H ARDLY was Jimmy Skunk beyond sight and hearing after having made his call than Redeye the Vireo, whose home is in a tree just at the foot of the hill where Prickly Porky lives, heard a very strange noise. He was very busy, was Redeye, telling all who would listen how happy he was and what a beautiful world this is. Redeye seems to think that this is his special mission in life, that he was put in the Green Forest for this one special purpose,—to sing all day long, even in the hottest weather when other birds forget to sing, his little song of gladness and happiness. It never seems to enter his head that he is making other people happy just by being happy himself and saying so.
At first he hardly noticed the strange noise, but when he stopped singing for a bit of a rest, he heard it very plainly, and it sounded so very queer that he flew up the hill towards the place from which it seemed to come, and there his bright eyes soon discovered Prickly Porky. Right away he saw that Prickly Porky was in some kind of trouble, and that it was he who was making the queer noise. Prickly Porky was on the ground at the foot of a tree, and he was rolling over and kicking and clawing at his mouth, from which a little piece of bark was hanging. It was such a strange performance that Redeye simply stared for a minute. Then in a flash it came to him what it meant. Prickly Porky was choking, and if something wasn't done to help him, he might choke to death!
Now there was nothing that Redeye himself could do to help, for he was too small. He must get help somewhere else, and he must do it quickly. Anxiously he looked this way and that way, but there was no one in sight. Then he remembered that Unc' Billy Possum's hollow tree was not far away. Perhaps Unc' Billy could help. He hoped that Unc' Billy was at home, and he wasted no time in finding out. Unc' Billy was at home, and when he heard that his old friend Prickly Porky was in trouble, he hurried up the hill as fast as ever he could. He saw right away what was the trouble.
"Yo' keep still just a minute, Brer Porky!" he commanded, for he did not dare go very near while Prickly Porky was rolling and kicking around so, for fear that he would get against some of the thousand little spears Prickly Porky carries hidden in his coat. Prickly Porky did as he was told. Indeed, he was so weak from his long struggle that he was glad to. Unc' Billy caught hold of the piece of bark hanging from Prickly Porky's mouth. Then he braced himself and pulled with all his might.
Then he braced himself and pulled with all his might.
For a minute the piece of bark held. Then it gave way so suddenly that Unc' Billy fell over flat on his back. Unc' Billy scrambled to his feet and looked reprovingly at Prickly Porky, who lay panting for breath, and with big tears rolling down his face.
"Ah cert'nly am surprised, Brer Porky; Ah cert'nly am surprised that yo' should be so greedy that yo' choke yo'self," said Unc' Billy, shaking his head.
Prickly Porky grinned weakly and rather foolishly. "It wasn't greed, Unc' Billy. It wasn't greed at all," he replied.
"Then what was it, may Ah ask?" demanded Unc' Billy severely.
"I thought of something funny right in the middle of my meal, and I laughed just as I started to swallow, and the piece of bark went down the wrong way," explained Prickly Porky. And then, as if the mere thought of the thing that had made him laugh before was too much for him, he began to laugh again. He laughed and laughed and laughed, until finally Unc' Billy quite lost patience.
"Yo' cert'nly have lost your manners, Brer Porky!" he snapped.
Prickly Porky wiped the tears from his eyes. "Come closer so that I can whisper, Unc' Billy," said he.
A little bit suspiciously Unc' Billy came near enough for Prickly Porky to whisper, and when he had finished, Unc' Billy was wiping tears of laughter from his own eyes.