The Adventures of Unc’ Billy Possum Part 7

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

So for almost a week Unc’ Billy lived in Farmer Brown’s hen-house and ate the eggs of Mrs. Speckles and Mrs. Feathertoes and hid in the last nest of the top row in the darkest corner and shivered as he heard Farmer Brown’s boy tell what would happen if he caught the one who was stealing those eggs. Sometimes the door was left open during the day, and Unc’ Billy would peep out and wish that he dared to run. But he didn’t, for Bowser the Hound was always prowling around, and then again he was almost sure to be seen by some one.

At last one day it began to snow. It snowed all day and it snowed all night. Rough Brother North Wind piled it up in great drifts in front of the hen-house door and all along one side of the hen-house. It covered the traps so deep that they couldn’t possibly catch any one.

As soon as the snow stopped falling, Unc’ Billy began to dig his way up to the top from the very hole by which he had entered the hen-house. He didn’t like it, for he doesn’t like snow, but now was his chance to get away, and he meant to make the most of it.

XX

UNC’ BILLY POSSUM WISHES HE HAD SNOWSHOES

Unc’ Billy Possum didn’t know whether he liked the snow more than he hated it or hated it more than he liked it, just now. Usually he dislikes the snow very much, and doesn’t go out in it any more than he has to. But this time the snow had done Unc’ Billy a good turn, a very good turn, indeed. Once out of the hen-house, Unc’ Billy lost no time in starting for the Green Forest. But it was slow, hard work. You see, the snow was newly fallen and very soft. Of course Unc’ Billy sank into it almost up to his middle at every step. He huffed and he puffed and he grunted and groaned. You see Unc’ Billy had slept so much through the winter that he was not at all used to hard work of any kind, and he wasn’t half way to the Green Forest before he was so tired it seemed to him that he could hardly move, and so out of breath that he could only gasp. It was then that he was sure that he hated the snow more than he liked it, even if it had set him free from the hen-house of Farmer Brown.

Now it never does to let one’s wits go to sleep. Some folks call it forgetting, but forgetting is nothing but sleepy wits. And sleepy wits get more people into trouble than anything else in the world. Unc’

Billy Possum’s wits were asleep when he left Farmer Brown’s hen-house.

If they hadn’t been, he would have remembered this little saying:

The wits that live within my head Must never, never go to sleep, For if they should I might forget And Trouble on me swiftly leap.

But Unc’ Billy’s wits certainly were asleep. He was so tickled over the idea that he could get out of the hen-house, that he couldn’t think of anything else, and so he forgot. Yes, Sir, Unc’ Billy forgot!

What did he forget? Why, he forgot that that nice, soft snow, which so kindly buried the dreadful traps so that they could do no harm, couldn’t be waded through without leaving tracks. Unc’ Billy forgot all about that, until he was half way to the Green Forest, and then, as he sat down to rest and get his breath, he remembered.

[Ill.u.s.tration: There all the way from Farmer Brown’s hen-house was a broad trail in the smooth white snow.]

Unc’ Billy looked behind him, and he turned pale. Yes, Sir, Unc’ Billy Possum turned pale! There, all the way from Farmer Brown’s hen-house, was a broad trail in the smooth white snow, where he had plowed his way through. If Farmer Brown’s boy should come out to look at his traps, he would see that track at once, and all he would have to do would be to follow it until it led him to Unc’ Billy.

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Whatever did Ah leave the hen-house for?” wailed Unc’ Billy.

His wits were all wide awake now. It wouldn’t do to go back. Farmer Brown’s boy would see that he had gone back, and then he would hunt that hen-house through until he found Unc’ Billy. No, there was nothing to do but to go on, and trust that Farmer Brown’s boy was so snowed in and would be kept so busy shovelling out paths, that he would forget all about looking at his traps. Unc’ Billy drew a long breath and began to wade ahead toward the Green Forest.

“If Ah only had snowshoes!” he panted. “If Ah only had snowshoes like Mrs. Grouse.”

XXI

FARMER BROWN’S BOY CHOPS DOWN A TREE

“There was an old Possum lived up in a tree; Hi, ho, see the chips fly!

The sliest old thief that you ever did see; Hi, ho, see the chips fly!

He ate and he ate in the dark of the night, And when the day came not an egg was in sight, But now that I know where he’s making his bed, I’ll do without eggs and will eat him instead!

Hi, ho, see the chips fly!”

Farmer Brown’s boy sang as he swung his keen axe, and the chips did fly. They flew out on the white snow in all directions. And the louder Farmer Brown’s boy sang, the faster the chips flew. Farmer Brown’s boy had come to the Green Forest bright and early that morning, and he had made up his mind that he would take home a fat Possum for dinner.

He didn’t have the least doubt about it, and that is why he sang as he made the chips fly. He had tracked that Possum right up to that tree, and there were no tracks going away from it. Right up near the top he could see a hollow, just such a hollow as a Possum likes. All he had to do was to cut the tree down and split it open, and Mr. Possum would be his.

