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 him.

"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."