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Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-Cock by Hans Christian Andersen

 

THERE were two cocks- one on the dung-hillthe other on the roof. They wereboth arrogantbut which of the two rendered most service? Tell us your opinion-we'll keep to ours just the same though.

The poultry yard was divided by some planks from another yard in which therewas a dung-hilland on the dung-hill lay and grew a large cucumber which wasconscious of being a hot-bed plant.

"One is born to that" said the cucumber to itself. "Not allcan be born cucumbers; there must be other thingstoo. The hensthe ducksandall the animals in the next yard are creatures too. Now I have a great opinionof the yard cock on the plank; he is certainly of much more importance than theweather-cock who is placed so high and can't even creakmuch less crow. Thelatter has neither hens nor chicksand only thinks of himself and perspiresverdigris. Nothe yard cock is really a cock! His step is a dance! His crowingis musicand wherever he goes one knows what a trumpeter is like! If he wouldonly come in here! Even if he ate me up stumpstalkand alland I had todissolve in his bodyit would be a happy death" said the cucumber.

In the night there was a terrible storm. The henschicksand even the cocksought shelter; the wind tore down the planks between the two yards with acrash; the tiles came tumbling downbut the weather-cock sat firm. He did noteven turn roundfor he could not; and yet he was young and freshly castbutprudent and sedate. He had been born oldand did not at all resemble the birdsflying in the air- the sparrowsand the swallows; nohe despised themthesemean little piping birdsthese common whistlers. He admitted that the pigeonslarge and white and shining like mother-o'-pearllooked like a kind ofweather-cock; but they were fat and stupidand all their thoughts andendeavours were directed to filling themselves with foodand besidesthey weretiresome things to converse with. The birds of passage had also paid theweather-cock a visit and told him of foreign countriesof airy caravans androbber stories that made one's hair stand on end. All this was new andinteresting; that isfor the first timebut afterwardsas the weather-cockfound outthey repeated themselves and always told the same storiesand that'svery tediousand there was no one with whom one could associatefor one andall were stale and small-minded.

"The world is no good!" he said. "Everything in it is sostupid."

The weather-cock was puffed upand that quality would have made himinteresting in the eyes of the cucumber if it had known itbut it had eyes onlyfor the yard cockwho was now in the yard with it.

The wind had blown the planksbut the storm was over.

"What do you think of that crowing?" said the yard cock to the hensand chickens. "It was a little rough- it wanted elegance."

And the hens and chickens came up on the dung-hilland the cock struttedabout like a lord.

"Garden plant!" he said to the cucumberand in that one word hisdeep learning showed itselfand it forgot that he was pecking at her and eatingit up. "A happy death!"

The hens and the chickens camefor where one runs the others run too; theycluckedand chirpedand looked at the cockand were proud that he was oftheir kind.

"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" he crowed"the chickens will grow upinto great hens at onceif I cry it out in the poultry-yard of the world!"

And hens and chicks clucked and chirpedand the cock announced a great pieceof news.

"A cock can lay an egg! And do you know what's in that egg? A basilisk.No one can stand the sight of such a thing; people know thatand now you knowit too- you know what is in meand what a champion of all cocks I am!"

With that the yard cock flapped his wingsmade his comb swell upand crowedagain; and they all shudderedthe hens and the little chicks- but they werevery proud that one of their number was such a champion of all cocks. Theyclucked and chirped till the weather-cock heard; he heard it; but he did notstir.

"Everything is very stupid" the weather-cock said to himself."The yard cock lays no eggsand I am too lazy to do so; if I likedIcould lay a wind-egg. But the world is not worth even a wind-egg. Everything isso stupid! I don't want to sit here any longer."

With that the weather-cock broke off; but he did not kill the yard cockalthough the hens said that had been his intention. And what is the moral?"Better to crow than to be puffed up and break off! - -

THE END




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