So Farmer Brown’s boy swung his axe, chop, chop, chop, and the chips flew out on the white snow, and Farmer Brown’s boy sang, never once thinking of how the Possum he was after might feel. Of course it was Unc’ Billy Possum whose tracks he had followed. He had seen them outside of the hen-house, just as Unc’ Billy had been afraid that he would. He couldn’t very well have helped it, those tracks were so very plain to be seen.

That had been a long, hard, anxious journey for Unc’ Billy from Farmer Brown’s hen-house to the Green Forest. The snow was so deep that he could hardly wade through it. When he reached that hollow tree, he was so tired that it was all he could do to climb it. Of course it wasn’t his own hollow tree, where old Mrs. Possum and the eight little Possums lived. He knew better than to go there, leaving a plain track for Farmer Brown’s boy to follow. So he had been very thankful to climb up this hollow tree. And, just as he had feared, there was Farmer Brown’s boy.

Chop, chop, chop! The snow was covered with chips now. Chop, chop, chop! The tree began to shiver and then to shake. Cra-a-ck! With a great crash over it went!

Bowser the Hound barked excitedly, and with Farmer Brown’s boy rushed to the hollow near the top to catch Mr. Possum, if he should run out.

But he didn’t run out. Farmer Brown’s boy rapped on the tree with the handle of his axe, but no one ran out.

“I guess he’s playing dead,” said Farmer Brown’s boy, and began to split open the tree, so as to get into the hollow. And as he chopped, he began to sing again. Pretty soon he had split the tree wide open.

In the bottom of the hollow was an old nest of Chatterer the Red Squirrel, and that was all. Farmer Brown’s boy rubbed his eyes and stared and stared and stared. There were Unc’ Billy’s tracks leading straight up to that tree and none leading away. Did that Possum have wings?

XXII

WHERE UNC’ BILLY POSSUM WAS

Where was Unc’ Billy Possum? That is what Farmer Brown’s boy wanted to know. That is what Bowser the Hound wanted to know. Where was Unc’

Billy Possum? He was in another hollow tree all the time and laughing till his sides ached as he peeped out and saw how hard Farmer Brown’s boy worked.

“Ah done fool him that time,” said Unc’ Billy, as he watched Farmer Brown’s boy wading off home through the snow, with Bowser the Hound at his heels.

“You certainly did, Unc’ Billy! How did you do it?” asked a voice right over Unc’ Billy’s head.

Unc’ Billy looked up in surprise. There was Tommy t.i.t the Chickadee.

Unc’ Billy grinned.

“Ah just naturally expected Ah was gwine to have visitors, and so Ah prepared a little surprise. Yes, Sah, Ah done prepare a little surprise. Yo’ see, mah tracks in the snow was powerful plain. Yes, Sah, they sho’ly was! When Ah had climbed up that tree and looked down and saw all those tracks what Ah done made, Ah began to get powerful anxious. Yes, Sah, Ah done get so anxious Ah just couldn’t get any rest in mah mind. Ah knew Farmer Brown’s boy was gwine to find those tracks, and when he did, he was gwine to follow ’em right smart quick.

Sho’ enough, just before sundown, here he comes. He followed mah tracks right up to the foot of the tree whar Ah was hiding in the hollow, and Ah heard him say:

“So this is whar yo’ live, is it, Mistah Possum? Ah reckon Bowser and Ah’ll make yo’ a call to-morrow.”

“When I heard him say that, Ah felt right bad. Yes, Sah, Ah sho’ly did feel right smart bad. Ah studied and Ah studied how Ah was gwine to fool Farmer Brown’s boy and Bowser the Hound. If Ah climbed down and went somewhere else, Ah would have to leave tracks, and that boy done bound to find me just the same. Ah done wish Ah had wings like yo’ and Brer Buzzard.

“So po’ ol’ Unc’ Billy sat studying and studying and getting mo’ and mo’ troubled in his mind. By and by Ah noticed that a branch from that holler tree rubbed against a branch of another tree, and a branch of that tree rubbed against a branch of another tree, and if Ah made a right smart jump from that Ah could get into this tree, which had a holler just made fo’ me. Ah didn’t waste no mo’ time studying. No, Sah, Ah just moved right away, and here Ah am.”

“And you didn’t leave any tracks, and you didn’t have any wings,” said Tommy t.i.t the Chickadee.

“No,” said Unc’ Billy, “but Ah done find that yo’ can most always find a way out, if yo’ look hard enough. Just now, Ah am looking right smart hard fo’ a way to get home, but Ah reckon mah eyesight am failing; Ah don’ see any yet.”

“Dee, dee, dee!” laughed Tommy t.i.t merrily. “Be patient, Unc’ Billy, and perhaps you will.”

XXIII

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