THE BRAGGING PEACOCK
HE farmyard people will never forget
the coming of the Peacock; or rather
never forget the first day that he spent
with them. He came in the evening after
all the fowls had gone to roost, and
their four-legged friends were dozing
comfortably in meadow and pasture
corners, so nobody saw him until the
You can imagine how surprised they were
when a beautiful great fowl of
strutted across the yard, holding his
head well in the air and dragging his
train behind him. The fowls were just
starting out for their daily walks, and
stopped and held one foot in the air,
and stared and stared and stared.
did not mean to be rude, but they were
so very much surprised that they did not
think what they were doing. Most of them
thought they were asleep and dreaming,
the dream was such a beautiful one that
they did not want to move and break it
They had never seen a Peacock and did
not even know that there was such a
A Lamb by the pasture fence called to
his mother. "Ba-baa!" cried he. "One
cloud-birds is walking in the
farmyard." He was thinking of the
night of the
storm, when all the Sheep and Lambs
huddled together in the meadow and
clouds, and thought that they were birds
and dropped shining worms from their
Then the Peacock, who understood the
Sheep language perfectly, said, "Paon!
I am no
cloud-bird. I am a Peacock." He said
this in a very haughty way, as though to
Peacock were the grandest thing
the world, far better than having one's
home in the sky and bringing showers to
refresh the thirsty earth-people.
The Turkey Gobbler never could stand it
to have others speak in that way when he
around, so he thought he would show the
newcomer how important he was. He drew
his neck and puffed out his chest; he
pulled his skin muscles by thinking
them, and that made his feathers stand
on end; next he dropped his wings until
tips touched the ground; then he slowly
spread his tail. "Pffff!" said he. "I
no Peacock. I am a Turkey Gobbler."
The Hen Turkeys looked at each other
with much pride. They were a little
him themselves, but they liked to have
him show the newcomer that Turkeys are
important people. Their children looked
at each other and murmured, "Isn't the
Gobbler fine though? Guess the Peacock
will wish now that he hadn't put on
 But the Peacock did not seem to
feel at all sorry. He stood and looked
them all without saying a word, and they
all wondered what he was thinking. Then
Duckling who stood near him exclaimed,
"Look at his train! Oh, look at his
Everybody looked and saw all those
beautiful long feathers rising into the
and up they went, and spreading as they
rose, until there was a wonderful great
circle of them back of his body and
reaching far above his head. The
spread tail looked as small beside this
as a Dove's egg would beside that of a
"Paon!" said the Peacock. "I am no
Turkey Gobbler. I am a Peacock."
"Pffff!" said the Gobbler. Then he
turned to the Hen Turkeys. "My dears,"
"I think it is time that we walked
along. The children should not be
allowed to see
and speak with any stray fowl that comes
along. We cannot be
about that." Then he stalked off, with
the meek Hen Turkeys following and the
children lagging behind. They did so
want to stay and see the Peacock, and
thought the Ducklings and Goslings were
much luckier than they.
The Geese were delighted with the
newcomer, and hoped he would be quite
with them. They wished he were a
swimmer, but of course they could tell
look that he was not. He did not have
the trim, boat-shaped body that swimmers
have, and then, his feet were not
webbed. The Gander noticed that they
remarkably homely feet. He thought he
would remember this and speak of it to
Geese some time when they were praising
the Peacock's train.
The Drake was the first to speak
politely to the Peacock. "We are glad
to meet you,
sir," he said. "Will you be with us
 "Thank you," answered the Peacock.
"I have come to stay."
"We hope you will like it here. I'm sorry
to see you do not swim. We should
very glad of your company if you did.
You will excuse us if we go on to the
We are late already." He and all of his
family waddled away to the water. "A
fine-looking fellow," said he heartily.
"Even my cousins, the Mallard Ducks,
not such a beautiful sheen on their neck
feathers." The Drake was a kind,
warm-hearted fellow, and it never
troubled him to know that other people
handsomer than he.
The Geese were eager to reach the water,
too, but they could not leave without
asking one question. First they told
the Gander to ask it, but he replied
they wanted to know, they should ask it
for themselves. Then they hung back and
said to each other, "You ask him. I
can't." At last the Gray Goose stepped
 forward, saying, "Excuse us, sir. You
said that you were to stay with us, and
wish to know if you work for your
"I work!" cried he. "Paon! Never. The
farmer invited me here to be beautiful,
that is all."
"We are so glad," cackled the Geese, and
the Gander joined with them. "So many
the people here work. They are very
good, but not at all genteel, you
"And don't you do anything?" asked the
Peacock. "I thought Geese grew feathers
beds and pillows. It seems to me you
look rather ragged. Haven't you been
This was very embarrassing to the Geese.
