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Patch and the Chickens, edited by Andrew Lang

 

On a farm up in Durham, there were six little chickens who were deserted by the mother hen as soon as they were hatched. So the farmer’s wife put them in a basket and carried them into the cottage to keep them warm by the fire.

There they were discovered by a smooth-coated terrier, named Patch, who was at that time very sad because her little puppy had just died, and she began to look after the chickens as if they were her own children. The little chicks also turned to her quite naturally for care and protection.

She used to treat them very gently, and would sit and watch them feed with the greatest interest. She would curl herself up, and then let them climb about her, and go to sleep between her paws. Sometimes she did not seem to consider the floor comfortable enough for her adopted family, and would jump on to a wooden settle which stood in the kitchen, and then with her feet she would pat the cushions into a cosy bed, and very carefully would take one chicken after another in her mouth, and place them on the softest part.

Soon the time came for the chickens to be sent out into the world.

One day when Patch was out for a walk they were taken to the farmyard.

When the poor little dog returned she was quite broken-hearted, and ran whining about the cottage. Then, as if seized with a sudden thought, she walked out of the door,  and in a very short time she reappeared, followed by her feathered family, and again they took up their abode in the cottage. Every morning Patch used to take them out for a walk, and it was a most amusing sight to see the little terrier followed by a procession of six stately hens.

At last their living in the house became such an inconvenience to the farmer’s wife that poor Patch’s children had to be killed.

For some time Patch was very unhappy, and would still go into the farmyard to look for her six chickens.