XI. Mr. Crow's Plan
 

Yes! Old Mr. Crow had made up his mind about something. After Jasper Jay and Frisky Squirrel and Fatty Coon had come and crouched under his umbrella, and Christopher Crane had perched himself on top of it, and Mr. Crow had fallen off the fence, the old gentleman decided that he would take no more chances. The next time it rained he knew exactly what he was going to do.

He said nothing to anyone about his plan. It was a good one--Mr. Crow was sure of that. And he could hardly wait for the next shower, he was so eager to give his scheme a trial. He hoped that there would be a big storm--not merely a quick shower, which would be over before he had had time to enjoy it.

At last the storm came. And for once Mr. Crow was not disappointed. It was the sort of storm that is worth waiting for. The wind had blown hard all day. And the sky had grown almost as black as night. And old Mr. Crow was watching in his house, with his umbrella grasped tight in his hands, waiting for the rain.

When the rain began, it did not fall in a gentle patter. It came with a rush and a roar, driven in white sheets before a mighty wind.

"This is great!" Mr. Crow cried aloud, as he stepped upon a limb outside his house and spread his umbrella.

Now, this is what he had decided to do: He had determined that the very next time it rained he would take his umbrella and fly up into the sky, where he would not be annoyed by anybody coming along to share his shelter with him.

For a moment Mr. Crow balanced himself on the limb. And the next moment, he had jumped. Afterward, he could never remember exactly how it all happened. Everything seemed like a bad dream to old Mr. Crow--such as he sometimes had after eating too heartily of corn.

He felt himself swept up into the sky faster than he had flown for years. He was pitched and tossed about; and in no time at all he was drenched with water--for the cold rain pelted him as much as it pleased. He could only cling to the handle of his umbrella. And so he sailed away, swaying this way and that as the wind caught him, and always climbing higher and higher into the sky.

He passed the top of Blue Mountain almost before he knew it. Looking down, he could see Mrs. Eagle on her nest; and she seemed to be in a flutter of excitement, too. She was frightened; and it was no wonder. For she thought the umbrella was a monstrous bird, coming to snatch her children away from her.

In a few minutes more Mr. Crow had crossed another mountain. He was sailing away from home like a kite that has broken its string. And he was rising so high in the air that he was beginning to grow uneasy. He began to wonder what he had better do.

Of course, there was one thing he didn't have to worry about--and that was falling. But he did want to go home.

You might suppose that he would have done that long before. But the trouble was, he didn't want to lose his umbrella. He thought a great deal of it; and he didn't know where he could get another. (You must not forget that it was the only umbrella in Pleasant Valley.)

Old Mr. Crow had a hard time deciding just what to do. First, he thought he would let go of the umbrella. Then he thought he wouldn't. Next, he thought he would. And after that he thought he wouldn't, again.

Perhaps he would still be changing his mind like that if something hadn't happened. Anyhow, all at once the umbrella turned inside out. And Mr. Crow began to fall.

But he didn't fall far. For as soon as he realized what was going on he let go of his umbrella-handle, spread his wings, and soared down to the ground.

He made no attempt to find his way home until the next day, but spent the night in an evergreen grove. And he didn't feel as badly about losing his umbrella as you would have thought, for he said that ever since he had owned it he had caught a wetting when it rained. And since that was the case, he was better off without an umbrella, anyhow.