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Author's Note: This little story is the retelling of one that is probably several hundred years old. I heard it originally as a child late one star-lit summer evening on the porch of a woman who was born a slave.

Why Mama Always So Busy!

by Allen Rolf

          Olee, he lay the corn by, sleeping under tree. Mama, she sweep floor, dust fly. Masa do books in office; Missy sit under mimosa tree with cool drink.

          Missy look down road. Carriage come. From carriage fall big, big box.

          "Oh, look at big box," cry Missy. She call Masa.

          "Big box fall from carriage," she tell Masa, "go see what it is."

          Masa call Olee. Olee wake up, come running. "What Masa, What?"

          "Olee go fetch big box in road. Bring box to Missy here."

        Olee go down road. Very hot. Olee pick up box. Box very heavy.

        "Oh," say Olee, "this big box very heavy."

        Missy smile when Olee bring box. She very excited at what in box.

        When she see, shy frown: "No! No! Take big box away."

        Olee sigh. It very hot. He take box to Masa.

        "Missy say bring box to you," he say.

        Masa smile. Then he look and see. What in box make Masa frown.

        "Box yours, Olee," say Masa. "I give you box as gift."

        Olee give big smile. Carry heavy box to home.

        "Where you get big box?" ask Mama.

        "Masa give box as gift. Very heavy. Maybe good things in box," answered Olee.

        Olee look in box. He frown like Missy and Masa frown. It is very hot day, so he go back to shade of tree to sleep.

        Mama look in box. She smile. Very happy.

        Now in box this .... new broom to sweep floor; frying pan for making corn cakes; candle for night when chill'n croop; hoe for weeds in garden; knife to cut salt bacon; big hat with feather for Sunday church.

        Mama, indeed, very happy. She sing all afternoon long.

        All those things in box reason Mama always busy!


© 1999 Allen Rolf