Chapter 17




A SIGN OF RAIN


There was a terrible hubbub in the henhouse. The Rooster squalled so loudly that he waked up every hen in the place. And when they heard him crying that a skunk had knocked him off his roost they were as frightened as he was, and set up a wild cackle. All but Henrietta Hen! She knew there was no skunk there.

"Don't be a goose--er--don't be a gander!" she hissed to the Rooster. "I'm the one that bumped into you."

The Rooster quickly came to his senses.

"Don't be alarmed, ladies!" he called to the flock. "There's no danger. There's been a slight mistake." He pretended that he hadn't been scared. But he had been. And now he was somewhat uneasy about Henrietta Hen. He feared he was in for a scolding from her.

"If you had answered me when I spoke to you I wouldn't have left my perch in the dark," she told the Rooster severely. "When I moved to your perch to see what was the matter I blundered into you. And then you thought I was a skunk! You owe me an apology, sir!"

The Rooster was glad it was not lighter in the henhouse, for he felt himself flushing hotly.

"You must pardon me," he said. "I had no idea it was you, for you waked me out of a sound sleep."

"Sound sleep, indeed!" Henrietta Hen exclaimed with a sniff. "Why, you had been crowing only a few moments before. In fact it was your crowing that roused me."

"No doubt!" said the Rooster. "But you see, I fell asleep again immediately."

"Then you must be ill," Henrietta retorted, "for I've never known you to go to sleep again, once you've begun your morning's crowing."

"But it's not morning now," the Rooster informed her. "It's not even late at night--certainly not an hour since sunset."

Henrietta Hen was astonished.

"I noticed that the night seemed short," she muttered.

The Rooster thought it a great joke.

"Ha! ha!" he laughed. And he said to the rest of the flock, with a chuckle, "Henrietta thought it was morning! No doubt she'd have gone out into the yard if the door hadn't been shut." And the other hens all tittered. They always did, if the rooster expected them to.

Well, if there was one thing that Henrietta Hen couldn't endure, it was to be laughed at.

"Don't be silly!" she cried. "Why shouldn't I think it was morning, when he crowed almost in my ear?"

"Don't you know why I crowed?" the Rooster asked her. And without waiting for any reply, he said, "I crowed to let Farmer Green know it was going to rain to-morrow."

Of course Henrietta Hen had to have the last word. The Rooster might have known she would.

"Then," she observed, "I suppose you squawked to let him know there was a skunk in the henhouse."




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