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Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

Pomona Once More

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"O!" said she, "you don't look at the matter in the right light. You haven't studied it up as I have. Now, just let me show you how this thing will pay, if carried on properly." Producing a piece of paper covered with figures, she continued: "I begin with ten hens-- I got four common ones, because it would make it easier to calculate. After a while, I set these ten hens on thirteen eggs each; three of these eggs will probably spoil,--that leaves ten chickens hatched out. Of these, I will say that half die, that will make five chickens for each hen; you see, I leave a large margin for loss. This makes fifty chickens, and when we add the ten hens, we have sixty fowls at the end of the first year. Next year I set these sixty and they bring up five chickens each,--I am sure there will be a larger proportion than this, but I want to be safe,--and that is three hundred chickens; add the hens, and we have three hundred and sixty at the end of the second year. In the third year, calculating in the same safe way, we shall have twenty-one hundred and sixty chickens; in the fourth year there will be twelve thousand nine hundred and sixty, and at the end of the fifth year, which is as far as I need to calculate now, we shall have sixty-four thousand and eight hundred chickens. What do you think of that? At seventy-five cents apiece,--a very low price,--that would be forty-eight thousand and six hundred dollars. Now, what is the petty cost of a fence, and a few coops, by the side of a sum like that?"

"Nothing at all," I answered. "It is lost like a drop in the ocean. I hate, my dear, to interfere in any way with such a splendid calculation as that, but I would like to ask you one question."

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"Oh, of course," she said, "I suppose you are going to say something about the cost of feeding all this poultry. That is to come out of the chickens supposed to die. They won't die. It is ridiculous to suppose that each hen will bring up but five chickens. The chickens that will live, out of those I consider as dead, will more than pay for the feed."

"That is not what I was going to ask you, although of course it ought to be considered. But you know you are only going to set common hens, and you do not intend to raise any. Now, are those four hens to do all the setting and mother-work for five years, and eventually bring up over sixty-four thousand chickens?"

"Well, I DID make a mistake there," she said, coloring a little. "I'll tell you what I'll do; I'll set every one of my hens every year."

"But all those chickens may not be hens. You have calculated that every one of them would set as soon as it was old enough."

She stopped a minute to think this over.

"Two heads are better than one, I see," she said, directly. "I'll allow that one-half of all the chickens are roosters, and that will make the profits twenty-four thousand three hundred dollars--more than enough to buy this place."

"Ever so much more," I cried. "This Rudder Grange is ours!"

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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