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Feeling as important as she did, Henrietta Hen liked to have her own way. She said that she couldn't be expected to do just as others wished.
"I'll take orders from nobody," she often declared. "And if I lay eggs for Farmer Green I shall lay them when and where I please."
Henrietta took special delight in laying her eggs in out-of-the-way places. She was never content to lay two in the same nest.
"If they left them for me perhaps I'd feel differently," she explained to her neighbors. "But Johnnie Green gathers every egg that he can find. And if he takes my eggs I'll make him hunt for them, anyhow."
The older, more staid hens shook their heads when Henrietta talked like that. They told her she was ungrateful.
"Farmer Green gives you a snug home and plenty of food," they reminded her. "And the least you can do is to repay him. You ought not to make trouble by hiding your eggs."
But Henrietta Hen couldn't--or wouldn't--agree with them.
"It's all very well for you to talk," she retorted. "If my eggs were undersized I shouldn't mind losing them as fast as I laid them. But I lay the biggest and finest eggs to be had. So it's only natural that I should like to have at least one around to look at--and to show to callers."
Now, there were plenty of other hens in the flock that laid eggs exactly as big--or even bigger--than Henrietta Hen's. Some of them told her as much. Yet it did them no good to talk to her. She wouldn't believe that there were any eggs in the world to compare with hers. So her neighbors learned after a while that they might as well let Henrietta Hen manage her affairs as she pleased. They couldn't help hoping, however, that somehow Farmer Green would find a way to outwit her.
"What can Henrietta Hen be so boastful about now?" the hens asked one another one day. "She acts as if she thought more highly of herself than ever."
They soon discovered the reason for Henrietta's unusually pompous manner. For she began to make calls on all her friends. And she invited everybody to come to her latest nest high up in the haymow.
"I've something there to show you," she said with an air of mystery. "You'll be surprised to see it."
Most of Henrietta's neighbors did not show any great curiosity to see the surprise. They smiled at one another. "She's laid another egg--that's all!" they whispered.
But there are always some that can't rest until they know everybody else's business. And it was lucky that Henrietta Hen hurried home to receive her callers, because she had a good many. They came even earlier in the afternoon than was strictly fashionable. And they came in a crowd, too. That, however, didn't bother Henrietta Hen. Nor could they have arrived too soon to suit her.
"Look!" she cried, when they reached her nest high up in the haymow. "Did you ever see anything to beat that?"
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