Wiley listened to his mama. She knew all about the Tombigbee River swamp and the terrible Hairy Man who lived there. Wiley's mama told him his papa had fallen into the river and was never seen again.
"If you go into the swamp, take your hound dogs," his mama warned. "The Hairy Man's scared of them."
One day, Wiley went into the swamp to cut some poles for the hen roost. While he was working, his dogs ran off after a wild pig. Wiley was alone when he saw the Hairy Man coming toward him, carrying a sack. He had bulging eyes and big, sharp, yellow teeth. Stiff hair covered most of his body, and his toes looked like cow hooves.
Wiley dropped his axe and climbed a tree. "Why are you up in that tree?" the Hairy Man asked.
"Mama told me to stay away from you," Wiley replied. "What do you have in that sack?"
"Nothing . . . yet," said the Hairy Man.
Then he picked up Wiley's axe and began to chop at that tree. He was chopping fast! Wiley began to yell, "Fly, wood chips, fly! Go back into your same old place!" Those wood chips did just what Wiley said and went right back to their places in the tree trunk.
The Hairy Man chopped faster. Then Wiley heard his dogs and hollered, "Here, dogs!" The Hairy Man tossed that axe and ran off through the swamp.
Back home, Wiley's mama said, "I know how to get rid of that Hairy Man. Next time you see him, say, 'Hello, Hairy Man. I hear you're the best conjure man around.'"
Wiley's mama continued, "A conjure man knows magic. Ask him to change himself into something big. Then ask him to change into something little. When he does, grab him and put him in his sack. Then throw it into the river."
Does Wiley's mama's plan work? Go to the next page to find out.
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