Blacky the Crow by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XXI: At Last Blacky Is Sure
Who for another conquers fear Is truly brave, it is most clear. - Blacky the Crow.
It was late in the afternoon, and Blacky the Crow was on his way to the Green Forest. As usual, he went around by the Big River to see if that man was scattering corn for the Ducks. He wasn't there. No one was to be seen along the bank of the Big River.
"He hasn't come to-day, or else he came early and has left," thought Blacky. And then his sharp eyes caught sight of something that made him turn aside and make straight for a certain tree, from the top of which he could see all that went on for a long distance. What was it Blacky saw? It was a boat coming down the Big River.
Blacky sat still and watched. Presently the boat turned in among the rushes, and a moment later a man stepped out on the shore. It was the same man Blacky had watched scatter corn in the rushes every day for a week. There wasn't the least doubt about it, it was the same man.
"Ha, ha!" exclaimed Blacky, and nearly lost his balance in his excitement. "Ha, ha! It is just as I thought!" You see Blacky's sharp eyes had seen that the man was carrying something, and that something was a gun, a terrible gun. Blacky knows a terrible gun as far as he can see it.
The hunter, for of course that is what he was, tramped along the shore until he reached the bushes which Blacky had noticed close to the water and which he knew had not grown there. The hunter looked out over the Big River. Then he walked along where he had scattered corn the day before. Not a grain was to be seen. This seemed to please him. Then he went back to the bushes and sat down on a log behind them, his terrible gun across his knees.
"I was sure of it," muttered Blacky. "He is going to wait there for those Ducks to come in, and then something dreadful will happen. What terrible creatures these hunters are! They don't know what fairness is. No, Sir, they don't know what fairness is. He has put food there day after day, where Dusky the Black Duck and his flock would be sure to find it, and has waited until they have become so sure there is no danger that they are no longer suspicious. He knows they will feel so sure that all is safe that they will come in without looking for danger. Then he will fire that terrible gun and kill them without giving them any chance at all.
"Reddy Fox is a sly, clever hunter, but he wouldn't do a thing like that. Neither would Old Man Coyote or anybody else who wears fur or feathers. They might hide and try to catch some one by surprise. That is all right, because each of us is supposed to be on the watch for things of that sort. Oh, dear, what's to be done? It is time I was getting home to the Green Forest. The Black Shadows will soon come creeping out from the Purple Hills, and I must be safe in my hemlock-tree by then. I would be scared to death to be out after dark. Yet those Ducks ought to be warned. Oh, dear, what shall I do?"
Blacky peered over at the Green Forest and then over toward the Purple Hills, behind which jolly, round, red Mr. Sun would go to bed very shortly. He shivered as he thought of the Black Shadows that soon would come swiftly out from the Purple Hills across the Big River and over the Green Meadows. With them might come Hooty the Owl, and Hooty wouldn't object in the least to a Crow dinner. He wished he was in that hemlock-tree that very minute. Then Blacky looked at the hunter with his terrible gun and thought of what might happen, what would be almost sure to happen, unless those Ducks were warned. "I'll wait a little while longer," muttered Blacky, and tried to feel brave. But instead he shivered.