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Blacky the Crow.

by Thornton W. Burgess.


I.. Blacky The Crow Makes A Discovery.
II.. Blacky Makes Sure.
III.. Blacky Finds Out Who Owns The Eggs.
IV.. The Cunning Of Blacky.
V.. Blacky Calls His Friends.
VI.. Hooty The Owl Doesn't Stay Still.
VII.. Blacky Tries Another Plan.
VIII.. Hooty Comes To Mrs. Hooty's Aid.
IX.. Blacky Thinks Of Farmer Browns Boy.
X.. Farmer Brown's Boy And Hooty.
XI.. Farmer Brown's Boy Is Tempted.br> XII.. A Tree Top Battle.
XIII.. Blacky Has A Change Of Heart.
XIV.. Blacky Makes A Call.
XV.. Blacky Does A Little Looking About.
XVI.. Blacky Finds Other Signs.
XVII.. Blacky Watches A Queer Performance.
XVIII.. Blacky Becomes Very Suspicious.
XIX.. Blacky Makes More Discoveries.
XX.. Blacky Drops A Hint.
XXI.. At Last Blacky Is Sure. XXII.. Blacky Goes Home Happy.
XXIII.. Blacky Calls Farmer Brown's Boy.
XXIV.. Farmer Brown's Boy Does Some Thinking.
XXV.. Blacky Gets A Dreadful Shock.
XXVI.. Why The Hunter Got No Ducks.
XXVII.. The Hunter Gives Up.
XXVIII.. Blacky Has A Talk With Dusky The Black Duck.
XXIX.. Blacky Discovers An Egg.
XXX.. Blacky Screws Up His Courage.
XXXI.. An Egg That Wouldn't Behave.
XXXII.. What Blacky Did With The Stolen Egg.

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Title: Blacky the Crow

Author: Thornton W. Burgess

Release Date: January, 2004  [EBook #4979]
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CHAPTER I: Blacky The Crow Makes A Discovery

Blacky the Crow is always watching for things not intended for his
sharp eyes.  The result is that he gets into no end of trouble which
he could avoid.  In this respect he is just like his cousin, Sammy
Jay.  Between them they see a great deal with which they have no
business and which it would be better for them not to see.

Now Blacky the Crow finds it no easy matter to pick up a living when
snow covers the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, and ice binds
the Big River and the Smiling Pool.  he has to use his sharp eyes for
all they are worth in order to find enough to fill his stomach, and
he will eat anything in the way of food that he can swallow.  Often
he travels long distances looking for food, but at night he always
comes back to the same place in the Green Forest, to sleep in
company with others of his family.

Blacky dearly loves company, particularly at night, and about the
time jolly, round, red Mr. Sun is beginning to think about his bed
behind the Purple Hills, you will find Blacky heading for a certain
part of the Green Forest where he knows he will have neighbors of
his own kind.  Peter Rabbit says that it is because Blacky's
conscience troubles him so that he doesn't dare sleep alone, but
Happy Jack Squirrel says that Blacky hasn't any conscience.  You can
believe just which you please, though I suspect that neither of them
really knows.

As I have said, Blacky is quite a traveler at this time of year, and
sometimes his search for food takes him to out-of-the-way
places.  One day toward the very last of winter, the notion entered
his black head that he would have a look in a certain lonesome
corner of the Green Forest where once upon a time Redtail the Hawk
had lived.  Blacky knew well enough that
Redtail wasn't there now; he had gone south in the fell and wouldn't
be back until he was sure that Mistress Spring had arrived on the
Green Meadows and in the Green Forest.

Like the black imp he is, Blacky flew over the tree-tops, his sharp
eyes watching for something interesting below.  Presently he saw
ahead of him the old nest of Red-tail.  He knew all about that
nest.  He had visited it before when Red-tail was away.  Still it
might be worth another visit.  You never can tell what you may find
in old houses.  Now, of course, Blacky knew perfectly well that
Redtail was miles and miles, hundreds of miles away, and so there
was nothing to fear from him.  But Blacky learned ever so long ago
that there is nothing like making sure that there is no danger.  So,
instead of flying straight to that old nest, he first flew over the
tree so that he could look down into it.

Right away he saw something that made him gasp and blink his
eyes.  It was quite large and white, and it looked -- it looked
very much indeed like an egg!  Do you wonder that Blacky gasped and
blinked?  Here was snow on the ground, and Rough Brother North Wind
and Jack Frost had given no hint that they were even thinking of
going back to the Far North.  The idea of any one laying an egg at
this time of year!  Blacky flew over to a tall pine-tree to think it

"Must be it was a little lump of snow," thought he.  "Yet if ever I
saw an egg, that looked like one.  Jumping grasshoppers, how good an
egg would taste right now!"  You know Blacky has a weakness for
eggs.  The more he thought about it, the hungrier he grew.  Several
times he almost made up his mind to fly straight over there and make
sure, but he didn't quite dare.  If it were an egg, it must belong to
somebody, and perhaps it would be best to find out who.  Suddenly
Blacky shook himself.  "I must be dreaming," said he.  "There
couldn't, there just couldn't be an egg at this time of year, or in
that old tumble-down nest!  I'll just fly away and forget it."

So he flew away, but he couldn't forget it.  He kept thinking of it
all day, and when he went to sleep that night he made up his mind to
have another look at that old nest.

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CHAPTER II: Blacky Makes Sure

   "As true as ever I've cawed a caw
    That was a new-laid egg I saw."

"What are you talking about?"  demanded Sammy Jay, coming up just in
time to hear the last part of what Blacky the Crow was mumbling to

"Oh nothing, Cousin, nothing at all," replied Blacky.  "I was just
talking foolishness to myself."  Sammy looked at him sharply.  "You
aren't feeling sick, are you, Cousin Blacky?"  he asked.  "Must be
something the matter with you when you begin talking about new-laid
eggs, when everything's covered with snow and ice.  Foolishness is
no name for it.  Whoever heard of such a thing as a new-laid egg this
time of year"

"Nobody, I guess, " replied Blacky.  "I told you I was just talking
foolishness.  You see, I'm so hungry that I just got to thinking what
I'd have if I could have anything I wanted.  That made me think of
eggs, and I tried to think just how I would feel if I should
suddenly see a great big egg right in front of me.  I guess I must
have said something about it."

"I guess you must have.  It isn't egg time yet, and it won't be for a
long time.  Take my advice and just forget about impossible
things.  I'm going over to Farmer Brown's corncrib.  Corn may not be
as good as eggs, but it is very good and very filling.  Better come
along, " said Sammy.

"Not this morning, thank you.  Some other time, perhaps, " replied Blacky.

He watched Sammy disappear through the trees.  Then he flew to the
top of the tallest pine-tree to make sure that no one was
about.  When he was quite sure that no one was watching him, he
spread his wings and headed for the most lonesome corner of the
Green Forest.

"I'm foolish.  I know I'm foolish, " he muttered.  "But I've just got
to have another look in that

old nest of Redtail the Hawk.  I just can't get it out of my head
that that was an egg, a great, big, white egg, that I saw there
yesterday.  It won't do any harm to have another look, anyway."

Straight toward the tree in which was the great tumble-down nest of
Redtail the Hawk he flew, and as he drew near, he flew high, for
Blacky is too shrewd and smart to take any chances.  Not that he
thought that there could be any danger there; but you never can
tell, and it is always the part of wisdom to be on the safe side.  As
he passed over the top of the tree, he looked down eagerly.  Just
imagine how he felt when instead of one, he saw two white things in
the old nest.  -- two white things that looked for all the world like
eggs!  The day before there had been but one; now there were
two.  That settled it in Blacky's mind; they were eggs!  They couldn't
be anything else.

Blacky kept right on flying.  Somehow he didn't dare stop just
then.  He was too much excited by what he had discovered to think
clearly.  He had got to have time to get his wits together.  Whoever
had laid those eggs was big and strong.  He felt sure of that.  It
must be some one a great deal bigger than himself, and he was of no
mind to get into trouble, even for a dinner of fresh eggs.  He must
first find out whose they were;

then he would know better what to do.  He felt sure that no one else
knew about them, and he knew that they couldn't run away.  So he kept
right on flying until he reached a certain tall pine-tree where he
could sit and think without being disturbed.

"Eggs!" he muttered.  "Real eggs!  Now who under the sun can have
moved into Redtail's old house?  And what can they mean by laying
eggs before Mistress Spring has even sent word that she has started?
It's too much for me.  It certainly is too much for me."

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CHAPTER III: Blacky Finds Out Who Owns The Eggs

Two big white eggs in a tumbledown nest, and snow and ice
everywhere!  Did ever anybody hear of such a thing before?

"Wouldn't believe it, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes,"
muttered Blacky the Crow.  "Have to believe them.  If I can't believe
them, it's of no use to try to believe anything in this world.  As
sure as I sit here, that old nest has two eggs in it.  Whoever laid
them must be crazy to start housekeeping at this time of year.  I
must find out whose eggs they are and then --"

Blacky didn't finish, but there was a hungry look in his eyes that
would have told any who saw it, had there been any to see it, that
he had a use for those eggs.  But there was none to see it, and he
took the greatest care that there should be none to see him when he
once again started for a certain lonesome corner of the Green

"First I'll make sure that the eggs are still there, " thought he,
and flew high above the tree tops, so that as he passed over the
tree in which was the old nest of Red-tail the Hawk, he might look
down into it.  To have seen him, you would never have guessed that he
was looking for anything in particular.  He seemed to be just flying
over on his way to some distant place.  If the eggs were still there,
he meant to come back and hide in the top of a near-by pine-tree to
watch until he was sure that he might safely steal those eggs, or to
find out whose they were.

Blacky's heart beat fast with excitement as he drew near that old
tumble-down nest.  Would those two big white eggs be there?  Perhaps
there would be three!  The very thought made him flap his wings a
little faster.  A few more wing strokes and he would be right over
the tree.  How he did hope to see those eggs!  He could almost see
into the nest now.  One stroke!  Two strokes!  Three strokes!  Blacky
bit his tongue to keep from giving a sharp caw of disappointment and

There were no eggs to be seen.  No, Sir, there wasn't a sign of eggs
in that old nest.  There wasn't because -- why, do you think?  There
wasn't because Blacky looked straight down on a great mass of
feathers which quite covered them from sight, and he didn't have to
look twice to know that that great mass of feathers was really a
great bird, the bird to whom those eggs belonged.

Blacky didn't turn to come back as he had planned.  He kept right on,
just as if he hadn't seen anything, and as he flew he shivered a
little.  He shivered at the thought of what might have happened to
him if he had tried to steal those eggs the day before and had been
caught doing it.

"I'm thankful I knew enough to leave them alone, " said he.  "Funny I
never once guessed whose eggs they are.  I might have known that no
one but Hooty the Horned Owl would think of nesting at this time of
year.  And that was Mrs. Hooty I saw on the nest just now.  My, but
she's big!  She's bigger than Hooty himself!  Yes, Sir, it's a lucky
thing I didn't try to get those eggs yesterday.  Probably both Hooty
and Mrs. Hooty were sitting close by, only they were sitting so
still that I thought they were parts of the tree they were
in.  Blacky, Blacky, the sooner you forget those eggs the better."

Some things are best forgotten As soon as they are learned.
Who never plays with fire Will surely not get burned.

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CHAPTER IV: The Cunning Of Blacky

Now when Blacky the Crow discovered that the eggs in the old
tumble-down nest of Redtail the Hawk in a lonesome corner of the
Green Forest belonged to Hooty the Owl, he straightway made the best
of resolutions; he would simply forget all about those eggs.  He
would forget that he ever had seen them, and he would stay away from
that corner of the Green Forest.  That was a very wise resolution.  Of
all the people who live in the Green Forest, none is fiercer or more
savage than Hooty the Owl, unless it is Mrs. Hooty.  She is bigger
than Hooty and certainly quite as much to be feared by the little

All this Blacky knows.  No one knows it better.  And Blacky is not one
to poke his head into trouble with his eyes open.  So he very wisely
resolved to forget all about those eggs.  Now it is one thing to make
a resolution and quite another thing to live up to it, as you all
know.  It was easy enough to say that he would forget, but not at all
easy to forget.  It would have been different if it had been spring
or early summer, when there were plenty of other eggs to be had by
any one smart enough to find them and steal them.  But now, when it
was still winter (such an unheard-of time for any one to have
eggs!), and it was hard work to find enough to keep a hungry Crow's
stomach filled, the thought of those eggs would keep popping into
his head.  He just couldn't seem to forget them.  After a little, he
didn't try.

Now Blacky the Crow is very, very cunning.  He is one of the smartest
of all the little people who fly.  No one can get into more mischief
and still keep out of trouble than can Blacky the Crow.  That is
because he uses the wits in that black head of his.  In fact, some
people are unkind enough to say that he spends all his spare time in
planning mischief.  The more he thought of those eggs, the more he
wanted them, and it wasn't long before he began to try to plan some
way to get them without risking his own precious skin.

"I can't do it alone, " thought he, "and yet if I take any one into
my secret, I'll have to share those eggs.  That won't do at all,
because I want them myself.  I found them, and I ought to have
them."  He quite forgot or overlooked the fact that those eggs
really belonged to Hooty and Mrs. Hooty and to no one else.  "Now let
me see, what can I do?"

