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Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Cock and the Hen Who Went Out into the World to Take a Look Around

The following tale was probably composed by Moltke Moe, as there is no extant record of its collection. It would therefore best be described as a literary tale.

There was once upon a time a cock and a hen who stood upon a dungheap, kicking and scraping and digging. Just like that the cock began to flap his wings:

“Ho, ho, ho! I’ve found - Ho, ho, ho! I’ve found!” he crowed.

“What have you found?” asked the mother hen.

“A sleigh runner,” said the Toppe; he had scratched up a wood-plane shaving and a couple of bits of straw.

Then the hen grew envious and began to kick and scrape so that it flurried about her. Just like that she found some twine and a stick.

“Hey-ho, now I’ve found, I’ve found!” crowed the hen.

“Have you found?” said father Toppe.

“I’ve found some timber and mouth bits, timber and mouth bits,” said the hen, preening and flapping her wings.

“A good ear has much to hear!” said the cock. “But it’s easy to dance when fortune is your minstrel. We shall make ourselves a vehicle, and take a look around the world,” he said; “It’s not every day the wind is so favourable.”

So the cock took the plane shaving and made a sleigh; the straw he fastened as shafts, and for the carriage he took an old blackened besom, for it was so good and soft to sit on. Then he went away into the barn and found himself a couple of fleas, and bridled them and harnessed them before the sleigh.

Then the cock and the hen stepped up into the sleigh and drove off. And they went both quickly and well. The cock lashed, the fleas dashed, and the hen laughed so that she fell backwards in her seat.

When they had come a little distance, they met a mouse. “Good day and well met! You drive quickly today, my fellow,” she said.

“It is good we go so quickly; it’s better we go so well,” said the cock. “Or else we’d be driving like someone with a horse,” he said. And he lashed so that the fleas jumped in their harnesses.

“I would also like to have a holiday. May I come along?” asked the mouse.

“The sleigh is little and the horses are small, so you’ll have to sit up behind,” said the cock.

Then he cracked the whip. And the fleas dashed, and the cock lashed, and the hen laughed so that she fell backwards in her seat.

When they had driven a distance, they met a sheep.

“Good day!” said the sheep.

“Good day to you,” replied the cock.

“Are such good folk out driving in the fine weather today? It is fun to sled when one has such handsome equipage and good horses,” said the sheep.

“It’s easy to divine what everyone can see,” said the cock. “It usually shows on the horses which garden they graze in.”

“May I come along?” asked the sheep. “He must ask who does not receive an invitation,” he said.

“It’s not polite to answer before one is asked,” said the cock. “The sleigh is little and the horses are small, so you’ll have to sit up behind.”

When the sheep had sat down, the cock cracked the whip. And the fleas dashed, and the cock lashed, and the hen laughed so that she fell backwards in her seat.

Then they drove a long distance, and then they met a hare who jumped across the road.

“Good day and good courage!” said the hare.

“Good day and thank you for that,” replied the cock.

“You drive quickly, you do,” said the hare.

“It goes as it started,” said the cock. “The world is broad and the road is long, so I have to drive hard,” he said.

“Would it be possible for me to come along?” asked the hare. “He who walks far and gathers little, he grows tired in the end,” he said.

“The sleigh is little and the horses are small, so you’ll have to sit up behind. Otherwise, it is not heavy to drive, that which has little to draw,” said the cock.

So the hare got up behind. And the cock cracked the whip. And the fleas dashed, and the cock lashed, and the hen laughed so that she fell backwards in her seat.

When they driven a good distance farther, they met a fox.

“Bless our meeting!” said the fox.

“Thank you for that,” the cock said.

“You’re driving handsomely today,” said the fox.

“Yes, but not everyone likes it; some like it cold and some hot, some lean and some fat,” replied the cock. “But as the day draws on, and the road is long, the horses make all the difference,” he said.

“Yes, craft and understanding account for much,” said the fox. “If only it were so well that I too could join such a fine company. Then I would show you shelter for the night. He who wants to enjoy something, he must contribute something, too” he said.

“A newly-begotten guest is often best; no one can take a hostel along with them. “But the sleigh is little and the horses are small, so you’ll have to sit up behind.” said the cock, cracking the whip.

Then they drove, the whole company. The cock lashed, and the fleas dashed, and the hen laughed so that she fell backwards in her seat.

At great length the evening drew in, and the horses grew tired. “I know of a hostel close by here,” said the fox. He had an old lair in the forest. “I don’t suppose it’s anything like what you’re used to, but as the old proverb says: it is better to lie in a house than upon the wild heath,” he said. “We’ll relax and retire for the darkest night.”

“Whosoever wants a good day must think of a quiet night,” replied the cock; he was the weariest, he was. “Wind and water go their way,” he said.

So they unharnessed the fleas, and everyone went together into the fox’s lair.

“Many guests make for a crowded house, but there is alway room in the house where there is room in the heart,” said Mikkel. “Now let me count. I locks fox one, you wee flea two, you house mouse three, you fair hare four, you locky cocky five, you penny henny six, you leap sheep seven – there shall you lie!” Then Mikkel bit the sheep’s head off and threw him away in a corner.

“That was one. Now let me see: I locks fox one, you wee flea two, you house mouse three, you fair hare four, you locky cocky five, you penny henny six – there shall you lie!” said the fox, and then he bit mother hen’s head off.

“Who is there now, shall I say? I locks fox one, you wee flea two, you house mouse three, you fair hare four, you locky cocky five – there shall you lie!” Then he bit the cock’s head off and cast him into the corner with the others.

“Now let me see who’s left: I locks fox one, you wee flea two, you house mouse three, you fair hare four – there shall you lie!” and things went the same way with the hare.

“That was four: I locks fox one, you wee flea two, you house mouse three – you’re next in line, and there shall you lie,” and with that he bit the mouse.

Then there were just the fleas left. But Mikkel wasn’t good to catch them in the dark. They had noticed something sinister going on and hidden in his fur, and there they bit him so that he danced both on one and two, and had he not been bare-footed, then he would have worn out both his socks and his shoes. And there they remain today. Mikkel fox has been tired and flea-bitten since.

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