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It's Quite True!

"It's a dreadful story!" said a hen, "A dreadful story to happen in a henhouse!"

And then she told a story that made made the feathers of the other hens stand on end and the rooster's comb fall. The story was about something that had happened in a henhouse at the other end of town when the sun went down and the hens flew up to perch. One of them was a respectable, white-feathered and short-limbed hen who laid her eggs according to the regulations. As she settled herself on the perch, she plucked herself with her beak, and a tiny feather came out.

"There it goes," she said. "The more I pluck, the more beautiful I get." But she said it only in fun, for even though she was jolly, she was also most respectable. Then she fell asleep.

The hens sat closely together in the darkness. But the hen that sat closest to the white hen could not sleep, for she brooded over what the white hen had said. At last she could not resist telling it to her nearest neighbour.

"Did you hear that? There is a hen here who intends to pluck out all her feathers just to make herself look well."

Right above the hens lived a family of owls. They had sharp ears in that family and all rolled their eyes at what they overheard. The mother owl flapped her wings and said; "Don't listen to what you all heard now. One of the hens has so completely forgotten what is becoming conduct that she plucks out all her feathers while the rooster watches her."

"Children shouldn't hear such talk," said the father owl.

"I must tell it to the owl across the road," said the mother owl. "She is such a respectable owl!" And away she flew.

"Hoo-whoo! Hoo-whoo!" they both hooted to the pigeons in the pigeon house across the road. "Have you heard it? Have you heard it? There is a hen who has plucked out all her feathers just to please the rooster. She must be freezing to death; that is, if she isn't dead already. Hoo-whoo!"

"Where? Where?" cooed the pigeons.

"In the yard across the way. I have as good as seen it myself. It is quite true!"

"True, true," cooed the pigeons into their poultry yard. "There is a hen, and some say there are two hens, who have plucked out all their feathers in order to look different from the rest and to attract the attention of the rooster."

"Wake up!" crowed the rooster, and flew up on the fence. He was still half asleep, but he crowed just the same. "Three hens have died of a broken heart, all for the sake of a rooster, and they have plucked all their feathers out! It's a dreadful story, but I will not keep it to myself."

"Tell it everywhere!" shrieked the bats; and the hens clucked and the roosters crowed "everywhere". And so the story travelled from henhouse to henhouse until at last it was carried back to the very same place from where it started.

"There are five hens," the tale now ran, "who all have plucked out all their feathers to show which of them had lost the most weight through unhappy love for their rooster, to the great loss of the farmer."

The hen who had lost the little loose feather did not recognize her own part in the story; and said, "There are many of that kind! Get the story into the newspapers to be known all over the country. That will serve those hens right, and their families, too."

And it got to the newspapers: it is quite true. After all, one little feather may grow till it becomes five hens.




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