He thought and he thought and he thought and he thought, and little
by little a plan worked out in his little black head.  Then he
chuckled.  He chuckled right out loud, then hurriedly looked around
to see if any one had heard him.  No one had, so he chuckled
again.  He cocked his head on one side and half closed his eyes, as
if that plan was something he could see and he was looking at it
very hard.  Then he cocked his head on the other side and did the
same thing.

"It's all right, " said he at last.  "It'll give my relatives a lot
of fun, and of course they will be very grateful to me for that.  It
won't hurt Hooty or Mrs. Hooty a bit, but it will make them very
angry.  They have very short tempers, and people with short tempers
usually forget everything else when they are angry.  We'll pay them a
visit while the sun is bright, because then perhaps they cannot see
well enough to catch us, and we'll tease them until they lose their
tempers and forget all about keeping guard over those eggs.  Then
I'll slip in and get one and perhaps both of them.  Without knowing
that they are doing anything of the kind, my friends and relatives
will help me to get a good meal.  My, how good those eggs will

It was a very clever and cunning plan, for Blacky is a very clever
and cunning rascal, but of course it didn't deserve success because
nothing that means needless worry and trouble for others deserves to

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CHAPTER V: Blacky Calls His Friends

When Blacky cries "Caw, caw, caw, caw!"  As if he'd dislocate his
jaw, His relatives all hasten where He waits them with a crafty air.
They know that there is mischief afoot, and the Crow family is
always ready for mischief.  So on this particular morning when they
heard Blacky cawing at the top of his lungs from the tallest
pine-tree in the Green Forest, they hastened over there as fast as
they could fly, calling to each other excitedly and sure that they
were going to have a good time of some kind.

Blacky chuckled as he saw them coming.  "Come on!  Come on!  Caw, caw,
caw!  Hurry up and flap your wings faster.  I know where Hooty the Owl
is, and we'll have no end of fun with him, " he cried.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!" shouted all his relatives in great
glee.  "Where is he?  Lead us to him.  We'll drive him out of the Green

So Blacky led the way over to the most lonesome corner of the Green
Forest, straight to the tree in which Hooty the Owl was comfortably
sleeping.  Blacky had taken pains to slip over early that morning and
make sure just where he was.  He had discovered Hooty fast asleep,
and he knew that he would remain right where he was until dark.  You
know Hooty's eyes are not meant for much use in bright light, and
the brighter the light, the more uncomfortable his eyes feel.  Blacky
knows this, too, and he had chosen the very brightest part of the
morning to call his relatives over to torment poor Hooty.  Jolly,
round, bright Mr. Sun was shining his very brightest, and the white
snow on the ground made it seem brighter still.  Even Blacky had to
blink, and he knew that poor Hooty would find it harder still.

But one thing Blacky was very careful not to even hint of, and that
was that Mrs. Hooty was right close at hand.  Mrs. Hooty is bigger
and even more fierce than Hooty, and Blacky didn't want to frighten
any of the more timid of his relatives.  What he hoped down deep in
his crafty heart was that when they got to teasing and tormenting
Hooty and making the great racket which he knew they would,
Mrs. Hooty would lose her temper and fly over to join Hooty in
trying to drive away the black tormentors.  Then Blacky would slip
over to the nest which she had left unguarded and steal one and
perhaps both of the eggs he knew were there.

When they reached the tree where Hooty was, he was blinking his
great yellow eyes and had fluffed out all his feathers, which is a
way he has when he is angry, to make himself look twice as big as he
really is.  Of course, he had heard the noisy crew coming, and he
knew well enough what to expect.  As soon as they saw him, they began
to scream as loud as ever they could and to call him all manner of
names.  The boldest of them would dart at him as if to pull out a
mouthful of feathers, but took the greatest care not to get too
near.  You see, the way Hooty hissed and snapped his great bill was
very threatening, and they knew that if once he got hold of one of
them with those big cruel claws of his, that would be the end.

So they were content to simply scold and scream at him and fly
around him, just out of reach, and make him generally uncomfortable,
and they were so busy doing this that no one noticed that Blacky was
not joining in the fun, and no one paid any attention to the old
tumble-down nest of Redtail the Hawk only a few trees distant.  So
far Blacky's plans were working out just as he had hoped.

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CHAPTER VI: Hooty The Owl Doesn't Stay Still

   Now what's the good of being smart
   When others do not do their part?

If Blacky the Crow didn't say this to himself, he thought it.  He
knew that he had made a very cunning plan to get the eggs of Hooty
the Owl, a plan so shrewd and cunning that no one else in the Green
Forest or on the Green Meadows would have thought of it.  There was
only one weakness in it, and that was that it depended for success
on having Hooty the Owl do as he usually did when tormented by a
crowd of noisy Crows, -- stay where he was until they got tired and
flew away.

Now Blacky sometimes makes a mistake that smart people are very apt
to make; he thinks that because he is so smart, other people are
stupid.  That is where he proves that smart as he is, he isn't as
smart as he thinks he is.  He always thought of Hooty the Owl as
stupid.  That is, he always thought of him that way in daytime.  At
night, when he was waked out of a sound sleep by the fierce hunting
cry of Hooty, he wasn't so sure about Hooty being stupid, and he
always took care to sit perfectly still in the darkness, lest
Hooty's great ears should hear him and

Hooty's great eyes, made for seeing in the dark, should find
him.  No, in the night Blacky was not at all sure that Hooty was

But in the daytime he was sure.  You see, he quite forgot the fact
that the brightness of day is to Hooty what the blackness of night
is to him.  So, because Hooty would simply sit still and hiss and
snap his bill, instead of trying to catch his tormentors or flying
away, Blacky called him stupid.  He felt sure that Hooty would stay
right where he was now, and he hoped that Mrs. Hooty would lose her
temper and leave the nest where she was sitting on those two eggs
and join Hooty to help him try to drive away that noisy crew.

But Hooty isn't stupid.  Not a bit of it.  The minute he found out
that Blacky and his friends had discovered him, he thought of
Mrs. Hooty and the two precious eggs in the old nest of Redtail the
Hawk close by.

"Mrs. Hooty mustn't be disturbed, " thought he.  "That will never do
at all.  I must lead these black rascals away where they won't
discover Mrs. Hooty.  I certainly must."

So he spread his broad wings and blundered away among the trees a
little way.  He didn't fly far because the instant he started to fly
that whole noisy crew with the exception of Blacky were after
him.  Because he couldn't use his claws or bill while flying, they
grew bold enough to pull a few feathers out of his back.  So he flew
only a little way to a thick hemlock-tree, where it wasn't easy for
the Crows to get at him, and where the light didn't hurt his eyes so
much.  There he rested a few minutes and then did the same thing over
again.  He meant to lead those bothersome Crows into the darkest part
of the Green Forest and there -- well, he could see better there,
and it might be that one of them would be careless enough to come
within reach.  No, Hooty wasn't stupid.  Certainly not.

Blacky awoke to that fact as he sat in the top of a tall pine-tree
silently watching.  He could see Mrs. Hooty on the nest, and as the
noise of Hooty's tormentors sounded from farther and farther away,
she settled herself more comfortably and closed her eyes.  Blacky
could imagine that she was smiling to herself.  It was clear that she
had no intention of going to help Hooty.  His splendid plan had
failed just because stupid Hooty, who wasn't stupid at all, had
flown away when he ought to have sat still.  It was very provoking.

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CHAPTER VII: Blacky Tries Another Plan

   When one plan fails, just try another;
   Declare you'll win some way or other.

People who succeed are those who do not give up because they fail
the first time they try.  They are the ones who, as soon as one plan
fails, get busy right away and think of another plan and try
that.  If the thing they are trying to do is a good thing, sooner or
later they succeed.  If they are trying to do a wrong thing, very
likely all their plans fail, as they should.

Now Blacky the Crow knows all about the value of trying and
trying.  He isn't easily discouraged.  Sometimes it is a pity that he
isn't, because he plans so much mischief.  But the fact remains that
he isn't, and he tries and tries until he cannot think of another
plan and just has to give up.  When he invited all his relatives to
join him in tormenting Hooty the Owl, he thought he had a plan that
just couldn't fail.  He felt sure that Mrs. Hooty would leave her
nest and help Hooty try to drive away his tormentors.  But Mrs. Hooty
didn't do anything of the kind, because Hooty was smart enough and
thoughtful enough to lead his tormentors away from the nest into the
darkest part of the Green Forest where their noise wouldn't bother
Mrs. Hooty.  So she just settled herself more comfortably than ever
on those eggs which Blacky had hoped she would give him a chance to
steal, and his fine plan was quite upset.

Not one of his relatives had noticed that nest.  They had been too
busy teasing Hooty.  This was just as Blacky had hoped.  He didn't
want them to know about that nest because he was selfish and wanted
to get those eggs just for himself alone.  But now he knew that the
only way he could get Mrs. Hooty off of them would be by teasing her
so that she would lose her temper and try to catch some of her
tormentors.  If she did that, there would be a chance that he might
slip in and get at least one of those eggs.

He would try it.

For a few minutes he listened to the noise of his relatives growing
fainter and fainter, as Hooty led them farther and farther into the
Green Forest.  Then he opened his mouth.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw!" he screamed.  "Caw, caw, caw, caw!  Come back,
everybody!  Here is Mrs. Hooty on her nest!  Caw, caw, caw, caw!"

Now as soon as they heard that, all Blacky's relatives stopped
chasing and tormenting Hooty and started back as fast as they could
fly.  They didn't like the dark part of the Green Forest into which
Hooty was leading them.  Besides, they wanted to see that nest.  So
back they came, cawing at the top of their lungs, for they were very
much excited.  Some of them never had seen a nest of Hooty's.  And
anyway, it would be just as much fun to tease Mrs. Hooty as it was
to tease Hooty.

"Where is the nest?"  they screamed, as they came back to where
Blacky was cawing and pretending to be very much excited.

"Why, " exclaimed one, "that is the old nest of Redtail the Hawk.  I
know all about that nest.  " And he looked at Blacky as if he thought
Blacky was playing a joke on them.

"It was Redtail's, but it is Hooty's now.  If you don't believe me,
just look in it, " retorted Blacky.

At once they all began to fly over the top of the tree where they
could look down into the nest and there, sure enough, was
Mrs. Hooty, her great, round, yellow eyes glaring up at them
angrily.  Such a racket!  Right away Hooty was forgotten, and the
whole crowd at once began to torment Mrs. Hooty.  Only Blacky sat
watchful and silent, waiting for Mrs. Hooty to lose her temper and
try to catch one of her tormentors.  He had hope, a great hope, that
he would get one of those eggs.

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CHAPTER VIII: Hooty   Comes  To  Mrs. Hooty's Aid

No one can live just for self alone.  A lot of people think they can,
but they are very much mistaken.  They are making one of the greatest
mistakes in the world.  Every teeny, weeny act, no matter what it is,
affects somebody else.  That is one of Old Mother Nature's great
laws.  And it is just as true among the little people of the Green
Forest and the Green Meadows as with boys and girls and grown
people.  It is Old Mother Nature's way of making each of us
responsible for the good of all and of teaching us that always we
should help each other.

As you know, when Blacky the Crow called all his relatives over to
the nest where Mrs. Hooty was sitting on her eggs, they at once
stopped tormenting Hooty and left him alone in a thick hemlock-tree
in the darkest part of the Green Forest.  Of course Hooty was very,
very glad to be left in peace, and he might have spent the rest of
the day there sleeping in comfort.  But he didn't.  No, Sir, he
didn't.  At first he gave a great sigh of relief and settled himself
as if he meant to stay.  He listened to the voices of those noisy
Crows growing fainter and fainter and was glad.  But it was only for
a few minutes.

Presently those voices stopped growing fainter.  They grew more
excited-sounding than ever, and they came right from one
place.  Hooty knew then that his tormentors had found the nest where
Mrs. Hooty was, and that they were tormenting her just as they had
tormented him.  He snapped his bill angrily and then more angrily.

"I guess Mrs. Hooty is quite able to take care of herself, " he
grumbled, "but she ought not to be disturbed while she is sitting on
those eggs.  I hate to go back there in that bright sunshine.  It
hurts my eyes, and I don't like it, but I guess I'll have to go back
there.  Mrs. Hooty needs my help.  I'd rather stay here, but --"

He didn't finish.  Instead, he spread his broad wings and flew back
towards the nest and Mrs. Hooty.  His great wings made no noise, for
they are made so that he can fly without making a sound.  "If I once
get hold of one of those Crows!" he muttered to himself.  "If I once
get hold of one of those Crows, I'll --" He didn't say what he
would do, but if you had been near enough to hear the snap of his
bill, you could have guessed the rest.

All this time the Crows were having what they called fun with
Mrs. Hooty.  Nothing is true fun which makes others uncomfortable,
but somehow a great many people seem to forget this.  So, while
Blacky sat watching, his relatives made a tremendous racket around
Mrs. Hooty, and the more angry she grew, the more they screamed and
called her names and darted down almost in her face, as they
pretended that they were going to fight her.  They were so busy doing
this, and Blacky was so busy watching them, hoping that Mrs. Hooty
would leave her nest and give him a chance to steal the eggs he knew
were under her, that no one gave Hooty a thought.

