Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Master Chanticleer and Dame Hen

O NCE upon a time, in the pleasant summer weather, Master Chanticleer and Dame Hen started out for the woods to gather hazelnuts. On the way they came to a brook. They tried to fly over it, but, splash, into the water fell Master Chanticleer.

Then Dame Hen ran about, clucking and crying, until at last she came to a farmer's house. Straight in at the dairy door she flew, crying: "Cluck, cluck, cut-ca-da-cut."

"What ails you, Dame Hen?" asked the Hand Churn.

"Master Chanticleer lies at the bottom of the brook," cried Dame Hen.

"Sad news, sad news," cried the Hand Churn, and it leaned against the dairy door and began grinding and groaning.

"What ails you, Hand Churn?" asked the Door.

"Sad news, sad news," cried the Hand Churn; "Master Chanticleer lies in the bottom of the brook. Dame Hen clucks, and I grind and groan."

"Ah, me," cried the Door, and it opened wide, and began whistling and slamming.

"What ails you, Door?" asked the Axe, from its post in the woodshed.

"Sad news, sad news," said the Door; "Master Chanticleer lies in the bottom of the brook, Dame Hen clucks, the Hand Churn grinds and groans, so I whistle and slam."

"Ah, me," cried the Axe, and it began chopping and rending with all its might.

"What ails the Axe?" cried the Goodman, who sat in the garden tying broom straws.

"Sad news, sad news," cried the Axe; "Master Chanticleer lies in the bottom of the brook, Dame Hen clucks, the Hand Churn grinds and groans, the Door whistles and slams, so I chop and rend."

"Ah, me," cried the Goodman, and he began tearing his brooms in sunder.

"What ails you, Goodman mine?" asked Goody from the kitchen where she was stirring the porridge over the fire.

"Sad news, sad news, Goody," said the Goodman; "Master Chanticleer lies in the bottom of the brook, Dame Hen clucks, the Hand Churn grinds and groans, the Door whistles and slams, the Axe chops and rends, so I tear my brooms."

"Ah, me," cried Goody, and she began throwing the porridge against the kitchen walls.

Now when Dame Hen saw all the strange things which were going on, how the Hand Churn was grinding and groaning, how the Door whistled and slammed, how the Axe was chopping and rending, how the Goodman tore his brooms, and Goody threw the porridge, she became frightened.

She ran as fast as she could, and never stopped until she came to the brook where Master Chanticleer had fallen in when he was looking for hazelnuts. What do you think she saw?

There on the bank sat Master Chanticleer, shaking and preening his feathers. He had not gone to the bottom of the brook at all, for a duck had been so kind as to help him out.

So Master Chanticleer and Dame Hen hurried to the farm together. They told the Hand Churn and the Door and the Axe and the Goodman and Goody that the sad news was a joke after all. And Goody gave them both some corn.


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