The chickens ate fast and grew fast, and feathers came where down had
been. Chick-a-pick was the strongest of the whole family. He
certainly ate the most.
One day Hen-Mother said: "You are old enough now to take care of
yourselves. I am going to lay eggs. Chick-a-pick, you are the
biggest. Look after the others, and always remember that the strongest
should help the weaker ones."
At first the chickens could not understand the change. They followed
Hen-Mother as they had always done, and ran to be fed whenever they saw
her eating. "This will not do," she said. "You must learn to find
your own food, or you will never be ready to take your places in the
big world." At last she pecked them and drove them away from her, for
she was wise.
"Come with me," said Chick-a-pick to the others. "I will take care of
He found food for them, and called them to it as he had heard the Big
Rooster call to the hens. At night they huddled together for warmth in
their coop. It was then that they missed their mother most.
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" sang the Big Rooster from the top of the fence.
How Chick-a-pick wished he could do that! It was such a beautiful
song. The notes rang out so far that he felt sure they must be heard
all over the world. If only he could make a song like that!
"I will try," he thought.
He jumped on a tub. The others crowded round to look at him.
"What are you going to do?" they asked.
"I am going to sing like the Big Rooster," he said.
He flapped his wings and tried, but no sound came. Again he flapped
and tried. This time a sound came, but such a sound! He nearly jumped
off the tub with surprise at the queer noise. His brothers and sisters
ran away in a fright.
"Don't do that," they begged. "It is terrible. It sounds like a dog
"Perhaps it will be better next time," said Chick-a-pick. "I'll try
He tried again, whilst the others stood against the fence to watch.
Flap, flap, flap! "Adoo! Adoo!" he shouted. Oh dear! why wouldn't it
come right? It was really a very ugly noise.
"It is dreadful," said the others. "You will never be able to sing
like the Big Rooster, so you may as well give up trying."
"I shall go on trying," said Chick-a-pick, "for that is the only way to
learn. Go away if you don't like the noise. I am going to practise."
He practised. Presently the sound grew a little better. He practised
again the next day; the sound grew better still. He practised again
the third day, and at last, hurrah! out came a real "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
He did it again and again. Yes, there was no mistake. The song was
not so loud and clear as the Big Rooster's, but it was the real song
for all that. Some day it would grow more powerful.
The brothers and sisters heard him, and came to listen.
"Well done, big brother," said the sisters. "Now we see what comes of
"If you can do it, so can we," said the brothers. They jumped on the
tub and practised as he had done, and by-and-by they could all crow.