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Pleas and the Snake – a story repeated often in the Tuscaloosa area.

WARNING: This story was transcribed exactly as written in the 1930s. It may include some offensive language.


PLEAS AND THE SNAKE

FOLKLORE

BY

WPA WRITER

LILLIAN FINNELL

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA

1930s

A little Negro boy who had been reared on a lady’s place, near Tuscaloosa, was her chore boy after he grew older.

One winter morning, he went into her room, as usual, to make a fire. The fireplace was very large, having been built to burn wood. In the afternoon of each day, sufficient wood to keep the fire going until bedtime, also enough to make one the next morning, was brought into the room and piled in a corner near the fireplace. Some of this consisted of the dry limbs and trunks of dead trees, these being mixed with green wood to make the fire burn quickly.

Immediately after beginning to make the fire in question, the boy called out in a frightened tones, “Miss Marfy! Miss Marfy! Day’ze ‘er snake in de’ fi’place hyah.”

“Miss Martha”, whose head was well covered with bed clothes, roused sufficiently to demand, “What is the matter, Pleas? What do you want?”, her voice indicating the impatience she felt in being disturbed.

“Day’ze ‘er great big snake hyah in de’ fi’place”, still insisted Pleas, fear as evident in his voice as when he first announced the presence of the reptile. The lady’s temper increased at the little negro’s continued insistence.

She replied, “Shut up, Pleas. You know that’s not so. Go on and make the fire.”

“Ah jes’ dikklah, Miss Marfy, day is ‘er snake hyah.”

Thoroughly angered, Miss Martha stormed out: “Pleas, make that fire, I tell you. If you don’t hush bothering me, I’ll get up and box your ears. Now, don’t you say another word to me.”

After the lady had had her extra little nap, and she thought the fire had warmed the room, she arose from her bed. Imagine her surprise and fright, on going to the fireplace, to see drawn together on one side of it, and almost in front of an andiron, a few chunks and some little dry limbs feebly flickering, while on the opposite side in the far corner of the fireplace, there lay a snake coiled in the ashes.

Her voice could be heard now. She shrieked, “Pleas! You, Pleas! Come here!”

Pleas appearing, she shrilled, “Why, in the world didn’t you tell me that snake was in the fireplace?”

“Ah did tole yer,” said Pleas, “but yer say twan’ so.”

“Well, why didn’t you wake me?” complained Miss Martha. “I didn’t think that there was really a snake there.”

When the snake had been killed, and a fire made in the fireplace, the lady asked, “Pleas, weren’t you afraid of the snake? How did you manage to make the little fire you did?”

“Yaz’m, responded Pleas, “Ah wuz skeerd ob’em at fust, but atter ‘er w’ile, Ah got sorter yousen ter ’em.”

NOTE: Mrs. Martha Merriwether was the lady. She was a childless widow. Her surgeon-husband died in the War Between the States. Everyone in her neighborhood learned the story about “Pleas” and the snake.

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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