Now Unc’ Billy was very, very crafty. He had found Jimmy Skunk’s tracks boldly leading up to the hen-house, so Unc’ Billy had stepped as carefully as he knew how in the footprints of Jimmy Skunk, in order that Farmer Brown’s boy might think that Jimmy Skunk was the only visitor to the hen-house. But with all his craft, there was one thing that Unc’ Billy forgot. Yes, Sir, there was one thing Unc’ Billy forgot all about. He forgot to keep his tail up. He was trying so hard to step in the footprints of Jimmy Skunk, that he forgot all about that little, smooth, handy old tail of his, and he let it drag along the snow.
[Illustration: He just ate and ate until he couldn’t eat another one.]
When Unc’ Billy was safely in the hen-house, he hurried from one nest to another. There were eggs, plenty of them. It seemed to him that nothing he had ever seen before had looked half so good as those eggs. He just ate and ate and ate until he couldn’t eat another one. Now a full stomach is very apt to make a sleepy head. Unc’ Billy knew that the thing for him to do was to hurry home as fast as he could go, but he didn’t. No, Sir, he didn’t do it. The hen-house was warm and here were some of the nicest nests of hay. He was tired after his long walk from the Green Forest, for Unc’ Billy had done so little walking this winter that he was rather out of practice. Why not take a teeny, weeny nap before he started back home?
Unc’ Billy climbed to the very last nest in the topmost row, way up in a dark corner. It hadn’t been used for a long time, but it was full of nice, soft hay. Unc’ Billy curled himself up in it, and with a great sigh of contentment, closed his eyes for that teeny, weeny nap. He didn’t open them again until he heard an angry voice right close to him. He peeped out. It was broad daylight, and there, just below him, was Farmer Brown’s boy, looking at the empty egg-shells left by Unc’ Billy. Farmer Brown’s boy was angry. Yes, indeed, he was very, very angry. Unc’ Billy shivered as he listened. Then he snuggled down out of sight under the hay of the nest.
UNC’ BILLY POSSUM LIES LOW
Farmer Brown’s boy was angry. Yes, Sir, he was angry. There was no doubt about that. He had found the empty shells of the eggs which Unc’ Billy had eaten in the night, and Unc’ Billy knew by the sound of his voice that Farmer Brown’s boy meant to find the thief.
It was a terrible position to be in, right there in the hen-house, with no chance to run. Unc’ Billy wished with all his might that he had never thought of eggs, and that he was safe back home in the dear old hollow tree in the Green Forest. Oh, dear! oh, dear! Why hadn’t he gone right straight back there, after eating those eggs, instead of taking a nap? But he hadn’t. He had taken a nap and overslept, and here he was, right in the hen-house, in broad daylight.