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|Ozma of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
The Yellow Hen
|Page 2 of 5||
"How is my grammar?" asked the yellow hen, anxiously. "Do I speak quite properly, in your judgment?"
"Yes," said Dorothy, "you do very well, for a beginner."
"I'm glad to know that," continued the yellow hen, in a confidential tone; "because, if one is going to talk, it's best to talk correctly. The red rooster has often said that my cluck and my cackle were quite perfect; and now it's a comfort to know I am talking properly."
"I'm beginning to get hungry," remarked Dorothy. "It's breakfast time; but there's no breakfast."
"You may have my egg," said the yellow hen. "I don't care for it, you know."
"Don't you want to hatch it?" asked the little girl, in surprise.
"No, indeed; I never care to hatch eggs unless I've a nice snug nest, in some quiet place, with a baker's dozen of eggs under me. That's thirteen, you know, and it's a lucky number for hens. So you may as well eat this egg."
"Oh, I couldn't POSS'BLY eat it, unless it was cooked," exclaimed Dorothy. "But I'm much obliged for your kindness, just the same."
"Don't mention it, my dear," answered the hen, calmly, and began pruning her feathers.
For a moment Dorothy stood looking out over the wide sea. She was still thinking of the egg, though; so presently she asked:
"Why do you lay eggs, when you don't expect to hatch them?"
"It's a habit I have," replied the yellow hen. "It has always been my pride to lay a fresh egg every morning, except when I'm moulting. I never feel like having my morning cackle till the egg is properly laid, and without the chance to cackle I would not be happy."
"It's strange," said the girl, reflectively; "but as I'm not a hen I can't be 'spected to understand that."
"Certainly not, my dear."
Then Dorothy fell silent again. The yellow hen was some company, and a bit of comfort, too; but it was dreadfully lonely out on the big ocean, nevertheless.
After a time the hen flew up and perched upon the topmost slat of the coop, which was a little above Dorothy's head when she was sitting upon the bottom, as she had been doing for some moments past.
"Why, we are not far from land!" exclaimed the hen.
"Where? Where is it?" cried Dorothy, jumping up in great excitement.
"Over there a little way," answered the hen, nodding her head in a certain direction. "We seem to be drifting toward it, so that before noon we ought to find ourselves upon dry land again."
"I shall like that!" said Dorothy, with a little sigh, for her feet and legs were still wetted now and then by the sea-water that came through the open slats.
"So shall I," answered her companion. "There is nothing in the world so miserable as a wet hen."
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|Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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