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 understand.

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.