Chapter XXIX: Blacky Discovers An Egg

Blacky is fond of eggs, as you know. In this he is a great deal like other people, Farmer Brown's boy for instance. But as Blacky cannot keep hens, as Farmer Brown's boy does, he is obliged to steal eggs or else go without. If you come right down to plain, everyday truth, I suppose Blacky isn't so far wrong when he insists that he is no more of a thief than Farmer Brown's boy. Blacky says that the eggs which the bens lay belong to the hens, and that he, Blacky has just as much right to take them as Farmer Brown's boy. He quite overlooks the fact that Farmer Brown's boy feeds the biddies and takes the eggs as pay. Anyway, that is what Farmer Brown's boy says, but I do not know whether or not the biddies understand it that way.

So Blacky the Crow cannot see why he should not help himself to an egg when he gets the chance. He doesn't get the chance very often to steal eggs from the hens, because usually they lay their eggs in the henhouse, and Blacky is too suspicious to venture inside. The eggs he does get are mostly those of his neighbors in the Green Forest and the Old Orchard. But once in a great while some foolish hen will make a nest outside the henhouse somewhere, and if Blacky happens to find it the black scamp watches every minute he can spare from other mischief for a chance to steal an egg.

Now Blacky knows just what a rogue Farmer Brown's boy thinks he is, and for this reason Blacky is very careful about approaching Farmer Brown or any other man until he has made sure that he runs no risk of being shot. Blacky knows quite as well as any one what a gun looks like. He also knows that without a terrible gun, there is little Farmer Brown or any one else can do to him. So when he sees Farmer Brown out in his fields, Blacky often will fly right over him and shout "Caw, caw, caw, ca-a-w!" in the most provoking way, and Fanner Brown's boy insists that he has seen Blacky wink when he was doing it.

But Blacky doesn't do anything of this kind around the buildings of Farmer Brown. You see, he has learned that there are doors and windows in buildings, and out of one of these a terrible gun may bang at any time. Though he has suspected that Farmer Brown's boy would not now try to harm him, Blacky is naturally cautious and takes no chances. So when he comes spying around Farmer Brown's house and barn, he does it when he is quite sure that no one is about, and he makes no noise about it. First he sits in a tall tree from which he can watch Farmer Brown's home. When he is quite sure that the way is clear, he flies over to the Old Orchard, and from there he inspects the barnyard, never once making a sound. If he is quite sure that no one is about, he sometimes drops down into the henyard and helps himself to corn, if any happens to be there. It was on one of these silent visits that Blacky spied something which he couldn't forget. It was a box just inside the henhouse door. In the box was some hay and in that hay he was sure that he had seen an egg. In fact, he was sure that he saw two eggs there. He might not have noticed them but for the fact that a hen had jumped down from that box, making a terrible fuss. She didn't seem frightened, but very proud. What under the sun she had to be proud about Blacky couldn't understand, but he didn't stay to find out. The noise she was making made him nervous. He was afraid that it would bring some one to find out what was going on. So he spread his black wings and flew away as silently as he had come.

As he was flying away he saw those eggs. You see, as he rose into the air, he managed to pass that open door in such a way that he could glance in. That one glance was enough. You know Blacky's eyes are very sharp. He saw the hay in the box and the two eggs in the hay, and that was enough for him. From that instant Blacky the Crow began to scheme and plan to get one or both of those eggs. It seemed to him that he never, never, had wanted anything quite so much, and he was sure that he would not and could not be happy until he succeeded in getting one.