THE UNGRATEFUL HEN

       Once upon a time in the countryside, a hen had laid an egg right in the middle of a swamp, when suddenly she was spotted by a…no, no! One really can’t start the fable like this.

       Once upon a time there was an unhappy hen under a bridge…nooo. No!

       Once upon a time there was hen that was blind in one eye; she got such a shock from a fox that she turned all yellow…no, no!

      This is better: Once upon a time there was a polecat that

crept into a hen house and boorishly dived into the middle of a batch of hens. He grabbed a white one and positioned her properly with his paws, like a man on a cross. He was just about to open his mouth and bite her right between the eyes…when the hen opened her beak and made a proposition: “No, no wait, please don’t eat me, I beg you! I will lay eggs for you, eggs forever more…”

       “How could I not eat you? A polecat that doesn’t eat a hen?”

       “But…I’ll give you an egg a day, forever more!”

       “An egg a day? Hang on, let me think about it…you mean that you’re saying…you’re saying that you don’t want to be eaten, and that in exchange you would give me an egg a day?”

       “Yes, an egg a day, oh yes! So much the better for me and for you! You’ll see that it’s in your interest! So much the better for you, and for me. Let’s do it this way, like the peasant’s do; they aren’t stupid you know, and they even feed me! Whilst you wouldn’t have to give me anything and…and I would still give you the egg…so please spare me- I’m scared of dying!”

       “If that’s all it is, you needn’t be afraid as I’m going to eat you alive, and I promise you that you won’t feel a thing. But hang on…hang on. Ah! I understand, It’s in your interest not…not to be eaten, and to lay me…to give me an egg a day and…and…it’s in my interest as well. If I eat you, you’ll be dead, but if I don’t eat you, you’ll be alive and you’ll lay…”

       “Spare me, please spare me, it’s in your interest!”

       “But…hang on, hang on! Are you crazy? Are you really crazy?” said the polecat. “There is even the saying, which is true and says: “Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.” While you want me to give up a hen today for an egg tomorrow? You foolish thing, you really know nothing about life!”

       “Come, why not do like the peasants do…they even give food to have eggs! And if the peasants do it, then…!”

       “You mean, the peasants give…food…really? Oh alright then!” the polecat agreed. “But beware: I want eggs for the rest of my life! And…and I’ll only eat you when you die of old age: alright?”

       “Wha…wha…wha-at do you mean? Wha-at am I to do when I’m old and I can’t make eggs any longer?!”

       “Hey, you’ll steal them! You’ll steal them from the hen house! And now just shut up! Don’t start again, or I’ll eat you here and now! I must be crazy! This deal really is pro-fit-abl-eee for you!! Really profitable! If some big animal had made the proposition to me, even I would have laid eggs, even if I’m a polecat! And by Jove! I would have stuck a hen’s bottom to my behind! And just remember that agreements are made to be kept!”

       In the end the hen was forced to accept these monstrous terms, and the polecat went off on his way. After that the hen had to promptly deliver the eggs to the polecat every day, for a whole year.

       But one day while she was making her way along the road a fox surprised her! ” Oh God, oh God! Out of the frying pan and into the fire!” the poor creature exclaimed. But for her good fortune, she was a kindly, but oh so kindly fox!

       “Where are you going, my sweet hen? Aren’t you afraid of going into the woods?”

       “Cooock-a dooodle-dooo! Cooock-a-dooodle-dooo!”

the hen shrilled, quivering. “I’m going to see the polecat!”

       “The polecat? Are you crazy? He’ll only eat you! He’ll nibble away your breast and then do a nice job of cleaning your bones!”

       “I’m taking the polecat his eggs; I take them every day! It’s been a year now!” And she explained the whole ugly affair.

       “I’ll see to it!” said the fox. “It’s exploitation! It would have been better if you had been eaten! Just look at what that polecat is getting up to! And then… they say that foxes…!”

The fox was furious and stormed off to see the polecat.

       “You have the heart of a stinking rat that has the plague! It would have been fairer if you had eaten her! Her bottom is worn out from laying eggs for you.”

       “Eh?”

       “Worn out, worn out.”

       “What is it you want? We made a deal! It was her that

wanted it this way. How should I have known that they existed…all I do is dive into a hen house!”

       “A deal is a deal when it’s fair! It doesn’t matter who proposes it! And it seems to me that you have done well up till now. So that’s enough! Enough now! And beware: I am a fox!”

       “Okay, okay, calm down, just calm down. Alright, tell the hen not to bring her eggs anymore…listen, but can I eat her when she dies of old age?”

       “Whaaat? That’s disgusting!”

       “That was part of the agreement!”

       “Eh?…oh well, yes then! But, hey! Only when she really has died of old age!”

       The polecat acknowledged the fox with a bow, and the fox left.

       The hen jumped for joy when she heard how things had gone, flailing in the air; she even tried to fly! She smothered the fox with kisses and even wanted to give the fox her feathers! But the fox wanted nothing in return and only took one feather as a keepsake. After that they no longer saw each other for a whole year. However the hen no longer took eggs to the polecat, and had a lot of chicks!

       But one day a weasel who had heard the story, which by now was being told all over the place, grabbed hold of the hen and lay her out like a man on a cross and…

       The hen searched the whole wood for the fox, and found her! In a fluster she told the fox how a weasel had grabbed her and laid her down like a man on a cross, with two paws on her wings…and the other two on her paws…an egg a day…and how she had been forced to accept the same terms again…”What you gave to the polecat when…you will give the same to me!”

       “Ah, so that’s what she said? And tell me, who am I?”

       “You are the fox! the fox!” she laughed and fluttered around.

       “Say it out loud!”

       “The foox! the fooox! The foooox!”

       “Am I a fox?”

       “Yeeess!”

       “And you! You took egg after egg to that loathsome polecat for a whole year, and me? And me? I who am an honest fox never even got a sniff of one! Now honour the agreement you made! You only look for your friends when you need them! I’m a fox, and now I’ll act like a fox! The fooox! So from now on, every time you come into the woods you’ll bring an egg for me as well!”

       “But…but…do you think I…what can I do? Hoow…hoow, how can I bring two eggs a day when only one comes out? I only have one bo…”

       “Hey, no nonsense; you’ll just have to steal it from the hen house.”

       “But… but what if the farmer catches me?!”

       “That’s your fuc… your little problem!”

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