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UNC' BILLY GIVES HIMSELF AWAY
EVER had Unc' Billy Possum played that old trick of his
better than he was playing it now. Farmer Brown's boy
knew that Unc' Billy was only pretending to be dead,
yet so well did Unc' Billy pretend that it was hard
work for Farmer Brown's boy to believe what he knew was
the truth—that Unc' Billy was very much alive and
only waiting for a chance to slip away.
They were half-way from the henyard to the house when
Bowser the Hound came to meet his master. "Now we shall
see what we shall see," said Farmer Brown's boy, as
 trotting up. "If Unc' Billy can stand this
test, I'll take off my hat to him every time we meet
hereafter." He held Unc' Billy out to Bowser, and
Bowser sniffed him all over.
Just imagine that! Just think of being nosed and
sniffed at by one of whom you were terribly afraid and
not so much as twitching an ear! Farmer Brown's boy
dropped Unc' Billy on the ground, and Bowser rolled him
over and sniffed at him and then looked up at his
master, as much as to say: "This fellow doesn't
interest me. He's dead. He must be the fellow I saw go
under the henhouse last night. How did you kill him?"
Farmer Brown's boy laughed and picked Unc' Billy up by
the tail again. "He's fooled you all right, old fellow,
and you don't know it," said he to Bowser, as the
latter pranced on ahead to
 the house. The mother of
Farmer Brown's boy was in the doorway, watching them
"What have you got there?" she demanded. "I declare if
it isn't a Possum! Where did you kill him? Was he the
cause of all that racket among the chickens?"
Farmer Brown's boy took Unc' Billy into the kitchen and
dropped him on a chair. Mrs. Brown came over to look at
him closer. "Poor little fellow," said she. "Poor
little fellow. It was too bad he got into mischief and
had to be killed. I don't suppose he knew any better.
Somehow it always seems wrong to me to kill these
little creatures just because they get into mischief
when all the time they don't know that they are in
mischief." She stroked Unc' Billy gently.
The eyes of Farmer Brown's boy
 twinkled. He went over
to a corner and pulled a straw from his mother's broom.
Then he returned to Unc' Billy and began to tickle Unc'
Billy's nose. Mrs. Brown looked puzzled. She was
"What are you doing that for?" she asked.
"Just for fun," replied Farmer Brown's boy and kept on
tickling Unc' Billy's nose. Now Unc' Billy could stand
having his tail pinched, and being carried head down,
and being dropped on the ground, but this was too much
for him; he wanted to sneeze. He had got to
sneeze. He did sneeze. He couldn't help it, though it
were to cost him his life.
"Land of love!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown, jumping back and
clutching her skirts in both hands as if she expected
Unc' Billy would try to take refuge
be-  hind them. "Do
you mean to say that that Possum is alive?"
"Seems that way," replied Farmer Brown's boy as Unc'
Billy sneezed again, for that straw was still tickling
his nose. "I should certainly say it seems that way.
The old sinner is no more dead than I am. He's just
pretending. He fooled you all right, Mother, but he
didn't fool me. I haven't hurt a hair of him. You ought
to know me well enough by this time to know that I
wouldn't hurt him."
He looked at his mother reproachfully, and she hastened
to apologize. "But what could I think?" she demanded.
"If he isn't a dead-looking creature, I never have seen
one. What are you going to do with him, son?"
"Take him over to the Green Forest after breakfast and
let him go," replied Farmer Brown's boy.
 This is just what he did do, and Unc' Billy wasted no
time in getting home. It was a long time before he met
Jimmy Skunk again. When he did, Jimmy was his usual
good-natured self, and Unc' Billy was wise enough not
to refer to eggs. So we will leave them once more the
best of friends, and I will tell you next of the
adventures of that dear little friend of ours, Bob