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."