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OFF FOR THE FAIR
It seemed to Henrietta Hen that the time for the fair would never come. She had begun to feel somewhat uneasy, because she had talked so much about visiting the fair with her children that it would be very awkward if she didn't go. So she was delighted one day by the noise of hammering and sawing that came from the workbench at the end of the wagon-shed. A merry noise it was, to Henrietta's ears; for she guessed at once what was happening. Farmer Green and his son were building a pen in which she and her family were to ride to the fair!
The news spread like fire in sun-dried grass. Henrietta Hen took pains that it should. She told everybody she saw that she expected to leave at any moment. And she began to say good-by to all her friends.
Since Henrietta didn't start for the fair that day, before nightfall she had bade every one farewell at least a dozen times. And when, the following dawn, Henrietta started the day not by saying "Good morning!" but by bidding her neighbors "Good-by!" once more, they began to think her a bit tiresome.
"What! Haven't you gone yet?" they asked her.
"No! But I expect to leave at any moment," Henrietta told them. She was so excited that she couldn't eat her breakfast. But her chicks had no such trouble. And perhaps it was just as well that Henrietta Hen had her hands full looking after them and trying to keep them all under her eye, and spick-and-span for the journey. Otherwise she would have been in more of a flutter than she was.
While Henrietta had an eye on her children, she tried to keep the other on the barn. And after what seemed to her hours of watching and waiting, she saw Johnnie Green lead the old horse Ebenezer out of the door, with his harness on. Henrietta promptly forgot her stately manners. She ran squalling across the farmyard and called to Ebenezer, "Where are you going?"
"I understand that I'm going to the fair," he told her, as Johnnie Green backed him between the thills of a wagon. "Once I would have been hitched to a light buggy, with a sulky tied behind it. But now I've got to take you and your family in this rattlety old contraption."
Henrietta Hen didn't wait to hear any more. She turned and hurried back, to gather her youngsters and bid everybody another farewell.
Amid a great clucking and squawking, Johnnie Green and his father put Henrietta and her chicks into the pen and placed it in the back of the wagon.
"We're all ready!" Henrietta cried to Ebenezer. The old horse didn't even turn his head, for he could see backwards as well as forwards, because he wore no blinders. He made no direct reply to Henrietta, though he gave a sort of grunt, as if the whole affair did not please him. He knew that it was a long distance to the fairgrounds and the road was hilly.
"She thinks it a lark," he said to the dog Spot, who hung about as if he were waiting for something. "She's lucky, for she won't have to go on her own legs, for miles and miles."
"That's just what I intend to do," Spot informed him. "They don't mean to take me. But I'm going to follow you, right under the wagon, where Johnnie Green and his father can't see me."
So they started off. And they had scarcely passed through the gate when Henrietta began to clamor in her shrillest tones. But nobody paid any heed to her. The wagon clattered off down the road. And old dog Spot smiled to himself as he trotted along beneath it.
"Henrietta just remembered that she forgot to put on her best apron," he chuckled.
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