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
You can imagine how surprised they were
when a beautiful great fowl of
A Lamb by the pasture fence called to
Then the Peacock, who understood the
Sheep language perfectly, said, "Paon!
I am no
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
The Hen Turkeys looked at each other with much pride. They were a little afraid of 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 airs."
But the Peacock did not seem to feel at all sorry. He stood and looked at them all without saying a word, and they all wondered what he was thinking. Then a Duckling who stood near him exclaimed, "Look at his train! Oh, look at his train!" Everybody looked and saw all those beautiful long feathers rising into the air. Up 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 Gobbler's spread tail looked as small beside this as a Dove's egg would beside that of a Goose.
"Paon!" said the Peacock. "I am no Turkey Gobbler. I am a Peacock."
"Pffff!" said the Gobbler. Then he
turned to the
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 Drake was the first to speak politely to the Peacock. "We are glad to meet you, sir," he said. "Will you be with us long?"
"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
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
"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 of the people here work. They are very good, but not at all genteel, you understand."
"And don't you do anything?" asked the Peacock. "I thought Geese grew feathers for beds and pillows. It seems to me you look rather ragged. Haven't you been plucked?"
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 that is very different from really working, you know."
"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 made into a duster for
parlor. I never give away any but my
This impressed the Geese very much. "We are glad to know you. Quite honored, we assure you!"
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,
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
The Chickens minded the Black Spanish Cock, for they knew he was right and that he 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 time. He usually stood with his back to the farmyard, so that people who passed could see 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.
"I do think you have the most beautiful tail, sir," said a Duckling, giving her own little pointed one a sideways shake as she spoke.
"Please call it my train," said the Peacock. "It is beautiful and I am very proud 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 a minute if I could."
This made all the other young fowls laugh, for they thought how funny the little 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 always so busy thinking about himself that he couldn't see the point. Now he cleared his 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 me a 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. Have you noticed the beauty of my neck?"
"Charming!" "Wonderful!" "Beautiful!" exclaimed the young fowls. Just then one of the spoiled Dove children flew down from the barn roof and sat beside the Peacock.
"What homely feet you have!" this Squab exclaimed. "Are you not dreadfully ashamed of them?"
The young fowls thought this rude. Not one of them would have said it. The Peacock became very angry. "I know my feet are not so handsome as they might be," he said, "but that is no reason why I should be ashamed of them. I couldn't help having that kind of feet. They run in my family. I don't feel ashamed of things I can't help."
The young fowls felt so uncomfortable
after this that they walked away, and
Squab flew back to the
"Everything except his feet," giggled the Bantam Chicken, "and you know he couldn't help having them."
"I wonder if he could help having his train, and his crest, and his neck, and—and 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 mine, and he knows almost everything."
They stalked and waddled over to the
Blind Horse, and the Duckling told him
puzzling them. The
"I don't see what anybody can be proud of, then," said a Gosling sadly; for, you see, she wanted to be proud of something.
"Be proud of what you have done yourself," said the Blind Horse gently. "Be proud of keeping clean, or of telling the truth, or of speaking pleasantly when things go wrong. There are plenty of chances to be proud in a good way, if one must be proud."