HERE was only one Gobbler on the farm,
and he was so used to having his own way
that he never tried to make the best of
it when he couldn't, and sometimes he
became exceedingly cross. He was bigger
than the Cocks, the Hens, the Geese, and
the Ducks, so when they were in his way
and he gobbled a gruff "Move along,"
murmured "Oh, certainly," and scampered
away as fast as their legs would carry
The Peacock was larger than the
There were seven Hen Turkeys, timid, sweet-tempered people, who were fond of walking. They had never been known to answer back when the Gobbler scolded them, although at times he was very unreasonable. This was polite of them, but it made the Gobbler more careless than ever of the way in which he spoke. The Black Spanish Hen said it made her wattles tingle to hear him find fault with them. She wouldn't have stood it—no, indeed!
When the Black Spanish Cock heard her
say so, he shook his feathers and smiled
queer little smile, and said, "I
certainly know that she would not." The
fowls looked at each other, and the
The Black Spanish fowls were
kind-hearted and honest, and had fine
but they would not stand it to be spoken
to hastily by any one who was not very
bigger than they, and it was said that
the Cock had once—only once—but then,
it would be just as well not to tell
what the other fowls had heard about
family quarrel, for, after all, it did
not come very straight, the Pigs having
the Geese, and the Geese telling Ducks,
and the Ducks just mentioning it to the
Peacock, and the Peacock having spoken
of it to the
It was now late in the fall, and all the
Turkeys went walking together again.
would think that, after being separated
from the rest all summer and part of the
spring, the Gobbler would have been very
polite when he joined them, but no; he
Hen Turkeys are most loving mothers, and
in the early spring first one and then
another had stolen away to lay and hatch
her eggs. If a
Once the Hen Turkeys had talked about this when the Gobbler could not hear. "It doesn't seem right not to tell him," the youngest had said.
"Well, my dear," said another, "it is the only way we can do, if we want to save our eggs and raise our children. Gobblers always act in that way."
"Are you sure?" said the young Hen Turkey.
"Sure!" was the answer. "You wouldn't be
So the youngest Hen Turkey had changed
her mind and hidden her eggs like the
for, in spite of aching legs and all
that is hard in hatching eggs, Hen
always want to raise broods in the
springtime. When one of them had laid
eggs as she wanted to hatch, she began
sitting on them, and would not walk with
flock at all. One by one the
The Hen Turkeys were very sorry for him,
and often wished that he might watch
them the growth of their piping
darlings, to see the tiny feathers push
through the down and broaden and
lengthen until there was no down to be
feathers. It was too bad; yet that was
the way in all Turkey families, and the
Gobblers couldn't help disliking the
children any more than the
By another year the Gobbler would love the young Turkeys dearly. Even now he did not try to strike them, as he might have done a while before. They were afraid of him, yet down in their hearts the brothers all thought that when they were grown up they wanted to be just like him and strut around with their wings trailing, their tails spread, their necks drawn back, and their feathers ruffled. Then, they thought, when other people came near them, they would puff and gobble and cry, "Get out of my way!" They tried it once in a while to see how it would seem, but they were still slender and their voices were not yet deep enough. The sisters laughed at them when they did this, and that made them feel very uncomfortable. The long, limp red wattles that grew out between their eyes became redder and redder as they swung to and fro under their short, thick bills.
"Just wait," said one young fellow to another. "Just you wait until I am really grown up and strut before your sister next spring. I don't think she will laugh at me then." And he comforted himself by eating fully twice as much grain as he should have done.
The farmer's little girl came into the farmyard, and all the fowls stopped eating to look at her. She was so young that she had never before been out there alone. Her father had brought her in his arms, and she had laughed with delight and clapped her little hands when the farmyard people passed by her. Now she had slipped out of the house and stood in the sunshine smiling at every one. She came without a cap, and the wind blew her soft yellow curls around her rosy face. It fluttered her red dress, too, and the Gobbler saw it and became exceedingly angry.
"Red-red-red!" he cried. "Why in the
world did she wear red? I hate it!" He
stalked toward her in his most
disagreeable way, and you could tell by
brushing of his
The little girl turned to run as the big Gobbler came puffing toward her. In her fright she stumbled and fell, and he hurried forward to strike her. The Black Spanish Cock began to ruffle his neck feathers and stretch his head forward. He did not mean to have their visitor treated so. He ran between the Gobbler's feet and they tumbled over together. The little girl picked herself up and hurried into the house.
If the Gobbler was angry before, he was much more so after his fall. "What do you mean sir," he said, "by tripping me?"
"And what do you mean," said the Black Spanish Cock, "by knocking me over?"
"Pffff! You were under my feet."
"Erruuuu! You were over my head."
Now nobody had dared to disagree with the Gobbler in so long that he did not know what to make of it, and when the Shanghai Cock strolled over to help his friend, the Gobbler was fairly sputtering with rage. "Ah, Gobbler," said the Shanghai, "wonder what has become of the little girl? It was nice of her to come out here, and I wish she had stayed longer."
"I told her to get away," was the answer. "She had on a red dress. I chased her. I always have chased anybody who wore red, and I always shall. It's my way."
"Is it your way, too, to be cross whenever you feel like it?"
"Of course. I wouldn't be cross when I didn't feel like it," answered the Gobbler.
"Some of us are not cross when we do feel like it," said the Dorking Cock. "I am always happier for keeping my temper when I can."
"Pffff!" said the Gobbler. "That is not my way. I say right out what I think, and then I am all right again and forget all about it."
"Humph!" said the Bantam Hen. "I wonder if the other people forget as soon? It would do him more good to remember it and feel sorry. He needs a lesson." Then she stalked up to him, looking as brave as you please, although she was really quite frightened. "I never noticed it before," she cackled, "but the tuft of hairy feathers on your breast is dreadfully ragged. And what very ugly looking feet you have! If I were going to have any webs between my toes I should want good big ones like those of the Ducks and Geese, not snippy little halfway webs like yours. I hope you don't mind my speaking of it. I always say what I think. It's just my way, and I never remember it afterward." She gave a graceful flutter and a queer little squawk, and was off before the Gobbler got over his surprise.
Fowls do enjoy a joke, and now the
Dorking Cock took his turn. "I've always
wanted to know how you spread your tail
in that fashion. It's a good time to
He walked up beside the Gobbler and
pecked and pulled until three feathers
the ground. "Ah," said the
And so one fowl after another teased and troubled the Gobbler, and explained afterward that "it was just their way." Then they laughed at him and ran off.
It would be nice if one could say that
the Gobbler never again lost his temper,
he did, a great many times, for he
should have begun to master it when he
Chick. But one can tell truly that he
never again excused his crossness by
that "it was only his way." The
youngest Duckling in the