The Adventures of Unc' Billy Possum  by Thornton Burgess

The Foolishness of Unc' Billy Possum

I F Unc' Billy Possum hadn't happened to look out of his doorway in the big hollow tree in the Green Forest, or if Jimmy Skunk hadn't happened to come along just that very minute, or if Unc' Billy hadn't asked Jimmy where he had been, or if Jimmy hadn't mentioned nice fresh eggs, Unc' Billy wouldn't have been foolish, and old Mrs. Possum wouldn't have been worried. But all those things did happen.

After Jimmy Skunk had mentioned his fine breakfast of fresh eggs, Unc' Billy Possum couldn't think of anything else. He knew well enough where Jimmy had found those eggs. Yes, indeed, Unc' Billy knew all about it. He could shut his eyes and just see the inside of Farmer Brown's hen-house with the rows of hens and roosters sitting on the roosts at one end, their heads tucked under their wings. He could see the rows of nests and the beautiful brown eggs in them. Jimmy Skunk couldn't climb, and so he could have gotten only the eggs in the lower nests. Now if he, Unc' Billy, had been there, he could have climbed to the very topmost nest and—but what was the use of thinking about it? He hadn't been there, and he couldn't go now, because it was daylight.

All the rest of the day Unc' Billy tried to sleep, but when he did sleep he dreamed about eggs, nice, fresh, delicious eggs, and when he was awake he thought about eggs. It made him more and more uneasy and fidgety. Old Mrs. Possum couldn't stand it.

"What all am the matter with yo'?" she snapped. "Ah do wish yo' would keep still a minute!"

Unc' Billy muttered something, but all that Mrs. Possum could hear was "eggs."

"Now don't yo'all get to thinking of such foolishness as eggs," she commanded. "It isn't safe to be snooping around Farmer Brown's hen-house when there's snow on the ground. Yo' just fo'get all about eggs! Do yo' hear what Ah say?"

Unc' Billy nodded that he did. But just the same he couldn't think of anything else. He knew that old Mrs. Possum was right, and that it wasn't safe to go fooling around Farmer Brown's hen-house and leaving his tracks for everybody who came along to see. Just the same, Unc' Billy felt that he had got to have a nice fresh egg. He had got  to have it. That is all there was about it.

As soon as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had gone to bed behind the Purple Hills that night, Unc' Billy crept out of his home in the hollow tree.

"Where are yo' going?" demanded Mrs. Possum.

"Just to stretch the kinks out of mah legs," replied Unc' Billy.

Old Mrs. Possum looked after him suspiciously. "Don't yo' go fo' to do any foolishness!" she called.

Unc' Billy didn't answer. He was on his way to Farmer Brown's hen-house.