XIX Unc' Billy Possum Gives Warning
 

"What's the matter with you, Unc' Billy? You look as if you had lost your last friend." It was Jimmy Skunk who spoke.

Unc' Billy Possum stopped short. He had been hurrying so fast that he hadn't seen Jimmy Skunk at all.

"Matter enuff, Suh! Matter enuff!" said Unc' Billy Possum, when he could get his breath. "Do you hear that noise?"

"Sure, I hear that noise. That's only Bowser the Hound chasing old Granny Fox. When she gets tired she'll lose him," replied Jimmy Skunk. "What are you worrying about Bowser the Hound for?"

"Bowser the Hound will have to be smarter than he is now befo' he can worry me, Ah reckon," said Unc' Billy Possum scornfully. "It isn't Bowser the Hound; it's Farmer Brown's boy and his gun!" Then Unc' Billy told Jimmy Skunk how he had been hiding in the woodpile at Farmer Brown's and had heard Farmer Brown's boy say that he was going to hunt over the Green Meadows and through the Green Forest until he got Reddy Fox.

"What of it?" asked Jimmy Skunk. "If he gets Reddy Fox, so much the better. Reddy always did make trouble for other people. I don't see what you're worrying about Reddy Fox for. He's big enough to take care of himself."

"Yo' cert'nly are plumb slow in your wits this morning, Jimmy Skunk, yo' cert'nly are plumb slow! Supposing yo' should meet up with Farmer Brown's boy with that gun in his hands and supposing he had grown tired of watching fo' Reddy Fox. That gun might go off, Jimmy Skunk; it might go off when it was pointing right straight at yo'!" said Unc' Billy Possum.

Jimmy Skunk looked serious. "That's so, Unc' Billy, that's so!" he said. "Boys with guns do get dreadfully careless, dreadfully careless. They don't seem to think anything about the feelings of those likely to get hurt when the gun goes off. What was you thinking of doing, Unc' Billy?"

"Just passing the word along so everybody in the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest will keep out of the way of Farmer Brown's boy," replied Unc' Billy Possum.

"Good idea, Unc' Billy! I'll help you," said Jimmy Skunk.

So Unc' Billy Possum went one way, and Jimmy Skunk went another way. And everyone they told hurried to tell someone else. Happy Jack Squirrel told Chatterer the Red Squirrel; Chatterer told Striped Chipmunk, and Striped Chipmunk told Danny Meadow Mouse. Danny Meadow Mouse told Johnny Chuck; Johnny Chuck told Peter Rabbit; Peter Rabbit told Jumper the Hare; Jumper the Hare told Prickly Porky; Prickly Porky told Bobby Coon; Bobby Coon told Billy Mink; Billy Mink told Little Joe Otter; Little Joe Otter told Jerry Muskrat, and Jerry Muskrat told Grandfather Frog. And everybody hastened to hide from Farmer Brown's boy and his terrible gun.

By and by Farmer Brown's boy noticed how still it was in the Green Forest. Nowhere did he see or hear a bird. Nowhere could he catch a glimpse of anybody who wore fur.

"That fox must have scared away all the other animals and driven away all the birds. I'll get him! See if I don't!" muttered Farmer Brown's boy, and never once guessed that they were hiding from him.