How the Speckled Hen Got Her Speckles
Once upon a time, ages and ages ago, there was a little white hen. One day she was busily engaged in scratching the soil to find worms and insects for her breakfast. As she worked she sang over and over again her little crooning song, "Quirrichi, quirrichi, quirrichi." Suddenly she noticed a tiny piece of paper lying on the ground. "Quirrichi, quirrichi, what luck!" she said to herself. "This must be a letter. One time when the king, the great ruler of our country, held his court in the meadow close by, many people brought him letters and laid them at his feet. Now I, too, even I, the little white hen, have a letter. I am going to carry my letter to the king."
The next morning the little white hen started bravely out on her long journey. She carried the letter very carefully in her little brown basket. It was a long distance to the royal palace where the king lived. The little white hen had never been so far from home in all her life.
After a while she met a friendly fox. Foxes and little white hens are not usually very good friends, you know, but this fox was a friend of the little white hen. Once upon a time she had helped the fox to escape from a trap and the fox had never forgotten her kindness to him.
"O, little white hen, where are you going?" asked the fox.
"Quirrichi, quirrichi," replied the little white hen, "I am going to the royal palace to carry a letter to the king."
"Indeed, little white hen," said the fox, "I should like to go with you. Give me your permission to accompany you on your journey."
"I shall be glad to have you go with me," said the little white hen. "It is a very long journey to the royal palace where the king lives. Wouldn't you like me to carry you in my little brown basket?"
The fox climbed into the little brown basket. After the little white hen had gone on for some distance farther she met a river. Once upon a time the little white hen had done the river a kindness. He had, with great difficulty, thrown some ugly worms upon the bank and he was afraid they would crawl back in again.