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Snowball Lamb was puzzled. He didn't understand old Mr. Crow's answer at all.
"What if Johnnie Green should put salt on my tail?" he asked Mr. Crow. "What harm would that do?"
The old gentleman stared at Snowball as if he couldn't quite believe that anybody could be so stupid.
"Haven't you ever heard that that's the way to catch people?" cried Mr. Crow at last. "Why, there isn't a boy in Pleasant Valley who doesn't know that; and many of 'em carry salt about in their pockets all the time, hoping to get a chance some day to put the salt on my tail, and capture me!" Mr. Crow's bright eyes snapped. And his bill snapped, too. For the mere thought of such scheming always made him terribly angry.
And then Snowball said something that made Mr. Crow more impatient than ever.
"I don't care if Johnnie Green does catch me," Snowball declared. "Johnnie wouldn't hurt me. We've always been great friends."
"He wouldn't, eh?" Mr. Crow retorted. "How do you know he wouldn't hurt you?"
"He never has hurt me," Snowball replied.
"Perhaps not! Perhaps not!" Mr. Crow croaked. "But you never can tell. You never can tell what a boy will do. And if you go to the salting party and get into trouble, don't say I didn't warn you!" As the old fellow flew off he looked as if all the cares in the world were weighing him down. Snowball noticed that he flew heavily. It took a great amount of flapping of his broad wings to lift him out of the pasture. And when he was well up in the air he gave a glum caw, caw as he wheeled and sailed away down the wind.
Well, Snowball couldn't help being somewhat disturbed by Mr. Crow's grave actions and his graver remarks. "I wonder," thought Snowball, "if Mr. Crow knows what he's talking about. I'll ask the flock!"
So Snowball ran down the hillside pasture to the place where the flock had gathered to graze. And to his astonishment some of the flock didn't even lift their heads from the grass when he related all that Mr. Crow had said. Those that did pause and listen to Snowball only giggled and went to feeding again. No! there was one that spoke to him. Aunt Nancy Ewe spoke up a bit tartly.
"If you're worried you'd better stay away when Johnnie Green comes to salt us," she told him. "We all expect to have a very pleasant time," she added.
"Have you ever had salt put on your tail?" Snowball asked the old lady.
"Certainly not!" she snapped. And she glared at Snowball so fiercely that he fell back several steps. "Are you trying to insult me?" she cried.
He did not answer. It was plain to him that Aunt Nancy didn't know anything about the trick of putting salt on one's tail. Yes! Mr. Crow must be wiser than she was.
"They'll all get into trouble," Snowball thought. And then he said something that was almost exactly like what Mr. Crow had said to him. "They can't say I didn't warn them!"
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