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Chapter 18


Something was troubling Henrietta Hen. She seemed to have some secret sorrow. No longer did she move with her well-known queenly manner among her neighbors in the farmyard. Instead, she spent a good deal of her time moping. And no one could guess the reason. She didn't even care to talk to anybody--not even to boast about her fine, speckled coat. And that certainly was not in the least like Henrietta Hen.

Always, before, Henrietta had seized every chance to parade before the public. Now she seemed to crave privacy.

What was the matter? To tell the truth, Henrietta Hen herself did not know the answer to that question. That is to say, she did not know why a certain thing was so. She only knew that a great misfortune had befallen her. And she dreaded to tell anybody about it.

To be sure, there was old Whitey--a hen who had lived on the farm longer than any other. Most members of the flock often asked her advice. Even Henrietta herself had done that. But this difficulty was something she didn't want to mention to a neighbor. If there were only somebody outside the flock to whom she could go for help! But she knew of no one.

Then Henrietta happened to hear of Aunt Polly Woodchuck. The Muley Cow, who went to the pasture every day, mentioned Aunt Polly's name to Henrietta. According to the Muley Cow, Aunt Polly Woodchuck was an herb doctor--and a good one, too. No matter what might be troubling a person, Aunt Polly was sure to have something right in her basket to cure it.

"I'd like to see her," Henrietta Hen had said. "But I can't go way up in the pasture, under the hill."

"Could you go to the end of the lane?" the Muley Cow inquired.


"Then I'll ask Aunt Polly Woodchuck to meet you by the bars to-morrow morning," the Muley Cow promised.

That suited Henrietta Hen.

"I'll be there--if it doesn't rain," she agreed.

Early the next day she followed the cows through the lane. And she hadn't waited long at the bars when Aunt Polly Woodchuck came hobbling up to her. Being a very old lady, Aunt Polly was somewhat lame. But she was spry, for all that. And her eyes were as bright as buttons.

Henrietta Hen saw at once that Aunt Polly was hopelessly old-fashioned. She carried a basket on her arm, and a stick in her hand.

"Well, well, dearie! Here you are!" cried Aunt Polly Woodchuck. "The Muley Cow tells me you're feeling poorly. Do tell me all about yourself! No doubt I've something in my basket that will do you a world of good."

Arthur Scott Bailey

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