XIX. The Shoe-Store
 

"Dear me!" old Mr. Crow exclaimed one day. "I see I shall have to get some new shoes. I've had these only about ten years and they're worn through already. The trouble is, I don't know where to buy any more." He was talking to his cousin, Jasper Jay.

"I can tell you," said Jasper. "That Rabbit boy--the one they call Jimmy--has a shoe-store. You know he's always trying something new. He has had a barber's shop; and he's been a tooth-puller. And now he has opened a shoe-store over in the meadow."

"I'm glad to know it," Mr. Crow replied, "though I must say I wish it was somebody else. There's something about that Rabbit boy that I don't like. Maybe it's the way he wags his ears and wriggles his nose. And he's always jumping."

"He's a bright young fellow," said Jasper Jay.

Old Mr. Crow coughed.

"A little too bright, sometimes," he ventured. "But he'll have to be a good deal brighter to play any of his tricks on me."

"You think you're enough for him?" Jasper inquired.

"Think?" cried Mr. Crow. "I know I am. And though I hate to get any shoes in his shop, I'm afraid I shall have to just this once."

Later that day Mr. Crow went to the shoe-shop in the meadow. And Jimmy Rabbit was delighted to see him.

"Come right in!" he invited Mr. Crow. "I see you need some new shoes. And you've made no mistake in coming here for them."

"I hope not," Mr. Crow responded gruffly. He went inside the store and sat down. And Jimmy Rabbit knelt before him and measured one of his feet.

Now, Mr. Crow had enormous feet. Big feet had always run--or walked--in his family. And though he couldn't any more help the size of his feet than the size of his bill, old Mr. Crow was very touchy in respect to them. He grew angry at once.

"What do you mean by measuring my feet?" he croaked. "I didn't come here to be insulted, you know."

Jimmy Rabbit looked up at him mildly.

"I just wanted to find out how small your feet are," he explained politely enough. "Sometimes people come here with feet so small that I can't fit them. And when I looked at yours I was afraid that might be the case."

"Oh!" said Mr. Crow. The answer pleased him. "Show me the best pair of shoes you have," he ordered.

So Jimmy Rabbit began to search his shelves. To tell the truth, he was puzzled. He had no shoes big enough for Mr. Crow. But he did not dare tell the old gentleman that, because he knew Mr. Crow would be very angry.

At last Jimmy Rabbit found the biggest shoes in the place. And he showed them to Mr. Crow, who seemed much pleased.

"I'll try them on," Mr. Crow said.

Jimmy Rabbit held out the shoes, hoping that Mr. Crow would take them. But Mr. Crow had no such notion in his head.

"I mean, you may try them on me" he added.

"You didn't say that," Jimmy Rabbit reminded him.

"No further remarks are necessary," Mr. Crow screamed in a shrill voice.

And at that Jimmy Rabbit knelt before him once more and began to crowd one of Mr. Crow's feet into one of the shoes.

Jimmy struggled for a long time without saying a word. But Mr. Crow said several words under his breath, for Jimmy was hurting him dreadfully.

There were two reasons for that. In the first place, the shoe was much too small for Mr. Crow. And in the second, Jimmy Rabbit was putting the left shoe on Mr. Crow's right foot.

But neither of them knew that second reason.