WHEN I was a little girl I lived on a farm where there were a great many chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and among them was a brown hen named Yellow Foot, who wanted very much to have a nice family of little yellow chickens, and she knew if she laid one egg every day until there were twelve eggs, and then sat on them patiently three weeks, she would have twelve dear little chicks. So she laid a nice white egg every day, but she could never get twelve, for the cook took the egg away every day, so old Yellow Foot felt very sad.
Now another hen, named Tufty, thought it would be nice to have little chickens, too; but she was very smart, and found a place away off, that the cook didn't know about, and there she laid her eggs, and one day she surprised all the other hens by walking into the chicken-yard with twelve little chickens toddling after her. Now I had learned how sorry Yellow Foot felt because she had no little chickens, and when I saw Tufty walking about so proudly with her twelve, I felt very sorry indeed for Yellow Foot.
Well, that very afternoon something very funny happened. I was walking about the farm, and I found in the corner of a rail fence a turkey sitting on some eggs, and running around her was a little lonely chicken, just out of its shell, making such a pitiful peep, peep, I took it up in my apron and ran and asked one of the men what it could mean; he said that a hen's egg had by mistake been put with the turkey's eggs, and it takes just a week longer for turkeys' eggs to hatch than it does for the hen's eggs. The poor little chicken had come out of its shell a week before there was any one to take care of it. When I heard that, I thought, "Poor little chicken, what will you do, for I don't know how to take care of you at all, and it will be a week before that ugly turkey gets ready to do it, and you'll be dead by that time." And then suddenly I thought, "Why, this little chick is just as old as the twelve that were hatched this morning. I'll take it to the chicken-yard and set it down among them, and Tufty will take care of it;" so I ran to the chicken-yard and put it with the other little chicks, and it ran after Tufty jest like the others; but you can't believe how badly Tufty acted; the minute she heard the strange little "peep" with the twelve other little "peeps," she turned around and stood still a minute, and then all her feathers stuck out, and she bobbed her head, and then she pounced on my poor little chicken and gave it an awful pick. Wasn't it cruel? I didn't know what to do. I was afraid to go near Tufty, because she would think that I was going to catch her little chicks, and I knew she would try to peck me just as she did my poor little chicken. While I was thinking, she flew at it again and gave it another peek. This time I didn't stop to think, but I jumped and caught it, and ran before Tufty could catch me. I ran till I felt quite safe, and then sat down on the kitchen door-step, with my poor chicken in my apron, and cried. I think I must have cried pretty loud, because mother heard me and came out. When I told her all about it, she said:
"Why didn't you try old Yellow Foot?"
At that I jumped up and clapped my hands with delight, and my poor little chicken dropped on the grass, but it didn't hurt it, and I put it carefully in my apron and went to the chicken-yard again to try mother's plan. I had a hard time finding old Yellow Foot, but finally I came upon her, looking very doleful in the bottom of a barrel. I poked her with a stick, but she would not come out. At last I turned the barrel over and she had to come out. She looked very angry, and made a great deal of noise about it. I waited until she got out, and then put my little chicken down by her, and oh! you should have seen her then; she looked at it a minute, and when it "peeped," she gave a quiet little cluck, just as if she was trying to see how it sounded, and then the little chicken "peeped" again, and Yellow Foot clucked again, and walked around, and the chicken followed her. So my little chicken had found some one to take care of her, and I named her Lucky, right away, and oh, how proud Yellow Foot was! She strutted everywhere with her odd chick, and all the love. and care she was going to give the twelve she gave to this one. She scratched for it, and clucked for it, and fought for it, and gave it all the warm cover of her wings at night; little Lucky seemed to know that she had all the care that was meant for twelve, for she was the happiest little chick that ever lived.
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If a task is once begun,
Never leave it till it's done;
Be the labor great or small,
Do it well, or not at all.
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen