The Adventures of Unc’ Billy Possum Part 4

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The Adventures of Unc’ Billy Possum is a Webnovel created by Thornton W. Burgess.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

Jimmy Skunk had gone off to take a bath and get two more eggs for Peter Rabbit’s party. Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel, peeping out from the hollow log where they were hiding, could see Jimmy on his way back with a big goose egg under each arm. Shadow smacked his lips. He meant to have those eggs himself.

Pretty soon all the little forest and meadow people whom Peter Rabbit had invited were gathered around the foot of Unc’ Billy Possum’s hollow tree, and each had brought something good to eat. My, such a feast as was spread out there! Now they were waiting for Unc’ Billy Possum, who had gone to meet his family, coming up from “Ol’

Virginny.”

Over in the top of a tall pine tree Blacky the Crow was hiding and chuckling to himself as he watched. Reddy Fox was getting impatient.

He was hungry. He had had no breakfast, and as he lay hiding in the hollow log, he could peep out and see all the good things, and he could smell them, too. It seemed as if his stomach would just give him no peace at all. He wished that Sammy Jay would bring the false message that Bowser the Hound was coming, so as to frighten all the rest away.

“I’m nearly starved!” whispered Reddy Fox. “I hope Sammy Jay will hurry up.”

Just then they noticed that Peter Rabbit was very busy. He hopped from guest to guest and whispered in the ear of each.

“Now I wonder what Peter Rabbit is whispering about,” said Reddy.

Suddenly the light at the end of the hollow log disappeared. There was a queer rattling sound that sent shivers up and down Reddy’s backbone.

p.r.i.c.kly Porky the Porcupine had sat down with his back against the end of the hollow log, and the queer rattling sound was made by the thousand little spears in his long coat. Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel were in a prison. You see there was no other opening to the hollow log.

“Never mind,” whispered Shadow the Weasel, “he’ll go away when Sammy Jay shouts that Bowser the Hound is coming.”

Blacky the Crow, hidden in the top of the tall pine, was also wondering what Peter was whispering. His sharp eyes watched Peter, and every time that Peter whispered in the ear of one of the little meadow or forest people, they would laugh.

Now, Sammy Jay knew nothing about all this. By and by, when he thought that every one was there, Sammy came flying through the Green Forest, just as if he knew nothing about Peter Rabbit’s party. Now, Sammy, with all his faults, is one of the best watchmen in the Green Forest.

If there is any danger which his sharp eyes discover, he always screams at the top of his lungs. So, though he steals and plays tricks and makes life very uncomfortable for the others, they always stop to listen when Sammy sounds a warning. Because Sammy knew this he felt sure of breaking up this party.

As soon as he came in sight of all the little meadow and forest people, he began to shriek at the top of his lungs.

“Run! run! run! Here comes Bowser the Hound,” he shouted.

No one moved, and this puzzled Sammy so that he hardly knew what to do, but he kept right on shrieking, just as if Bowser was right close at hand. Still no one moved. Sammy stopped on a tall pine and pretended to be terribly excited.

“You had better run before Bowser gets here,” he shouted.

What do you think happened then? Why, everybody set up a great shout.

“Ha! ha! ha!” laughed Peter Rabbit.

“Ho! ho! ho!” shouted Johnny Chuck.

“Hee! hee! hee!” giggled Danny Meadow Mouse.

“What time will Bowser get here?” asked Bobby c.o.o.n, gravely.

“Tell Bowser that we are all waiting for him,” added Jimmy Skunk.

“Is Bowser quite out of breath?” inquired Jerry Muskrat.

“I would like nothing better than to run a race with Bowser the Hound,” said Jumper the Hare, sitting up very straight.

Sammy Jay didn’t know what to do or what to say. He was just the most disgusted looking Jay that ever flew through the Green Forest, and all the time he wondered and wondered and wondered how it could be that Peter Rabbit and his friends knew that Bowser the Hound was not in the Green Forest at all. You see, old Mr. Toad had told Peter all about Sammy’s plan, and this is what Peter had been whispering to the others.

XII

p.r.i.c.kLY PORKY MAKES HIMSELF AT HOME

Peter Rabbit’s party promised to be a great success. When old Mr.

Toad, who had overheard Sammy Jay’s plan, had told Peter Rabbit all about it, he had also told Peter that Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel were hiding in an old hollow log close by.

Peter had whispered the news in the ear of each of the little forest and meadow people and had told them how p.r.i.c.kly Porky was even then sitting with his back against the opening in the hollow log.

