"I'm Sickly But Sassy"

Context: The first Uncle Remus stories, supposedly told by an elderly ex-slave in central Georgia to the seven-year-old son of "Miss Sally," appeared in The Atlanta Constitution in 1876, where their author, Joel Chandler Harris, was a reporter. Thirty-four of the tales were collected in 1880 into Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings. That volume contained the Tar-Baby story and other accounts of the many times that Mr. Rabbit outwitted Mr. Fox. In his Introduction, the author discussed the wide spread of animal stories in folk lore, with the same episode appearing in Planatation tales, in Indian lore, and in anecdotes from the Amazon regions of South America. Three years later appeared another volume, Nights with Uncle Remus, containing more stories. In Chapter 50 of this book, called "Brother Rabbit Pretends to be Poisoned," a squinch owl is a screech owl. While the boy is visiting Uncle Remus, hoping to hear a story

. . . the door opened and Aunt Tempy made her appearance. Her good humor was infectious.
"Name er goodness!" she exclaimed, "I lef' you all settin' yer, way las' week; I goes off un I does my wuk, un I comes back, un I fin's you settin' right whar I lef' you. Goodness knows I dunner whar you gits yo' vittles. . . ."
"Yas, Sis Tempy, we er settin' whar you lef' us, en der Lord, he bin a-pervidin'. W'en de vittles don't come in at de do' hit come down the chimbley, en so w'ats de odds? We er sorter po'ly, Sis Tempy, I'm 'bliged ter you. You know w'at de jay-bird say ter der squinch owl: 'I'm sickly but sassy.'"