The Adventures of Unc' Billy Possum  by Thornton Burgess

Unc' Billy Possum Is a Prisoner

"Mah home is in a holler tree—

It's a long way home!

Ah wish Ah's there, but here Ah be—

It's a long way home!

If Ah had only been content

Instead of out on mischief bent,

Ah'd have no reason to repent—

It's a long way home!"

U NC' BILLY POSSUM lay curled up under the hay in the highest nest in the darkest corner in Farmer Brown's hen-house. Unc' Billy didn't dare go to sleep, because he was afraid that Farmer Brown's boy might find him. And, anyway, he wanted to see just what Farmer Brown's boy was doing. So peeping out, he watched Farmer Brown's boy, who seemed to be very busy indeed. What do you think he was doing? Unc' Billy knew. Yes, Sir, Unc' Billy knew just what Farmer Brown's boy was doing. He was setting traps.

Unc' Billy's eyes twinkled as he watched Farmer Brown's boy, for Unc' Billy knew that those traps were being set for him, and now that he knew just where each one was, of course he wasn't a bit afraid. It seemed to Unc' Billy that it was just the greatest kind of a joke to be watching Farmer Brown's boy set those traps, while all the time Farmer Brown's boy thought he was hiding them so cleverly that the only way they would be found would be by some one stepping into one and getting caught.

"There," said Farmer Brown's boy, as he set the last trap, "I'd like to see anything get into this hen-house now without getting caught!"

Unc' Billy almost chuckled aloud. Yes, Sir, he almost chuckled aloud. It was such a funny idea that Farmer Brown's boy should have taken all the trouble to set those traps to catch Unc' Billy trying to get into the hen-house, when all the time he was already in there.

Unc' Billy laughed under his breath as Farmer Brown's boy closed the door of the hen-house and went off whistling. "Ho, ho, ho! Ha, ha, ha! Hee, hee!" Unc' Billy broke off short, right in the very middle of his laugh. He had just thought of something, and it wasn't funny at all. With all those traps set at every opening to the hen-house, no one could get in without getting caught, and of course no one who was in could get out without getting caught!

The joke wasn't on Farmer Brown's boy, after all; it was on Unc' Billy Possum. But Unc' Billy couldn't see that it was any joke at all. Unc' Billy was a prisoner, a prisoner in Farmer Brown's hen-house, and he didn't know how ever he was going to get out of there.

"It's a long way home," said Unc' Billy mournfully, as he peeped out of a crack toward the Green Forest.