Mother Hunt's Chickens
Five years ago, come next summer, the old lady made a trip to Halifax,
in one of our Digby coasters, to see sister Susannah, that is married
in that city to Ted Fowler, the upholsterer, and took a whole lot of
little notions with her to market to bear expenses; for she is a saving
kind of body, is mother, and likes to make two ends meet at the close
of the year. Among the rest, was the world and all of eggs, for she was
a grand hand in a poultry-yard. Some she stowed away in boxes, and some
in baskets, and some in tubs, so that no one accident could lose them
all for her. Well, under the berths in the cabin were large drawers for
bedding; and she rotated that out, and packed them full of eggs in
wool, as snug as you please, and off they started on their voyage.
Well, they had nothing but calms, and light airs, or head winds, and
were ever so long in getting to town; and, when they anchored, she got
her duds together, and began to collect her eggs all ready for landing.
The first drawer she opened, out hopped ever so many chickens on the
cabin floor, skipping and hopping about, a-chirping, "Chick, chick,
chick!" like anything!
"Well, if that don't beat all!" said mother, and she looked the very
picture of doleful dumps. "I hope there is no more of them a-coming
into the world that way, without being sent for!" and she opened a
second, and out came a second flock, with a "Chick, chick, chick!" and
another, and another, till she pulled them all out. The cabin floor was
chockful of them; for the heat and confined bilge air had hatched all
the eggs that were in the close and hot drawers.
Oh, the captain, and passengers, and sailors, they roared with
laughter! Mother was awful mad, for nothing makes one so angry as
accidents that set folks off a tee-hee-ing that way. If anybody had
been to blame but herself, wouldn't they have caught it, that's all?
for scolding is a great relief to a woman; but as there warn't, there
was nothing left but to cry: and scolding and crying are two
safety-valves that have saved many a heart from busting.
Well, the loss was not great, though she liked to take care of her
coppers, too; it was the vexation that worried her. But the worst was
to come yet. When she returned home, the boys to Digby got hold of the
story; and, wherever she went, they called out after her "Chick, chick,
chick!" I skinned about half-a-dozen of the little imps of mischief for
it, but it only made them worse; for they hid in porches, and behind
doors, and gates, and fences, as seen her a-coming, and roared out,
"Chick, chick, chick!" and nearly bothered her to death. So she give up
going out any more, and never leaves home now. It's my opinion, her
rheumatism is nothing but the effect of want of exercise, and all comes
from that cursed "Chick, chick, chick!"