Now Johnny Chuck just slept and slept and slept, without waking once the whole winter long. But Unc’ Billy Possum couldn’t sleep like that. He had to stick his head out every little while to see how the world was getting along without him. When the sun was bright and the air was not too cold, Unc’ Billy would sometimes climb down from his hollow tree and walk about a little on the snow. But he didn’t enjoy it much. It made his feet cold, and then he didn’t like the tracks he made. He scowled at them, for he knew well enough that if Farmer Brown’s boy should happen along, he would know right away who had made those tracks, and then he would hunt for Unc’ Billy’s home in the hollow tree. So Unc’ Billy didn’t go out very much, and very seldom indeed when the snow was soft.
It seemed to Unc’ Billy Possum as if the winter never, never would go. He was beginning to grow thin now, and of course he was getting hungry. He began to think about it, and the more he thought about it, the hungrier he grew. One morning he stuck his head out of his doorway, and whom should he see trotting along below but Jimmy Skunk. Jimmy looked fat and comfortable and as if he did not mind the cold weather at all.
“Good mo’ning, Jimmy Skunk,” said Unc’ Billy.
Jimmy Skunk looked up. “Hello, Unc’ Billy!” he exclaimed. “I haven’t seen you for a long time!”
“Whar yo’ been, Jimmy Skunk?” asked Unc’ Billy.
Jimmy winked one eye. “Getting my breakfast of nice fresh eggs,” he replied.
Unc’ Billy Possum’s mouth began to water. “Did yo’ leave any?” he anxiously inquired.
Jimmy Skunk allowed that he did, and Unc’ Billy gave a long sigh, as he watched Jimmy Skunk amble off up the Lone Little Path. Unc’ Billy couldn’t sleep any more now. No, Sir, he couldn’t sleep a wink. All he could do was to think how hungry he was. He would shut his eyes, and then it seemed as if he could see right into Farmer Brown’s hen-house, and there were eggs, eggs, eggs, everywhere. Finally Unc’ Billy made up his mind.
“Ah’m going up there the very first dark night!” said he.
OLD MRS. POSSUM GROWS WORRIED
Old Mrs. Possum counted her babies to be sure that they all were tucked snug and warm in their bed in the old hollow tree in the Green Forest. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.” They were all there. Mrs. Possum looked at them with a great deal of pride and sighed as she thought of how soon they would be leaving the old hollow tree to see the great world and make homes for themselves. Just as soon as the beautiful spring came, they would one by one slip away. Mrs. Possum sighed again. She didn’t like winter. No, Sir, she didn’t like winter one bit. But when she thought of how her babies would leave her, she almost wished that spring never would come.
Sure that her babies were warm and comfortable, old Mrs. Possum went to the door and looked out. It was plain to be seen that Mrs. Possum was worried. That was the tenth time she had looked out in half an hour. Her sharp little old face looked sharper than ever. It always looks sharper when she is worried, just as the tongues of some people always grow sharper when they are worried.