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The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk by  Thornton W. Burgess
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ARDLY had Jimmy Skunk entered the hole under Farmer Brown's henhouse, following close on the heels of Unc' Billy Possum, than along came Bowser the Hound, sniffing and sniffing in a way that made Unc' Billy nervous. When Bowser reached that hole, of course he smelled the tracks of Unc' Billy and Jimmy, and right away he became excited. He began to dig. Goodness, how he did make the dirt fly! All the time he whined with eagerness.

Unc' Billy wasted no time in squeezing through a hole in the floor way over [86] in one corner, a hole that Farmer Brown's boy had intended to nail a board over long before. Unc' Billy knew that Bowser couldn't get through that, even if he did manage to dig his way under the henhouse. Once through that and fairly in the henhouse, Unc' Billy drew a long breath. He felt safe for the time being, anyway, and he didn't propose to worry over the future.

Jimmy Skunk hurried after Unc' Billy. It wasn't fear that caused Jimmy to hurry. No, indeed, it wasn't feat. He had been startled by the unexpectedness of Bowser's appearance. It was this that had caused him to struggle to be first through that hole under the henhouse. But once through, he had felt a bit ashamed that he had been so undignified. He wasn't afraid of Bowser. He was sorely tempted to turn around and send Bowser about his busi- [87] ness, as he knew he very well could. But he thought better of it. Besides, Unc' Billy was already through that hole in the floor, and Jimmy didn't for a minute forget what had brought him there. He had come for eggs, and so had Unc' Billy. It would never do to let Unc' Billy be alone up there for long. So Jimmy Skunk did what he very seldom does—hurried. Yes, Sir, he hurried after Unc' Billy Possum. He meant to make sure of his share of the eggs he was certain were up there.

There was a row of nesting boxes along one side close to the floor. Above these was another row and above these a third row. Jimmy doesn't climb, but Unc' Billy is a famous climber.

"I'll take these lower nests," said Jimmy, and lifted his tail in a way that made Unc' Billy nervous.

"All right," replied Unc' Billy [88] promptly. "All right, Brer Skunk, It's just as yo' say."

With this, Unc' Billy scrambled up to the next row of nests. Jimmy grinned and started to look in the lower nests. He took his time about it, for that is Jimmy's way. There was nothing in the first one and nothing in the second one and nothing in the third one. This was disappointing, to say the least, and Jimmy began to move a little faster. Meanwhile Unc' Billy had hurried from one nest to another in the second row with no better success. By the time Jimmy was half-way along his row Unc' Billy had begun on the upper row, and the only eggs he had found were hard china nest-eggs put there by Farmer Brown's boy to tempt the hens to lay in those particular nests. Disappointment was making Unc' Billy lose his temper. Each time he peeped in a nest [89] and saw one of those china eggs, he hoped it was a real egg, and each time when he found it wasn't he grew angrier.

At last he so lost his temper that when he found another of those eggs he angrily kicked it out of the nest. Now it happened that Jimmy Skunk was just underneath. Down fell that hard china egg squarely on Jimmy Skunk's head. For just a minute Jimmy saw starts. At least, he thought he did. Then he saw the egg, and knew that Unc' Billy had knocked it down, and that it was this that had hit him. Jimmy was sore at heart because he had found no eggs, and now he had a bump on the head that also was sore. Jimmy Skunk lost his temper, a thing he rarely does.

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