“It must have been a Skunk,” said Farmer Brown’s boy, “and if it was, he must have left some tracks in the snow outside. I’ll just look around a bit.”
Unc’ Billy almost chuckled as he heard Farmer Brown’s boy go out.
“He’ll find Jimmy Skunk’s tracks, but he won’t find mine,” thought Unc’ Billy. “Isn’t it lucky that I thought to step right in Jimmy Skunk’s tracks when I came here?”
He lay still and listened to Farmer Brown’s boy poking around outside. He heard him exclaim: “Ah, I thought so!” and knew that he had found the tracks Jimmy Skunk had made in the snow. Unc’ Billy almost chuckled again as he thought what a smart fellow he had been to step in Jimmy Skunk’s tracks. And right then he heard something that put an end to all his fine thoughts about his own smartness, and sent little cold shivers up and down his backbone.
“Hello!” said the voice of Farmer Brown’s boy. “These are queer tracks! That Skunk must have had a queer tail, for here are the marks of it in the snow, and they look as if they might have been made by the tail of a very big rat.”
Unc’ Billy remembered then for the first time that when he had thought he was so smart, he had forgotten to hold his tail up. He had dragged it in the snow, and of course it had left a mark.
“I guess that there was more than one visitor here last night,” continued the voice of Farmer Brown’s boy. “Here are the tracks of the Skunk going away from the hen-house, but I don’t see any of those other queer tracks going away. Whoever made them must be right around here now.”
Back into the hen-house came Farmer Brown’s boy and began to poke around in all the corners. He moved all the boxes and looked in the grain bin. Then he began to look in the nests. Unc’ Billy could hear him coming nearer and nearer. He was looking in the very next nest to the one in which Unc’ Billy was. Finally he looked into that very nest. Unc’ Billy Possum held his breath.
Now the nest in which Unc’ Billy was hiding was on the topmost row in the darkest corner of the hen-house, and Unc’ Billy had crawled down underneath the hay. Perhaps it was because that corner was so dark, or perhaps it was because that nest was so high up, that Farmer Brown’s boy really didn’t expect to find anything there. Anyway, all he saw was the hay, and he didn’t take the trouble to put his hand in and feel for anything under the hay.
“It’s queer,” said Farmer Brown’s boy. “It’s very queer! I guess I shall have to set some traps.”
And all the time Unc’ Billy Possum held his breath and lay low.
UNC’ BILLY POSSUM IS A PRISONER
“Mah home is in a holler tree—
It’s a long way home!
Ah wish Ah’s there, but here Ah be—
It’s a long way home!
If Ah had only been content
Instead of out on mischief bent,
Ah’d have no reason to repent—
It’s a long way home!”