The Diary of a Goose Girl HTML version

Chapter 6
One learns to be modest by living on a poultry farm, for there are constant expositions of
the most deplorable vanity among the cocks. We have a couple of pea-fowl who certainly
are an addition to the landscape, as they step mincingly along the square of turf we
dignify by the name of lawn. The head of the house has a most languid and self-
conscious strut, and his microscopic mind is fixed entirely on his splendid trailing tail. If
I could only master his language sufficiently to tell him how hideously ugly the back
view of this gorgeous fan is, when he spreads it for the edification of the observer in front
of him, he would of course retort that there is a "congregation side" to everything, but I
should at least force him into a defence of his tail and a confession of its limitations. This
would be new and unpleasant, I fancy; and if it produced no perceptible effect upon his
super-arrogant demeanour, I might remind him that he is likely to be used, eventually, for
a feather duster, unless, indeed, the Heavens are superstitious and prefer to throw his tail
away, rather than bring ill luck and the evil eye into the house.
The longer I study the cock, whether Black Spanish, White Leghorn, Dorking, or the
common barnyard fowl, the more intimately I am acquainted with him, the less I am
impressed with his character. He has more pride of bearing, and less to be proud of, than
any bird I know. He is indolent, though he struts pompously over the grass as if the day
were all too short for his onerous duties. He calls the hens about him when I throw corn
from the basket, but many a time I have seen him swallow hurriedly, and in private, some
dainty titbit he has found unexpectedly. He has no particular chivalry. He gives no special
encouragement to his hen when he becomes a prospective father, and renders little
assistance when the responsibilities become actualities. His only personal message or
contribution to the world is his raucous cock-a-doodle-doo, which, being uttered most
frequently at dawn, is the most ill-timed and offensive of all musical notes. It is so
unnecessary too, as if the day didn't come soon enough without his warning; but I
suppose he is anxious to waken his hens and get them at their daily task, and so he
disturbs the entire community. In short, I dislike him; his swagger, his autocratic strut, his
greed, his irritating self-consciousness, his endless parading of himself up and down in a
procession of one.
Of course his character is largely the result of polygamy. His weaknesses are only what
might be expected; and as for the hens, I have considerable respect for the patience,
sobriety, and dignity with which they endure an institution particularly offensive to all
women. In their case they do not even have the sustaining thought of its being an article
of religion, so they are to be complimented the more.
There is nothing on earth so feminine as a hen--not womanly, simply feminine. Those
men of insight who write the Woman's Page in the Sunday newspapers study hens more
than women, I sometimes think; at any rate, their favourite types are all present on this
poultry farm.