Every one had thought this the best joke ever, for, of course, they all knew that Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel could not get out past the thousand little spears hidden in the long coat of p.r.i.c.kly Porky.

p.r.i.c.kly Porky settled himself very comfortably and began to tell stories about his home, way up in the North Woods. Every few minutes he would rattle the thousand little spears in his coat, and though no one could see Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel inside the hollow log, every one could guess just how little shivers were running up and down the backbones of the two little scamps held prisoners there.

p.r.i.c.kly Porky told how in the cold, cold winter the snow piled up and piled up in his far northern home, until nearly all the forest folk who lived there had to make a long journey into the South, or else went into warm, snug hollows in the trees or caves in the rocks and slept the long winter through, just as Johnny Chuck does. He told how the Indians came through the great forest on big webbed shoes, that kept them from sinking into the snow, and hunted for Lightfoot the Deer, and how they never bothered p.r.i.c.kly Porky, but always treated him with the greatest respect. He told so many, many interesting things about the great North Woods, that all the little meadow people and forest folk gathered close around to listen, but every few minutes, while he was talking, he would shake his thousand little spears, and then every one would smile.

Inside the hollow log Reddy Fox was getting stiff and sore, because, you know, he didn’t have room enough to even turn over. Worse still, he was so hungry that he could cry. You see, he had crept in there very early in the morning without any breakfast, because he had planned that when Sammy Jay should break up Peter Rabbit’s party, he would steal all the good things he wanted. Now, he could smell them, and hear the others talking about the feast they were going to have, and he knew that not so much as a tiny, tiny crumb would be left for him, when p.r.i.c.kly Porky should choose to let him out.

Shadow the Weasel felt just as uncomfortable as Reddy Fox, and Shadow is very short-tempered. Every time Reddy moved and squeezed Shadow, Shadow would snap at him. Now, of course, they could hear everything that was said outside, and the things that were said were not pleasant to listen to. Bobby c.o.o.n and Billy Mink and Johnny Chuck and Little Joe Otter and Jimmy Skunk told about all the mean things and all the sharp tricks that Reddy Fox and Shadow had done. It made the two little prisoners so angry that they ground their teeth, but every time they made the least little movement, p.r.i.c.kly Porky would shake his thousand little spears and settle himself still more firmly against the opening in the hollow log. He certainly was enjoying himself. It tickled him almost to pieces to think how easily he had trapped smart Reddy Fox, the boaster.

So they waited all the long day for the coming of Unc’ Billy Possum’s family, and when at last they did arrive, there was the merriest surprise party ever seen. Only Sammy Jay, Blacky the Crow, Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel were unhappy, and of course no one cared for that.

XIII

UNC’ BILLY POSSUM GROWS HUNGRY

Unc’ Billy Possum spent the very coldest days of winter curled up in his warm, snug home in the big hollow tree in the Green Forest. Unc’

Billy didn’t like the cold weather. Sometimes he would stick his head out of his doorway and then, as he heard rough Brother North Wind whooping through the Green Forest, he would turn right around and go back to his bed for another nap. And all the time he would be saying:

“Way down Souf de sun am shinin’– Yas, Sah, dat am so!

Fo’ dat lan’ mah heart am pinin’– Yas, Sah, dat am so!

“De mocking-bird he sings all day, De alligators am at play, De flowers dey am bloomin’ fair, And mah heart aches to be down there– Yas, Sah, dat am so!”

Now Unc’ Billy had prepared for the winter by getting just as fat as he knew how. He was so fat that he could hardly waddle when Jack Frost first came to the Green Forest. You see he knew that if he was very, very fat he wouldn’t have to worry about getting anything to eat, not for a long time, anyway. So when the ice and snow came, and Unc’ Billy decided that it was more comfortable indoors than outdoors, he was almost as fat as Johnny Chuck was when he went to sleep for the long winter.

Now Johnny Chuck just slept and slept and slept, without waking once the whole winter long. But Unc’ Billy Possum couldn’t sleep like that.

He had to stick his head out every little while to see how the world was getting along without him. When the sun was bright and the air was not too cold, Unc’ Billy would sometimes climb down from his hollow tree and walk about a little on the snow. But he didn’t enjoy it much.

It made his feet cold, and then he didn’t like the tracks he made. He scowled at them, for he knew well enough that if Farmer Brown’s boy should happen along, he would know right away who had made those tracks, and then he would hunt for Unc’ Billy’s home in the hollow tree. So Unc’ Billy didn’t go out very much, and very seldom indeed when the snow was soft.

It seemed to Unc’ Billy Possum as if the winter never, never would go.

He was beginning to grow thin now, and of course he was getting hungry. He began to think about it, and the more he thought about it, the hungrier he grew. One morning he stuck his head out of his doorway, and whom should he see trotting along below but Jimmy Skunk.

Jimmy looked fat and comfortable and as if he did not mind the cold weather at all.

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