THE FARM-YARD COCK AND WEATHERCOCK 699
The wind had blown down the fence, but the storm had passed over. ^
1 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 came along like a knight.
' Garden plant! ' he cried out to the Cucumber; and in this one word she perceived all his extensive breeding, 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 might hear it; and he heard it, but he never stirred.
1 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.'