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EARS--SHORT OR LONG
Henrietta Hen's heart began to thump. She dropped a bit of cabbage out of her bill, letting it fall as if it burned her. And usually she was very careful as to her table-manners. "Goodness!" she said to Jimmy Rabbit, who was busily munching cabbage in Farmer Green's garden. "You frighten me!"
He had just asked her this strange question: "Did you ever hear it said that eating too much cabbage causes long ears?" And Henrietta Hen didn't want long ears. She knew they would be sure to spoil her beauty.
Jimmy Rabbit had no time to say anything more to Henrietta Hen. Although he had not finished his luncheon he left the garden suddenly--and in great haste. For old dog Spot began barking just beyond the fence; and Jimmy Rabbit always wanted to get as far from that sound as he could.
When Spot scurried into the cabbage-patch a little later Henrietta Hen called to him.
"What is it?" he asked her impatiently. "I'm in a great hurry. I don't like to stop."
"This is a very important matter," said Henrietta Hen. "Do you like cabbage?" she demanded.
"Cabbage?" he repeated after her as a puzzled look came over his face.
"You needn't act so surprised," Henrietta told him coldly. "You didn't come running into the garden for nothing. And I have reason to believe that you intended to eat some of Farmer Green's cabbages."
"What's your reason?" old Spot inquired.
"You have long ears," said Henrietta.
"Nonsense!" cried Spot. "What a person eats doesn't make his ears either long or short."
"Are you sure of that?" Henrietta Hen wanted to know.
"I've never eaten cabbage in all my life," he declared.
Still she couldn't rid herself of her fears.
"Perhaps," she said, "if you had eaten it your ears would have grown twice as long as they are now."
He shook his head. "I don't think so," he muttered.
"There's only one way to find out," Henrietta announced. "Eat a lot of cabbage--all you can! And we'll soon see whether your ears are growing longer."
But old dog Spot refused flatly to do anything of the sort. He said that his ears suited him quite well, just as they were.
"What!" Henrietta cried. "Wouldn't you eat cabbage to oblige a lady?"
Old Spot said he was sorry; but he had no liking for cabbage.
"How can you tell if you've never tasted it?" she asked.
He made no answer to that question. Instead, he asked her one of his own.
"Would you like long ears?" he inquired.
"Certainly not!" she cried.
"How can you tell if you've never tried wearing any?" he demanded.
"Don't be stupid!" she snapped. "None of my family wears ears that can be seen. What a sight I'd be with long ears! Ears are very ugly things, and I only hope that I haven't eaten so much cabbage that mine will begin to grow.... Do you suppose they'd hang down like yours or stick up like Jimmy Rabbit's? He didn't say anything about that."
Old dog Spot let out a howl.
"Jimmy Rabbit!" he growled. "Was he talking with you just before I arrived?"
"Yes!" said Henrietta. "It was he that asked me if I had ever heard that eating cabbage made a person's ears grow."
"I might have known that it was that young Rabbit who put such a silly notion into your head," Spot grumbled. "If you hadn't stopped me I'd have stopped him by this time.... But it's too late now."
"You don't suppose he was joking, do you?" Henrietta inquired.
"Of course he was," said Spot--and none too pleasantly.
"Well," Henrietta mused, as she pecked at a cabbage-leaf, "I must say that I think the joke's on you."
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