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.