All of a sudden he was there, right in the tree close to the nest!
No one had heard a sound, but there he was, and in the claws of one
foot he held the tail feathers of one of Blacky's relatives.  It was
lucky, very lucky indeed for that one that the sun was in Hooty's
eyes and so he had missed his aim.  Otherwise there would have been
one less Crow.

Now it is one thing to tease one lone Owl and quite another to tease
two together.  Besides, there were those black tail feathers floating
down to the snow-covered ground.  Quite suddenly those Crows decided
that they had had fun enough for one day, and in spite of all Blacky
could do to stop them, away they flew, cawing loudly and talking it
all over noisily.  Blacky was the last to go, and his heart was
sorrowful.  However could he get those eggs?

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CHAPTER IX: Blacky Thinks Of Farmer Brown's Boy

"Such luck!" grumbled Blacky, as he flew over to his favorite tree
to do a little thinking.  "Such luck!  Now all my neighbors know about
the nest of Hooty the Owl, and sooner or later one of them will find
out that there are eggs in it.  There is one thing about it, though,
and that is that if I can't get them, nobody can.  That is to say,
none of my relatives can.  I've tried every way I can think of, and
those eggs are still there.  My, my, my, how I would like one of them
right now!"

Then Blacky the Crow did a thing which disappointed scamps often do,
-- began to blame the ones he was trying to wrong because his plans
had failed.  To have heard him talking to himself, you would have
supposed that those eggs really belonged to him and that Hooty and
Mrs. Hooty had cheated him out of them.  Yes, Sir, that is what you
would have thought if you could have heard him muttering to himself
there in the tree-top.  In his disappointment over not getting those
eggs, he was so sorry for himself that he actually did feel that he
was the one wronged, -- that Hooty and Mrs. Hooty should have let
him have those eggs.

Of course, that was absolute foolishness, but he made himself
believe it just the same.  At least, he pretended to believe it.  And
the more he pretended, the angrier he grew.  This is often the way
with people who try to wrong others.  They grow angry with the ones
they have tried to wrong.  When at last Blacky had to confess to
himself that he could think of no other way to get those eggs, he
began to wonder if there was some way to make trouble for Hooty and
Mrs. Hooty.  It was right then that he thought of Farmer Brown's boy.
Blacky's eyes snapped.  He remembered how, once upon a time, Farmer
Brown's boy had

delighted to rob nests.  Blacky had seen him take the eggs from the
nests of Blacky's own relatives and from many other feathered
people.  What he did with the eggs, Blacky had no idea.  Just now he
didn't care.  If Farmer Brown's boy would just happen to find Hooty's
nest, he would be sure to take those eggs, and then he, Blacky,
would feel better.  He would feel that he was even with Hooty.

Right away he began to try to think of some way to bring Farmer
Brown's boy over to the lonesome corner of the Green Forest where
Hooty's nest was.  If he could once get him there, he felt sure that
Farmer Brown's boy would see the nest and climb up to it, and then
of course he would take the eggs.  If he couldn't have those eggs
himself, the next best thing would be to see some one else get them.

Dear me, dear me, such dreadful thoughts!  I am afraid that Blacky's
heart was as black as his coat.  And the worst of it was, he seemed
to get a lot of pleasure in his wicked plans.  Now right down in his
heart he knew that they were wicked plans, but he tried to make
excuses to himself.

"Hooty the Owl is a robber, " said he.  "Everybody is afraid of
him.  He lives on other people, and so far as I know he does no good
in the world.  He is big and fierce, and no one loves him.  The Green
Forest would be better off without him.  If those eggs hatch, there
will be little Owls to be fed, and they will grow up into big fierce
Owls, like their father and mother.  So if I show Farmer Brown's boy
that nest and he takes those eggs, I will be doing a kindness to my

So Blacky talked to himself and tried to hush the still, small voice
down inside that tried to tell him that what he was planning to do
was really a dreadful thing.  And all the time he watched for Farmer
Brown's boy.

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CHAPTER X: Farmer Brown's Boy And Hooty

Farmer Brown's boy had taken it into his head to visit the Green
Forest.  It was partly because he hadn't anything else to do, and it
was partly because now that it was very near the end of winter he
wanted to see how things were there and if there were any signs of
the coming of spring.  Blacky the Crow saw him coming, and Blacky
chuckled to himself.  He had watched every day for a week for just
this thing.  Now he would tell Farmer Brown's boy about that nest of
Hooty the Owl.

He flew over to the lonesome corner of the Green Forest where Hooty
and Mrs. Hooty had made their home and at once began to caw at the
top of his voice and pretend that he was terribly excited over

"Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!" shouted Blacky.  At once all his relatives
within hearing hurried over to join him.  They knew that he was
tormenting Hooty, and they wanted to join in the fun.  It wasn't long
before there was a great racket going on over in that lonesome
corner of the Green Forest.

Of course Farmer Brown's boy heard it.  He stopped and listened.  "Now
I wonder what Blacky and his friends have found this time, " said
he.  "Whenever they make a fuss like that, there is usually something
to see there.  I believe I'll so over and have a look."

So he turned in the direction of the lonesome corner of the Green
Forest, and as he drew near, he moved very carefully, so as to see
all that he could without frightening the Crows.  He knew that as
soon as they saw him, they would fly away, and that might alarm the
one they were tormenting, for he knew enough of Crow ways to know
that when they were making such a noise as they were now making,
they were plaguing some one.

Blacky was the first to see him because he was watching for him.  But
he didn't say anything until Farmer Brown's boy was so near that he
couldn't help but see that nest and Hooty himself, sitting up very
straight and snapping his bill angrily at his tormentors.  Then
Blacky gave the alarm, and at once all the Crows rose in the air and
headed for the Green Meadows, cawing at the top of their
lungs.  Blacky went with them a little way.  The first chance he got
he dropped out of the flock and silently flew back to a place where
he could see all that might happen at the nest of Hooty the Owl.

When Farmer Brown's boy first caught sight of the nest and saw the
Crows darting down toward it and acting so excited, he was puzzled.

"That's an old nest of Red-tail the Hawk, " thought he.  "I found
that last spring.  Now what can there be there to excite those Crows

Then he caught sight of Hooty the Owl.  "Ha, so that's it!" he
exclaimed.  "Those scamps have discovered Hooty and have been having
no end of fun tormenting him.  I wonder what he's doing there."

He no longer tried to keep out of sight, but walked right up to the
foot of the tree, all the time looking up.  Hooty saw him, but
instead of flying away, he snapped his bill just as he had at the
Crows and hissed.

"That's funny, " thought Farmer Brown's boy.  "If I didn't know that
to be the old nest of Redtail the Hawk, and if it weren't still the
tail-end of winter, I would think that was Hooty's nest."

He walked in a circle around the tree, looking up.  Suddenly he gave
a little start.  Was that a tail sticking over the edge of the nest?
He found a stick and threw it up.  It struck the bottom of the nest,
and out flew a great bird.  It was Mrs. Hooty!  Blacky the Crow

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CHAPTER XI: Farmer Brown's Boy Is Tempted

   When you're tempted to do wrong
   Is the time to prove you're strong.
   Shut your eyes and clench each fist;
   It will help you to resist.

When a bird is found sitting on a nest, it is a pretty sure sign
that that nest holds something worth while.  It is a sign that that
bird has set up housekeeping.  So when Farmer Brown's boy discovered
Mrs. Hooty sitting so close on the old nest of Redtail the Hawk, in
the most lonesome corner of the Green Forest, he knew what it
meant.  Perhaps I should say that he knew what it ought to mean.

It ought to mean that there were eggs in that nest.

But it was hard for Farmer Brown's boy to believe that.  Why, spring
had not come yet!  There was still snow, and the Smiling Pool was
still covered with ice.  Who ever heard of birds nesting at this time
of year?  Certainly not Farmer Brown's boy.  And yet Hooty the Owl and
Mrs. Hooty were acting for all the world as feathered folks do act
when they have eggs and are afraid that something is going to happen
to them.  It was very puzzling.

"That nest was built by Red-tail the Hawk, and it hasn't even been
repaired, " muttered Farmer Brown's boy, as he stared up at it.  "If
Hooty and his wife have taken it for their home, they are mighty
poor housekeepers.  And if Mrs. Hooty has laid eggs this time of
year, she must be crazy.  I suppose the way to find out is to climb
up there.  It seems foolish, but I'm going to do it.  Those Owls
certainly act as if they are mighty anxious about something, and I'm
going to find out what it is."

He looked at Hooty and Mrs. Hooty, at their hooked bills and great
claws, and decided that he would take a stout stick along with
him.  He had no desire to feel these great claws.  When he had found a
stick to suit him, he began to climb the tree.  Hooty and Mrs. Hooty
snapped their bills and hissed fiercely.  They drew nearer.  Farmer
Brown's boy kept a watchful eye on them.  They looked so big and
fierce that he was almost tempted to give up and leave them in
peace.  But he just had to find out if there was anything in that
nest, so he kept on.  As he drew near it, Mrs. Hooty swooped very
near to him, and the snap of her bill made an ugly sound.  He held
his stick ready to strike and kept on.

The nest was simply a great platform of sticks.  When Farmer Brown's
boy reached it, he found that he could not get where he could look
into it, so he reached over and felt inside.  Almost at once his
fingers touched something that made him tingle all over.  It was an
egg, a great big egg!  There was no doubt about it.  It was just as
hard for him to believe as it had been for Blacky the Crow to
believe, when he first saw those eggs.  Farmer Brown's boy's fingers
closed over that egg and took it out of the nest.  Mrs. Hooty swooped
very close, and Farmer Brown's boy nearly dropped the egg as he
struck at her with his stick.  Then Mrs. Hooty and Hooty seemed to
lose courage and withdrew to a tree near by, where they snapped
their bills and hissed.

Then Farmer Brown's boy looked at the prize in his hand.  It was a
big, dirty-white egg.  His eyes shone.  What a splendid prize to add
to his collection of birds' eggs!  It was the first egg of the Great
Horned Owl, the largest of all Owls, that he ever had seen.

Once more he felt in the nest and found there was another egg
there.  "I'll take both of them, " said he.  "It's the first nest of
Hooty's that I've ever found, and perhaps I'll never find
another.  Gee, I'm glad I came over here to find out what those Crows
were making such a fuss about.  I wonder if I can get these clown
without breaking them."

Just at that very minute he remembered something.  He remembered that
he had stopped collecting eggs.  He remembered that he had resolved
never to take another bird's egg.

"But this is different, " whispered the tempter.  "This isn't like
taking the eggs of the little song birds."

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CHAPTER XII: A Tree-Top Battle

   As black is black and white is white,
   So wrong is wrong and right is right.

There isn't any half way about it.  A thing is wrong or it is right,
and that is all there is to it.  But most people have hard work to
see this when they want very much to do a thing that the still small
voice way down inside tells them isn't right.  They try to
compromise.  To compromise is to do neither one thing nor the other
but a little of both.  But you can't do that with right and wrong.  It
is a queer thing, but a half right never is as good as a whole
right, while a half wrong often, very often, is as bad as a whole

Farmer Brown's boy, up in the tree by the nest of Hooty the Owl in
the lonesome corner of the Green Forest, was fighting a battle.  No,
he wasn't fighting with Hooty or Mrs. Hooty.  He was fighting a
battle right inside himself.  It was a battle between right and
wrong.  Once upon a time he had taken great delight in collecting the
eggs of birds, in trying to see how many kinds he could get.  Then as
he had come to know the little forest and meadow people better, he
had seen that taking the eggs of birds is very, very wrong, and he
had stopped stealing them.  He bad declared that never again would he
steal an egg from a bird.

But never before had he found a nest of Hooty the Owl.  Those two big
eggs would add ever so much to his collection.  "Take 'em, " said a
little voice inside.  "Hooty is a robber.  You will be doing a
kindness to the other birds by taking them."

"Don't do it, " said another little voice.  "Hooty may be a robber,
but he has a place in the Green Forest, or Old Mother Nature never
would have put him here.  It is just as much stealing to take his
eggs as to take the eggs of any other bird.  He has just as much
right to them as Jenny Wren has to hers."

"Take one and leave one, " said the first voice.

"That will be just as much stealing as if you took both, " said the
second voice.  "Besides, you will be breaking your own word.  You said
that you never would take another egg."

"I didn't promise anybody but myself, " declared Farmer Brown's boy
right out loud.  At the sound of his voice, Hooty and Mrs. Hooty,
sitting in the next tree, snapped their bills and hissed louder than

"A promise to yourself ought to be just as good as a promise to any
one else.  I don't wonder Hooty hisses at you, " said the good little

"Think how fine those eggs will look in your collection and how
proud you will be to show them to the other fellows who never have
found a nest of Hooty's, " said the first little voice.

"And think how mean and small and cheap you'll feel every time you
look at them, " added the good little voice.  "You'll get a lot more
fun if you leave them to hatch out and then watch the little Owls
grow up and learn all about their ways.  Just think what a stout,
brave fellow Hooty is to start housekeeping at this time of year,
and how wonderful it is that Mrs. Hooty can keep these eggs warm and
when they have hatched take care of the baby Owls before others have
even begun to build their nests.  Besides, wrong is wrong and right
is right, always."

