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The Farmyard Cock and the Weathercock

The Farmyard Cock and the Weathercock

There were two Cocks—one on the dunghill, the other on the roof. Both were conceited; but which of the two effected most? Tell us your opinion; but we shall keep our own nevertheless.

The poultry-yard was divided by a partition of boards from another yard, in which lay a manure-heap, whereon lay and grew a great Cucumber, which was fully conscious of being a forcing-bed plant.

"That's a privilege of birth," the Cucumber said to herself. "Not all can be born cucumbers; there must be other kinds too. The fowls, the ducks, and all the cattle in the neighbouring yard are creatures too. I now look up to the Yard Cock on the partition. He certainly is of much greater consequence than the Weathercock, who is so highly placed, and who can't even creak, much less crow; and he has neither hens nor chickens, and thinks only of himself, and perspires verdigris. But the Yard Cock—he's something like a cock! His gait is like a dance, his crowing is music; and wherever he comes, it is known directly. What a trumpeter he is! If he would only come in here! Even if he were to eat me up, stalk and all, it would be a blissful death," said the Cucumber.

In the night the weather became very bad. Hens, chickens, and even the Cock himself sought shelter. The wind blew down the partition between the two yards with a crash; the tiles came tumbling down, but the Weathercock sat firm. He did not even turn round; he could not turn round, and yet he was young and newly cast, but steady and sedate. He had been "born old," and did not at all resemble the birds that fly beneath the vault of heaven, such as the sparrows and the swallows. He despised those, considering them piping birds of trifling stature—ordinary song birds. The pigeons, he allowed, were big and shining, and gleamed like mother-o'-pearl, and looked like a kind of weathercocks; but then they were fat and stupid, and their whole endeavour was to fill themselves with food. "Moreover, they are tedious things to converse with," said the Weathercock.

The birds of passage had also paid a visit to the Weathercock, and told him tales of foreign lands, of airy caravans, and exciting robber stories; of encounters with birds of prey; and that was interesting for the first time, but the Weathercock knew that afterwards they always repeated themselves, and that was tedious. "They are tedious, and all is tedious," he said. "No one is fit to associate with, and one and all of them are wearisome and stupid."

"The world is worth nothing," he cried. "The whole thing is a stupidity."

The Weathercock was what is called "used up;" and that quality would certainly have made him interesting in the eyes of the Cucumber if she had known it; but she had only eyes for the Yard Cock, who had now actually come into her own yard.

The wind had blown down the plank, but the storm had passed over.

THE WEATHERCOCK.the weathercock.

"What do you think of that  crowing?" the Yard Cock inquired of his hens and chickens. "It was a little rough—the elegance was wanting."

And hens and chickens stepped upon the muck-heap, and the Cock strutted to and fro on it like a knight.

"Garden plant!" he cried out to the Cucumber; and in this one word she understood his deep feeling, and forgot that he was pecking at her and eating her up—a happy death!

And the hens came, and the chickens came, and when one of them runs the rest run also; and they clucked and chirped, and looked at the Cock, and were proud that he was of their kind.

"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" he crowed. "The chickens will grow up large fowls if I make a noise in the poultry-yard of the world."

And hens and chickens clucked and chirped, and the Cock told them a great piece of news:

"A cock can lay an egg; and do you know what there is in that egg? In that egg lies a basilisk. No one can stand the sight of a basilisk. Men know that, and now you know it too—you know what is in me, and what a cock of the world I am."

And with this the Yard Cock flapped his wings, and made his comb swell up, and crowed again; and all of them shuddered—all the hens and the chickens; but they were proud that one of their people should be such a cock of the world. They clucked and chirped, so that the Weathercock heard it; and he heard it, but he never stirred.

"It's all stupid stuff!" said a voice within the Weathercock. "The Yard Cock does not lay eggs, and I am too lazy to lay any. If I liked, I could lay a wind-egg; but the world is not worth a wind-egg. And now I don't like even to sit here any longer."

And with this the Weathercock broke off; but he did not kill the Yard Cock, though he intended to do so, as the hens declared. And what does the moral say?—"Better to crow than to be 'used up' and break off."