"Why, yes," they said, "we do let the
farmer's wife have some feathers once in
a while, when the weather is warm, but
is very different from really working,
"Perhaps," said the Peacock. "If they
 want any of my feathers, they can
until I moult. Then you will see how
much they think of me, for whenever they
one of my train feathers (not tail, if
you please; every bird has a tail, but I
a train) they carry it carefully into
the house to be make into a duster for
parlor. I never give away any but my
cast-off plumage. I am very, very
that I do not have to work."
This impressed the Geese very much. "We
are glad to know you. Quite honored, we
The Peacock bowed his crested head, and
they bowed their uncrested and very
ones, and then they went to the river.
The Peacock thought them most agreeable,
because they admired him, and they
thought him the best sort of
because he didn't work. It was all
very foolish, but there are always
people in the world, you know, and it is
much better to be amused by it and a
 for them, than for us to
lose our tempers and become cross about
That was the way the Shanghais, Black
Spanish, Dorking, and Bantam fowls felt.
were polite enough to the newcomer, but
they did not run after him. The
used to laugh when the Peacock uttered
his cry of "Paon! Paon!" His voice was
harsh and disagreeable, and it did seem
so funny to hear such dreadful sounds
from such a lovely throat.
The Black Spanish Cock reproved the
Chickens sharply for this. "It is very
said he, "to laugh at people for things
they cannot help. How would you like to
have the Lamb follow you around and
bleat, 'Look at that Chicken! He has
legs! Hello, little two-legs; how can
you walk?' It is just as bad for you to
laugh at his harsh voice, because he
cannot help it. If he should say
silly things, you might laugh, because
he could help that if he tried.
ever again let me hear you laughing when
he is just saying 'Paon.' "
The Chickens minded the Black Spanish
Cock, for they knew he was right and
did not do rude things himself. They
remembered everything he said, too.
One day the Peacock was standing on the
fence alone. He did this most of the
He usually stood with his back to the
farmyard, so that people who passed
his train but not his feet. A party of
young fowls of all families came along.
Their mothers had let them go off by
themselves, and they stopped to look at
THE PEACOCK WAS STANDING ON THE FENCE.
"I do think you have the most beautiful
tail, sir," said a Duckling, giving her
little pointed one a sideways shake as
"Please call it my train," said the
Peacock. "It is beautiful and I am very
of it. Not every fowl can grow such a
train as that."
 "Oh, dear, no!" giggled a jolly
little Bantam Chicken. "I'd grow one in
minute if I could."
This made all the other young fowls
laugh, for they thought how funny the
brown Bantam would look dragging around
a great mass of feathers like that.
The Peacock did not even smile. He
never understood a joke anyway. He was
so busy thinking about himself that he
couldn't see the point. Now he cleared
throat and spoke to the Bantam Chicken.
"I hope you don't think that I grew my
train in a minute," said he. "It took
long, long time, although I kept all the
feathers going at once."
"Look at his crest!" exclaimed one young
Turkey in his piping voice.
The Peacock turned his head so that they
could see it more plainly. "That is a
crest to be proud of," he said. "I have
 never seen a finer one myself.
you noticed the beauty of my neck?"
"Charming!" "Wonderful!" "Beautiful!"
exclaimed the young fowls. Just then
of the spoiled Dove children flew down
from the barn roof and sat beside the
"What homely feet you have!" this Squab
exclaimed. "Are you not dreadfully
The young fowls thought this rude. Not
one of them would have said it. The
became very angry. "I know my feet are
not so handsome as they might be," he
"but that is no reason why I should be
ashamed of them. I couldn't help
that kind of feet. They run in my
family. I don't feel ashamed of things
The young fowls felt so uncomfortable
after this that they walked away, and
Squab flew back to the Dove-cote. For a
time nobody spoke. Then a Gosling,
 who had heard her mother talk about the
Peacock, said, "I should think he would
proud of his train, and his crest, and
his neck, and—and everything!"
"Everything except his feet," giggled
the Bantam Chicken, "and you know he
"I wonder if he could help having his
train, and his crest, and his neck,
everything?" said a young Turkey.
They all stopped where they were. "We
never thought of that!" they cried. 'We
never thought of that!"
"Let's go and ask the Blind Horse," said
a Duckling. "He is a good friend of
and he knows almost everything."
They stalked and waddled over to the
Blind Horse, and the Duckling told him
puzzling them. The Blind Horse laughed
very heartily. "So the Peacock is proud
having grown such a fine train and
crest, but he isn't ashamed of his
because he couldn't
 help having
those! There is no reason for either
of shame with the Peacock. He has just
such a body as was given him, and he
couldn't make one feather grow differently if
"I don't see what anybody can be proud
of, then," said a Gosling sadly; for,
see, she wanted to be proud of
"Be proud of what you have done
yourself," said the Blind Horse gently.
of keeping clean, or of telling the
truth, or of speaking pleasantly when
wrong. There are plenty of chances to
be proud in a good way, if one must be