| Among the Farmyard People|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
|Introduces young children to the animals of the farmyard through a series of engaging stories about the sheep, chickens, cows, and horses that live there. With new animals arriving regularly, we make the acquaintance also of a pig and a peacock, as well as some ducks and guinea fowls. Each story closes with a gentle moral, inspiring children to right behavior. Ages 5-7 |
THE WONDERFUL SHINY EGG
UT-CUT-CA-DAH-CUT! Cut-cut-cut-ca-dah-cut!" called
the Dorking Hen, as she
strutted around the poultry-yard. She held her head
very high, and paused every few
minutes to look around in her jerky way and see whether
the other fowls were
listening. Once she even stood on her left foot right
in the pathway of the
Shanghai Cock, and cackled into his very ears.
Everybody pretended not to hear her. The people in the
poultry-yard did not like
the Dorking Hen very well. They said that she put on
airs. Perhaps she did. She
certainly talked a great deal of the place from which
she and the Dorking Cock came.
They had come in a small
 cage from a large
poultry farm, and the Dorking Hen
never tired of telling about the wonderful, noisy ride
that they took in a dark car
drawn by a great, black, snorting creature. She said
that this creature's feet grew
on to his sides and whirled around as he ran, and that
he breathed out of the top of
his head. When the fowls first heard of this, they
were much interested, but after
a while they used to walk away from her, or make
believe that they saw Grasshoppers
whom they wanted to chase.
When she found that people were not listening to her,
she cackled louder than ever.
"Cut-cut-ca-dah-cut! Look at the egg—the egg—the egg
the I have laid."
"Is there any particular reason why we should look at
the egg—the egg—the egg—the
egg that you have laid?" asked the Shanghai Cock, who
was the grumpiest fowl in the
 Now, usually if the Dorking Hen had been spoken to
in this way, she would have
ruffled up her head feathers and walked away, but this
time she had news to tell and
so she kept her temper. "Reason?" she cackled. "Yes
indeed! It is the finest egg
that was ever laid in this poultry-yard."
"Hear her talk!" said a Bantam Hen. "I think it is in
very poor taste to lay such
large eggs as most of the Hens do here. Small ones are
much more genteel."
"She must forget an egg that I laid a while ago with
two yolks," said Shanghai Hen.
"That was the largest egg ever laid here, and I have
always wished that I had
hatched it. A pair of twin chickens would have been so
"Well," said the Dorking Hen, who could not keep still
any longer, "small eggs may
be genteel and large ones may be interesting, but my
last one is bee-autiful."
 "Perhaps you'd just as soon tell us about it as to
brag without telling?"
grumbled the Shanghai Cock. "I suppose it is grass
color, or sky color, or hay
color, or speckled, like a sparrow's egg."
"No," answered the Dorking Hen, "it is white, but it is
"Shiny!" they exclaimed. "Who ever heard of a shiny
"Nobody," she replied, "and that is why it is so
"Don't believe it," said the Shanghai Cock, as he
turned away and began scratching
Now the Dorking Hen did get angry. "Come to see it, if
you don't believe me," she
said, as she led the others into the Hen-house.
She flew up to the row of boxes where the Hens had
their nests, and picked her way
along daintily until she reached the farthest one.
"Now look," said she.
One by one the fowls peeped into the
 box, and sure
enough, there it lay, a
fine, shiny, white egg. The little Bantam, who was
really a jolly, kind-hearted
creature, said, "Well, it is a beauty. I should be
proud of it myself."
"It is whiter than I fancy," said the Shanghai Cock,
"but it certainly does shine."
"I shall hatch it," said the Dorking Hen, very
decidedly. "I shall hatch it and
have a beautiful Chicken with shining feathers. I
shall not hatch all the eggs in
the nest, but roll this one away and sit on it."
"Perhaps," said one of her friends, "somebody else may
have laid it after all, and
not noticed. You know it is not the only one in the
"Pooh!" said the Dorking Hen. "I guess I know! I am
sure it was not there when I
went to the nest and it was there when I left. I must
have laid it."
The fowls went away, and she tried to
 roll the
shiny one away from the other
eggs, but it was slippery and very light and would not
stay where she put it. Then
she got out of patience and rolled all the other out of
the nest. Two of them fell
to the floor and broke, but she did not care. "They
are nothing but common ones,
anyway," she said.
When the farmer's wife came to gather the eggs she
pecked at her and was very cross.
Every day she did this, and at last the woman let her
alone. Every-day she told
the other fowls what a wonderful Chicken she expected
to have. "Of course he will
be of my color," said she, "but his feathers will shine
brightly. He will be a
great flyer, too. I am sure that is what it means when
the egg is light." She came
off the nest each day just long enough to stroll around
and chat with her friends,
telling them what wonderful things she expected, and
never letting them forget that
it was she who
 had laid the shiny egg. She pecked
airily at the food, and
seemed to think that a Hen who was hatching such a
wonderful Chicken should have the
best of everything. Each day she told some new beauty
that was to belong to her
child, until the Shanghai Cock fairly flapped his wings
Day after day passed, and the garden beyond the barn
showed rows of sturdy green
plants, where before there had been only straight
ridges of fine brown earth. The
Swallows who were building under the eaves of the great
barn, twittered and
chattered of the wild flowers in the forest, and four
other Hens came off their
nests with fine broods of downy Chickens. And still
the Dorking Hen sat on her
shiny egg and told what a wonderful Chicken she
expected to hatch. This was not the
only egg in the nest now, but it was the only one of
which she spoke.
