XIII. The Game of Checkers

Mr. Crow told all his neighbors that he had made the train angry with him. And he invited everyone to come down to the village with him the following day, to enjoy the sport.

"I'm going to race the train again," Mr. Crow explained. "And I shall fly right in front of it, too--just as I did to-day. You'll see what a fuss it will make. And if you don't say it's a good joke, I'll never wear a checkered red coat again."

The next day Jasper Jay invited Mr. Crow to take part in a game of checkers. Whenever anybody in the neighborhood wanted to play checkers, he had to ask Mr. Crow, on account of having to use his checkered red coat for the board.

Mr. Crow accepted the invitation.

"But I shall have to stop at exactly sixteen minutes past two," he said. "The train starts from the village at half past two sharp; and I don't want to be late."

"Very well!" Jasper Jay agreed. "I shall want to stop then myself, because I'm coming along with you to see the fun."

They had played twenty-seven games of checkers. And they were in the midst of the twenty-eighth when Mr. Crow suddenly cocked his eye at the sun.

"Goodness!" he exclaimed, springing up quickly. "It's fifteen and a half minutes after two; and I shall have to be starting for the village." He reached for his checkered red coat, which was spread upon the ground between them.

"Wait a moment!" Jasper Jay cried. "I'd suggest your leaving your coat right where it is. Then we can come back to our game after we've had our fun with the train. I'm going to win the game, so it's hardly fair not to finish it."

Now, Mr. Crow had not liked the idea of leaving his handsome red coat upon the ground. But he never could bear the thought of being beaten. And Jasper Jay's remark made him feel quite peevish.

"I fully expect to win this game myself," the old gentleman said somewhat stiffly. "So I'll leave my coat here as you suggest. But I shall have to go this instant, for I must stop at my house and get my yellow coat. Of course I can't go down to the village in my shirtsleeves."

He hurried away then, with Jasper Jay close behind him. And as soon as Mr. Crow had put on his bright yellow coat the two checker-players started for the village.

When Jasper and Mr. Crow reached the tree where the old gentleman had waited for the train the day before, they found as many as a dozen of their neighbors already there. Even as Mr. Crow dropped down upon a limb, he could hear the train coming up the track.

Mr. Crow's friends in the tree chose the best seats they could find, in order to get a good view of the race. And at the foot of the tree Jimmy Rabbit stood on tiptoe. He had often wished he could climb a tree--but never so much as then.