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Doubt not a friend, but to the last Grip hard on faith and hold it fast. - Blacky the Crow.
Every morning Blacky the Crow visited the rushes along the shore of the Big River, hoping to find Dusky the Black Duck. He was anxious, was Blacky. He feared that Dusky or some of his flock had been killed, and he wanted to know. You see, he knew that Farmer Brown's boy had been shooting over there. At last, early one morning, he found Dusky and his flock in the rushes and wild rice. Eagerly he counted them. There were nine. Not one was missing. Blacky sighed with relief and dropped down on the shore close to where Dusky was taking a nap.
"Hello!" said Blacky.
Dusky awoke with a start. "Hello, yourself," said he.
"I've heard a terrible gun banging over here, and I was afraid you or some of your flock had been shot," said Blacky.
"We haven't lost a feather," declared Dusky. "That gun wasn't fired at us, anyway."
"Then who was it fired at?" demanded Blacky.
"I haven't the least idea," replied Dusky.
"Have you seen any other Ducks about here?" inquired Blacky.
"Not one," was Dusky's prompt reply. "If there had been any, I guess we would have known it."
"Did you know that when that terrible gun was fired there was another terrible gun right over behind those bushes?" asked Blacky.
Dusky shook his head. "No," said he, "but I learned long ago that where there is one terrible gun there is likely to be more, and so when I heard that one bang, I led my flock away from here in a hurry. We didn't want to take any chances."
"It is a lucky thing you did," replied Blacky. "There was a hunter hiding behind those bushes all the time. I warned you of him once."
"That reminds me that I haven't thanked you," said Dusky. "I knew there was something wrong over here, but I didn't know what. So it was a hunter. I guess it is a good thing that I heeded your warn-ing."
"I guess it is," retorted Blacky dryly. "Do you come here in daytime instead of night now?"
"No," replied Dusky. "We come in after dark and spend the night here. There is nothing to fear from hunters after dark. We've given up coming here until late in the evening. And since we did that, we haven't heard a gun."
Blacky gossiped a while longer, then flew off to look for his breakfast; and as he flew his heart was light. His shrewd little eyes twinkled.
"I ought to have known Farmer Brown's boy better than even to suspect him," thought he. "I know now why he had that terrible gun. It was to frighten those Ducks away so that the hunter would not have a chance to shoot them. He wasn't shooting at anything. He just fired in the air to scare those Ducks away. I know it just as well as if I had seen him do it. I'll never doubt Farmer Brown's boy again. And I'm glad I didn't say a word to anybody about seeing him with a terrible gun."
Blacky was right. Farmer Brown's boy had taken that way of making sure that the hunter who had first baited those Ducks with yellow corn scattered in the rushes in front of his hiding place should have no chance to kill any of them. While appearing to be an enemy, he really had been a friend of Dusky the Black Duck and his flock.
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