If it hadn’t been for those two worries, Unc’ Billy would have been willing to stay there the rest of the winter. It was delightfully warm and cosy. He knew which nest Mrs. Speckles always used and which one Mrs. Feathertoes liked best, and he knew that of all the eggs laid in Farmer Brown’s hen-house those laid by Mrs. Speckles and Mrs. Feathertoes were the best. Having all the eggs he could eat, Unc’ Billy had grown very particular. Nothing but the best, the very best, would do for him. So he would lie curled up in the last nest of the top row in the darkest corner and wait until he heard the high-pitched voice of Mrs. Speckles proudly crying:
“Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut-aa-cut! I lay the finest eggs in the world!”
Then Unc’ Billy would chuckle to himself and wait a few minutes longer for the voice of Mrs. Feathertoes, saying: “Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut-aa-cut, cut, cut, cut! No one lays such splendid eggs as I do!” Then, while Mrs. Speckles and Mrs. Feathertoes were disputing as to which laid the best eggs, Unc’ Billy would slip out and breakfast on both those newly laid eggs.
So for almost a week Unc’ Billy lived in Farmer Brown’s hen-house and ate the eggs of Mrs. Speckles and Mrs. Feathertoes and hid in the last nest of the top row in the darkest corner and shivered as he heard Farmer Brown’s boy tell what would happen if he caught the one who was stealing those eggs. Sometimes the door was left open during the day, and Unc’ Billy would peep out and wish that he dared to run. But he didn’t, for Bowser the Hound was always prowling around, and then again he was almost sure to be seen by some one.
At last one day it began to snow. It snowed all day and it snowed all night. Rough Brother North Wind piled it up in great drifts in front of the hen-house door and all along one side of the hen-house. It covered the traps so deep that they couldn’t possibly catch any one. As soon as the snow stopped falling, Unc’ Billy began to dig his way up to the top from the very hole by which he had entered the hen-house. He didn’t like it, for he doesn’t like snow, but now was his chance to get away, and he meant to make the most of it.
UNC’ BILLY POSSUM WISHES HE HAD SNOWSHOES
Unc’ Billy Possum didn’t know whether he liked the snow more than he hated it or hated it more than he liked it, just now. Usually he dislikes the snow very much, and doesn’t go out in it any more than he has to. But this time the snow had done Unc’ Billy a good turn, a very good turn, indeed. Once out of the hen-house, Unc’ Billy lost no time in starting for the Green Forest. But it was slow, hard work. You see, the snow was newly fallen and very soft. Of course Unc’ Billy sank into it almost up to his middle at every step. He huffed and he puffed and he grunted and groaned. You see Unc’ Billy had slept so much through the winter that he was not at all used to hard work of any kind, and he wasn’t half way to the Green Forest before he was so tired it seemed to him that he could hardly move, and so out of breath that he could only gasp. It was then that he was sure that he hated the snow more than he liked it, even if it had set him free from the hen-house of Farmer Brown.