Read The Little Brown Hen Hears the Song of the Nightingale of The Little Brown Hen Hears the Song of the Nightingale & The Golden Harvest , free online book, by Jasmine-Stone-Van-Dresser, on ReadCentral.com.

A pompous old gander who lived in a barn-yard thought himself wiser than the rest of the creatures, and so decided to instruct them.

He called together all the fowls in the barn-yard, and the pigeons off the barn-roof, and told them to listen to him.

They gathered around and listened very earnestly, for they thought they would learn a great deal of wisdom.

“The first thing for you to learn,” said the gander, “is to speak my language. It is very silly for you to chatter as you do. Now we will all say, ‘honk!’ one, two, three, ’honk!’”

The creatures all tried very hard to say “honk!” but the sounds they made were so remarkable that I cannot write them, and none of them sounded like “honk!”

The gander was very angry.

“How stupid you are!” he cried. “Now you all must practise till you learn it. Do not let me hear a peep or cluck or a coo! You must all ‘honk’ when you have anything to say.”

So they obediently tried to do as he said.

When the little brown hen laid an egg, instead of making the fact known with her sharp little “cut cut cut-cut-ah-cut!” as a well-ordered hen should do, she ran around the barn-yard trying to say, “honk! honk!”

But nobody heard her, and nobody came to look for the egg.

The guinea-fowls way down in the pasture ceased calling “la croik! la croik!” and there was no way of finding where they had hid their nests. In the afternoon, when their shrill cries should have warned the farmers that it was going to rain, they were still honking, or trying to, so the nicely dried hay got wet.

Next morning chanticleer, instead of rousing the place with his lusty crow, made an effort at honking that could not be heard a stone’s throw away, and so the whole farm overslept.

All day there was a Babel of sounds in the barn-yard. The turkeys left off gobbling and made a queer sound that they thought was “honk!” the ducks left off quacking, the chicks left off peeping, and said nothing at all, for “honk!” was too big a mouthful for them; and the soft billing and cooing of the doves were turned into an ugly harsh sound.

Things were indeed getting into a dreadful state, and they grew worse, instead of better.

The hens forgot to lay eggs, the doves became proud and pompous like the gander, and as for the turkey gobblers, they kept the place in an uproar, for they thought they could really honk! and they never ceased from morning till night.

There’s no telling what it all would have come to if there hadn’t been one in the barn-yard, with an ear that could hear something besides the dreadful discords.

One night the little brown hen was roosting alone in the top of the hen-house. All at once she was awakened by the sweetest song she had ever heard.

She called to her chicks and to some of her companions to wake up and listen; but they were sleepy and soon dozed off again, so the little brown hen was left listening alone.

“I will ask the gander what this beautiful song means,” she said. “He knows everything.”

So she awoke the gander and asked him who was singing the beautiful song, and what it meant.

The gander said gruffly: “It is the nightingale. I do not know what her song means. She should learn to honk!” And he tucked his head back under his wing.

“Ah!” thought the little brown hen, “if learning the gander’s language does not help me to understand this beautiful song, I do not think it is worth bothering with. I shall never try to say ‘honk!’ again.”

So she went back to her roost and listened till the nightingale’s song ceased. Then she tucked her head under her little brown wing and went to sleep, her little heart singing within her.

At daylight she awoke, and hopping down sought her companions, eager to tell them the wonderful thing that was singing in her heart.

“This is a beautiful, simple world,” she cried, “and I have learned a very wonderful thing!”

But to her surprise, the creatures had no desire to hear what it was, for they were all in a flurry getting ready for their next lesson in honking.

“Indeed, you need not bother about honking,” cried the little brown hen, but nobody paid any attention to her.

So she called her chicks about her, and went her way, clucking merrily, while they picked up bugs, and dared to peep once more when they found a nice fat worm.

Meanwhile the class in honking made very little headway, for no sooner were they settled than they began to wish they knew what wonderful thing the little brown hen had to tell.

They craned their necks to watch her, and were filled with envy, seeing that she and her chicks feasted bountifully, with very little scratching, whereas they scratched in the barn-yard all day, and found only enough bugs to quarrel over.

“Indeed!” said one old rooster, “we have learned nothing about the best way of scratching for bugs, with all our gabbling.”

“I should be glad,” spoke up a duck, “to learn the wonderful thing that the little hen has learned, so I could keep from quarreling with my neighbors.”

They all grew quite uneasy, and the gander became very angry.

“Such a stupid lot I have never seen!” he cried. “I have a great mind to let you go your ways and not bother with you!” and thereat he dismissed the class in high dudgeon.

The first thing they all did was to take after the little brown hen.

“What is the wonderful thing you have learned?” asked the gobblers, shaking their red throats and looking very important.

“Oh!” said the wise little hen, “I learned it by listening to the nightingale, and so can you, I presume, if you leave off that silly honking. Just gobble as nicely as you can when you have anything to say, but first be sure it is worth saying.”

The turkeys wished the little brown hen would tell them and save them the trouble of listening, but as they had paid no attention when she offered, they had nothing to do but follow her advice.

So they stopped honking and did very little gobbling, for they found that they had not much of importance to say.

The ducks and the chickens and the doves all asked the same question, and the little brown hen gave them much the same answer:

“Just quack and coo and cluck as nicely as you can, and have a care to lay nice eggs. Attend very strictly to your own affairs, for I have found that one learns a great deal by listening.”

As they all took her advice, the barn-yard became a quiet, well-ordered barn-yard again, with only so much cackling and clucking, and so forth, as to give it a business-like air.

For each one was listening to hear when the nightingale came, and first thing they knew each one heard the same song as the little brown hen, for it was singing in all their hearts, and they understood it, whether they quacked or gobbled or cooed.

“It does seem that there’s a deal of talking these days,” said the little brown hen, “and it’s mighty hard to listen; but even if the old gander does honk every now and then, nobody need pay any attention to him, for, after all, it isn’t always those with the loudest voices that have the best things to say.”