Read CHAPTER II - REDDY FOX THINKS HE SEES A GHOST of The Adventures of Unc Billy Possum, free online book, by Thornton W. Burgess, on

Reddy Fox came down the Lone Little Path through the Green Forest on his way to the Green Meadows.  He had brushed his red coat until it shone.  His white waistcoat was spotless, and he carried his big tail high in the air, that it might not become soiled.  Reddy was feeling as fine as he looked.  He would have liked to sing, but every time he tried his voice cracked, and he was afraid that some one would hear him and laugh at him.  If there is one thing that Reddy Fox dislikes more than another, it is being laughed at.

Reddy chuckled at his thoughts, and what do you think he was thinking about?  Why, about how he had seen Farmer Brown’s boy carrying off Unc’ Billy Possum by the tail the afternoon before.  He knew how Farmer Brown’s boy had caught Unc’ Billy in the hen-house, and with his own eyes he had seen Unc’ Billy carried off.  Of course Unc’ Billy was dead.  There could be no doubt about it.  And Reddy was glad of it.  Yes, Sir, Reddy was glad of it.  Unc’ Billy Possum had made altogether too many friends in the Green Forest and on the Green Meadows, and he had made Reddy the laughing-stock of them all by the way he had dared Reddy to meet Bowser the Hound, and actually had waited for Bowser while Reddy ran away.

Reddy remembered that Unc’ Billy’s hollow tree was not far away.  He would go over that way, just to have another look at it.  So over he went.  There stood the old hollow tree, and half way up was the door out of which Unc’ Billy used to look down on him and grin.  It was Reddy’s turn to grin now.  Presently he sat down with his back against the foot of the tree, crossed his legs, looked this way and that way to make sure that no one was about, and then in a dreadfully cracked voice he began to sing: 

   “Öl’ Bill Possum, he’s gone before! 
    Öl’ Bill Possum, he is no more! 
          Bill was a scamp, Sir;
          Bill was a thief! 
          Bill stole an egg, Sir;
          Bill came to grief. 
    Öl’ Bill Possum, it served him right;
    And he is no more, for he died last night.”

“Very good, Sah, very good.  Ah cert’nly am obliged to yo’all for yo’ serenade,” said a voice that seemed to come out of the tree at Reddy’s back.

Reddy Fox sprang up as if some one had stuck a pin into him.  Every hair stood on end, as he looked up at Unc’ Billy’s doorway.  Then his teeth began to chatter with fright.  Looking out of Unc’ Billy’s doorway and grinning down at him was something that looked for all the world like Unc’ Billy himself.

“It must be his ghost!” said Reddy, and tucking his tail between his legs, he started up the Crooked Little Path as fast as his legs could take him.

Reddy never once looked back.  If he had, he might have seen Unc’ Billy Possum climb down from the hollow tree and shake hands with Jimmy Skunk, who had just come along.

“How did Ah do it?  Why, Ah just pretended Ah was daid, when Farmer Brown’s boy caught me,” explained Unc’ Billy.  “Of course he’ wouldn’t kill a daid Possum.  So when he tossed me down on the chopping-block and turned his back, Ah just naturally came to life again, and here Ah am.”

Unc’ Billy Possum grinned broader than ever, and Jimmy Skunk grinned, too.