The Diary of a Goose Girl HTML version

Chapter 11
July 16th.
Phoebe and I have been to a Hen Conference at Buffington. It was for the purpose of
raising the standard of the British Hen, and our local Countess, who is much interested in
poultry, was in the chair.
It was a very learned body, but Phoebe had coached me so well that at the noon recess I
could talk confidently with the members, discussing the various advantages of True and
Crossed Minorcas, Feverels, Andalusians, Cochin Chinas, Shanghais, and the White
Leghorn. (Phoebe, when she pronounces this word, leaves out the "h" and bears down
heavily on the last syllable, so that it rhymes with begone!)
As I was sitting under the trees waiting for Phoebe to finish some shopping in the village,
a travelling poultry-dealer came along and offered to sell me a silver Wyandotte pullet
and cockerel. This was a new breed to me and I asked the price, which proved to be more
than I should pay for a hat in Bond Street. I hesitated, thinking meantime what a
delightful parting gift they would be for Phoebe; I mean if we ever should part, which
seems more and more unlikely, as I shall never leave Thornycroft until somebody comes
properly to fetch me; indeed, unless the "fetching" is done somewhat speedily I may
decline to go under any circumstances. My indecision as to the purchase was finally
banished when the poultryman asserted that the fowls had clear open centres all over,
black lacing entirely round the white centres, were free from white edging, and each had
a cherry-red eye. This catalogue of charms inflamed my imagination, though it gave me
no mental picture of a silver Wyandotte fowl, and I paid the money while the dealer
crammed the chicks, squawking into my five-o'clock tea-basket.
The afternoon session of the conference was most exciting, for we reached the subject of
imported eggs, an industry that is assuming terrifying proportions. The London hotel egg
comes from Denmark, it seems,--I should think by sailing vessel, not steamer, but I may
be wrong. After we had settled that the British Hen should be protected and encouraged,
and agreed solemnly to abstain from Danish eggs in any form, and made a resolution
stating that our loyalty to Queen Alexandra would remain undiminished, we argued the
subject of hen diet. There was a great difference of opinion here and the discussion was
heated; the honorary treasurer standing for pulped mangold and flint grit, the chair
insisting on barley meal and randans, while one eloquent young woman declared, to loud
cries of "'Ear, 'ear!" that rice pudding and bone chips produce more eggs to the square
hen than any other sort of food. Impassioned orators arose here and there in the audience
demanding recognition for beef scraps, charcoal, round corn or buckwheat. Foods were
regarded from various standpoints: as general invigorators, growth assisters, and egg
producers. A very handsome young farmer carried off final honours, and proved to the
satisfaction of all the feminine poultry-raisers that green young hog bones fresh cut in the