Slowly Farmer Brown's boy reached over the edge of the nest and put
back the egg.  Then he began to climb down the tree.  When he reached
the ground he went off a little way and watched.  Almost at once
Mrs. Hooty flew to the nest and settled down on the eggs, while
Hooty mounted guard close by.

"I'm glad I didn't take 'em, " said Farmer Brown's boy.  "Yes, Sir,
I'm glad I didn't take 'em."

As he turned back toward home, he saw Blacky the Crow flying over
the Green Forest, and little did he guess how he had upset Blacky's

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CHAPTER XIII: Blacky Has  A  Change  Of  Heart

Blacky The Crow isn't all black.  No, indeed.  His coat is black, and
sometimes it seems as if his heart is all black, but this isn't
so.  It certainly seemed as if his heart was all black when he tried
so hard to make trouble for Hooty the Owl.  It would seem as if only
a black heart could have urged him to try so hard to steal the eggs
of Hooty and Mrs. Hooty, but this wasn't really so.  You see, it
didn't seem at all wrong to try to get those eggs.  Blacky was
hungry, and those eggs would have given him a good meal.  He knew
that Hooty wouldn't hesitate to catch him and eat him if he had the
chance, and so it seemed to him perfectly right and fair to steal
Hooty's eggs if he was smart enough to do so.  And most of the other
little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows would have
felt the same way about it.  You see, it is one of the laws of Old
Mother Nature that each one must learn to look out for himself.

But when Blacky showed that nest of Hooty's to Farmer Brown's boy
with the hope that Farmer Brown's boy would steal those eggs, there
was blackness in his heart.  He was doing something then which was
pure meanness.  He was just trying to make trouble for Hooty, to get
even because Hooty had been too smart for him.  He had sat in the top
of a tall pine-tree where he could see all that happened, and he had
chuckled wickedly as he had seen Farmer Brown's boy climb to Hooty's
nest and take out an egg.  He felt sure that he would take both
eggs.  He hoped so, anyway.

When he saw Farmer Brown's boy put the eggs back and climb down the
tree without any, he had to blink his eyes to make sure that he saw
straight.  He just couldn't believe what he saw.  At first he was
dreadfully disappointed and angry.  It looked very much as if he
weren't going to get even with Hooty after all.  He flew over to his
favorite tree to think things over.  Now sometimes it is a good thing
to sit by oneself and think things over.  It gives the little small
voice deep down inside a chance to be heard.  It was just that way
with Blacky now.

The longer he thought, the meaner his action in calling Farmer
Brown's boy looked.  It was one thing to try to steal those eggs
himself, but it was quite another matter to try to have them stolen
by some one against whom Hooty had no protection whatever.

"If it had been any one but Hooty, you would have done your best to
have kept Farmer Brown's boy away, " said the little voice
inside.  Blacky hung his head.  He knew that it was true.  More than
once, in fact many times, he had warned other feathered folks when
Farmer Brown's boy had been hunting for their nests, and had helped
to lead him away.

At last Blacky threw up his head and chuckled, and this time his
chuckle was good to hear.  "I'm glad that Farmer Brown's boy didn't
take those eggs, " said he right out loud.  "Yes, sir, I'm glad.  I'll
never do such a thing as that again.  I'm ashamed of what I did; yet
I'm glad I did it.  I'm glad because I've learned some things.  I've
learned that Farmer Brown's boy isn't as much to be feared as he
used to be.  I've learned that Hooty isn't as stupid as I thought he
was.  I've learned that while it may be all right for us people of
the Green Forest to try to outwit each other we ought to protect
each other against common dangers.  And I've learned something I
didn't know before, and that is that Hooty the Owl is the very first
of us to set up housekeeping.  Now I think I'll go hunt for an honest
meal."  And he did.

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CHAPTER XIV: Blacky  Makes  A  Call

  Judge no one by his style of dress;
  Your ignorance you thus confess.
   - Blacky the Crow.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw."  There was no need of looking to see who that
was.  Peter Rabbit knew without looking.  Mrs. Quack knew without
looking.  Just the same, both looked up.  Just alighting in the top of
a tall tree was Blacky the Crow.  "Caw, caw, caw, caw," he repeated,
looking down at Peter and Mrs. Quack and Mr. Quack and the six young
Quacks.  "I hope I am not interrupting any secret gossip."

"Not at all," Peter hastened to say.  "Mrs. Quack was just telling
me of the troubles and clangers in bringing up a young family in the
Far North.  How did you know the Quacks had arrived?"

Blacky chuckled hoarsely.  "I didn't, " said he.  "I simply thought
there might be something going on I didn't know about over here in
the pond of Paddy the Beaver, so I came over to find out.  Mr. Quack,
you and Mrs. Quack are looking very fine this fall.  And those
handsome young Quacks, you don't mean to tell me that they are your

Mrs. Quack nodded proudly.  "They are," said she.

"You don't say so!" exclaimed Blacky, as if he were very much
surprised, when all the time he wasn't surprised at all.  "They are a
credit to their parents.  Yes, indeed, they are a credit to their
parents.  Never have I seen finer young Ducks in all my life.  How
glad the hunters with terrible guns will be to see them."

Mrs. Quack shivered at that, and Blacky saw it.  He chuckled
softly.  You know he dearly loves to make others uncomfortable.  "I
saw three hunters over on the edge of the Big River early this very
morning," said he.

Mrs. Quack looked more anxious than ever.  Blacky's sharp eyes noted

"That is why I came over here," he added kindly.  "I wanted to give
you warning."

"But you didn't know the Quacks were here!" spoke up Peter.

"True enough, Peter.  True enough," replied Blacky, his eyes
twinkling.  "But I thought they might be.  I had heard a rumor that
those who go south are traveling earlier than usual this fall, so I
knew I might find Mr. and Mrs. Quack over here any time now.  Is it
true, Mrs. Quack, that we are going to have a long, hard, cold

"That is what they say up in the Far North," replied
Mrs. Quack.  "And it is true that Jack Frost had started down earlier
than usual.  That is how it happens we are here now.  But about those
hunters over by the Big River, do you suppose they will come over
here?"  There was an anxious note in Mrs. Quack's voice.

"No," replied Blacky promptly.  "Farmer Brown's boy won't let
them.  I know.  I've been watching him and he has been watching those
hunters.  As long as you stay here, you will be safe.  What a great
world this would be if all those two-legged creatures were like
Farmer Brown's boy."

"Wouldn't it!" cried Peter.  Then he added, "I wish they were."

"You don't wish it half as much as I do," declared Mrs. Quack.

"Yet I can remember when he used to hunt with a terrible gun and was
as bad as the worst of them," said Blacky.

"What changed him?" asked Mrs. Quack, looking interested.

"Just getting really acquainted with some of the little people of
the Green Forest and the Green Meadows," replied Blacky.  "He found
them ready to meet him more than halfway in friendship and that some
of them really are his best friends."

"And now he is their best friend," spoke up Peter.

Blacky nodded.  "Right, Peter," said he.  "That is why the Quacks are
safe here and will be as long as they stay."

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CHAPTER  XV: Blacky  Does  A  Little  Looking About

   Do not take the word of others
   That things are or are not so
   When there is a chance that you may
   Find out for yourself and know.
    - Blacky the Crow.

Blacky the Crow is a shrewd fellow.  He is one of the smartest and
shrewdest of all the little people in the Green Forest and on the
Green Meadows.  Everybody knows it.  And because of this, all his
neighbors have a great deal of respect for him, despite his
mischievous ways.

Of course, Blacky had noticed that Johnny Chuck had dug his house
deeper than usual and had stuffed himself until he was fatter than
ever before.  He had noticed that Jerry Muskrat was making the walls
of his house thicker than in other years, and that Paddy the Beaver
was doing the same thing to his house.  You know there is very little
that escapes the sharp eyes of Blacky the Crow.

He had guessed what these things meant.  "They think we are going to
have a long, hard, cold winter, " muttered Blacky to
himself.  "Perhaps they know, but I want to see some signs of it for
myself.  They may be only guessing.  Anybody can do that, and one
guess is as good as another."

Then he found Mr. and Mrs. Quack, the Mallard Ducks, and their
children in the pond of Paddy the Beaver and remembered that they
never had come down from their home in the Far North as early in the
fall as this.  Mrs. Quack explained that Jack Frost had already
started south, and so they had started earlier to keep well ahead of

"Looks as if there may be something in this idea of a long, hard,
cold winter," thought Blacky, "but perhaps the Quacks are only
guessing, too.  I wouldn't take their word for it any more than I
would the word of Johnny Chuck or Jerry Muskrat or Paddy the
Beaver.  I'll look about a little."

So after warning the Quacks to remain in the pond of Paddy the
Beaver if they would be safe, Blacky bade them good-by and flew
away.  He headed straight for the Green Meadows and Farmer Brown's
cornfield.  A little of that yellow corn would make a good breakfast.

When he reached the cornfield, Blacky perched on top of a shock of
corn, for it already had been cut and put in shocks in readiness to
be carted up to Farmer Brown's barn.  For a few minutes he sat there
silent and motionless, but all the time his sharp eyes were making
sure that no enemy was hiding behind one of those brown shocks.  When
he was quite certain that things were as safe as they seemed, he
picked out a plump ear of corn and began to tear open the husks, so
as to get at the yellow grains.

"Seems to me these husks are unusually thick," muttered Blacky, as
he tore at them with his stout bill.  "Don't remember ever having
seen them as thick as these.  Wonder if it just happens to be so on
this ear."

Then, as a sudden thought popped into his black head, he left that
ear and went to another.  The husks of this were as thick as those on
the first.  He flew to another shock and found the husks there just
the same.  He tried a third shock with the same result.

"Huh, they are all alike," said he.  Then he looked thoughtful and
for a few minutes sat perfectly still like a black statue.  "They are
right," said he at last.  "Yes, Sir, they are right." Of course he
meant Johnny Chuck and Jerry Muskrat and Paddy the Beaver and the
Quacks.  "I don't know how they know it, but they are right; we are
going to have a long, hard, cold winter.  I know it myself now.  I've
found a sign.  Old Mother Nature has wrapped this corn in extra thick
husks, and of course she has done it to protect it.  She doesn't do
things without a reason.  We are going to have a cold winter, or my
name isn't Blacky the Crow."

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CHAPTER XVI: Blacky Finds Other Signs

   A single fact may fail to prove you either right or wrong;
   Confirm it with another and your proof will then be strong.
    - Blacky the Crow.

After his discovery that Old Mother Nature had wrapped all the ears
of corn in extra thick husks, Blacky had no doubt in his own mind
that Johnny Chuck and Jerry Muskrat and Paddy the Beaver and the
Quacks were quite right in feeling that the coming winter would be
long, hard and cold.  But Blacky long ago learned that it isn't wise
or wholly safe to depend altogether on one thing.

"Old Mother Nature never does things by halves," thought Blacky, as
he sat on the fence post on the Green Meadows, thinking over his
discovery of the thick husks on the corn.  "She wouldn't take care to
protect the corn that way and not do as much for other things.  There
must be other signs, if I am smart enough to find them."

He lifted one black wing and began to set in order the feathers
beneath it.  Suddenly he made a funny little hop straight up.

"Well, I never!" he exclaimed, as he spread his wings to regain his
balance.  "I never did!"

"Is that so?" piped a squeaky little voice.  "If you say you never
did, I suppose you never did, though I want the word of some one
else before I will believe it.  What is it you never did?"

Blacky looked down.  Peeping up at him from the brown grass were two
bright little eyes.

"Hello, Danny Meadow Mouse!" exclaimed Blacky.  "I haven't seen you
for a long time.  I've looked for you several times lately."

"I don't doubt it.  I don't doubt it at all," squeaked
Danny.  "You'll never see me when you are looking for me.  That is,
you won't if I can help it.  You won't if I see you first."

Blacky chuckled.  He knew what Danny meant.  When Blacky goes looking
for Danny Meadow Mouse, it usually is in hope of having a Meadow
Mouse dinner, and he knew that Danny knew this.  "I've had my
breakfast," said Blacky, "and it isn't dinner time yet."

"What is it you never did?" persisted Danny, in his squeaky voice.

"That was just an exclamation," explained Blacky.  "I made a
discovery that surprised me so I exclaimed right out."

"What was it?" demanded Danny.

"It was that the feathers of my coat are coming in thicker than I
ever knew them to before.  I hadn't noticed it until I started to set
them in order a minute ago."  He buried his bill in the feathers of
his breast.  "Yes, sir," said he in a muffled voice, "they are
coming in thicker than I ever knew them to before.  There is a lot of
down around the roots of them.  I am going to have the warmest coat
I've ever had."

"Well, don't think you are the only one," retorted Danny.  "My fur
never was so thick at this time of year as it is now, and it is the
same way with Nanny Meadow Mouse and all our children.  I suppose you
know what it means."

"What does it mean?" asked Blacky, just as if he didn't have the
least idea, although he had guessed the instant he discovered those
extra feathers.

"It means we are going to have a long, hard, cold winter, and Old
Mother Nature is preparing us for it," replied Danny, quite as if
he knew all about it.  "You'll find that everybody who doesn't go
south or sleep all winter has a thicker coat than usual.  Hello!
There is old Roughleg the Hawk!  He has come extra early this year.  I
think I'll go back to warn Nanny."  Without another word Danny
disappeared in the brown grass.  Again Blacky chuckled.  "More signs,"
said he to himself.  "More signs.  There isn't a doubt that we are
going to have a hard winter.  I wonder if I can stand it or if I'd
better go a little way south, where it will be warmer."

