The afternoon of the day when Unc’ Billy had dared Reddy Fox to go at sun-up the next morning to the hill where Prickly Porky lives he met Jimmy Skunk coming down the Crooked Little Path. Jimmy scowled and was going to pass without so much as speaking. Unc’ Billy’s shrewd little eyes twinkled, and he grinned as only Unc’ Billy can grin. “Howdy, Brer Skunk,” said he.
Jimmy just frowned harder than ever and tried to pass.
“Howdy, Brer Skunk,” repeated Unc’ Billy Possum. “Yo’ must have something on your mind.”
Jimmy Skunk stopped. “I have!” he snapped. “I want to know whether it is you or Prickly Porky who has been telling an untruth. He told me that he hadn’t seen anything like what Peter Rabbit said chased him, and you’ve been telling around how he told you that Peter may have had good grounds for that foolish story. If Peter saw that thing, Prickly Porky would know it, for he hasn’t been away from home this summer. Why would he tell me that he hasn’t seen it if he has?”
“Don’ be hasty, Brer Skunk. Don’ be hasty,” replied Unc’ Billy soothingly. “Ah haven’t said that Brer Porky told me that he had seen the thing that Peter says chased him. He told the truth when he told you that he hadn’t seen any stranger around his hill. What he told me was that—” Here Unc’ Billy whispered.
Jimmy Skunk’s face cleared. “That’s different,” said he.
“Of course it is,” replied Unc’ Billy. “Yo’ see Peter did see something strange, even if Brer Porky didn’t. Ah have seen it mahself, and now Ah invites yo’ to be over at the foot of Brer Porky’s hill at sun-up to-morrow mo’ning and see what happens when Brer Fox tries to show how brave he is. Only don’ forget that it’s a secret.”
Jimmy was chuckling by this time. “I won’t forget, and I’ll be there,” he promised. “I’m glad to know that nobody has been telling untruths, and I beg your pardon, Unc’ Billy, for thinking you might have been.”
“Don’ mention it, Brer Skunk, don’ mention it. Ah’ll be looking fo’ yo’ to-morrow mo’ning,” replied Unc’ Billy, with a sly wink that made Jimmy laugh aloud.
WHAT HAPPENED TO REDDY FOX
Reddy Fox wished with all his might that he had kept his tongue still about not being afraid to meet the strange creature that had given Peter Rabbit such a fright. When he had boasted that he would stop and find out all about it if he happened to meet it, he didn’t have the least intention of doing anything of the kind. He was just idly boasting and nothing more. You see, Reddy is one of the greatest boasters in the Green Forest or on the Green Meadows. He likes to strut around and talk big. But like most boasters, he is a coward at heart.