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THE ROOSTER UPSET
During the summer Henrietta Hen roamed about the farmyard as she pleased. To be sure, she always came a-running at feeding time. But except when there was something there to eat, she didn't go near the henhouse. She "stole her nest," to use Johnnie Green's words, now in one place and now in another. And at night she roosted on any handy place in the barn or the haymow, under the carriage-shed or even over the pigpens.
However, when the nights began to grow chilly Henrietta was glad enough to creep into the henhouse with her companions. She always retired early. And being a good sleeper, she slept usually until the Rooster began to crow towards dawn. Of course now and then some fidgetty hen fancied that she heard a fox prowling about and waked everybody else with her squalls.
Such interruptions upset Henrietta. After the flock had gone to sleep again Henrietta Hen was more than likely to dream that Fatty Coon was in the henhouse. And she would squawk right out and start another commotion.
Luckily such disturbances didn't happen every night. Often nothing occurred to break the silence of the henhouse. And Henrietta would dream only of pleasant things, such as cracked corn, or crisp cabbage-leaves, or bone meal. After dreams of that sort Henrietta couldn't always be sure, when the Rooster waked her with his crowing, that she hadn't already breakfasted. But she would peck at her breakfast, when feeding time came, and if it tasted good she would know then that the other food had been nothing but a dream.
One night, soon after she had gone back to roost in the henhouse, it seemed to Henrietta that she had scarcely fallen asleep when the Rooster crowed.
She awoke with a start.
"Goodness!" she exclaimed under her breath. "I must have slept soundly, for I haven't dreamed a single dream all night long." Then she noticed that none of the other hens had stirred. "Lazy bones!" Henrietta remarked to the Rooster. "You won't get 'em up in a hurry. They, don't hear you at all."
To her surprise she received no answer.
"He couldn't have heard me," she said to herself. So she repeated her speech in a louder tone. And still the Rooster made no reply. Henrietta couldn't understand it, he was always so polite to the ladies. Could it be that he was snubbing her?
Henrietta grew a bit angry as that thought popped into her head.
"What's the matter?" she snapped. "Have you lost your voice? It was loud enough to wake me up a few moments ago."
Receiving no response whatsoever, Henrietta completely lost her temper. "I'll see what's wrong with you!" she cackled. And throwing herself off her roost, though it was dark as a pocket in the henhouse, she flung herself upon the perch just opposite, where she knew the Rooster had slept.
It was no wonder that Henrietta Hen blundered in the dark. It was no wonder that she missed her way and stumbled squarely into the Rooster, knocking him headlong on the floor.
He set up a terrible clamor. And he made Henrietta Hen angrier than ever, for he cried out in a loud voice something that would have displeased anybody. "A skunk is after me!" he bawled.
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