Read CHAPTER XXI - FARMER BROWN’S BOY CHOPS DOWN A TREE of The Adventures of Unc Billy Possum, free online book, by Thornton W. Burgess, on

   “There was an old Possum lived up in a tree;
          Hi, ho, see the chips fly! 
    The sliest old thief that you ever did see;
          Hi, ho, see the chips fly! 
    He ate and he ate in the dark of the night,
    And when the day came not an egg was in sight,
    But now that I know where he’s making his bed,
    I’ll do without eggs and will eat him instead! 
          Hi, ho, see the chips fly!”

Farmer Brown’s boy sang as he swung his keen axe, and the chips did fly.  They flew out on the white snow in all directions.  And the louder Farmer Brown’s boy sang, the faster the chips flew.  Farmer Brown’s boy had come to the Green Forest bright and early that morning, and he had made up his mind that he would take home a fat Possum for dinner.  He didn’t have the least doubt about it, and that is why he sang as he made the chips fly.  He had tracked that Possum right up to that tree, and there were no tracks going away from it.  Right up near the top he could see a hollow, just such a hollow as a Possum likes.  All he had to do was to cut the tree down and split it open, and Mr. Possum would be his.

So Farmer Brown’s boy swung his axe, chop, chop, chop, and the chips flew out on the white snow, and Farmer Brown’s boy sang, never once thinking of how the Possum he was after might feel.  Of course it was Unc’ Billy Possum whose tracks he had followed.  He had seen them outside of the hen-house, just as Unc’ Billy had been afraid that he would.  He couldn’t very well have helped it, those tracks were so very plain to be seen.

That had been a long, hard, anxious journey for Unc’ Billy from Farmer Brown’s hen-house to the Green Forest.  The snow was so deep that he could hardly wade through it.  When he reached that hollow tree, he was so tired that it was all he could do to climb it.  Of course it wasn’t his own hollow tree, where old Mrs. Possum and the eight little Possums lived.  He knew better than to go there, leaving a plain track for Farmer Brown’s boy to follow.  So he had been very thankful to climb up this hollow tree.  And, just as he had feared, there was Farmer Brown’s boy.

Chop, chop, chop!  The snow was covered with chips now.  Chop, chop, chop!  The tree began to shiver and then to shake.  Cra-a-ck!  With a great crash over it went!

Bowser the Hound barked excitedly, and with Farmer Brown’s boy rushed to the hollow near the top to catch Mr. Possum, if he should run out.  But he didn’t run out.  Farmer Brown’s boy rapped on the tree with the handle of his axe, but no one ran out.

“I guess he’s playing dead,” said Farmer Brown’s boy, and began to split open the tree, so as to get into the hollow.  And as he chopped, he began to sing again.  Pretty soon he had split the tree wide open.  In the bottom of the hollow was an old nest of Chatterer the Red Squirrel, and that was all.  Farmer Brown’s boy rubbed his eyes and stared and stared and stared.  There were Unc’ Billy’s tracks leading straight up to that tree and none leading away.  Did that Possum have wings?