THE HALF-CHICK. 31
"It is yonr own fault for going there," answered Medio Pollito. "I can't waste all my morning stopping here to help yon. Just shake yourself off, and don't hinder me, for I am off to Madrid to see the king," and hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, away stumped Medio Pollito in great glee, for the towers and roofs of Madrid were now in sight. When he entered the town he saw before him a great splendid house, with soldiers standing before the gates. This he knew must be the king's palace, and he determined to hop up to the front gate and wait there until the king came out. But as he was hopping past one of the back windows the king's cook saw him.
"Here is the very thing I want," he exclaimed, "for the king has just sent a message to say that he must have chicken broth for his dinner." Opening the window he stretched out his arm, caught Medio Pollito, and popped him into the broth-pot that was standing near the fire. Oh! how wet and clammy the water felt as it went over Medio Pollito's head, making his feathers cling to him.
"Water! water!" he cried in his despair, "do hare pity upon me and do not wet me like this."
"Ah! Medio Pollito," replied the water, "you would not help me when I was a little stream away on the fields. Now you must be punished."
Then the fire began to burn and scald Medio Pollito, and he danced and hopped from one side of the pot to the other, trying to get away from the heat and crying out in pain:
"Fire! fire! do not scorch me like this; you can't think how it hurts."
"Ah! Medio Pollito," answered the fire, "you would not help me when I was dying away in the wood. You are being punished."
At last, just when the pain was so great that Medio Pollito thought he must die, the cook lifted up the lid of the pot to see if the broth was ready for the king's dinner.
"Look here!" he cried in horror, "this chicken is quite useless. It is burned to a cinder. I can't send it up to the royal table." And opening the window he threw Medio Pollito out into the street. But the wind caught him up and whirled him through the air so quickly that Medio Pollito could scarcely breathe, and his heart teat against his side till he thought it would break.