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The Little Skunk Who Wanted To Be Loved

Hidden in a hollow tree at the edge of the forest, a mother skunk and her five furry babies were just waking up. It was nighttime and they were hungry.

Out of their den they went, all in line. The mother skunk was in front and the littlest skunk was last. Soon they found an old rotting log. The mother skunk ripped it open with her strong claws. There were lots of tasty insects and slugs and worms inside to eat.

Then there was a noise in the bushes. A young fox was out hunting. He had never seen a skunk before. He thought the skunk family would be good to eat.

The mother skunk saw the fox. She stamped her foot and growled. The fox was surprised that none of the skunks were running away. He crouched down, ready to spring on the littlest skunk at the end of the line.

The mother skunk turned her back to the fox. She raised her thick, bushy tail. The white fur underneath looked like a white flag.

The fox did not know what the white flag meant. But he soon found out. Something squirted out from under the mother skunk's tail, right into the fox's face. What a horrible smell! It was all over him. It made him sick. He ran away as fast as he could, while the skunks finished their meal at the log.

The next night the mother skunk went out hunting alone. For she knew this time there would be real danger. She went to a nearby farm. There was a crack in the wall of the chicken coop. The skunk squeezed in and stole two white eggs. Carefully she carried them in her mouth, home to her five babies.

The little skunks lapped up the juicy eggs. The littlest skunk had just one lap, when his greedy brothers and sisters pushed him away. Soon the egg shells were empty.

The littlest skunk whimpered. His mother licked his fur, but he was still hungry. Soon she went out again, to try to get more eggs.

The young skunks waited in the hollow tree. But their mother did not come back this time. All night, and all through the following day they stirred and whimpered. But their mother was gone.

When night came again, the little skunks went out hunting by themselves for the first time. Their mother had taught them well. They knew how to rip open a rotting log to get insects and worms. They knew how to find turtle eggs down by the stream. So they did not go hungry.

For a while the little skunks stayed together. But soon they drifted apart. Each one found a den of his own. Only the littlest skunk stayed in the hollow tree where they were born.

The little skunk was not hungry very often. And he was not afraid. For he knew just what to do when he met a hungry forest creature. Most of the time he did not even have to use his terrible smell. As soon as a fox or weasel saw his tail go up like a flag, it would run away.

But the little skunk was lonely. All the other creatures of the forest ran away from him. Even the birds flew away when he came near. He missed his mother, who had loved him.

One night the little skunk came to the farm yard. Everyone was asleep, even the old watchdog dozing on the porch. There were exciting smells in the air. One of them was fresh eggs, just like the eggs his mother had brought her family that night weeks ago.

The little skunk crept up to the chicken coop. He could hear the hens clucking inside. Then suddenly there was a snap. Something was holding his leg. And it hurt!

Lights went on. The farmer came out with his shotgun. His daughter Cindy followed him. "Don't shoot, Daddy!" she begged. "It's such a little skunk! Can't we keep him? I'll call him Stripe."

The little skunk was so weak and frightened that he could not even lift his tail. Carefully the farmer opened the trap and put him in an old rabbit cage. The next morning they took Stripe to the vet, who treated his hurt leg. He also took out Stripe's scent glands. Now the little skunk would not be able to spray his terrible smell ever again.

"You'll have to take care of this skunk now, Cindy," the vet told her. "He can't protect himself anymore."

At first Stripe was suspicious of Cindy. But she loved him so much and was so gentle with him that soon he began to love her too.

When Stripe got well, he learned to live on the farm. He caught rats and mice and insects. He learned to leave the chickens alone.

Stripe tried to make friends with the other animals. But the dog ran away from him when he came near. The cat ran away. So did the chickens. Even the cow ran away. But Stripe did not really care. He was not lonely any more. He had a little girl to love. And he knew that she loved him.









©1972, 2013 The Silversteins