Then he stepped down, and everybody began to wonder and to guess what the surprise could be.
UNC’ BILLY POSSUM’S SURPRISE
Everybody was asking everybody else what the surprise could be which Unc’ Billy had said he had for them. After he had made his speech, he had scurried out of sight, and no one could find him. Just about that time Billy Mink remembered that the party had been given to meet a friend of Unc’ Billy Possum, but no friend had appeared.
Billy Mink spoke of the matter to Little Joe Otter, and Little Joe Otter spoke of the matter to Jerry Muskrat, and Jerry Muskrat spoke of the matter to Sammy Jay, and right while he was speaking there came a shrill scream of “Thief! thief! thief!” from a thick hemlock-tree near by, and the voice was just like the voice of Sammy Jay.
Sammy Jay became greatly excited. “There!” he cried! “You heard that when you was standing right in front of me and talking to me, Jerry Muskrat. You know that I wasn’t making a sound! I told you that I hadn’t been screaming in the night, and this proves it!”
Jerry Muskrat looked as if he couldn’t believe his own ears. Just then the voice of Sticky-toes the Tree Toad began to Croak “It’s going to rain! It’s going to rain! It’s going to rain!” The voice seemed to come out of that very same hemlock-tree. Everybody noticed it and looked up at the tree, and while they were all trying to see Sticky-toes, something dropped plop right into their midst. It was Sticky-toes himself, and he had dropped from another tree altogether.
“You hear it!” he shrieked, dancing up and down he was so angry. “You hear it! It isn’t me, is it? That’s my voice, yet it isn’t mine, because I’m right here! How can I be here and over there too? Tell me that!”
No one could tell him, and Sticky-toes continued to scold and sputter and swell himself up with anger. But everybody forgot Sticky-toes when they heard the voice of Blacky the Crow calling “Caw, caw, caw!” from the very same hemlock-tree. Now no one knew that Blacky the Crow had come to the party, for Blacky never goes abroad at night.
“Come out, Blacky!” they all shouted. But no Blacky appeared. Instead out of that magic hemlock-tree poured a beautiful song, so beautiful that when it ended everybody clapped their hands. After that there was a perfect flood of music, as if all the singers of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows were in that hemlock-tree. There was the song of Mr. Redwing and the song of Jenny Wren, and the sweet notes of Carol the Meadowlark and the beautiful happy song of Little Friend the Song Sparrow. No one had ever heard anything like it, and when it ended every one shouted for more. Even Sticky-toes the Tree Toad forgot his ill temper.
Instead of more music, out from the hemlock-tree flew a stranger. He was about the size of Sammy Jay and wore a modest gray suit with white trimmings. He flew over to a tall stump in the moonlight, and no sooner had he alighted than up beside him scrambled Unc’ Billy Possum. Unc’ Billy wore his broadest grin.