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UNC' BILLY'S VAIN SEARCH
Unc' Billy Possum was excited. Any one would have known it just to look at him. He hurried off up the Lone Little Path through the Green Forest without even saying good-by to old Mrs. Possum and all the little Possums. They just stared after Unc' Billy and didn't know what to make of it, for such a thing as Unc' Billy forgetting to say good-by had never happened before. Yes, indeed, Unc' Billy certainly was excited.
Old Mrs. Possum sat in the doorway of their home in the great hollow tree and watched Unc' Billy out of sight. Her sharp little eyes seemed to grow sharper as she watched. "Ah done sent that no-account Possum to hunt fo' something fo' dinner, but 'pears to me he's plumb forgot it already," she muttered. "Just look at him with his head up in the air like he thought dinner fo' we uns would drap right down to him out o' the sky! If he's aiming to find a bird's nest with eggs in it this time o' year, he sho'ly am plumb foolish in his haid. No, Sah! That onery Possum has clean fo'gotten what Ah just done tole him, and if we uns am going to have any dinner, Ah cert'nly have got to flax 'round right smart spry mahself!"
Old Mrs. Possum chased the eight little Possums into the house and warned them not to so much as put their heads outside the door while she was gone. Then she started out to hunt for their dinner, still muttering as she went.
Old Mrs. Possum was quite right. Unc' Billy had forgotten all about that dinner. You see he had something else on his mind. While he had been playing with his children, he had thought that he heard a voice way off in the distance, and it had sounded very, very much like the voice of an old friend from way down South in "Ol' Virginny." He had listened and listened but didn't hear it again, and yet he was sure he had heard it that once. The very thought that that old friend of his might be somewhere in the Green Forest excited Unc' Billy so that it fairly made him homesick. He just had to go look for him.
So all the rest of that day Unc' Billy Possum walked and walked through the Green Forest, peering up in the tree-tops and looking into the bushes until his neck ached. But nowhere did he catch a glimpse of his old friend. The longer he looked, the more excited he grew.
"What's the matter with you?" asked Jimmy Skunk, meeting Unc' Billy on the Crooked Little Path near the top of the hill.
"Nuffin, nuffin, Sah! Ah'm just walking fo' mah health," replied Unc' Billy over his shoulder, as he hurried on. You see he didn't like to tell any one what he thought he had heard, for fear that it might not be true, and then they would laugh at him.
"Didn't suppose Unc' Billy ever worried about his health," muttered Jimmy Skunk with a puzzled look, as he watched Unc' Billy disappear.
Just as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun dropped out of sight behind the Purple Hills, Unc' Billy gave it up and turned toward home. His neck ached from looking up in the tree-tops, and his feet were sore from walking. And just then Unc' Billy for the first time thought of that dinner that old Mrs. Possum had sent him to get. Unc' Billy sat down and mopped his brow in dismay.
"Ah 'specks Ah'm in fo' it this time, sho' enough!" he said.
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