The Diary of a Goose Girl
At ten thirty or so in the morning the cackling begins. I wonder exactly what it means!
Have the forest-lovers who listen so respectfully to, and interpret so exquisitely, the notes
of birds-- have none of them made psychological investigations of the hen cackle? Can it
be simple elation? One could believe that of the first few eggs, but a hen who has laid
two or three hundred can hardly feel the same exuberant pride and joy daily. Can it be the
excitement incident to successful achievement? Hardly, because the task is so extremely
simple. Eggs are more or less alike; a little larger or smaller, a trifle whiter or browner;
and almost sure to be quite right as to details; that is, the big end never gets confused with
the little end, they are always ovoid and never spherical, and the yolk is always inside of
the white. As for a soft-shelled egg, it is so rare an occurrence that the fear of laying one
could not set the whole race of hens in a panic; so there really cannot be any intellectual
or emotional agitation in producing a thing that might be made by a machine. Can it be
simply "fussiness"; since the people who have the least to do commonly make the most
flutter about doing it?
Perhaps it is merely conversation. "Cut-cut-cut-cut-cut-DAHcut! . . . I have finished my
strictly fresh egg, have you laid yours? Make haste, then, for the cock has found a gap in
the wire-fence and wants us to wander in the strawberry-bed. . . . Cut-cut-cut- cut-cut-
DAHcut . . . Every moment is precious, for the Goose Girl will find us, when she gathers
the strawberries for her luncheon . . . Cut-cut-cut-cut! On the way out we can find sweet
places to steal nests . . . Cut-cut-cut! . . . I am so glad I am not sitting this heavenly
morning; it IS a dull life.
A Lancashire poultry-man drifted into Barbury Green yesterday. He is an old
acquaintance of Mr. Heaven, and spent the night and part of the next day at Thornycroft
Farm. He possessed a deal of fowl philosophy, and tells many a good hen story, which,
like fish stories, draw rather largely on the credulity of the audience. We were sitting in
the rickyard talking comfortably about laying and cackling and kindred matters when he
took his pipe from his mouth and told us the following tale--not a bad one if you can
translate the dialect:-
'Aw were once towd as, if yo' could only get th' hen's egg away afooar she hed sin it, th'
hen 'ud think it hed med a mistek an' sit deawn ageean an' lay another.
'An' it seemed to me it were a varra sensible way o' lukkin' at it. Sooa aw set to wark to
mek a nest as 'ud tek a rise eawt o' th' hens. An' aw dud it too. Aw med a nest wi' a fause
bottom, th' idea bein' as when a hen hed laid, th' egg 'ud drop through into a box