Chapter XIV. Sammy Jay's Plan to Help Mrs. Quack

Sammy Jay sat on the lowest branch of a little tree in the dear Old Briar-patch just over Peter Rabbit's head, thinking as hard as ever he could. Peter watched him and wondered if Sammy would be able to think of any plan for helping poor Mrs. Quack. He hoped so. He himself had thought and thought until he felt as if his brains were all mixed up and he couldn't think any more. So he watched Sammy and waited and hoped.

Presently Sammy flirted his wings in a way which Peter knew meant that he had made up his mind. "Did I understand you to say that Mrs. Quack said that if Mr. Quack is alive, he probably is hiding among the rushes along the banks of the Big River?" he asked.

Peter nodded.

"And that she said that she doesn't dare go near the banks because of fear of the terrible guns?"

Again Peter nodded.

"Well, if that's the case, what is the matter with some of us who are not afraid of the terrible guns looking for Mr. Quack?" said Sammy. "I will, for one, and I'm quite sure that my cousin, Blacky the Crow, will, for another. He surely will if he thinks it will spoil the plans of any hunters. Blacky would go a long distance to do that. He hates terrible guns and the men who use them. And he knows all about them. He has very sharp eyes, has Blacky, and he knows when a man has got a gun and when he hasn't. More than that, he can tell better than any one I know of just how near he can safely go to one of those terrible guns. He is smart, my cousin Blacky is, and if he will help me look for Mr. Quack, we'll find him if he is alive."

"That will be splendid!" cried Peter, clapping his hands. "But aren't you afraid of those terrible guns, Sammy?"

"Not when the hunters are trying for Ducks," replied Sammy. "If there is a Duck anywhere in sight, they won't shoot at poor little me or even at Blacky, though they would shoot at him any other time. You see, they know that shooting at us would frighten the Ducks. Blacky knows all about the Big River. In the winter he often gets considerable of his food along its banks. I've been over there a number of times, but I don't know so much about it as he does. Now here is my plan. I'll go find Blacky and tell him all about what we want to do for Mrs. Quack. Then, when Mrs. Quack comes back to the Smiling Pool, if she hasn't found Mr. Quack, we'll tell her what we are going to do and what she must do. She must swim right up the Big River, keeping out in the middle where she will be safe. If there are any hunters hiding along the bank, they will see her, and then they won't shoot at Blacky or me because they will keep hoping that Mrs. Quack will swim in near enough for them to shoot her. Blacky will fly along over one bank of the Big River, and I will do the same over the other bank, keeping as nearly opposite Mrs. Quack as we can. Being up in the air that way and looking down, we will be able to see the hunters and also Mr. Quack, if he is hiding among the rushes. Are you quite sure that Mrs. Quack will come back to the Smiling Pool to-night?"

"She said she would," replied Peter. "Last night she came just a little while before dark, and I think she will do the same thing to-night, to see if any more corn has been left for her. You know Farmer Brown's boy put some there yesterday, and it tasted so good to her that I don't believe she will be able to stay away, even if she wants to. I think your plan is perfectly splendid, Sammy Jay. I do hope Blacky the Crow will help."

"He will. Don't worry about that," replied Sammy. "Hello! There goes Farmer Brown's boy over to the Smiling Pool now."

"Then there will be some more corn for Mrs. Quack. I just know it!" cried Peter. "He is going to see if Mrs. Quack is there, and I just know he has his pockets full of corn."

"I wouldn't mind a little of it myself," said Sammy. "Well, I must go along to hunt up Blacky. Good-by, Peter." "Good-by and good luck," replied Peter. "I've always said you are not half such a bad fellow as you try to make folks think you are, Sammy Jay."

"Thanks," said Sammy, and started for the Green Forest to look for his cousin, Blacky the Crow.