There were once a Rooster and a Hen who were very good friends. They always went about together like brother and sister.
The Rooster was headstrong and thoughtless and often did foolish things. The little Hen was very sensible and always looked after the Rooster as well as she could.
Whenever he began doing something foolish, she always said:
“Oh, my dear, you mustn’t do that!”
If the Rooster had always obeyed the little Hen he would be alive to this day. But, as I have told you, he was careless and headstrong and often he refused to take the little Hen’s advice.
One day in the spring he ran into the garden and just gorged and gorged on green gooseberries.
“Oh, my dear!” the little Hen cried. “You mustn’t eat green gooseberries! Don’t you know they’ll give you a pain in your stomach!”
But the Rooster wouldn’t listen. He just kept on eating gooseberry after gooseberry until at last he got a terrible pain in his stomach and then he had to stop.
“Little Hen,” he cried, “help me! Oh, my stomach! Oh! Oh!”
He was so sick that the little Hen had to give him some hot peppermint and put a mustard plaster on his stomach.
After that shouldn’t you suppose he would do what she told him? But he didn’t. As soon as he was well he was just as careless and disobedient as before.
One day he went out to the meadow and he just ran and ran and ran until he got all overheated and perspired. Then he went down to the brook and began drinking cold water.
“Oh, my dear,” the little Hen cried, “you mustn’t drink cold water while you’re overheated! Wait and cool off!”
But would the Rooster wait and cool off? No! He just drank that cold water and drank it until he could drink no more.
Then he got a chill and the poor little Hen had to drag him home and put him to bed and run for the Doctor.
The Doctor gave him bitter medicine and he didn’t get well for a long time. In fact it was winter before he got out of the house again.
Now shouldn’t you suppose that after all this the Rooster would never again disobey the little Hen? If only he had he would be alive to this day. Listen, now, to what happened:
One morning when he got up, he saw that ice was beginning to form on the river.
“Goody! Goody!” he cried. “Now I can go sliding on the ice!”
“Oh, my dear,” the little Hen said, “you mustn’t go sliding on the ice yet! It’s dangerous! Wait a few days until it’s frozen harder and then go sliding.”
But would the Rooster listen to the little Hen? No! He just insisted on running out that very moment and sliding on the thin ice.
And do you know what happened?
The ice broke and he fell in the river and, before the little Hen could get help, he was drowned!
And it was all his own fault, too, for the little Hen had begged him to wait until the ice was safer.