Chapter XXX: Blacky Screws Up His Courage
 

If out of sight, then out of mind. This is a saying which you often hear. It may be true sometimes, but it is very far from true at other times. Take the case of Blacky. He had had only a glance into that nest just inside the door of Farmer Brown's henhouse, but that glance had been enough to show him two eggs there. Then, as he flew away toward the Green Forest, those eggs were out of sight, of course. But do you think they were out of mind? Not much! No, indeed! In fact, those eggs were very much in Blacky's mind. He couldn't think of anything else. He flew straight to a certain tall pine-tree in a lonely part of the Green Forest. Whenever Blacky wants to think or to plan mischief, he seeks that particular tree, and in the shelter of its broad branches he keeps out of sight of curious eyes, and there he sits as still as still can be.

"I want one of those eggs," muttered Blacky, as he settled himself in comfort on a certain particular spot on a certain particular branch of that tall pine-tree. Indeed, that particular branch might well be called the "mischief branch," for on it Blacky has thought out and planned most of the mischief he is so famous for. "Yes, sir," he continued, "I want one of those eggs, and what is more, I am going to have one."

He half closed his eyes and tipped his head back and swallowed a couple of times, as if he already tasted one of those eggs.

"There is more in one of those eggs than in a whole nestful of Welcome Robin's eggs. It is a very long time since I have been lucky enough to taste a hen's egg, and now is my chance. I don't like having to go inside that henhouse, even though it is barely inside the door. I'm suspicious of doors. They have a way of closing most unexpectedly.

I might see if I cannot get Unc' Billy Possum to bring one of those eggs out for me. But that plan won't do, come to think of it, because I can't trust Unc' Billy. The old sinner is too fond of eggs himself. I would be willing to divide with him, but he would be sure to eat his first, and I fear that it would taste so good that he would eat the other. No. I've got to get one of those eggs myself. It is the only way I can be sure of it.

"The thing to do is to make sure that Farmer Brown's boy and Farmer Brown himself are nowhere about. They ought to be down in the cornfield pretty soon. With them down there, I have only to watch my chance and slip in. It won't take but a second. Just a little courage, Blacky, just a little courage! Nothing in this world worth having is gained without some risk. The thing to do is to make sure that the risk is as small as possible."

Blacky shook out his feathers and then flew out of the tall pine-tree as silently as he had flown into it. He headed straight toward Farmer Brown's cornfield. When he was near enough to see all over the field, he dropped down to the top of a fence post, and there he waited. he didn't have long to wait. In fact, he had been there but a few minutes

when he spied two people coming down the Long Lane toward the cornfield. He looked at them sharply, and then gave a little sigh of satisfaction. They were Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's boy. Presently they reached the cornfield and turned into it. Then they went to work, and Blacky knew that so far as they were concerned, the way was clear for him to visit the henyard.

He didn't fly straight there. Oh, my, no! Blacky is too clever to do anything like that. He flew toward the Green Forest. When he knew that he was out of sight of those in the cornfield, he turned and flew over to the Old Orchard, and from the top of one of the old apple-trees he studied the henyard and the barnyard and Farmer Brown's house and the barn, to make absolutely sure that there was no danger near. When he was quite sure, he silently flew down into the henyard as he had done many times before. He pretended to be looking for scattered grains of corn, but all the time he was edging nearer and nearer to the open door of the henhouse. At last he could see the box with the hay in it. He walked right up to the open door and peered inside. There was nothing to be afraid of that he could see. Still he hesitated. He did hate to go inside that door, even for a minute, and that is all it would take to fly up to that nest and get one of those eggs.

Blacky closed his eyes for just a second, and when he did that he seemed to see himself eating one of those eggs. "What are you afraid of?" he muttered to himself as he opened his eyes. Then with a hurried look in all directions, he flew up to the edge of the box. There lay the two eggs!