A MATTER OF POLITENESS
It costs not much to be polite
And, furthermore, it's always right.
NC' BILLY POSSUM and Jimmy Skunk, facing each other among
the Black Shadows close by a hole that led under Farmer
Brown's henhouse, chuckled as each thought of what had
brought the other there. It is queer how a like thought
often brings people together. Unc' Billy had the same
longing in his stomach that Jimmy Skunk had, and Jimmy
Skunk had the same thing on his mind that Unc' Billy
had. More than this, it was the second time that day
that they had met. They had met in the morning in the
 Green Forest and now they had met again among the Black
Shadows of the evening at Farmer Brown's henhouse. And
it was all on account of eggs. Yes, Sir, it was all on
account of eggs.
"Are you just coming out, or are you just going in?"
Jimmy inquired politely.
"Ah was just going in, but Ah'll follow yo', Brer
Skunk," replied Unc' Billy just as politely.
"Nothing of the kind," returned Jimmy. "I wouldn't for
a minute think of going before you. I hope I know my
manners better than that."
"Yo' cert'nly are most polite, Brer Skunk. Yo' cert'nly
are most polite. Yo' are a credit to your bringing up,
but politeness always did run in your family. There is
a saying that han'some is as han'some does, and your
 is as fine as yo' are han'some, Brer Skunk.
Ah'll just step one side and let yo' go first just to
show that Ah sho'ly does appreciate your friendship,"
said Unc' Billy.
Jimmy Skunk chuckled. "I guess you've forgotten that
other old saying, 'Age before beauty,' Unc' Billy,"
said he. "So you go first. You know you are older than
I. I couldn't think of being so impolite as to go
first. I really couldn't think of such a thing."
And so they argued and argued, each insisting in the
most polite way that the other should go first. If the
truth were known, neither of them was insisting out of
politeness at all. No, Sir, politeness had nothing to
do with it. Jimmy Skunk wanted Unc' Billy to go first
because Jimmy believes in safety first, and it had
popped into Jimmy's head that there might, there just
might, happen to
 be a trap inside that hole. If there
was, he much preferred that Unc' Billy should be the
one to find it out. Yes, Sir, that is why Jimmy Skunk
was so very polite.
Unc' Billy wanted Jimmy to go first because he always
feels safer behind Jimmy than in front of him. He has
great respect for that little bag of scent that Jimmy
carries, and he knows that when Jimmy makes use of it,
he always throws it in front and never behind him.
Jimmy seldom uses it, but sometimes he does if he
happens to be startled and thinks danger near. So Unc'
Billy preferred that Jimmy should go first. It wasn't
politeness at all on the part of Unc' Billy. In both
cases it was a kind of selfishness. Each was thinking
How long they would have continued to argue and try to
appear polite if
 something hadn't happened, nobody
knows. But something did happen. There was a sudden
loud sniff just around the corner of the henhouse. It
was from Bowser the Hound. Right then and there Unc'
Billy Possum and Jimmy Skunk forgot all about
politeness, and both tried to get through that hole at
the same time. They couldn't because it wasn't big
enough, but, they tried hard. Bowser sniffed again, and
this time Unc' Billy managed to squeeze Jimmy aside and
slip through. Jimmy was right at his heels.