The Adventures of Unc' Billy Possum by Thornton Burgess
What the Snow Did
NC' BILLY POSSUM did a lot of thinking. He was a prisoner, just as
much a prisoner as if he were in a cage. Now Unc' Billy Possum
wouldn't have minded being a prisoner in the hen-house but for two
things; he was dreadfully afraid that his old friend and partner,
Jimmy Skunk, would get hungry for eggs and would get caught in the
traps, and he was still more afraid that Farmer Brown's boy would
think to put his hand down under the hay in the last nest of the top
row in the darkest corner. So Unc' Billy spent most of his time
studying and thinking of some way to get out, and if he couldn't do
of some way to warn Jimmy Skunk to keep away from Farmer Brown's
If it hadn't been for those two worries, Unc' Billy would have been
willing to stay there the rest of the winter. It was delightfully warm
and cosy. He knew which nest Mrs. Speckles always used and which one
Mrs. Feathertoes liked best, and he knew that of all the eggs laid in
Farmer Brown's hen-house those laid by Mrs. Speckles and Mrs.
Feathertoes were the best. Having all the eggs he could eat,
Unc' Billy had grown very particular. Nothing but the best, the very best,
would do for him. So he would lie curled up in the last nest of the
top row in the darkest corner and wait until he heard the high-pitched
voice of Mrs. Speckles proudly crying:
"Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut-aa-cut! I lay the finest eggs in the
Then Unc' Billy would chuckle to himself and wait a few minutes longer
for the voice of Mrs. Feathertoes, saying: "Cut, cut, cut, cut,
cut-aa-cut, cut, cut, cut!
No one lays such splendid eggs as I do!"
Then, while Mrs. Speckles and Mrs. Feathertoes were disputing as to
which laid the best eggs, Unc' Billy would slip out
and breakfast on
both those newly laid eggs.
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.