THE FARMYARD COCK AND THE WEATHERCOCK

The Farmyard Cock and the Weathercock

T
HERE were once two cocks; one of them stood on a dunghill, the other on the roof. Both were conceited, but the question is, Which of the two was the more useful?

A wooden partition divided the poultry yard from another yard, in which lay a heap of manure sheltering a cucumber bed. In this bed grew a large cucumber, which was fully aware that it was a plant that should be reared in a hotbed.

"It is the privilege of birth," said the Cucumber to itself. "All cannot be born cucumbers; there must be other kinds as well. The fowls, the ducks, and the cattle in the next yard are all different creatures, and there is the yard cock—I can look up to him when he is on the wooden partition. He is certainly of much greater importance than the weathercock, who is so highly placed, and who can't even creak, much less crow—besides, he has neither hens nor chickens, and thinks only of himself, and perspires verdigris. But the yard cock is something like a cock. His gait is like a dance, and his crowing is music, and wherever he goes it is instantly known. What a trumpeter he is! If he would only come in here! Even if he were to eat me up, stalk and all, it would be a pleasant death." So said the Cucumber.

During the night the weather became very bad; hens, chickens, and even the cock himself sought shelter. The wind blew down with a crash the partition between the two yards, and the tiles came tumbling from the roof, but the weathercock stood firm. He did not even turn round; in fact, he could not, although he was fresh and newly cast. He had been born full grown and did not at all resemble the birds, such as the sparrows and swallows, that fly beneath the vault of heaven. He despised them and looked upon them as little twittering birds that were made only to sing. The pigeons, he admitted, were large and shone in the sun like mother-of-pearl. They somewhat resembled weathercocks, but were fat and stupid and thought only of stuffing themselves with food. "Besides," said the weathercock, "they are very tiresome things to converse with."

The birds of passage often paid a visit to the weathercock and told him tales of foreign lands, of large flocks passing through the air, and of encounters with robbers and birds of prey. These were very interesting when heard for the first time, but the weathercock knew the birds always repeated themselves, and that made it tedious to listen.

"They are tedious, and so is every one else," said he; "there is no one fit to associate with. One and all of them are wearisome and stupid. The whole world is worth nothing—it is made up of stupidity."

The weathercock was what is called "lofty," and that quality alone would have made him interesting in the eyes of the Cucumber, had she known it. But she had eyes only for the yard cock, who had actually made his appearance in her yard; for the violence of the storm had passed, but the wind had blown down the wooden palings.

"What do you think of that for crowing?" asked the yard cock of his hens and chickens. It was rather rough, and wanted elegance, but they did not say so, as they stepped upon the dunghill while the cock strutted about as if he had been a knight. "Garden plant," he cried to the Cucumber. She heard the words with deep feeling, for they showed that he understood who she was, and she forgot that he was pecking at her and eating her up—a happy death!

Then the hens came running up, and the chickens followed, for where one runs the rest run also. They clucked and chirped and looked at the cock and were proud that they belonged to him. "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" crowed he; "the chickens in the poultry yard will grow to be large fowls if I make my voice heard in the world."

And the hens and chickens clucked and chirped, and the cock told them a great piece of news. "A cock can lay an egg," he said. "And what do you think is in that egg? In that egg lies a basilisk. No one can endure the sight of a basilisk. Men know my power, and now you know what I am capable of, also, and what a renowned bird I am." And with this the yard cock flapped his wings, erected his comb, and crowed again, till all the hens and chickens trembled; but they were proud that one of their race should be of such renown in the world. They clucked and they chirped so that the weathercock heard it; he had heard it all, but had not stirred.

"It's all stupid stuff," said a voice within the weathercock. "The yard cock does not lay eggs any more than I do, and I am too lazy. I could lay a wind egg if I liked, but the world is not worth a wind egg. And now I don't intend to sit here any longer."

With that, the weathercock broke off and fell into the yard. He did not kill the yard cock, although the hens said he intended to do so.

And what does the moral say? "Better to crow than to be vainglorious and break down at last."