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CHAPTER XVII: Blacky Watches A Queer Performance

   This much to me is very clear:
   A thing not understood is queer.
    - Blacky the Crow.

Blacky the Crow may be right.  Again he may not be.  If he is right,
it will account for a lot of the queer people in the world.  They are
not understood, and so they are queer.  At least, that is what other
people say, and never once think that perhaps they are the queer
ones for not understanding.

But Blacky isn't like those people who are satisfied not to
understand and to think other people and things queer.  He does his
best to understand.  He waits and watches and uses those sharp eyes
of his and those quick wits of his until at last usually he does

The day of his discovery of Old Mother Nature's signs that the
coming winter would be long, hard and cold, Blacky paid a visit to
the Big River.  Long ago he discovered that many things are to be
seen on or beside the Big River, things not to be seen elsewhere.  So
there are few clays in which he does not get over there.

As he drew near the Big River, he was very watchful and careful, was
Blacky, for this was the season when hunters with terrible guns were
abroad, and he had discovered that they were likely to be hiding
along the Big River, hoping to shoot Mr. or Mrs. Quack or some of
their relatives.  So he was very watchful as he drew near the Big
River, for he had learned that it was dangerous to pass too near a
hunter with a terrible gun.  More than once he had been shot at.  But
he had learned by these experiences.  Oh, yes, Blacky had
learned.  For one thing, he had learned to know a gun when he saw
it.  For another thing, he had learned just how far away one of these
dreadful guns could be and still hurt the one it was pointed at, and
to always keep just a little farther away.  Also he had learned that
a man or boy without a terrible gun is quite harmless, and he had
learned that hunters with terrible guns are tricky and sometimes
hide from those they seek to kill, so that in the dreadful hunting
season it is best to look sharply before approaching any place.

On this afternoon, as he drew near the Big River, he saw a man who
seemed to be very busy on the shore of the Big River, at a place
where wild rice and rushes grew for some distance out in the water,
for just there it was shallow far out from the shore.  Blacky looked
sharply for a terrible gun.  But the man had none with him and
therefore was not to be feared.  Blacky boldly drew near until he was
able to see what the man was doing.

Then Blacky's eyes stretched their widest and he almost cawed right
out with surprise.  The man was taking yellow corn from a bag, a
handful at a time, and throwing it out in the water.  Yes, Sir, that
is what he was doing, scattering nice yellow corn among the rushes
and wild rice in the water!

"That's a queer performance," muttered Blacky, as he watched.  "What
is he throwing perfectly good corn out in the water for?  He isn't
planting it, for this isn't the planting season.  Besides, it
wouldn't grow in the water, anyway.  It is a shame to waste nice corn
like that.  What is he doing it for?"

Blacky flew over to a tree some distance away and alighted in the
top of it to watch the queer performance.  You know Blacky has very
keen eyes and he can see a long distance.  For a while the man
continued to scatter corn and Blacky continued to wonder what he was
doing it for.  At last the man went away in a boat.  Blacky watched
him until he was out of sight.  Then he spread his wings and slowly
flew back and forth just above the rushes and wild rice, at the
place where the man had been scattering the corn.  He could see some
of the yellow grains on the bottom.  Presently he saw something
else.  "Ha!" exclaimed Blacky.

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CHAPTER XVIII: Blacky Becomes Very Suspicious

   Of things you do not understand,
   They may be wholly harmless but--
   You'll find the older that you grow
   That only things and folks you know
    Are fully to be trusted, so
      - Blacky the Crow.

That is one of Blacky's wise sayings, and he lives up to it.  It is
one reason why he has come to be regarded by all his neighbors as
one of the smartest of all who live in the Green Forest and on the
Green Meadow.  He seldom gets into any real trouble because he first
makes sure there is no trouble to get into.  When he discovers
something he does not understand, he is at once distrustful of it.

As he watched a man scattering yellow corn in the water from the
shore of the Big River he at once became suspicious.  He couldn't
understand why a man should throw good corn among the rushes and
wild rice in the water, and because he couldn't understand, he at
once began to suspect that it was for no good purpose.  When the man
left in a boat, Blacky slowly flew over the rushes where the man had
thrown the corn, and presently his sharp eyes made a discovery that
caused him to exclaim right out.

What was it Blacky had discovered?  Only a few feathers.  No one with
eyes less sharp than Blacky's would have noticed them.  And few would
have given them a thought if they had noticed them.  But Blacky knew
right away that those were feathers from a Duck.  He knew that a
Duck, or perhaps a flock of Ducks, had been resting or feeding in
there among those rushes, and that in moving about they had left
those two or three downy feathers.

"Ha!" exclaimed Blacky.  "Mr. and Mrs. Quack or some of their
relatives have been here.  It is just the kind of a place Ducks
like.  Also some Ducks like corn.

If they should come back here and find this corn, they would have a
feast, and they would be sure to come again.  That man who scattered
the corn here didn't have a terrible gun, but that doesn't mean that
he isn't a hunter.  He may come back again, and then he may have a
terrible gun.  I'm suspicious of that man.  I am so.  I believe he put
that corn here for Ducks and I don't believe he did it out of the
kindness of his heart.  If it was Farmer Brown's boy I would know
that all is well; that he was thinking of hungry Ducks, with few
places where they can feed in safety, as they make the long journey
from the Far North to the Sunny South.  But it wasn't Farmer Brown's
boy.  I don't like the looks of it.  I don't indeed.  I'll keep watch
of this place and see what happens."

All the way to his favorite perch in a certain big hemlock-tree in
the Green Forest, Blacky kept thinking about that corn and the man
who had seemed to be generous with it, and the more he thought, the
more suspicious he became.  He didn't like the looks of it at all.

"I'll warn the Quacks to keep away from there.  I'll do it the very
first thing in the morning," he muttered, as he prepared to go to
sleep.  "If they have any sense at all, they will stay in the pond of
Paddy the Beaver.  But if they should go over to the Big River, they
would be almost sure to find that corn, and if they should once find
it, they would keep going back for more.  It may be all right, but I
don't like the looks of it."

And still full of suspicions, Blacky went to sleep.

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CHAPTER XIX: Blacky Makes More Discoveries

   Little things you fail to see
   May important prove to be.
    - Blacky the Crow.

One of the secrets of Blacky's success in life is the fact that he
never fails to take note of little things.  Long ago he learned that
little things which in themselves seem harmless and not worth
noticing may together prove the most important things in life.  So,
no matter how unimportant a thing may appear, Blacky examines it
closely with those sharp eyes of his and remembers it.

The very first thing Blacky did, as soon as he was awake the morning
after he discovered the man scattering corn in the rushes at a
certain place on the edge of the Big River, was to fly over to the
pond of Paddy the Beaver and again warn Mr. and Mrs. Quack to keep
away from the Big River, if they and their six children would remain
safe.  Then he got some breakfast.  He ate it in a hurry and flew
straight over to the Big River to the place where he had seen that
yellow corn scattered.

Blacky wasn't wholly surprised to find Dusky the Black Duck, own
cousin to Mr. and Mrs. Quack the Mallard Ducks, with a number of his
relatives in among the rushes and wild rice at the very place where
that corn had been scattered.  They seemed quite contented and in the
best of spirits.  Blacky guessed why.  Not a single grain of that
yellow corn could Blacky see.  He knew the ways of Dusky and his
relatives.  He knew that they must have come in there just at dusk
the night before and at once had found that corn.  He knew that they
would remain hiding there until frightened out, and that then they
would spend the day in some little pond where they would not be
likely to be disturbed or where at least no danger could approach
them without being seen in plenty of time.  There they would rest all
day, and when the Black Shadows came creeping out from the Purple
Hills, they would return to that place on the Big River to feed, for
that is the time when they like best to hunt for their food.

Dusky looked up as Blacky flew over him, but Blacky said nothing,
and Dusky said nothing.  But if Blacky didn't use his tongue, he did
use his eyes.  He saw just on the edge of the shore what looked like
a lot of small bushes growing close together on the very edge of the
water.  Mixed in with them were a lot of the brown rushes.  They
looked very harmless and innocent.  But Blacky knew every foot of
that shore along the Big River, and he knew that those bushes hadn't
been there during the summer.  He knew that they hadn't grown there.

He flew directly over them.  Just back of them were a couple of
logs.  Those logs hadn't been there when he passed that way a few
days before.  He was sure of it.

"Ha!" exclaimed Blacky under his breath.  "Those look to me as if
they might be very handy, very handy indeed, for a hunter to sit
on.  Sitting there behind those bushes, he would be hidden from any
Duck who might come in to look for nice yellow corn scattered out
there among the rushes.  It doesn't look right to me.  No, Sir, it
doesn't look right to me.  I think I'll keep an eye on this place."

So Blacky came back to the Big River several times that day.  The
second time back he found that Dusky the Black Duck and his
relatives had left.  When he returned in the afternoon, he saw the
same man he had seen there the afternoon before, and he was doing
the same thing, -- scattering yellow corn out in the rushes.  And as
before, he went away in a boat.

"I don't like it," muttered Blacky, shaking his black head.  "I
don't like it."

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CHAPTER XX: Blacky Drops A Hint

   When you see another's danger
   Warn him though he be a stranger.
    - Blacky the Crow.

Every day for a week a man came in a boat to scatter corn in the
rushes at a certain point along the bank of the Big River, and every
day Blacky the Crow watched him and shook his black head and talked
to himself and told himself that he didn't like it, and that he was
sure that it was for no good purpose.  Sometimes Blacky watched from
a distance, and sometimes he flew right over the man.  But never once
did the man have a gun with him.

Every morning, very early, Blacky flew over there, and every morning
he found Dusky the Black Duck and his flock in the rushes and wild
rice at that particular place, and he knew that they had been there
all night, He knew that they had come in there just at dusk the
night before, to feast on the yellow corn the man had scattered
there in the afternoon.

"It is no business of mine what those Ducks do," muttered Blacky to
himself, "but as surely as my tail feathers are black, something is
going to happen to some of them one of these days.  That man may be
fooling them, but he isn't fooling me.  Not a bit of it.  He hasn't
had a gun with him once when I have seen him, but just the same he
is a hunter.  I feel it in my bones.  He knows those silly Ducks come
in here every night for that corn he puts out.  He knows that after
they have been here a few times and nothing has frightened them,
they will be so sure that it is a safe place that they will not be
the least bit suspicious.  Then he will hide behind those bushes he
has placed close to the edge of the water and wait for them with his
terrible gun.  That is what he will do, or my name isn't Blacky."

Finally Blacky decided to drop a hint to Dusky the Black Duck.  So
the next morning he stopped for a call.  "Good morning," said he, as
Dusky swam in just in front of him.  "I hope you are feeling as fine
as you look."

"Quack, quack," replied Dusky.  "When Blacky the Crow flatters, he
hopes to gain something.  What is it this time?"

"Not a thing," replied Blacky.  "On my honor, not a thing.  There is
nothing for me here, though there seems to be plenty for you and
your relatives, to judge by the fact that I find you in this same
place every morning.  What is it?"

"Corn," replied Dusky in a low voice, as if afraid some one might
overhear him.  "Nice yellow corn."

"Corn" exclaimed Blacky, as if very much astonished.  "How does corn
happen to be way over here in the water?"

Dusky shook his head.  "Don't ask me, for I can't tell you," said
he.  "I haven't the least idea.  All I know is that every evening when
we arrive, we find it here.  How it gets here, I don't know, and
furthermore I don't care.  It is enough for me that it is here."

"I've seen a man over here every afternoon," said Blacky.  "I
thought he might be a hunter."

"Did he have a terrible gun?" asked Dusky suspiciously.

"No-o," replied Blacky.

"Then he isn't a hunter," declared Dusky, looking much relieved.

"But perhaps one of these days he will have one and will wait for
you to come in for your dinner," suggested Blacky.  "He could hide
behind these bushes, you know."

"Nonsense," retorted Dusky, tossing his head.  "There hasn't been a
sign of danger here since we have been here.  I know you, Blacky; you
are jealous because we find plenty to eat here, and you find
nothing.  You are trying to scare us.  But I'll tell you right now,
you can't scare us away from such splendid eating as we have had
here.  So there!"

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CHAPTER XXI: At Last Blacky Is Sure

   Who for another conquers fear
   Is truly brave, it is most clear.
    - Blacky the Crow.

It was late in the afternoon, and Blacky the Crow was on his way to
the Green Forest.  As usual, he went around by the Big River to see
if that man was scattering corn for the Ducks.  He wasn't there.  No
one was to be seen along the bank of the Big River.

"He hasn't come to-day, or else he came early and has left,"
thought Blacky.  And then his sharp eyes caught sight of something
that made him turn aside and make straight for a certain tree, from
the top of which he could see all that went on for a long
distance.  What was it Blacky saw?  It was a boat coming down the Big

Blacky sat still and watched.  Presently the boat turned in among the
rushes, and a moment later a man stepped out on the shore.  It was
the same man Blacky had watched scatter corn in the rushes every day
for a week.  There wasn't the least doubt about it, it was the same

"Ha, ha!" exclaimed Blacky, and nearly lost his balance in his
excitement.  "Ha, ha!  It is just as I thought!"  You see Blacky's
sharp eyes had seen that the man was carrying something, and that
something was a gun, a terrible gun.  Blacky knows a terrible gun as
far as he can see it.

