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Chicken Grethe's Family

"Bra! Bra!" they croaked. And "Bra, Bra!" the whole tribe croaked when the old castle was torn down. "And this they cry still, though there is nothing left to croak about," said the parish clerk, when he told the story. "The family died out, the castle was torn down, and where it stood the new hen house now stands, with its gilded weathercock on the roof, and Chicken Grethe inside. There she sits, well satisfied with her cosy residence, for if she had not come here she would have gone to the workhouse!" - The pigeons cooed above her, the turkeys clucked, and the ducks quacked around her. "No one knew her," they said. "She had no relatives. By an act of charity she came here, and children she had none!"

Nevertheless, she had ancestors, though she did not know of them, nor did the parish clerk, for all the manuscripts he had in his table drawer. But one of the old crows knew, and he told about it. From its mother and its grandmother, it had heard tell of Chicken Grethe's mother and grandmother, whom we know too. We know how, as a child, she rode over the drawbridge and looked about proudly, as if the whole world and all the bird nests in it belonged to her. We also saw her on the sand dunes, and last at the ferry house. Her granddaughter, last of her line, had come home again where the old castle had stood, and where the wild birds croaked. But she sat among her tame fowls, known by them and on friendly terms with them.

Chicken Grethe had nothing more to wish for. She was happy to die and old enough to die.

"Grave, grave!" the crows croaked.

And Chicken Grethe was buried in a good grave. No one knows where it lies except the old crow, if he isn't dead too.

Now we know the story of the old castle, and of all Chicken Grethe's family.

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