“Exactly!” Mr. Crow replied. “And at my age I might take cold and be very ill, perhaps.”
“Where are you going?” Jasper inquired pleasantly. He was disappointed; but he did not let his cousin see that.
“I’m on my way to a big meeting of the Crow family,” the old gentleman replied.
“And you’re taking your umbrella?” Jasper asked, as if he were greatly astonished.
“Why—yes!” Mr. Crow answered. “You seem surprised.”
“I am,” said Jasper Jay with a sad shake of his head. “I’d hate to risk it, if I were you. There’ll be some rough young fellows there and you’re likely to lose your umbrella. I’m afraid they’ll take it away from you.”
Old Mr. Crow looked worried.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said anxiously. “It’s an important meeting. They’re expecting me. And I’m late, as it is. If I go back home and leave my umbrella I’m afraid they’ll think I’m not coming.”
“I suppose I could help you just this once,” Jasper Jay remarked. “Of course, it’s not a thing I’d do for everybody. But since you’re my cousin, if you want me to do it I’ll take care of your umbrella until you come back again.”
“Will you wait right here?” Mr. Crow asked him.
“Will you promise not to spread the umbrella?”
At that question Jasper Jay’s face fell. But pretty soon he said cheerfully:
“I promise not to put it up—unless it should rain.”
Mr. Crow looked carefully at the sky. There was not a cloud to be seen. So he turned to Jasper Jay with a smile and placed the umbrella carefully in his hands.
Then Mr. Crow flew away.
“It certainly can’t rain,” he said to himself.
Mr. Crow arrived at the meeting quite out of breath. And his friends noticed that he seemed uneasy about something. He kept looking up at the sky and asking everybody what he thought about the weather.
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.