Gateway to the Classics: The Adventures of Mr. Mocker by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Mr. Mocker by  Thornton Burgess

Unc' Billy Possum Grows Excited

U NC' BILLY POSSUM sat at the foot of the great hollow tree in which his home is. Unc' Billy felt very fine that morning. He had had a good breakfast, and you know a good breakfast is one of the best things in the world to make one feel fine. Then Unc' Billy's worries were at an end, for Farmer Brown's boy no longer hunted with his dreadful gun through the Green forest or on the Green Meadows. Then, too, old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox had moved way, way off to the Old Pasture on the edge of the mountain, and so Unc' Billy felt that his eight little Possums could play about without danger.

So he sat with his back to the great hollow tree, wondering if it wouldn't be perfectly safe for him to slip up to Farmer Brown's hen-house in the dark of the next night for some fresh eggs. He could hear old Mrs. Possum cleaning house and scolding the little Possums who kept climbing up on her back. As he listened, Unc' Billy grinned and began to sing in a queer cracked voice:

"Mah ol' woman am a plain ol' dame—

'Deed she am! 'Deed she am!

Quick with her broom, with her tongue the same—

'Deed she am! 'Deed she am!

But she keeps mah house all spick and span;

She has good vittles fo' her ol' man;

She spanks the chillun, but she loves 'em, too;

She sho' am sharp, but she's good and true—

'Deed she am! 'Deed she am!"

"You'all better stop lazing and hustle about fo' something fo' dinner," said old Mrs. Possum, sticking her sharp little face out of the doorway.

"Yas'm, yas'm, Ah was just aiming to do that very thing," replied Unc' Billy meekly, as he scrambled to his feet.

Just then out tumbled his eight children, making such a racket that Unc' Billy clapped both hands over his ears. "Mah goodness gracious sakes alive!" he exclaimed. One pulled Unc' Billy's tail. Two scrambled up on his back. In two minutes Unc' Billy was down on the ground, rolling and tumbling in the maddest kind of a frolic with his eight children.

Right in the midst of it Unc' Billy sprang to his feet. His eyes were shining, and his funny little ears were pricked up. "Hush, yo'alls!" he commanded. "How do yo'alls think Ah can hear anything with yo'alls making such a racket?" He boxed the ears of one and shook another, and then, when all were still, he stood with his right hand behind his right ear, listening and listening.

"Ah cert'nly thought Ah heard the voice of an ol' friend from way down Souf! Ah cert'nly did!" he muttered, and without another word he started off into the Green Forest, more excited than he had been since his family came up from "Ol' Virginny."

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