Once upon a time there was a hen whose name was Mrs. Specklety Hen.
She lived on a farm in company with a great many geese and turkeys and ducks and other hens, and they all belonged to a lady who fed them well, and treated them well, and knew them all by name.
Mrs. Specklety Hen liked to live on the farm. She liked the yellow corn that came out of the corncrib. She liked to take dust baths, and she liked to walk about the yard singing a song that nobody knows how to sing but a hen.
One day as she went about singing she thought to herself, "I must go and find a place to make a nest"; and she no sooner thought this than she started out. First of all she went to the barn, but the big double doors were shut tight, and she could not get in.
Then she tripped over to the house where the lady lived, and looked under it. "No, indeed," said she, "it is too cold and too damp under there. I shall go on the porch."
So up she hopped on the lady's porch, and the first thing she saw there was a ladder which reached from the floor to a little square hole in the top of the porch. "Up I go," said Mrs. Specklety Hen, and up she hopped till she came to the hole, which was a doorway large enough for you or for me to go through. Mrs. Specklety Hen went through very easily, and she found herself in a long room right next to the roof that had one little window to let the light in. In this room was an open trunk full of old clothes, a box full of papers, and a barrel full of hay. Mrs. Specklety Hen looked in the trunk, but she did not make her nest in there. She looked in the box, but she did not make her nest in there; but when she came to the barrel, the hay was so nice and so tempting that she jumped in, made her nest, and laid one beautiful egg in it.
Then down she flew from the loft in a
great hurry, calling as loudly as she
"Ca! ca-ca-ca-ca! ca," which meant in her language, "I've laid an egg! I've laid an egg! I've laid an egg!"
All the hens on the place heard it and they joined in at once, "Ca! ca-ca-ca-ca! ca. She's laid an egg! She's laid an egg! She's laid an egg!" till the news was spread far and wide.
The next day Mrs. Specklety Hen went
back to her nest, and again and again and
again, till there were as many eggs in the
nest as you have fingers on one hand. One,
two, three, four, five. Now in this house
where Mrs. Specklety Hen went each day,
there lived a little boy whose name was
Johnny-boy, and one day he said to his
"Mama, I believe I shall go out and
hunt for a hen's nest." So he took his cap
and ran out of the back door just as Mrs.
Specklety Hen flew down from the loft,
calling as loudly as she
"Ca! ca-ca-ca-ca! ca. I've laid an egg! I've laid an egg!"
"Oh, yes, Mrs. Specklety Hen," said Johnny-boy, "I know where your nest is." So he ran up the ladder and through the door in the top of the porch, and there he was in the long room next to the roof that had one little window to let the light in. He looked in the trunk—did he find anything there? He looked in the box—did he find anything there? And then he looked in the barrel—and what did he see? Five beautiful eggs in the nest! And did he take them all? No, he left one in the nest for a nest egg, and he put four in his cap and went carefully, oh, so carefully, down the ladder to mother's room. When mother saw the eggs she was so surprised! And she said:—"I must make a cake." And so she did, "with sugar and spice, and everything nice."
So he ran up the ladder.
The next day was Sunday and Johnny-boy and father and mother had the cake for dinner. "I'm glad I found that hen's nest," said Johnny-boy when he saw the cake, and when he had eaten his dinner he took a plate of crumbs to Mrs. Specklety Hen.