The hunter, for of course that is what he was, tramped along the
shore until he reached the bushes which Blacky had noticed close to
the water and which he knew had not grown there.  The hunter looked
out over the Big River.  Then he walked along where he had scattered
corn the day before.  Not a grain was to be seen.  This seemed to
please him.  Then he went back to the bushes and sat down on a log
behind them, his terrible gun across his knees.

"I was sure of it," muttered Blacky.  "He is going to wait there for
those Ducks to come in, and then something dreadful will
happen.  What terrible creatures these hunters are!  They don't know
what fairness is.  No, Sir, they don't know what fairness is.  He has
put food there day after day, where Dusky the Black Duck and his
flock would be sure to find it, and has waited until they have
become so sure there is no danger that they are no longer
suspicious.  He knows they will feel so sure that all is safe that
they will come in without looking for danger.  Then he will fire that
terrible gun and kill them without giving them any chance at all.

"Reddy Fox is a sly, clever hunter, but he wouldn't do a thing like
that.  Neither would Old Man Coyote or anybody else who wears fur or
feathers.  They might hide and try to catch some one by
surprise.  That is all right, because each of us is supposed to be on
the watch for things of that sort.  Oh, dear, what's to be done?  It
is time I was getting home to the Green Forest.  The Black Shadows
will soon come creeping out from the Purple Hills, and I must be
safe in my hemlock-tree by then.  I would be scared to death to be
out after dark.  Yet those Ducks ought to be warned.  Oh, dear, what
shall I do?"

Blacky peered over at the Green Forest and then over toward the
Purple Hills, behind which jolly, round, red Mr. Sun would go to bed
very shortly.  He shivered as he thought of the Black Shadows that
soon would come swiftly out from the Purple Hills across the Big
River and over the Green Meadows.  With them might come Hooty the
Owl, and Hooty wouldn't object in the least to a Crow dinner.  He
wished he was in that hemlock-tree that very minute.  Then Blacky
looked at the hunter with his terrible gun and thought of what might
happen, what would be almost sure to happen, unless those Ducks were
warned.  "I'll wait a little while longer," muttered Blacky, and
tried to feel brave.  But instead he shivered.

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CHAPTER: XXII  Blacky Goes Home Happy

   No greater happiness is won
   Than through a deed for others done.
    - Blacky the Crow.

Blacky sat in the top of a tree near the bank of the Big River and
couldn't make up his mind what to do.  He wanted to get home to the
big, thick hemlock-tree in the Green Forest before dusk, for Blacky
is afraid of the dark.  That is, he is afraid to be out after dark.

"Go along home," said a voice inside him, "there is hardly time now
for you to get there before the Black Shadows arrive.

Don't waste any more time here.  What may happen to those silly Ducks
is no business of yours, and there is nothing you can do, anyway.  Go
along home."

"Wait a few minutes," said another little voice down inside
him.  "Don't be a coward.  You ought to warn Dusky the Black Duck and
his flock that a hunter with a terrible gun is waiting for them.  Is
it true that it is no business of yours what happens to those Ducks?
Think again, Blacky; think again.  It is the duty of each one who
sees a common danger to warn his neighbors.  If something dreadful
should happen to Dusky because you were afraid of the dark, you
never would be comfortable in your own mind.  Stay a little while and
keep watch."

Not five minutes later Blacky saw something that made him, oh, so
glad he had kept watch.  It was a swiftly moving black line just
above the water far down the Big River, and it was coming up.  He
knew what that black line was.  He looked over at the hunter hiding
behind some bushes close to the edge of the water.  The hunter was
crouching with his terrible gun in his hands and was peeping over
the bushes, watching that black line.  He, too, knew what it was.  It
was a flock of Ducks flying.

Blacky was all ashake again, but this time it wasn't with fear of
being caught away from home in the dark; it was with excitement.  He
knew that those Ducks had become so eager for more of that corn,
that delicious yellow corn which every night for a week they had
found scattered in the rushes just in front of the place where that
hunter was now hiding, that they couldn't wait for the coming of the
Black Shadows.  They were so sure there was no danger that they were
coming in to eat without waiting for the Black Shadows, as they
usually did.  And Blacky was glad.  Perhaps now he could give them

Up the middle of the Big River, flying just above the water, swept
the flock with Dusky at its head.  How swiftly they flew, those nine
big birds!  Blacky envied them their swift wings.  On past the hidden
hunter but far out over the Big River they swept.  For just a minute
Blacky thought they were going on up the river and not coming in to
eat, after all.  Then they turned toward the other shore, swept
around in a circle and headed straight in toward that hidden
hunter.  Blacky glanced at him and saw that he was ready to shoot.

Almost without thinking, Blacky spread his wings and started out
from that tree.  "Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!" he shrieked at the top of
his lungs.  "Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!"  It was his danger cry that
everybody on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest knows.

Instantly Dusky turned and began to climb up, up, up, the other
Ducks following him until, as they passed over the hidden hunter,
they were so high it was useless for him to shoot.  He did put up his
gun and aim at them, but he didn't shoot.  You see, he didn't want to
frighten them so that they would not return.  Then the flock turned
and started off in the direction from which they had come, and in a
few minutes they were merely a black line disappearing far down the
Big River.

Blacky headed straight for the Green Forest, chuckling as he
flew.  He knew that those Ducks would not return until after dark.  He
had saved them this time, and he was so happy he didn't even notice
the Black Shadows.  And the hunter stood up and shook his fist at
Blacky the Crow.

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CHAPTER  XXIII: Blacky Calls Farmer Brown's Boy

Blacky awoke in the best of spirits.  Late the afternoon before he
had saved Dusky the Black Duck and his flock from a hunter with a
terrible gun.  He wasn't quite sure whether he was most happy in
having saved those Ducks by warning them just in time, or in having
spoiled the plans of that hunter.  He hates a hunter with a terrible
gun, does Blacky.  For that matter, so do all the little people of
the Green Forest and the Green Meadows.

So Blacky started out for his breakfast in high spirits.  After
breakfast, he flew over to the Big

River to see if Dusky the Black Duck was feeding in the rushes along
the shore.  Dusky wasn't, and Blacky guessed that he and his flock
had been so frightened by that warning that they had kept away from
there the night before.

"But they'll come back after a night or so," muttered Blacky, as he
alighted in the top of a tree, the same tree from which he had
watched the hunter the afternoon before.  "They'll come back, and so
will that hunter.  If he sees me around again, he'll try to shoot
me.  I've done all I can do.  Anyway, Dusky ought to have sense enough
to be suspicious of this place after that warning.  Hello, who is
that?  I do believe it is Farmer Brown's boy.  I wish he would come
over here.  If he should find out about that hunter, perhaps he would
do something to drive him away.  I'll see if I can call him over

Blacky began to call in the way he does when he has discovered
something and wants others to know about it.  "Caw, caw, caaw, caaw,
caw, caw, caaw!" screamed Blacky, as if greatly excited.

Now Farmer Brown's boy, having no work to do that morning, had
started for a tramp over the Green Meadows, hoping to see some of
his little friends in feathers and fur.  He heard the excited cawing
of Blacky and at once turned in that direction.

"That black rascal has found something over on the shore of the Big
River," said Farmer Brown's boy to himself.  "I'll go over there to
see what it is.  There isn't much escapes the sharp eyes of that
black busybody.  He has led me to a lot of interesting things, one
time and another.  There he is on the top of that tree over by the
Big River."

As Farmer Brown's boy drew near, Blacky flew down and disappeared
below the bank.  Fanner Brown's boy chuckled.  "Whatever it is, it is
right down there," he muttered.

He walked forward rapidly but quietly, and presently he reached the
edge of the bank.  Up flew Blacky cawing wildly, and pretending to be
scared half to death.  Again Farmer Brown's boy chuckled.  "You're
just making believe," he declared.  "You're trying to make me
believe that I have surprised you, when all the time you knew I was
coming and have been waiting for me.  Now, what have you found over

He looked eagerly along the shore, and at once he saw a row of low
bushes close to the edge of the water.  He knew what it was
instantly.  "A Duck blind!" he exclaimed.  "A hunter has built a blind
over here from which to shoot Ducks.  I wonder if he has killed any
yet.  I hope not."  He went down to the blind, for that is what a
Duck hunter's hiding-place is called, and looked about.  A couple of
grains of corn just inside the blind caught his eyes, and his face
darkened.  "That fellow has been baiting Ducks," thought he.  "He has
been putting out corn to get them to come here regularly.  My, how I
hate that sort of thing!  It is bad enough to hunt them fairly, but
to feed them and then kill them -- ugh!  I wonder if he has shot any

He looked all about keenly, and his face cleared.  He knew that if
that hunter had killed any Ducks, there would be tell-tale feathers
in the blind, and there were none.

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CHAPTER XXIV: Farmer Brown's Boy Does Some Thinking

Farmer Brown's boy sat on the bank of the Big River in a brown
study.  That means that he was thinking very hard.  Blacky the Crow
sat in the top of a tall tree a short distance away and watched
him.  Blacky was silent now, and there was a knowing look in his
shrewd little eyes.  In calling Farmer Brown's boy over there, he had
done all he could, and he was quite satisfied to leave the matter to
Farmer Brown's boy.

"A hunter has made that blind to shoot Black Ducks from," thought
Farmer Brown's boy, "and he has been baiting them in here by
scattering corn for them.  Black Ducks are about the smartest Ducks
that fly, but if they have been coming in here every evening and
finding corn and no sign of danger, they probably think it perfectly
safe here and come straight in without being at all
suspicious.  To-night, or some night soon, that hunter will be
waiting for them.

"I guess the law that permits hunting Ducks is all right, but there
ought to be a law against baiting them in.  That isn't hunting.  No,
Sir, that isn't hunting.  If this land were my father's, I would know
what to do.  I would put up a sign saying that this was private
property and no shooting was allowed.  But it isn't my father's land,
and that hunter has a perfect right to shoot here.  He has just as
much right here as I have.  I wish I could stop him, but I don't see
how I can."

A frown puckered the freckled face of Farmer Brown's boy.  You see,
he was thinking very hard, and when he does that he is very apt to

"I suppose," he muttered, "I can tear down his blind.  He wouldn't
know who did it.  But that wouldn't do much good; he would build
another.  Besides, it wouldn't be right.  He has a perfect right to
make a blind here, and having made it, it is his and I haven't any
right to touch it.  I won't do a thing I haven't a right to do.  That
wouldn't be honest.  I've got to think of some other way of saving
those Ducks."

The frown on his freckled face grew deeper, and for a long time he
sat without moving.  Suddenly his face cleared, and he jumped to his
feet.  He began to chuckle.  "I have it!" he exclaimed.  "I'll do a
little shooting myself!"  Then he chuckled again and started for
home.  Presently he began to whistle, a way he has when he is in good

Blacky the Crow watched him go, and Blacky was well satisfied.  He
didn't know what Farmer Brown's boy was planning to do, but he had a
feeling that he was planning to do something, and that all would be
well.  Perhaps Blacky wouldn't have felt so sure could he have
understood what Farmer Brown's boy had said about doing a little
shooting himself.

As it was, Blacky flew off about his own business, quite satisfied
that now all would be well, and he need worry no more about those
Ducks.  None of the little people of the Green Forest and the Green
Meadows knew Farmer Brown's boy better than did Blacky the
Crow.  None knew better than he that Farmer Brown's boy was their
best friend.  "It is all right now," chuckled Blacky.  "It is all
right now."  And as the cheery whistle of Farmer Brown's boy floated
back to him on the Merry Little Breezes, he repeated it: "It is all
right now."

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CHAPTER XXV: Blacky Gets A Dreadful Shock

   When friends prove false, whom may we trust?
   The springs of faith are turned to dust.
    - Blacky the Crow.

Blacky the Crow was in the top of his favorite tree over near the
Big River early this afternoon.  He didn't know what was going to
happen, but he felt in his bones that something was, and he meant to
be on hand to see.  For a long time he sat there, seeing nothing
unusual.  At last he spied a tiny figure far away across the Green
Meadows.  Even at that distance he knew who it was; it was Farmer
Brown's boy, and he was coming toward the Big River.

"I thought as much," chuckled Blacky.  "He is coming over here to
drive that hunter away."

The tiny figure grew larger.  It was Farmer Brown's boy beyond a
doubt.  Suddenly Blacky's eyes opened so wide that they looked as if
they were in danger of popping out of his head.  He had discovered
that Farmer Brown's boy was carrying something and that that
something was a gun!  Yes, Sir, Farmer Brown's boy was carrying a
terrible gun!  If Blacky could have rubbed his eyes, he would have
done so, just to make sure that there was nothing the matter with

"A gun!" croaked Blacky.
"Farmer Brown's boy with a terrible gun!  What does it mean?"

