HE cock said to the little hen: "The nuts are getting
ripe, wifie, so let us make a little picnic to the hill
where they grow, and have a nice feast before the
squirrels have eaten them all."
The little hen was delighted. "We will have fine fun
together," she said, and away they went, arm in arm, to
the place where the nuts grew. The day was fine, and
they enjoyed themselves so much that they stayed there
until night began to fall, and then they were so tired
that they felt they really could not walk home. So the
cock began to build a carriage of nutshells.
When it was finished, the little hen seated herself in
it and told the cock to harness himself to the carriage
and take her home.
"Indeed, no!" answered the cock, "I am as tired as you,
and I have no mind to draw you, madam. Your coachman I
will be and sit upon a box, but more I will not do."
So they squabbled with each other, until a duck came
"Hello! You thieves!" cried she, "what are you doing on
my nut-hill? Wait a minute, and I'll teach you to keep
away in the future!"
She flew at the cock with wings outspread, but the
plucky little fellow met her with equal fury, and after
a time the duck found she was getting the worst of it,
and had to beg for mercy.
 So, as a punishment,
she was made to harness herself to the carriage. The
cock seated himself upon the box, cracked the whip, and
away they went like the wind.
Before they had gone far, they met a couple of foot
passengers—a pin and a needle. They called to the cock
to stop, and asked if he and his wife would give them a
lift as they were too tired to go another step, and the
roads were too muddy to make a comfortable
resting-place. They said that they had stayed at the
Tailor's Inn for refreshment, and had not noticed how
quickly the time was passing, and how late it was.
When the cock saw what thin little folks they were, he
bade them get inside the carriage, but made them
promise on no account to crush his wife or tread on her
Late that night they came to an inn, at which they
alighted, for they felt sure they would get not farther
before morning. The duck was an unsteady steed, and
besides shaking the carriage violently from side to
side, complained terribly of pains in her feet, for she
was not a good walker.
But the host did not like the appearance of the
travelers, and made all sorts of excuses to get rid of
However, the cock spoke so persuasively,—promising him
the egg which his wife had laid coming along, as well
as that of the duck, which, he said, laid one every
day,—that at last he consented to let the company of
ragamuffins stay one night.
So they set to work to enjoy themselves, ordered the
best of food and drink and passed the night in
As soon as the morning began to dawn, the cock awakened
the hen, pecked a hole in the egg, and together they
ate it up, and threw the shell upon the hearth.
Then they went to the needle, which was still asleep,
picked it up by the eye and stuck it in the host's
chair; the pin they stuck in the poor man's towel, and
after that they flew away, over hedge, ditch, and field
as fast as ever they could.
 The duck, who had slept in the courtyard all
night, heard the cock and the hen fluttering overhead
and waddled away well pleased to the stream, splashed
in, and swam away far more quickly than ever she had
drawn the carriage.
Two hours later, the host got up, washed himself and
took the towel to dry himself with, when the pin
scratched him in the face and made a red scar from ear
He went down to the kitchen, and stooped over the
hearth to light his pipe. At once the egg-shells flew
up into his face.
"Everything seems to fly at my head this morning," he
said, quite crossly, and sat down in the old
He was now thoroughly angry, but happening to remember
the guests who had arrived the night before, he went to
see how they had slept. But they had disappeared!
So the host made a vow that never again would he
harbour a troop of ragamuffins, who ate folk out of
house and home, paid nothing and played one such shabby
tricks into the bargain.