XII. A Race with the Train

Old Mr. Crow was fond of gay clothes. Perhaps it was because he was so black that he always chose bright colors. Anyhow, so long as he could wear a bright red coat and a yellow necktie--or a bright red necktie and a yellow coat--he was generally quite happy.

All his neighbors knew who he was as far as they could see him. No matter if they caught only a flash of yellow or of red, they were pretty safe in saying, "There goes old Mr. Crow!"

Well, it happened that during the summers that he spent in Pleasant Valley Mr. Crow sometimes went on excursions.

"It's so dull here!" he would often say. "I like to see things happen, once in a while." And that was the reason why he was often to be seen flying far down to the other end of the valley, over the village. There were many interesting sights there.

What Mr. Crow liked most of all was to watch the trains puffing along the railroad, which ran close to the river in that part of Pleasant Valley.

Sometimes he flew directly over the trains and raced with them. He often claimed that they were always trying to beat him. "But they can't do it," he boasted.

At last there came a day when something happened that made Mr. Crow feel prouder than ever. He had gone down to the village, wearing his bright red coat. And a little way beyond the furthest house he perched in a tree by the side of the railroad and waited for the train to pass. He had heard it snorting at the station and he knew it was about to start.

Pretty soon the train came thundering up the track. And as soon as it reached him Mr. Crow started to race with it. He had no trouble in beating it, as he always did. And then he did something he had never done before. As soon as he had passed the engine he swooped down and flew right across the track in front of it.

All at once the train set up a terrible noise. It seemed to Mr. Crow that it ground its teeth. And it came to a sudden stop, hissing as if it were very angry.

Old Mr. Crow was the least bit startled. He alighted in the top of a tall elm. And while he watched, two men jumped down from the engine and walked along the track for a while.

Then they crawled back into the engine; and the train went slowly on again.

"That's queer!" said Mr. Crow to himself. "I never saw that happen before. It looks to me as if the train was pretty angry because I beat it. And if that's the case, I'm coming back here to-morrow at the same hour and race the train again."

You can see just from that that Mr. Crow was something of a tease. All his life he had teased his neighbors. And now he felt more important than ever, because he thought he had found a way to tease a railroad train.