Pretty soon the train came thundering up the track. And as soon as it reached him Mr. Crow started to race with it. He had no trouble in beating it, as he always did. And then he did something he had never done before. As soon as he had passed the engine he swooped down and flew right across the track in front of it.
All at once the train set up a terrible noise. It seemed to Mr. Crow that it ground its teeth. And it came to a sudden stop, hissing as if it were very angry.
Old Mr. Crow was the least bit startled. He alighted in the top of a tall elm. And while he watched, two men jumped down from the engine and walked along the track for a while.
Then they crawled back into the engine; and the train went slowly on again.
“That’s queer!” said Mr. Crow to himself. “I never saw that happen before. It looks to me as if the train was pretty angry because I beat it. And if that’s the case, I’m coming back here to-morrow at the same hour and race the train again.”
You can see just from that that Mr. Crow was something of a tease. All his life he had teased his neighbors. And now he felt more important than ever, because he thought he had found a way to tease a railroad train.
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.”