“Ah!” said Jimmy Rabbit. “Quite true! You’ll be the first in Pleasant Valley, Mr. Crow. You’ll set the fashion, instead of following it. Better be first than last, you know!”
Old Mr. Crow agreed to that. So he let Jimmy Rabbit cut as many holes in the shoes as he had toes—that made four holes in each shoe.
And then Mr. Crow thrust his toes through the holes. To his great delight he could walk with ease and comfort. And he was about to leave the store when Jimmy Rabbit stopped him.
“Haven’t you forgotten something?” he asked.
“I don’t think so,” Mr. Crow replied.
“Yes, you have!” Jimmy Rabbit insisted. “You’ve forgotten your bill!”
Mr. Crow looked at him in amazement. And then he felt of his face.
“None of your tricks, young man!” he cried. “My bill is right where it belongs. How could I forget it, I should like to know?”
“You don’t understand,” said Jimmy Rabbit. “What I mean is this: You haven’t paid me for the shoes.”
“Oh!” said Mr. Crow. And he looked away quickly. “Well, you may keep my old shoes. I’m sure that’s a fair exchange.”
And he pretended to be surprised when Jimmy Rabbit did not agree with him.
“Your old shoes are full of holes,” Jimmy objected. “I don’t want them.”
And there Mr. Crow had him.
“These shoes I have on are full of holes, too,” he declared. “And if one hole isn’t just as good as another, then I may as well go back to school again.” And with that he stalked angrily away.
As it happened, old Mr. Crow had never been to school in his life. But he thought the remark sounded well. And it seemed to keep Jimmy Rabbit quiet. He couldn’t think of a thing to say until long after Mr. Crow had gone.
And then it was too late.
THE CROW CAUCUS
“Where are all those crows going?” Johnnie Green asked his father one evening. He pointed to a long line of big black birds that straggled across the sky. They came from across the valley. And they were travelling fast toward the pine woods near the foot of Blue Mountain. “They seem to be in a hurry,” said Johnnie Green.
His father took one look at the procession and laughed.
“They’re going to a crow caucus, I guess,” he answered.
And then Johnnie wanted to know what a caucus was. He asked so many other questions, too, that Farmer Green didn’t succeed in answering them all until they had almost finished their supper.
Now, it was the custom of old Mr. Crow and many of his dusky friends to gather at sunset in the pine woods and hold a meeting. That was what Farmer Green meant when he said they were going to a caucus. And if he could have been there himself he would have been astonished at the things he would have heard.
But for some reason he was never invited to attend one of those twilight meetings. Perhaps it was because disagreeable remarks were sometimes made about Farmer Green!