I’m not really sure of the point of this story. To teach children that life can be cruel? Maybe it is to remind the parent to be attentive. Nonetheless, I post this oddity.
The Story of Little Benjamin
How He Began Life.–His Sad Fate.
Once there was a little chicken; and he woke up one morning, and looked about him.
“This is a snug little room,” thought he. “The walls are smooth and white. I have slept well here. It is warm and nice; but it never struck me till now how small it is.”
“I have no room,” thought he, “to turn round without hit’ting my head against the wall; and I am sure I couldn’t fly here the least in the world. I should like much to get out. I won’der where the door is, or the win’dow. I think I will tap on the wall.”
So he rapped with his bill. No answer. He rapped again. This time his mother heard him, and rapped in her turn.
“Come in,” said the little chicken.
“No thank you, my dear,” said his mother. “You’d better come out. Make a little hole in the shell and perhaps I’ll help you; though, if you do it all yourself, it will be much to your credit.”
So he made a hole in the shell and peeped out. There was his mother, and there were his eleven brothers and sisters there waiting for him.
He was the twelfth, and just like all the rest.
His mother called him Benjamin, because he was the youngest.
It seemed rather chilly outside.
“I don’t know about this,” said Benjamin. “Perhaps I sha’n’t like it as well as the egg-shell.”
“Come, Benjamin, “said his mother, “we can’t go to breakfast till you are read’y.”
And she made the hole bigger.
“Come, ” said she, “be spry!”
In a little while he was fair’ly out of the shell, and in the cold world. His mother kind’ly cud’dled him under her feath’ers till he was more used to the change of air and the bright light.
“I’m as hun’gry as a bear,” said the el’dest.
“So am I,” and “so am I,” said all the rest.
“That’s a good sign,” said the hen. “So was I when I came out of the shell. When little Benjamin is fairly on his legs, we’ll go to break’fast.”
By and by they went to breakfast.
“I ought to count you before we go,” said the hen: “that’s the rule. But, never mind; I’ll do it after breakfast, you are all so hungry.”
So she set before them the nicest little worms and bugs that were ever eaten, and taught the chickens how to find them for themselves.
“How good they taste!” said the chickens.
“Do you think so?” said the hen. “Wait a sec’ond, and I’ll show you something better still.”
And she made a plunge into the high grass, and brought out a green grasshopper.
“Try that, my dears,” said she. “There’s only a small scrap for each of you: but it will do. It is a rare bit.”
“Why, so it is,” said the eldest.
Just as they had finished their breakfast, pussy, who had been waiting behind the hedge for her breakfast, all at once pounced on little Benjamin, and chewed him up before he could even say “Peep.”
Don’t cry! … He would have been made into a chicken-pie if he had lived to grow up.
“Cluck, cluck!” said the hen. “Come, my chil’dren, stand still, and let me count you; and then we will go and see our relations. Two, four, six, eight, ten–tw– stop a moment: that’s wrong. I’ll begin again. Two, four, six, eight, ten– Why, I thought there were twelve of you! There are only eleven. I must have been mistaken. Come, then, let us go. Cluck, cluck!”
So they walked contentedly away to see their relations, just as pussy was chewing the last of little Benjamin’s feathers! As we came in at the gate, we saw the bad cat, but were too late to spoil her meal, and she took care to get out of our way.
This one is much sweeter and cuter. How delicate a baby’s years are!
Watching by the Cradle
Now go to sleep, baby, for sister is here:
By your side she will watch; so you need never fear.
Mamma will be back by the time you wake,
And give you a kiss for your own darling sake.
While I rock your cradle, and sew on your sack,
Sleep, sleep and dream sweetly: yes she will come back.
See, pussy is curled up asleep on the floor,
And the dog is asleep on the mat by the door.
That’s a dear little baby, She shuts up her eyes,
She opens them now with a drowsy surprise.
And now they are shut: she is still; she’s asleep.
May good angels bless her, and love her, and keep!
Which do you like better, the poems or the stories? Tell us in the comments!