“Why, certainly!” Jasper Jay replied. “I’m glad to oblige you, I’m sure. And I promise that I’ll never, never, never again mention your name aloud, Cousin Jim.”
There! The secret is out! Jasper Jay said Mr. Crow’s name without once thinking what he was about. And Mr. Crow was so angry that he gave his cousin a sound beating, on the spot.
“I’ll teach you,” he said, “to do as you’re told!” And he did. For after that Jasper Jay always remembered that to him, as to everybody else, his big black cousin must be known only as “Mr. Crow.”
You see, “Jim Crow” was a name that Mr. Crow could not abide. The mere sound of it made him wince. And he was not a person of tender feelings, either.
THE GIANT SCARECROW
Farmer Green always claimed that Mr. Crow was a ruffian and a robber.
“That old chap has been coming here every summer for years,” he said to his son Johnnie one day. “I always know him when I see him, because he’s the biggest of all the crows that steal my corn.”
That was Farmer Green’s way of looking at a certain matter. But old Mr. Crow regarded it otherwise. He knew well enough what Farmer Green thought of his trick of digging up the newly planted corn. And his own idea and Farmer Green’s did not agree at all.
Now, this matter was something that old Mr. Crow never mentioned unless somebody else spoke of it first. And then Mr. Crow would shake his head slowly, and sigh, and say:
“It’s strange that Farmer Green doesn’t understand how much I help him. I’m as busy as I can be all summer long, destroying insects that injure his crops. And since I help Farmer Green to raise his corn, I’m sure I have as good a right to a share of it as the horses that plough the field, or the men that hoe it. Farmer Green gives them corn to eat. But he never once thinks of giving me any.”
You see, there are always two sides to every question. And that was Mr. Crow’s. But Farmer Green never knew how Mr. Crow felt about the matter. And every spring, at corn-planting time, he used to set up scarecrows in his cornfield, hoping that they would frighten the crows away.
And so they did. At least, some of the younger crows were afraid of those straw-stuffed dummies, with their hats tipped over their faces, or upon one side, and their empty sleeves flapping in the winds that swept through the valley. But old Mr. Crow was too wise to be fooled so easily. He would scratch up the corn at the very feet of a scarecrow—and chuckle at the same time.
It must not be supposed that Farmer Green did not know what was going on. He often caught sight of Mr. Crow in the cornfield. But it always happened that Mr. Crow saw him too. And Farmer Green could never get near the old rogue.
At last Johnnie Green’s father spent a whole evening trying to think of some way in which to outwit Mr. Crow. And by bedtime he had hit upon a plan that he liked.