Blacky the Crow by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter: Blacky Goes Home Happy
No greater happiness is won Than through a deed for others done. - Blacky the Crow.
Blacky sat in the top of a tree near the bank of the Big River and couldn't make up his mind what to do. He wanted to get home to the big, thick hemlock-tree in the Green Forest before dusk, for Blacky is afraid of the dark. That is, he is afraid to be out after dark.
"Go along home," said a voice inside him, "there is hardly time now for you to get there before the Black Shadows arrive.
Don't waste any more time here. What may happen to those silly Ducks is no business of yours, and there is nothing you can do, anyway. Go along home."
"Wait a few minutes," said another little voice down inside him. "Don't be a coward. You ought to warn Dusky the Black Duck and his flock that a hunter with a terrible gun is waiting for them. Is it true that it is no business of yours what happens to those Ducks? Think again, Blacky; think again. It is the duty of each one who sees a common danger to warn his neighbors. If something dreadful should happen to Dusky because you were afraid of the dark, you never would be comfortable in your own mind. Stay a little while and keep watch."
Not five minutes later Blacky saw something that made him, oh, so glad he had kept watch. It was a swiftly moving black line just above the water far down the Big River, and it was coming up. He knew what that black line was. He looked over at the hunter hiding behind some bushes close to the edge of the water. The hunter was crouching with his terrible gun in his hands and was peeping over the bushes, watching that black line. He, too, knew what it was. It was a flock of Ducks flying.
Blacky was all ashake again, but this time it wasn't with fear of being caught away from home in the dark; it was with excitement. He knew that those Ducks had become so eager for more of that corn, that delicious yellow corn which every night for a week they had found scattered in the rushes just in front of the place where that hunter was now hiding, that they couldn't wait for the coming of the Black Shadows. They were so sure there was no danger that they were coming in to eat without waiting for the Black Shadows, as they usually did. And Blacky was glad. Perhaps now he could give them warning.
Up the middle of the Big River, flying just above the water, swept the flock with Dusky at its head. How swiftly they flew, those nine big birds! Blacky envied them their swift wings. On past the hidden hunter but far out over the Big River they swept. For just a minute Blacky thought they were going on up the river and not coming in to eat, after all. Then they turned toward the other shore, swept around in a circle and headed straight in toward that hidden hunter. Blacky glanced at him and saw that he was ready to shoot.
Almost without thinking, Blacky spread his wings and started out from that tree. "Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!" he shrieked at the top of his lungs. "Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!" It was his danger cry that everybody on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest knows.
Instantly Dusky turned and began to climb up, up, up, the other Ducks following him until, as they passed over the hidden hunter, they were so high it was useless for him to shoot. He did put up his gun and aim at them, but he didn't shoot. You see, he didn't want to frighten them so that they would not return. Then the flock turned and started off in the direction from which they had come, and in a few minutes they were merely a black line disappearing far down the Big River.
Blacky headed straight for the Green Forest, chuckling as he flew. He knew that those Ducks would not return until after dark. He had saved them this time, and he was so happy he didn't even notice the Black Shadows. And the hunter stood up and shook his fist at Blacky the Crow.