Nearer came Farmer Brown's boy, and Blacky could see that terrible
gun plainly now.  Suddenly an idea popped into his head.  "Perhaps he
is going to shoot that hunter!" thought Blacky, and somehow he felt

Farmer Brown's boy reached the Big River at a point some distance
below the blind built by the hunter.  He laid his gun down on the
bank and went down to the edge of the water.  The rushes grew very
thick there, and for a while Farmer Brown's boy was very busy among
them.  Blacky from his high perch could watch him, and as he watched,
he grew more and more puzzled.  It looked very much as if Farmer
Brown's boy was building a blind much like that of the hunter's.  At
last he carried an old log down there, got his gun, and sat down
just as the hunter had done in his blind the afternoon before.  He
was quite hidden there, excepting from a place high up like Blacky's

"I -- I -- I do believe he is going to try to shoot those Ducks
himself," gasped Blacky.  "I wouldn't have believed it if any one had
told me.  No, Sir, I wouldn't have believed it.  I -- I -- can't
believe it now.  Farmer Brown's boy hunting with a terrible gun!  Yet
I've got to believe my own eyes."

A noise up river caught his attention.  It was the noise of oars in a
boat.  There was the hunter, rowing down the Big River.  Just as he
had done the day before, he came ashore above his blind and walked
down to it.

"This is no place for me," muttered Blacky.  "He'll remember that I
scared those Ducks yesterday, and as likely as not he'll try to
shoot me."

Blacky spread his black wings and hurriedly left the tree-top,
heading for another tree farther back on the Green Meadows where he
would be safe, but from which he could not see as well.  There he sat
until the Black Shadows warned him that it was high time for him to
be getting back to the Green Forest.

He had to hurry, for it was later than usual, and he was afraid to
be out after dark.  Just as he reached the Green Forest he heard a
faint "bang, bang" from over by the Big River, and he knew that it
came from the place where Farmer Brown's boy was hiding in the

"It is true," croaked Blacky.  "Farmer Brown's boy has turned
hunter." It was such a dreadful shock to Blacky that it was a long
time before he could go to sleep.

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CHAPTER  XXVI: Why The Hunter  Got No Ducks

The hunter who had come down the Big River in a boat and landed near
the place where Dusky the Black Duck and his flock had found nice
yellow corn scattered in the rushes night after night saw Blacky the
Crow leave the top of a certain tree as he approached.

"It is well for you that you didn't wait for me to get nearer," said
the hunter.  "You are smart enough to know that you can't play the
same trick on me twice.  You frightened those Ducks away last night,
but if you try it again, you'll be shot as surely as your coat is

Then the hunter went to his blind which, you know, was the
hiding-place he had made of bushes and rushes, and behind this he
sat down with his terrible gun to wait and watch for Dusky the Black
Duck and his flock.

Now you remember that farther along the shore of the Big River was
Farmer Brown's boy, hiding in a blind he had made that afternoon.
The hunter couldn't see him at all.  He didn't have the least idea
that any one else was anywhere near.  "With that Crow out of the way,
I think I will get some Ducks to-night," thought the hunter and looked
at his gun to make sure that it was ready.

Over in the West, jolly, round, red Mr. Sun started to go to bed
behind the Purple Hills, and the Black Shadows came creeping
out.  Far down the Big River the hunter saw a swiftly moving black
line just above the water.  "Here they come," he muttered, as he
eagerly watched that black line draw nearer.

Twice those big black birds circled around over the Big River
opposite where the hunter was crouching behind his blind.  It was
plain that Dusky, their leader, remembered Blacky's warning the
night before.  But this time there was no warning.  Everything
appeared safe.  Once more the flock circled and then headed straight
for that place where they hoped to find more corn.  The hunter
crouched lower.  They were almost near enough for him to shoot when
"bang, bang" went a gun a short distance away.

Instantly Dusky and his flock turned and on swift wings swung off
and up the river.  If ever there was a disappointed hunter, it was
the one crouching in that blind.  "Somebody else is hunting, and he
spoiled my shot that time," he muttered.  "He must have a blind
farther down.  Probably some other Ducks I didn't see came in to
him.  I wonder if he got them.  Here's hoping that next time those
Ducks come in here first."

He once more made himself comfortable and settled down for a long
wait.  The Black Shadows crept out from the farther bank of the Big
River.  Jolly, round red Mr. Sun had gone to bed, and the first
little star was twinkling high overhead.  It was very still and
peaceful.  From out in the middle of the Big River sounded a low
"quack"; Dusky and his flock were swimming in this time.  Presently
the hunter could see a silver line on the water, and then he made
out nine black spots.  In a few minutes those Ducks would be where he
could shoot them.  "Bang, bang" went that gun below him again.  With
a roar of wings, Dusky and his flock were in the air and away.  That
hunter stood up and said things, and they were not nice things.  He
knew that those Ducks would not come back again that night, and that
once more he must go home empty-handed.  But first he would find out
who that other hunter was and what luck he had had, so he tramped
down the shore to where that gun had seemed to be.  He found the
blind of Farmer Brown's boy, but there was no one there.  You see, as
soon as he had fired his gun the last time, Farmer Brown's boy had
slipped out and away.  And as he tramped across the Green Meadows
toward home with his gun, he chuckled.  "He didn't get those Ducks
this time," said Farmer Brown's bvoy.

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CHAPTER XXVII: The Hunter Gives Up

Blacky The Crow didn't know what to think.  He couldn't make himself
believe that Farmer Brown's boy had really turned hunter, yet what
else could he believe?  Hadn't he with his own eyes seen Farmer
Brown's boy with a terrible gun hide in rushes along the Big River
and wait for Dusky the Black Duck and his flock to come in?  And
hadn't he with his own ears heard the "bang, bang" of that very gun?

The very first thing the next morning Blacky had hastened over to
the place where Farmer Brown's boy had hidden in the rushes.  With
sharp eyes he looked for feathers, that would tell the tale of a
Duck killed.  But there were no feathers.  There wasn't a thing to
show that anything so dreadful had happened.  Perhaps Farmer Brown's
boy had missed when he shot at those Ducks.  Blacky shook his head
and decided to say nothing to anybody about Farmer Brown's boy and
that terrible gun.

You may be sure that early in the afternoon he was perched in the
top of his favorite tree over by the Big River.  His heart sank, just
as on the afternoon before, when he saw Farmer Brown's boy with his
terrible gun trudging across the Green Meadows to the Big
River.  Instead of going to the same hiding place he made a new one
farther down.

Then came the hunter a little earlier than usual.  Instead of
stopping at his blind, he walked straight to the blind Farmer
Brown's boy had first made.  Of course, there was no one there.  The
hunter looked both glad and disappointed.  He went back to his own
blind and sat down, and while he watched for the coming of the
Ducks, he also watched that other blind to see if the unknown hunter
of the night before would appear.  Of course he didn't, and when at
last the hunter saw the Ducks coming, he was sure that this time he
would get some of them.

But the same thing happened as on the night before.  Just as those
Ducks were almost near enough, a gun went "bang, bang," and away
went the Ducks.  They didn't come back again, and once more a
disappointed hunter went home without any.

The next afternoon he was on hand very early.  He was there before
Farmer Brown's boy arrived, and when he did come, of course the
hunter saw him.  He walked down to where Farmer Brown's boy was
hiding in the rushes.  "Hello!" said he.  "Are you the one who was
shooting here last night and the night before?"

Farmer Brown's boy grinned.  "Yes," said he.

"What luck did you have?" asked the hunter.

"Fine," replied Farmer Brown's boy.

"How many Ducks did you get?" asked the hunter.

Farmer Brown's boy grinned more broadly than before.  "None," said
he.  "I guess I'm not a very good shot."

"Then what did you mean by saying you had fine luck?" demanded the hunter.

"Oh," replied Farmer Brown's boy, "I had the luck to see those Ducks
and the fun of shooting," and he grinned again.

The hunter lost patience.  He tried to order Farmer Brown's boy
away.  But the latter said he had as much right there as the hunter
had, and the hunter knew that this was so.  Finally he gave up, and
muttering angrily, he went back to his blind.  Again the gun of
Farmer Brown's boy frightened away the Ducks just as they were
coming in.

The next afternoon there was no hunter nor the next, though Farmer
Brown's boy was there.  The hunter had decided that it was a waste of
time to hunt there while Farmer Brown's boy was about.

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CHAPTER XXVIII: Blacky Has A Talk With Dusky The Black Duck

   Doubt not a friend, but to the last
   Grip hard on faith and hold it fast.
    - Blacky the Crow.

Every morning Blacky the Crow visited the rushes along the shore of
the Big River, hoping to find Dusky the Black Duck.  He was anxious,
was Blacky.  He feared that Dusky or some of his flock had been
killed, and he wanted to know.  You see, he knew that Farmer Brown's
boy had been shooting over there.  At last, early one morning, he
found Dusky and his flock in the rushes and wild rice.  Eagerly he
counted them.  There were nine.  Not one was missing.  Blacky sighed
with relief and dropped down on the shore close to where Dusky was
taking a nap.

"Hello!" said Blacky.

Dusky awoke with a start.  "Hello, yourself," said he.

"I've heard a terrible gun banging over here, and I was afraid you
or some of your flock had been shot," said Blacky.

"We haven't lost a feather," declared Dusky.  "That gun wasn't fired
at us, anyway."

"Then who was it fired at?" demanded Blacky.

"I haven't the least idea," replied Dusky.

"Have you seen any other Ducks about here?" inquired Blacky.

"Not one," was Dusky's prompt reply.  "If there had been any, I guess
we would have known it."

"Did you know that when that terrible gun was fired there was
another terrible gun right over behind those bushes?" asked Blacky.

Dusky shook his head.  "No," said he, "but I learned long ago that
where there is one terrible gun there is likely to be more, and so
when I heard that one bang, I led my flock away from here in a
hurry.  We didn't want to take any chances."

"It is a lucky thing you did," replied   Blacky.  "There was a
hunter hiding behind those bushes all the time.  I warned you of him once."

"That reminds me that I haven't thanked you," said Dusky.  "I knew
there was something wrong over here, but I didn't know what.  So it
was a hunter.  I guess it is a good thing that I heeded your

"I guess it is," retorted Blacky dryly.  "Do you come here in daytime
instead of night now?"

"No," replied Dusky.  "We come in after dark and spend the night
here.  There is nothing to fear from hunters after dark.  We've given
up coming here until late in the evening.  And since we did that, we
haven't heard a gun."

Blacky gossiped a while longer, then flew off to look for his
breakfast; and as he flew his heart was light.  His shrewd little
eyes twinkled.

"I ought to have known Farmer Brown's boy better than even to
suspect him," thought he.  "I know now why he had that terrible
gun.  It was to frighten those Ducks away so that the hunter would
not have a chance to shoot them.  He wasn't shooting at anything.  He
just fired in the air to scare those Ducks away.  I know it just as
well as if I had seen him do it.  I'll never doubt Farmer Brown's boy
again.  And I'm glad I didn't say a word to anybody about seeing him
with a terrible gun."

Blacky was right.  Farmer Brown's boy had taken that way of making
sure that the hunter who had first baited those Ducks with yellow
corn scattered in the rushes in front of his hiding place should
have no chance to kill any of them.  While appearing to be an enemy,
he really had been a friend of Dusky the Black Duck and his flock.

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CHAPTER XXIX: Blacky Discovers An Egg

Blacky is fond of eggs, as you know.  In this he is a great deal like
other people, Farmer Brown's boy for instance.  But as Blacky cannot
keep hens, as Farmer Brown's boy does, he is obliged to steal eggs
or else go without.  If you come right down to plain, everyday truth,
I suppose Blacky isn't so far wrong when he insists that he is no
more of a thief than Farmer Brown's boy.  Blacky says that the eggs
which the bens lay belong to the hens, and that he, Blacky has just
as much right to take them as Farmer Brown's boy.  He quite overlooks
the fact that Farmer Brown's boy feeds the biddies and takes the
eggs as pay.  Anyway, that is what Farmer Brown's boy says, but I do
not know whether or not the biddies understand it that way.

So Blacky the Crow cannot see why he should not help himself to an
egg when he gets the chance.  He doesn't get the chance very often to
steal eggs from the hens, because usually they lay their eggs in the
henhouse, and Blacky is too suspicious to venture inside.  The eggs
he does get are mostly those of his neighbors in the Green Forest
and the Old Orchard.  But once in a great while some foolish hen will
make a nest outside the henhouse somewhere, and if Blacky happens to
find it the black scamp watches every minute he can spare from other
mischief for a chance to steal an egg.

Now Blacky knows just what a rogue Farmer Brown's boy thinks he is,
and for this reason Blacky is very careful about approaching Farmer
Brown or any other man until he has made sure that he runs no risk
of being shot.  Blacky knows quite as well as any one what a gun
looks like.  He also knows that without a terrible gun, there is
little Farmer Brown or any one else can do to him.  So when he sees
Farmer Brown out in his fields, Blacky often will fly right over him
and shout "Caw, caw, caw, ca-a-w!" in the most provoking way, and
Fanner Brown's boy insists that he has seen Blacky wink when he was
doing it.

