THERE was once a cock who had a whole farm-yard of hens to look after and manage; and among them was a tiny little crested hen. She thought she was altogether too grand to be in company with the other hens, for they looked so old and shabby; she wanted to go out and strut about all by herself, so that people could see how fine she was, and admire her pretty crest and beautiful plumage.
So one day when all the hens were strutting about on the dust-heap and showing themselves off and picking and clucking, as they were wont to do, this desire seized her, and she began to cry:
"Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, over the fence! cluck, cluck, cluck, over the fence!" and wanted to get away.
The cock stretched his neck and shook his comb and feathers, and cried:
"Go not there!" And all the old hens cackled:
"Go--go--go--go not there!"
But she set off for all that; and was not a little proud when she got away, and could go about pluming and showing herself off quite by herself.
Just then a hawk began to fly round in a circle above her, and all of a sudden he swooped down upon her. The cock, as he stood on top of the dust-heap stretching his neck and peering first with one eye and then with the other, had long noticed him, and cried with all his might:
"Come, come, come and help! Come, come, come and help!" till the people came running to see what was the matter. They frightened the hawk so that he let go the hen, and had to be satisfied with her tuft and her finest feathers, which he had plucked from her. And then, you may be sure, she lost no time in running home; she stretched her neck, and tripped along, crying:
"See, see, see, see how I look! See, see, see, see how I look!"
The cock came up to her in his dignified way, drooped one of his wings, and said:
"Didn't I tell you?"
From that time the hen did not consider herself too good to be in the company of the old hens on the dust-heap.