Sweetpea, the skunk, lived in a pawpaw patch on Hickory Lane. Sourpuss, the packrat, lived next door. Although they were neighbors, they couldn't get along. The first reason was that Sweetpea was sweet and Sourpuss was sour. The second reason was that Sweetpea was a day person and Sourpuss was a night person. When Sweetpea was awake, Sourpuss was trying to sleep, and when Sourpuss was awake, Sweetpea was trying-to sleep. Sweetpea, the skunk, lived in a pawpaw patch on Hickory Lane. Sourpuss, the packrat, lived next door. Although they were neighbors, they couldn't get along. The first reason was that Sweetpea was sweet and Sourpuss was sour. The second reason was that Sweetpea was a day person and Sourpuss was a night person. When Sweetpea was awake, Sourpuss was trying to sleep, and when Sourpuss was awake, Sweetpea was trying-to sleep.
One fateful day in spring, Sweetpea opened her windows and lifted her sweet voice in song.
“Oh-h-h-h, let's go down to the pawpaw patch,
The pawpaw patch, the pawpaw patch.
Oh-h-h-h, let's go down to the pawpaw patch
So early in the morning.”
(She always sang the same song.)
Poor Sourpuss was trying to get some Z-Z-Z's. "Z-Z-Z-z-z-z" he snored. "Z-Z-Z-t-z-z."
On the high note of Sweetpea's “Oh-h-h-h”, Sourpuss woke from his nap.
"Rats!" he said under his breath, as he popped one eye open and then the other. He snatched up the crazy quilt that Sweetpea had given him on his last birthday threw it into a corner and jumped out of bed. He jerked on his clothes, and minutes later he was banging on Sweetpea's door.
"Why, Sourpuss," she said, smiling sweetly. "What a surprise. I thought you would be sleeping."
Sourpuss was so angry, all he could do was spit and sputter. "Sp-i-t-t- Sput-ter-r.”
"Oh, my!" Sweetpea said, her eyes wide. "Are you ill?"
"No-o-o," he yelled. "I am not ill! But I may be in the loony bin before long! Your singing is driving me crazy!"
“Oh, me, oh, my," she stammered, fanning herself and batting her eyes.
"Must you sing that SILLY song all day long?" he yelled. "You should be arrested for disturbing the peace!" he screamed. Then he looked into Sweetpea's eyes, which were filling with tears, and he felt ashamed. "Have pity on me, Sweetpea," he said, softly. "I'm getting old and I MUST have my sleep." Then he left.
The rest of the day, Sourpuss had peace and quiet. It was pure Heaven. The peace lasted three whole days. On the fourth day, he began to worry. It was TOO quiet. Where was Sweetpea?
He knocked on her door. No one answered. He pushed the door open and yelled, "Are you home, Sweetpea?"
He called again. "Sweetpea?"
He heard a small groan coming from the bedroom. Peeking in, he saw Sweetpea lying on the bed with the covers pulled up snug around her.
"Sweetpea, are you sick?" he asked.
She groaned, opened her sad eyes and said, "What are you doing here? I don't want to see anyone. Go away."
"Are you sick?" he asked again.
"No-o-o, I'm not sick. I'm sad. Go away."
Sourpuss made a face. "Well, if you're not sick, why are you in the bed?" he asked.
"Oh-h-h, you make me so mad!" she screamed. "Go away!"
Then to his surprise, Sweetpea threw back the covers, and showered him with a smell that took his breath away.
"Pew-w-w-w!" he choked, pinching his nose with his paws. Then his little feet hit the floor so rapidly, they sounded like rain on a tin roof! He ran and ran and ran! But no matter how far he ran, he couldn't leave the smell behind. Finally, when he came to the river, he dove in.
Minutes later, he dragged himself out of the water, removed his clothes and washed and washed. He even washed his clothes, but the smell remained.
"Rats! What am I going to do?" he shouted. He went home, holding his nose and dragging his clothes behind him. "Where is the lye soap?" he said, looking through the cabinets in the laundry room.
Everything was such a mess, he couldn't find anything. Nothing was where it should be. His canned food was in the laundry room His laundry soap, except the lye soap, was in the bathroom. His broom and mop were in the living room. Dirty clothes were all over the house. Dirty dishes were piled up to the ceiling in the bathtub. Dirty sheets were soaking in the kitchen sink. "Strange," said to himself. "I never noticed how messy this house was before."
He looked for the lye soap all day and all night. While he was looking, he put his house back in order. He swept and mopped the floors. He washed the dishes and stacked them neatly in the kitchen cabinets. He washed the sheets, and changed the linens on his bed. He washed the dirty clothes, and hung them in the bedroom closet. He cleaned the laundry room, and at last he found the lye soap. It was sitting on the floor behind the hot water heater.
He was in the bathtub for two hours. He scrubbed and scrubbed. He soaked and soaked. At last the bad smell was gone. When he went to bed, he felt like a new person, living in a new house. It felt good.
The following day, he dressed and went to visit Sweetpea. "Good morning," he said, when she opened the door.
"G-good morning," she answered, blushing.
“I'm sorry.....” he said.
“I'm sorry.....” she said, at the same time.
They both laughed.
"Friends again?" he asked.
"Yes, friends again," she said, smiling as she poured tea for two and served pawpaw cobbler.