Now, Mr. Crow had not liked the idea of leaving his handsome red coat upon the ground. But he never could bear the thought of being beaten. And Jasper Jay’s remark made him feel quite peevish.
“I fully expect to win this game myself,” the old gentleman said somewhat stiffly. “So I’ll leave my coat here as you suggest. But I shall have to go this instant, for I must stop at my house and get my yellow coat. Of course I can’t go down to the village in my shirtsleeves.”
He hurried away then, with Jasper Jay close behind him. And as soon as Mr. Crow had put on his bright yellow coat the two checker-players started for the village.
When Jasper and Mr. Crow reached the tree where the old gentleman had waited for the train the day before, they found as many as a dozen of their neighbors already there. Even as Mr. Crow dropped down upon a limb, he could hear the train coming up the track.
Mr. Crow’s friends in the tree chose the best seats they could find, in order to get a good view of the race. And at the foot of the tree Jimmy Rabbit stood on tiptoe. He had often wished he could climb a tree—but never so much as then.
THE LUCKY LAUGH
As the train drew nearer to the tree where Mr. Crow and his friends were waiting, it gave a loud shriek.
“You hear that?” said Mr. Crow. “It’s still angry.” And he shouted an impudent caw-caw in reply.
In a moment more the race began. Mr. Crow had no trouble in beating the train, just as he always had. And when he had passed it he dropped quickly and swerved across the track ahead of it.
To his great surprise the train never faltered. It kept straight on, going faster and faster. And the first thing Mr. Crow knew, the last car had whipped around a curve and passed out of sight.
Poor Mr. Crow felt very downcast. He would have liked to hurry home at once, because he hated to face his friends. But he knew they would follow him if he flew away. So he went back to meet them, wearing a bold smile.
“Did you see what happened?” he inquired. “The train was afraid to stop!”
Everybody laughed when Mr. Crow said that. People knew him too well to be deceived by him.
“I suppose your yellow coat frightened it,” Jasper Jay jeered. “It’s too bad you didn’t wear your checkered red one.”
At that remark Jimmy Rabbit pricked up his long ears.
“Did you wear your red coat yesterday?” he asked Mr. Crow.
“Yes!” Mr. Crow replied gruffly. He did not like being questioned by a mere youngster like Jimmy Rabbit.
“And you say the train stopped when you flew in front of it yesterday?”
Mr. Crow grunted. But Jimmy Rabbit knew that he meant “Yes!”
“That’s it!” Jimmy Rabbit cried. And he jumped up and down in his excitement.