Once a long time ago, before there were very many trails that went through the woods, when folks lived in log cabins separated by great distances, a young boy named Jack was sent by his mother over the mountain to his aunt and uncle’s cabin delivering a basket of food.

Jack was a strong and bright fella but his Pa gave him a long, sharp knife just in case he got into any trouble. The mountain was a dangerous place in those days, full of hungry beasts and creatures so terrible they didn’t even have names. Jack wasn’t scared, though, and set off quickly, hoping to reach his aunt and uncle’s cabin by sundown.

Jack walked and walked until he couldn’t hear any sounds from his family’s home, only the birds, crickets, and a breeze blowing through the tops of the trees. After a good deal of walking the boy reached the flat top of the mountain and entered into a wide cedar break stretching out in all directions around him. Jack walked slowly into the dark grove of trees. The birds all stopped singing around him, and the crickets all hid, and even the wind stopped blowing, or so it seemed. Jack picked up the pace knowing that just past this cedar break would be a downhill trek all the way to the cabin.

After a-walking and a-walking Jack looked around him. The cedar break continued on and on with no end in sight. “I’m bound to get lost in this mess.” Jack thought to himself. Pretty soon he come upon a big ole possom picking huckleberries off of some bushes. “Possum,” Jack said to the critter, “can you climb up that there cedar tree and tell me how far to my uncle’s cabin?”

The possum smiled and waddled over to the boy. “A slab of that bacon,” the possum replied pointing at the basket in Jack’s arms, “would be a whole lot better than those damn huckleberries.” Jack knew what the possum meant, and so he handed the critter a few slices of thick bacon which he gobbled up in one bite.

After finishing his meal the possum climbed high up into a big cedar tree then he looked and looked around in all directions before coming back down to the ground again. “Your uncle’s cabin,” the possum said, “is only a few more miles thata way.” The possum pointed Jack in the right direction. “Thanks possum.” Jack replied before continuing his trek through the cedar break.

After a-walking and a-walking Jack was getting tired and didn’t seem any closer to his uncle’s cabin than he was before. Just as he started to give up he saw that possum again, “Or maybe it’s another-un.” He thought. “Possum!” Jack shouted, startling the critter as he was plucking plums off a tree, “Can you climb up that there cedar tree and tell me how far to my uncle’s cabin?”

The possum smiled again and hopped out of the tree and came over to the boy. “Boy a few of those eggs,” the possum replied pointing at the basket in Jack’s arms, “would be a lot better than these damn plums.” Jack again knew what the possum wanted, and so he handed the critter a couple big brown eggs which he swallered each in one gulp.

After finishing his eggs the possum climbed high up into another big cedar tree and looked and looked around in all directions before coming back down to Jack again. “Don’t worry!” The possum said with a grin, “Your uncle’s cabin, is only a few more miles thata way.” And the possum pointed Jack back in the right direction. “Thanks possum.” Jack said before continuing on a-walking through the cedar break.

It was starting to get dark and Jack knew that if he couldn’t get out of that cedar break soon he’d likely be food for some nasty critters. So he picked up the pace but to no avail as more and more cedars appeared in his view. Jack sat down on a stump and was almost about to cry when he heard some rustling coming from nearby. He looked over and saw that possum gathering mushrooms from around a fallen tree. “Possum!” Jack shouted, running over to the critter, “For the last time, can you climb up that there cedar tree and tell me how far to my uncle’s cabin?”

The possum chunked down his mushrooms and came over to Jack. “Boy o’ boy a drink of that there cream,” the possum said with a smile, “would be a lot better than these damn mushrooms.” Jack had figured out that this here possum was playing games with him, so he thought up one of his own. “Alright possum,” Jack said with a grin, “if you carry me up this cedar tree I’ll give you all the rest of this here bacon, eggs, and cream.”

Well the possum thought that was a great deal so he had Jack hang onto his tail as he started climbing up the tree. By this time the possum was fat from that bacon and those eggs so he had a little trouble getting the boy up to the top of the cedar, Jack kept slipping down, and down, pulling out all the hair on the possum’s tail (which is why the possum’s got a naked tail today). Finally he managed to make it up alright, and with a huff and a puff the possum threw Jack onto a branch high up in the sky.

Jack looked around and saw a trail of smoke coming up from the chimney at his uncle’s cabin, only he saw it was in the opposite direction from where the possum had been pointing him all along. “Alright possum let’s go down.” Jack said before hopping on the critter’s back and holding on tight all the way back down the side of the cedar tree.

At the bottom of the tree the possum greedily pawed at Jack’s basket and Jack felt at his belt where his Pa had put that long, sharp knife.

Well after a while Jack made it through the cedar break, and reached his aunt and uncle’s cabin just as the sun dipped below the horizon and the coyotes started to yowl in the distance. Warm next to the fire Jack, his aunt, and his uncle stuffed themselves on a nice slab of bacon, some big brown eggs, sweet, thick cream, and a fat ole possum that didn’t know when to quit.