But Blacky doesn't do anything of this kind around the buildings of
Farmer Brown.  You see, he has learned that there are doors and
windows in buildings, and out of one of these a terrible gun may
bang at any time.  Though he has suspected that Farmer Brown's boy
would not now try to harm him, Blacky is naturally cautious and
takes no chances.  So when he comes spying around Farmer Brown's
house and barn, he does it when he is quite sure that no one is
about, and he makes no noise about it.  First he sits in a tall tree
from which he can watch Farmer Brown's home.  When he is quite sure
that the way is clear, he flies over to the Old Orchard, and from
there he inspects the barnyard, never once making a sound.  If he is
quite sure that no one is about, he sometimes drops down into the
henyard and helps himself to corn, if any happens to be there.  It
was on one of these silent visits that Blacky spied something which
he couldn't forget.  It was a box just inside the henhouse door.  In
the box was some hay and in that hay he was sure that he had seen an
egg.  In fact, he was sure that he saw two eggs there.  He might not
have noticed them but for the fact that a hen had jumped down from
that box, making a terrible fuss.  She didn't seem frightened, but
very proud.  What under the sun she had to be proud about Blacky
couldn't understand, but he didn't stay to find out.  The noise she
was making made him nervous.  He was afraid that it would bring some
one to find out what was going on.  So he spread his black wings and
flew away as silently as he had come.

As he was flying away he saw those eggs.  You see, as he rose into
the air, he managed to pass that open door in such a way that he
could glance in.  That one glance was enough.  You know Blacky's eyes
are very sharp.  He saw the hay in the box and the two eggs in the
hay, and that was enough for him.  From that instant Blacky the Crow
began to scheme and plan to get one or both of those eggs.  It seemed
to him that he never, never, had wanted anything quite so much, and
he was sure that he would not and could not be happy until he
succeeded in getting one.

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CHAPTER XXX: Blacky Screws Up His Courage

If out of sight, then out of mind.  This is a saying which you often
hear.  It may be true sometimes, but it is very far from true at
other times.  Take the case of Blacky.  He had had only a glance into
that nest just inside the door of Farmer Brown's henhouse, but that
glance had been enough to show him two eggs there.  Then, as he flew
away toward the Green Forest, those eggs were out of sight, of
course.  But do you think they were out of mind?  Not much!  No,
indeed!  In fact, those eggs were very much in Blacky's mind.  He
couldn't think of anything else.  He flew straight to a certain tall
pine-tree in a lonely part of the Green Forest.  Whenever Blacky
wants to think or to plan mischief, he seeks that particular tree,
and in the shelter of its broad branches he keeps out of sight of
curious eyes, and there he sits as still as still can be.

"I want one of those eggs," muttered Blacky, as he settled himself
in comfort on a certain particular spot on a certain particular
branch of that tall pine-tree.  Indeed, that particular branch might
well be called the "mischief branch," for on it Blacky has thought
out and planned most of the mischief he is so famous for.  "Yes,
sir," he continued, "I want one of those eggs, and what is more, I
am going to have one."

He half closed his eyes and tipped his head back and swallowed a
couple of times, as if he already tasted one of those eggs.

"There is more in one of those eggs than in a whole nestful of
Welcome Robin's eggs.  It is a very long time since I have been lucky
enough to taste a hen's egg, and now is my chance.  I don't like
having to go inside that henhouse, even though it is barely inside
the door.  I'm suspicious of doors.  They have a way of closing most

I might see if I cannot get Unc' Billy Possum to bring one of those
eggs out for me.  But that plan won't do, come to think of it,
because I can't trust Unc' Billy.  The old sinner is too fond of eggs
himself.  I would be willing to divide with him, but he would be sure
to eat his first, and I fear that it would taste so good that he
would eat the other.  No.  I've got to get one of those eggs
myself.  It is the only way I can be sure of it.

"The thing to do is to make sure that Farmer Brown's boy and Farmer
Brown himself are nowhere about.  They ought to be down in the
cornfield pretty soon.  With them down there, I have only to watch my
chance and slip in.  It won't take but a second.  Just a little
courage, Blacky, just a little courage!  Nothing in this world worth
having is gained without some risk.  The thing to do is to make sure
that the risk is as small as possible."

Blacky shook out his feathers and then flew out of the tall
pine-tree as silently as he had flown into it.  He headed straight
toward Farmer Brown's cornfield.  When he was near enough to see all
over the field, he dropped down to the top of a fence post, and
there he waited.  he didn't have long to wait.  In fact, he had been
there but a few minutes

when he spied two people coming down the Long Lane toward the
cornfield.  He looked at them sharply, and then gave a little sigh of
satisfaction.  They were Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's
boy.  Presently they reached the cornfield and turned into it.  Then
they went to work, and Blacky knew that so far as they were
concerned, the way was clear for him to visit the henyard.

He didn't fly straight there.  Oh, my, no!  Blacky is too clever to do
anything like that.  He flew toward the Green Forest.  When he knew
that he was out of sight of those in the cornfield, he turned and
flew over to the Old Orchard, and from the top of one of the old
apple-trees he studied the henyard and the barnyard and Farmer
Brown's house and the barn, to make absolutely sure that there was
no danger near.  When he was quite sure, he silently flew down into
the henyard as he had done many times before.  He pretended to be
looking for scattered grains of corn, but all the time he was edging
nearer and nearer to the open door of the henhouse.  At last he could
see the box with the hay in it.  He walked right up to the open door
and peered inside.  There was nothing to be afraid of that he could
see.  Still he hesitated.  He did hate to go inside that door, even
for a minute, and that is all it would take to fly up to that nest
and get one of those eggs.

Blacky closed his eyes for just a second, and when he did that he
seemed to see himself eating one of those eggs.  "What are you afraid
of?" he muttered to himself as he opened his eyes.  Then with a
hurried look in all directions, he flew up to the edge of the
box.  There lay the two eggs!

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CHAPTER XXXI: An Egg That Wouldn't Behave

   If you had an egg and it wouldn't behave
    Just what would you do with that egg, may I ask?
   To make an egg do what it don't want to do
    Strikes me like a difficult sort of a task.

All of which is pure nonsense.  Of course.  Who ever heard of an egg
either behaving or misbehaving?  Nobody.  That is, nobody that I know,
unless it be Blacky.  It is best not to mention eggs in Blacky's
presence these days.  They are a forbidden topic when he is
about.  Blacky is apt to be a little resentful at the mere mention of
an egg.  I don't know as I wholly blame him.  How would you feel if
you knew you knew all there was to know about a thing, and then
found out that you didn't know anything at all?  Well, that is the
way it is with Blacky the Crow.

If any one had told Blacky that he didn't know all there is to know
about eggs, he would have laughed at the idea.  Wasn't he, Blacky,
hatched from an egg himself?  And hadn't he, ever since he was big
enough, hunted eggs and stolen eggs and eaten eggs?  If he didn't
know about eggs, who did?  That is the way he would have talked
before his visit to Farmer Brown's henhouse.  It is since then that
it has been unwise to mention eggs

When Blacky saw the two eggs in the nest in Farmer Brown's henhouse
how Blacky did wish that he could take both.  But he couldn't.  One
would be all that he could manage.  He must take his choice and go
away while the going was good.  Which should he take?

It often happens in this life that things which seem to be
unimportant, mere trifles in themselves, prove to be just the
opposite.  Now, so far as Blacky could see, it didn't make the least
difference which egg he took, excepting that one was a little bigger
than the other.  As a matter of fact, it made all the difference in
the world.  One was brown and very good to look at.  The other, the
larger of the two, was white and also very good to look at.  In fact,
Blacky thought it the better of the two to look at, for it was very
smooth and shiny.  So, partly on this account, and partly because it
was the largest, Blacky chose the white egg.  He seized it in his
claws and started to fly with it, but somehow he could not seem to
get a good grip on it.  He fluttered to the ground just outside the
door, and there he got a better grip.  Just as old Dandy-cock the
Rooster, with head down and all the feathers on his neck standing
out with anger, came charging at him, Blacky rose into the air and
started over the Old Orchard toward the Green Forest.

Never had Blacky felt more like cawing at the top of his lungs.  You
see, he felt that he had been very smart, and I suspect that he also
felt that he had been very brave.  He would have liked to boast a
little.  But he didn't.  He wisely held his tongue.  It would be time
enough to do his boasting after he had reached a place of safety and
had eaten that egg.  He was halfway across the Old Orchard when he
felt that egg beginning to slip.  Now at best it isn't easy to carry
an egg without breaking it.  You know how very careful you have to
be.  Just imagine how Blacky felt when that egg began to slip.  Do
what he would, he couldn't get a better grip on it.  It slipped a wee
bit more.  Blacky started down towards the ground.  But he wasn't
quick enough.  Striped Chipmunk, watching Blacky from the old stone
wall, saw something white drop from Blacky's claws.  He saw Blacky
dash after it and clutch at it only to miss it.  Then the white thing
struck a branch of an old apple tree, bounced off and fell to the
ground.  Blacky followed it.

Striped Chipmunk stole very softly through the grass to see what
Blacky was doing.  Blacky was standing close beside a white thing
that looked very much like an egg.  He was looking at it with the
queerest expression.

Now and then he would reach out and rap it sharply with his bill,
and then look as if he didn't know what to make of it.  He
didn't.  That egg wasn't behaving

right.  It should have broken when it hit the branch of the apple
tree.  Certainly it should have broken when he struck it that way
with his bill.  However was he to eat that egg, if he couldn't break
the shell?  Blacky didn't know.

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CHAPTER XXXII: What Blacky Did With The Stolen Egg

Blacky was puzzled.  He didn't know what to make of that egg he had
stolen from Farmer Brown's henhouse.  It wasn't like any egg he ever
had seen or even heard of.  It was a beautiful-looking egg, and he
had been sure that it would taste as good, quite as good as it
looked.  Even now he wasn't sure that if he could only taste it, it
would be all that he had hoped.  But how could he taste it, when he
couldn't break that shell?  He never had heard of such a shell.  He
doubted if anybody else ever had, either.  He had hammered at it with
his stout bill until he was afraid that he would break that, instead
of the egg.  The more he tried to break into it and couldn't, the
hungrier he grew, and the more certain that nothing else in all the
world could possibly taste so good.  But the Old Orchard was not the
place for him to work on that egg.  In the first place, it was too
near Farmer Brown's house.  This made Blacky uneasy.  You see, he had
something of a guilty conscience.  Not that he felt at all a sense of
having done wrong.  To his way of thinking, if he were smart enough
to get that egg, he had just as much right to it as any one else,
particularly Farmer Brown's boy.  Yet he wasn't at all sure that
Farmer Brown's boy would look at the matter quite that way.  In fact,
he had a feeling that Farmer Brown's boy would call him a thief if
he should be discovered with that egg.  Then, too, there were too
many sharp eyes in the Old Orchard.  He wanted to get away where he
could be sure of being alone.  Then if he couldn't break that shell,
no one would be the wiser.  So he picked up the egg and flew straight
over to the Green Forest, and this time he managed to get there
without dropping it.

Now you would never suspect Blacky the Crow, he of the sharp wits
and crafty ways, of being amused by bright things, would you?  But he
is.  In fact, Blacky is quite like a little child in this
matter.  Anything that is bright and shiny interests Blacky right
away.  If he finds anything of this kind, he will take it away to a
certain secret place, and there he will admire it and play with it
and finally hide it.  If I didn't know that it isn't so, because it
couldn't possibly be so, I should think that Blacky was some
relation to certain small boys I know.  Always their pockets are
filled with all sorts of useless odds and ends which they have
picked up here and there.  Blacky has no pockets, so he keeps his
treasures of this kind in a secret hiding-place, a sort of treasure
storehouse.  He visits this secretly every day, uncovers his
treasures, and gloats over them and plays with them, then carefully
covers them up again.  First Blacky took this egg over near his home,
and there he once more tried and tried and tried to break the
shell.  But the shell wouldn't break, not even when Blacky quite lost
his temper and hammered at it for all he was worth.  Then he gave the
thing up as a bad matter and flew up to his favorite roost in the
top of a tall pine-tree, leaving the egg on the ground.  But from
where he sat on his favorite roost in the tall pine-tree he could
see that provoking egg, a little spot of shining white.  When a Jolly
Little Sunbeam found it and rested on it, it was so very bright and
shiny that Blacky couldn't keep his eyes off it.

Little by little he forgot that it was an egg.  At least, he forgot
that he wanted to eat it.  He began to find pleasure in just looking
at it.  It might not satisfy his stomach, but it certainly was very
satisfying to his eyes.  He forgot to think of it as a thing to eat,
but began to think of it wholly as a thing to look at and admire.  He
was glad he hadn't been able to break that shell.

Once more he spread his black wings and flew down to the egg.  He
cocked his head to one side and looked at it.  He cocked his head to
the other side and looked at it.  He walked all around it, chuckling
and saying to himself, "Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty and all mine,
mine, mine, mine!  Pretty, pretty, and all mine!"

Than he craftily looked all about to make sure that no one was
watching him.  Having made quite sure, he rolled the egg over and
turned it around and admired it to his heart's content.  At last he
picked it up and carried it to his treasure-house and covered it
over very carefully.  And there that china nest-egg, for that is what
he had stolen, is still his chief treasure to this day, and Blacky
still sometimes wonders what kind of a hen laid such a hard-shelled egg.

Blacky has had very many other adventures, but it would take another
book to tell about all of them.  That would be hardly fair to some of
the other little people who also have had adventures and want them
told to you.  One of these is a beautiful little fellow who lives in
the Green Forest, and so the next book will be Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.

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