thrown enough rocks for his bewitched dogs to get on with their business.
So Ike started setting down the stones he wouldn't be needing. But meanwhile this big mean bear had walked clear over to the tree where Ike had sat down his gun. The bear picked it up with his front paws and looked at it. Then he blew into it with some powerful breaths.
Ike turned around just in time to see the bear with his paws on the gun. Ike froze in his boots. His hair stood up on his head, his mouth was wide open, and his eyes were ready to jump out of his head. And Mike, watching, was just as numb.
The bear looked at Ike with a bear grin, then he put the rifle back against the tree, turned around, and walked off.
Ike rushed up to the gun, grabbed it, aimed straight at the bear, and snapped the lock!...But not a sound came from the trusty old piece. Though there was a sound of laughing afar off. Just then Ike looked down at his feet and sure enough he was standing in a pile of gunpowder.
Mike who had been laughing so hard decided it was time to give himself up. So he went out from his hiding place and told his friend what that smart Mississippi bear had done to his gun. Old Ike didn't think it was quite so funny. But after years of hearing Mike tell the story, Ike would laugh just as hard as any of the other listeners. And he'd laugh particularly hard when Mike would tell the part about when the bear was walking off, and how he stopped to look back at Ike standing there with that good for nothing gun, with his good for nothing dogs, and how the bear then put one of his front paws up to his face, and thumbed his nose at poor ole Ike.
Once upon a time there was a man who was very hard to please and who never thought his wife did anything right around the house. One evening, during the harvest season, he came home, scolding and swearing and making a fuss as usual.
"Dear love, I wish you weren't always so angry with the way I keep the house. I try to do my best at this job, but I never can please you" his wife said. "I know, tomorrow, let's change jobs. I'll go out with the harvesters and harvest the hay and you stay home and take care of the house."
The husband thought that might be a pretty good idea. And he said he was willing to try it.
So, early the next morning, his wife took his scythe, placed it around her neck, and went out to the hay field with the rest of the harvesters. Meanwhile her husband was to care for the house and do the work she usually did; only, of course, he was to do it much better and more to his own liking.
The first thing he needed to do was churn some butter, but after he had churned for a while, he got thirsty. So he went down to the cellar to tap a barrel of ale. Just as he placed his mug under the tap and turned it on, he heard overhead their pig wandering around in the kitchen. So he ran up the cellar stairs as fast as he could to make sure the pig wouldn't upset the churn. As he got upstairs he saw that the pig had already knocked it over and was rolling and grunting in the cream. The man got so wild with rage that he forgot all about what he had started downstairs and began running toward the pig as fast as he could. He caught it outside and gave it such a swift kick that poor piggy fell dead on the spot. Then all at once he remembered about the barrel downstairs. But when he got back down to the cellar, the barrel was empty; but the cellar floor was full.
He tried to clean up the mess, but got frustrated and also remembered he still needed to churn some butter. So, he went into the dairy and found enough cream left to fill the churn again.
After he had churned for awhile, he remembered that their milking cow was still shut up in the barn and hadn't had a bite to eat or a drop to drink, and it was now mid-morning. As he thought about the cow he also thought that it was such a far trip down to the meadow. Then he got an idea: Instead of going to the meadow he could just get her up on the roof. After all, between the cracks in their roof grass had started to grow. This would be a way to get rid of it.
Now their house was at the top of a very steep hill so he thought he could lay a plank of wood from the ground to the roof and just let the cow walk right on up there. Sure enough, he found a plank, and the cow walked right on up.
Once back inside the house he remembered that the cow would probably need something to drink now that it was grazing. To get some water, he'd have to walk down to the well. But, by this time their baby had awoken from her nap and she was playing in the other room. So, he thought he surely couldn't leave the churn unattended: the baby might crawl into the kitchen and upset it. He decided he'd just have to take the churn with him. So, he put it on his back, grabbed a bucket and left the house.
When he got to the well, he stopped and leaned over to fill his bucket. But when he did, all the cream ran out of the churn all over his shoulders and down into the well.
Now it was getting close to noon and he knew his wife would be ready for her lunch. But he didn't even have any butter churned yet. So he thought that the best thing to do was to start boiling the porridge. He filled a pot with water and hung it over the fire. When he had done that, a terrible thought ran through his mind: What if the cow fell off the roof, and broke her neck?
So he decided he'd have to go up there and tie her down. He attached one end of a rope to the cow's neck, and the other end he dropped down the chimney. Once back down in the kitchen, he tied the second end to his own thigh. Meanwhile, the water was starting to boil and he still had to grind the oatmeal.
So he began to grind away, but while he was hard at it, the cow lost her balance and fell off the roof. And, as she fell she dragged the man up. He got stuck about halfway up the chimney, and the cow hung halfway down.
Out in the hay field, the wife had waited nearly two hours for her husband to come call her in for lunch. Finally, after waiting a half-hour more, she headed for the house. When she got there she saw the cow hanging in mid-air. The wife felt sorry for her. So she cut the rope with her scythe. As she did, down came her husband. So, walking into the kitchen, she saw her husband - who was to take care of the house - with his head inside the porridge pot.
A honey gatherer had three sons, all born at the same time. Their names were Hear-it-however-faint-the-sound, Follow-it-however-great-the-distance and Put-it-together-however-small-the-pieces. These names are sufficient to indicate the skill of these young men, but their friends simply called them Hear, Follow, and Piece.
One day the honey gatherer went on a long, long journey into the forest until he came to a tree that was as high as a hill, and the bees that buzzed in and out showed clearly that it must be full of honey. He climbed up, but, balancing on a rotten branch, fell to the ground and was broken into ten pieces.
Hear was sitting beside the hut in the village, but he promptly jumped to his feet, saying, "Father has fallen from a tree. Come! Let us go to his help."
His brother Follow set out and led them along the father's tracks until they came upon the body lying in ten pieces. Piece then put all the parts together, and fastened them up. Later, father then walked home while the sons carried his honey.
Next day, the honey gatherer again set out to look for honey, while his sons sat at home, each boasting that he was more important than the others.
"You could not have heard him without me," said Hear.
"Though you had heard him you could not have found him without me," said Follow.
"Even though you had found him, you could not have put him together without me," said Piece.
Meanwhile the old honey gatherer had gone far into the forest until he came to a tree that was as high as the clouds, and the bees buzzing in and out showed clearly that it must be full of honey. He climbed up, but he stepped on a rotten branch and it broke. The honey gatherer fell to the ground and was broken into ninety-nine pieces. His sons were sitting at home boasting about their individual skills, when Hear jumped up, saying, "Father has fallen!"
Follow reluctantly set out to follow the footprints, and found the ninety-nine pieces on the ground. Pointing to them he said, "See how indispensable I am. I have found him for you."
Piece then put the ninety-nine pieces together very grudgingly, saying, "I, and I alone, have restored Father."
Their father walked home, while the sons carried the honey.
The next day the old honey gatherer went farther than ever into the forest and he found a tree that reached to the stars. The bees buzzing in and out showed that it must be full of honey. He climbed up, but treading on a rotten branch, fell to the ground and was broken into a thousand and one pieces.
Hear heard the fall, but would not tell his brothers. Follow knew that there must have been an accident since his father did not return, while Piece
realized that his father needed his assistance, but would not ask his brothers to find him so that he might piece him together.
So the old honey gatherer died, because his selfish sons each thought more of his own reputation than of his father's. In truth, each needed the others, and none was wiser or better than the rest.
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