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The Crow

By Margery Bianco
Adapted for purposes of the test

Some relatives who lived in the country once had a tame crow. Like most country crows, he was called Johnny. They had brought him up from a nestling. He had never been caged nor had his wings been clipped, so he had the freedom of the whole place, just like the dogs and the cats. He preferred to spend most of his time about the house. Usually something was going on to interest him.

Johnny was never spiteful, but he was a great tease. He would make the cats' and dogs' lives a misery by tweaking their tails, shouting in their ears, and pretending to steal their food.

There was an Airedale in the family named Mike, who had been blind for many years. The farm was high on a hillside. There was very little traffic, so Mike the dog was perfectly safe. He had learned his way about so well that he could wander anywhere around the house and garden. He knew the position of each rock and tree.

Being blind, and also very good-natured and trustful, Mike fell an easy victim to Johnny's tricks. Johnny liked to hop up very quietly and give a sudden tweak to Mike's toes as he lay asleep, and then caw with delight when Mike started up and barked. The two were actually good friends. Mike was always gentle, and although Johnny teased him so much, he was really fonder of Mike than of any other animal on the farm. On chilly mornings, he would spend hours perched on Mike's back as he lay sleeping, warming his toes in the dog's long shaggy coat.

When Johnny was about two years old, the family moved to a town some distance away. Uncle Ted stayed behind for a few weeks to close up the house and take care of other tasks. One of his tasks was to build crates in which the cats and Johnny could be shipped down to their new home. The dogs had already gone on ahead.

One problem with a pet crow is that he cannot very well be left to take care of himself, however used he is to complete freedom. The wild crows will seldom accept him again as one of their own. There is always the danger that some farmer may shoot him by mistake for a wild bird. So it was thought best to bring Johnny to the new house, although he would have to spend most of his time shut up.

Johnny had never seen a cage in his life, but he seemed to know by instinct what it was. He watched as Uncle Ted built the cages, first for the cats, and then for Johnny. With the driving of each nail, Johnny seemed to grow more and more wary, and more and more suspicious. He hopped about, very curious but always just out of reach. By the time the last nail was driven home he took to the trees and refused to come down to the ground at all. There he perched, staring at the crate with his head to one side and cawing angrily at any attempt to coax him down.

He had guessed only too well who was to occupy that last crate. He was not going to be caught napping.

So in the end, there was nothing to be done but leave him there alone to keep house by himself, with a bag of corn in the barn where he could reach it easily through an open window.

When spring came again the corn was all gone, and so was Johnny. Very likely he had been clever enough to use his treasure of corn to make peace with his old friends and relatives in one grand feast, and had retired to end his days in honor and glory as a crow millionaire.

First Question

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4th Grade Reading Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test
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College of Education, University of South Florida ©2013.