IX. Caught in the Rain
 

Left alone in the woods with Mr. Crow's umbrella, Jasper Jay had a fine time. First he looked at the umbrella very closely, from the handle to the slender tip. Then he placed it under his wing and strutted back and forth upon the ground, just as he had seen Mr. Crow parade before his friends. And Jasper wished that someone would come along and see him.

But nobody came. So after a while he grew tired of wishing. And the next thing he did was to unfasten the strap that kept the folds of the umbrella wrapped about its stick.

"I'm not putting it up," he told himself. "I didn't promise I wouldn't do this. I only agreed not to spread the umbrella unless it rained."

Just then a low rumble caught his ear.

"That's thunder!" he cried. "I do hope it will rain!"

In a short time the sky grew dark. And pretty soon great drops came pattering down upon the leaves over Jasper's head.

"Hurrah!" he shouted. And then he flew straight up to the very top of a tall tree, where he perched himself on a limb and spread Mr. Crow's umbrella.

Though it was soon raining hard, the rain did not fall any too heavily to please Jasper Jay. He enjoyed the pleasant-sounding patter over his head. And he liked to watch the trickle of the water as it ran off the umbrella and fell upon the leaves beneath him.

Now, while Jasper Jay was having a good time, there was one person who was not enjoying the shower at all--and that was old Mr. Crow. You remember that he had gone to a crows' meeting. And as soon as it began to sprinkle the meeting broke up. Old Mr. Crow was the first one to leave; and he was in a great hurry. He wished he had not left his umbrella with Jasper Jay, for he did not want anybody but himself to use it--especially for the first time. As you know, ever since Mr. Crow had owned his umbrella it had not rained once.

That was why the old gentleman flew away without even stopping to bid his friends good-by. He flew as fast as he could, through the pelting rain. And he had just come in sight of the woods where Jasper had promised to wait for him when the rain suddenly stopped.

As Mr. Crow dropped downward he saw something in a tree-top that made him very angry. It was his umbrella, wide open. And beneath it--though Mr. Crow could not see him--was Jasper Jay.

He was trembling with rage--was Mr. Crow--as he alighted on a limb near his cousin.

"Here, you!" the old gentleman cried. "Put down my umbrella! It's not raining. How dare you sit there with my umbrella spread over your head?"

Jasper Jay closed the umbrella quickly and handed it to Mr. Crow with a smile.

"That's a good umbrella," he remarked. "As you see, I'm not even damp. But you--ha! ha!--you seem to have been caught out in a heavy shower."

Mr. Crow was dripping. His tail feathers looked quite bedraggled. And he was shaking the drops off his wings.

"It will never happen again," Mr. Crow said hoarsely. "Never again will I go anywhere, rain or shine, without my umbrella. At my age it's very dangerous to get so wet."

"I'd advise you to run through the woods, and then run back again, until you get warm," Jasper Jay suggested. "And since you're my cousin, if you want me to do it I'll help you--and hold your umbrella for you until you return."

But Mr. Crow shook his head.

"I've had enough of your advice," he said sourly. "It might rain again; and then I'd be worse off than ever."

Jasper Jay pretended to be surprised. And he, too, began to tremble and shake. But it was only because he was laughing silently at his cousin.