“It must be his ghost!” said Reddy, and tucking his tail between his legs, he started up the Crooked Little Path as fast as his legs could take him.
Reddy never once looked back. If he had, he might have seen Unc’ Billy Possum climb down from the hollow tree and shake hands with Jimmy Skunk, who had just come along.
“How did Ah do it? Why, Ah just pretended Ah was daid, when Farmer Brown’s boy caught me,” explained Unc’ Billy. “Of course he’ wouldn’t kill a daid Possum. So when he tossed me down on the chopping-block and turned his back, Ah just naturally came to life again, and here Ah am.”
Unc’ Billy Possum grinned broader than ever, and Jimmy Skunk grinned, too.
UNC’ BILLY POSSUM SENDS FOR HIS FAMILY
The news that Unc’ Billy Possum wasn’t dead at all but was back in his hollow tree in the Green Forest soon spread through all the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows. Everybody hastened to pay their respects, that is everybody but Reddy Fox. Unc’ Billy and his partner, Jimmy Skunk, told every one who called how Reddy Fox had thought that Unc’ Billy was a ghost and had been frightened almost to death, so that he ran away as fast as his legs could take him. Unc’ Billy grinned as he told how Reddy had sat under the hollow tree and tried to sing because he was so glad that Unc’ Billy was dead, and all the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows laughed until their sides ached when in a funny, cracked voice Unc’ Billy sang the song for them.
Thereafter whenever one of them caught sight of Reddy Fox at a safe distance, he would shout:
“Ol’ Bill Possum, he’s
Ol’ Bill Possum, he is no more!”
It got so that Reddy never came down on the Green Meadows in the daytime, and at night he avoided meeting any one if possible, even his old friend, Bobby Coon. And of course Reddy Fox hated Unc’ Billy Possum more than ever.
But Unc’ Billy didn’t care, not he! He knew that all the rest of the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows thought him the smartest of them all, because of the way in which he had fooled Bowser the Hound and Farmer Brown’s boy. He liked his neighbors, he liked the Green Forest, and so he made up his mind that this was the place for him to stay.
But in spite of all his friends, Unc’ Billy was lonesome. The longer he stayed, the more lonesome he grew, Unc’ Billy wanted his family, whom he had left way down in “Ol’ Virginny.” Finally he told Jimmy Skunk all about it, and for once Unc’ Billy had forgotten how to grin. Yes, Sir, Unc’ Billy had forgotten how to grin. Instead he just wept, wept great big tears of lonesomeness.
“Ah reckon Ah’ll have to go back to Ol’ Virginny, Ah cert’nly do,” said Unc’ Billy Possum.
Jimmy Skunk grew very thoughtful. Since he and Unc’ Billy Possum had been in partnership, Jimmy had had more eggs to eat than ever before in his whole life. Now Unc’ Billy was talking about going away. Jimmy thought very hard. Then he had a bright idea.