Read CHAPTER IX of The Curly-Haired Hen, free online book, by Auguste Vimar, on ReadCentral.com.

MOTHER ETIENNE’S FORTUNE

When she woke up the good woman thought of her small fortune. She gave it for safe keeping into the hands of her lawyer, M. La Plume, while she was making up her mind how she should dispose of it. She wanted plenty of time to think it over. She had already decided to give Germaine a dowry, for the whole thing was largely owing to her. She knew that she and Petit-Jacques were in love.

“They will make a fine couple,” she thought, “and later on how pleased I shall be to have a nice family around me with dear children who will love and care for me.”

Then she thought of Pere Gusson the good old man could have no idea of all that had happened at the farm. He was going his rounds, selling his wares as best he could. It was three months since he had appeared, he would be back again before long he had already been away longer than usual.

And, sure enough, two days later Neddy announced his entrance into the courtyard with a loud bray. If his master was glad to see Mother Etienne who always received him so cordially, and who bought so much from him, the donkey fully appreciated the hours of rest and the good food he found in the paddock with the cows.

Mother Etienne went forward to meet the old man and gaily told him the whole story.

He, utterly astounded, could not at first believe it. He made her repeat the wonder over and over again. It certainly was a very curious thing. He had always known his ointment was effective, but as to making hair grow on a hen that was quite another thing. He was just petrified by it.

Mother Etienne told Germaine to serve some good cider, and all three drank to one another’s healths.

“That is not all,” said Mother Etienne, “I want you to have a share in my good fortune. That’s only fair. You have worked all your life, you must think of taking a rest. You have certainly earned it. Here is a check for $2,000 which my lawyer, M. La Plume, will cash for you. This sum, together with what you have saved, will be enough to buy a little house and garden and to keep you from want. If one is wise and knows how to manage, one can live here for very little.”

Father Gusson, quite upset and touched, could not find words to thank dear, kind Mother Etienne. It was as though he had unexpectedly won the big prize in the lottery. He could hardly believe his eyes and ears.

Soon he pulled himself together and began to calculate.

“I have a few savings, it is true, but I think it would be wise to take advantage of the fame of the ointment and double my small fortune. I hope that, thanks to the already widespread fame of Yollande, if (with your kind permission) I were to call my ointment, ‘Ointment of the Curly-Haired Hen’ I should have considerable success.”

“Not only am I quite willing, but I thoroughly approve of your idea and strongly advise you to carry it out,” replied Mother Etienne warmly.

No sooner said than done.

Father Gusson withdrew from the notary the sum, so fairly But generously given him, and spent his time henceforth in manufacturing (according to the recipe of his ancestors) the wonderful ointment. He filled a great quantity of jars of all sizes, and like the good business man he was, having adorned them with magnificent labels he doubled the price of the ointment and put on a trade mark so as to prohibit imitations. Then he bought a cart like Mother Etienne’s and harnessed Neddy to it. On the hood of the cart was a huge picture of a Curly-Haired Hen, and under it was the inscription, “Ointment of the Curly-Haired Hen.” Now the peddler could go his rounds, selling only this specialty, without need of further advertisement. The effect was magic. Doors, hitherto too often closed against him, opened wide at his coming and there was not a soul who did not buy quite a lot of it.

In a month and without effort, Father Gusson took in ten times more money than he had earned in all his long and hardworking life before.