At last a downy Chicken peeped out of
 one of the
common eggs, and wriggled and
twisted to free himself from the shell. His mother did
not hurry him or help him.
She knew that he must not slip out of it until all the
blood from the shell-lining
had run into his tender little body. If she had pushed
the shell off before he had
all of this fine red blood, he would not have been a
strong Chicken, and she wanted
her children to be strong.
The Dorking Cock walked into the Hen-house and stood
around on one foot. He came to
see if the shiny egg had hatched, but he
He thought himself too
dignified to show any interest in newly hatched
Chickens before a Hen. Still, he
saw no harm in standing around on one foot and letting
the Dorking Hen talk to him
if she wanted to. When she told him it was one of the
common eggs that had hatched,
he was quite disgusted, and stalked out of doors
without a word.
The truth was that he had been rather
 bragging to
the other Cocks, and only a
few minutes later he spoke with pride of the time when
"our" shiny egg should hatch.
"For," he said, "Mrs. Dorking and I have been quite
alone here as far as our own
people are concerned. It is not strange that we should
feel a great pride in the
wonderful egg and the Chicken to be hatched from it. A
Dorking is a Dorking after
all, my friends." And he flapped his wings, stretched
his neck, and crowed as
loudly as he could.
"Yes," said the Black Spanish Cock afterward, "a
Dorking certainly is a Dorking,
although I never could see the sense of making such a
fuss about it. They are fat
and they have an extra toe on each foot. Why should a
fowl want extra toes? I have
four on each foot, and I can scratch up all the food I
want with them."
"Well," said the grumpy old Shanghai Cock. "I am sick
and tired of this fuss.
 Common eggs are good enough for Shanghais and Black
Spanish and Bantams, and I
just at this minute they heard a loud fluttering and
squawking in the Hen-house and
the Dorking Hen crying, "Weasel! Weasel!" The Cocks
ran to drive the Weasel away,
and the Hens followed to see it done. All was noise
and hurry, and they saw nothing
of the Weasel except the tip of his bushy tail as he
drew his slender body through
an opening in the fence.
The Dorking Hen was on one of the long perches where
the fowls roost at night, the
newly hatched Chicken lay shivering in the nest, and on
the floor were the pieces of
the wonderful shiny egg. The Dorking Hen had knocked
it from the nest in her
The Dorking Cock looked very cross. He was not afraid
of a Weasel, and he did not
see why she should be. "Just like a Hen!" he said.
 The Black Spanish Hen turned to him before he
could say another word. "Just
like a Cock!" she exclaimed. "I never raise Chickens
myself. It is not the custom
among the Black Spanish Hens. We lay the eggs and
somebody else hatches them. But
if I had been on the nest as long as Mrs. Dorking has,
do you suppose I'd let any
fowl speak to me as you spoke to her?
she was so angry that she
couldn't say another word, but just strutted up and down and
A motherly old Shanghai Hen flew up beside Mrs.
Dorking. "We are very sorry for
you," she said. "I know how I should have felt if I
had broken my two-yolked egg
just as it was ready to hatch."
The Bantam Hen picked her way to the nest. "What a
dear little Chicken!" she cried,
in her most comforting tone. "He is so plump and so
bright for his age. But, my
dear, he is chilly, and I think you
 should cuddle
him under your wings until
his down is dry."
The Dorking Hen flew down. "He is a dear," she said,
"and yet when he was hatched I
didn't care much for him, because I had thought so
long about the shiny egg. It
serves me right to lose that one, because I have been
so foolish. Still, I do not
know how I could stand it if it were not for my good
While Mrs. Dorking was talking with the Bantam by her
nest, the Black Spanish Hen
scratched a hole in the earth under the perches, poked
the pieces of the shiny egg
into it, and covered them up. "I never raise Chickens
myself," she said, "but if I
The Shanghai Cock walked away with the Dorking Cock.
"I'm sorry for you," he said,
"and I am more sorry for Mrs. Dorking. She is too fine
a Hen to be spoken to as you
spoke to her this morning, and I don't want to hear any
more of your
 fault-finding. Do you understand?" And he ruffled his
neck feathers and stuck his
face close to that of the Dorking Cock. They stared
into each other's eyes for a
minute; then the Dorking cock, who was not so big and
strong as the Shanghai, shook
his head and answered sweetly, "It was rude of me. I
won't do it again."
From that day to this, nobody in the poultry yard has
ever spoken of the shiny egg,
and the Dorkings are much liked by the other fowls.
Yet if it had not been for her
trouble, Mrs. Dorking and her neighbors would never
have become such good friends.
The little Dorkings are fine, fat-breasted Chicks, with
the extra toe on each foot
of which all that family are so proud.
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