Bowser The Hound by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XXVII. The Artfulness of Blacky
Who runs in circles never gets far. Bowser the Hound.
To be artful is to be very clever. It is to do things in a way so clever that people will not see what you are really doing. No one can be more artful than Blacky the Crow when he sets out to be.
Blacky was smart enough not to let Reddy know that he was seeking Reddy's help for Bowser. He soon found out that Reddy would not knowingly help the least little bit, so he decided at once that the only thing for him to do was to get Reddy to help unsuspectingly. He changed the subject very abruptly.
"How are the chickens at Farmer Brown's?" inquired he.
Reddy looked up and grinned. "They seem to be in just as good health as ever," said he, "so far as I can judge. Farmer Brown's boy seems to be terribly suspicious. He locks them up at night so tight that not even Shadow the Weasel could get his nose inside that henhouse."
Blacky's eyes twinkled, but he took care that Reddy should not see them. "Farmer Brown's boy is different from some folks I know," said he.
"How's that?" demanded Reddy Fox.
"Why," replied Blacky, "there is a certain farmyard I know of where the hens are not kept shut up at all in the daytime, but run around where they please. I see them every day when I am flying over. They certainly are fine-looking hens. I don't think I've ever seen fatter ones. Some of them are so fat they can hardly run."
As Reddy Fox listened, a look of eagerness crept into his eyes, and his mouth began to water. He just couldn't help it. "Where did you say those hens are?" he asked, trying to speak carelessly.
"I didn't say," replied Blacky, turning his head aside to hide a grin. "It is a long way from here, Reddy, so I don't believe you would really be interested."
"That all depends," replied Reddy. "I would go a long way if it were worth while. I don't suppose you noticed if there were any dogs about where those hens are?"
Blacky pretended not to hear this. "I've often thought," said he, "of you and Mrs. Reddy as I have looked down at those fat hens. It is too bad that they are so far away."