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Eugene Field


Once on a time an old red hen

Went strutting round with pompous clucks,

For she had little babies ten,

A part of which were tiny ducks.

" 'Tis very rare that hens," said she,

"Have baby ducks as well as chicks—

But I possess, as you can see,

Of chickens four and ducklings six!"

A season later, this old hen

Appeared, still cackling of her luck,

For, though she boasted babies ten,

Not one among them was a duck!

" 'Tis well," she murmured, brooding o'er

The little chicks of fleecy down—

"My babies now will stay ashore,

And, consequently, cannot drown!"

The following spring the old red hen

Clucked just as proudly as of yore—

But lo! her babes were ducklings ten,

Instead of chickens, as before!

" 'Tis better," said the old red hen,

As she surveyed her waddling brood;

"A little water now and then

Will surely do my darlings good!"

But, oh! alas, how very sad!

When gentle spring rolled round again.

The eggs eventuated bad,

And childless was the old red hen!

Yet patiently she bore her woe,

And still she wore a cheerful air,

And said: " 'Tis best these things are so

For babies are a dreadful care!"

I half suspect that many men,

And many, many women, too,

Could learn a lesson from the hen

With foliage of vermilion hue;

She ne'er presumed to take offence

At any fate that might befall,

But meekly bowed to Providence—

She was contented—that was all!