The Little Half-Chick

Read by Christopher Meloni

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"The Little Half-Chick"

Once upon a time there was a Spanish Hen who hatched some beautiful, little chicks. So fluffy soft, so downy yellow! One, two, three, broke from their eggs plump and fluffy. But when the fourth shell broke, out came a little half-chick! It had only one leg and one wing and one eye! Just a half chick.

Mother Hen did not know what to do with this little Half-Chick, and how she worried! Something might harm him, and Mother Hen tried to protect the little Half-Chick and keep him safe. But as soon as he could walk, he was the most stubborn thing you ever saw, worse than any of his brothers or sisters. He never obeyed, and he wandered wherever he wanted, hopping along with a funny little hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.

One day the little Half-Chick said, "Mother, I am off to Madrid to see the King in his castle. Good-bye."

Mother Hen tried everything she could think of to stop that little Half-Chick from such a foolish idea, but he just laughed at her naughtily.

"I want to see the King and so I will," he said. "This life is too quiet for me."

And away he went, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, over the fields.

After travelling a bit, the little Half-Chick came to a little brook that was caught in the weeds and in terrible trouble.

"Little Half-Chick," whispered the Water, "These weeds are choking me. I can't move. I am almost lost and I will disappear forever. Please, please move the sticks and weeds away with your bill and help me."

"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you. I am off to Madrid to see the King!" And though the brook begged and begged, the little Half-Chick ignored it and walked on, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.

A bit further on, the little Half-Chick came to a Fire smothered in damp sticks and in dreadful distress.

"Oh, little Half-Chick," sputtered the Fire, "these damp sticks are killing me. You are just in time to save me. I need air. Please, please fan me a little with your wing, I beg."

"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you. I am off to Madrid to see the King!" And though the fire begged and begged, the little Half-Chick just laughed and walked on, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.

When he had hoppity-kicked a good way and was near Madrid, the little Half-Chick came to a clump of bushes where the Wind was trapped. The Wind whimpered and begged to be set free.

"Little Half-Chick," gasped the Wind, "These twigs and leaves are strangling me. I can't breathe. You are just in time to save me. Please, please brush aside these twigs and leaves so I can catch my breath. Help me, help me, please!"

"Hah! The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I have no time to bother with you. I am off to Madrid to see the King." And off he went, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, leaving the Wind to smother.

Finally he came to Madrid and the palace of the King. Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, the little Half-Chick skipped past the sentry at the gate. Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, he crossed the court. But as he passed the windows of the kitchen, the Royal Cook spied him.

"Ah! Just the thing for the King's dinner!" she cried.

And as she seized the little Half-Chick by one of his wings and tossed him into a kettle of water on the fire, the Water rose over the little Half-Chick's feathers, over his head, into his eyes. Oh, no. He would drown! The little Half-Chick cried out, "Water, don't drown me! Stay down. Don't come so high!"

But the Water replied, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in trouble you would not help me," and he rose higher than ever.

Then the Water grew warm, hot, hotter, frightfully hot. And the little Half-Chick cried out, "Do not burn so hot, Fire! You are burning me to death! Stop!"

But the Fire replied, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in trouble you would not help me," and burned hotter than ever.

And just as the little Half-Chick thought he must suffocate, the Cook lifted the lid to look at the dinner.

"Dear me," she said, "this chicken is no good at all. It is burned to a cinder." And she plucked the little Half-Chick up by one leg and threw him out the window.

As he flew through the air, the little Half-Chick was caught by a breeze and lifted high, higher than the trees. Round and round he twirled till he was so dizzy he thought he must perish. The little Half-Chick cried out "Don't blow me so, Wind! Let me down!"

But the Wind replied, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in trouble you would not help me." And the Wind blew the little Half-Chick straight up to the top of the church steeple and stuck him there, fast!

And there he stands to this day, with one eye, his one wing, and his one leg. He cannot hoppity-kick anymore, but instead turns slowly round when the wind blows, always keeping his head to the wind, listening to what it says.