A Fat Hen

It was a cold, brisk day on the flanks of Mays Ridge.  John, Jim, and Mary were home alone and the boys were entertaining themselves by sliding down a tall hay mow.  Their parents were off visiting a sick relative.

Mary, six years old at the time, was finishing her cleaning chores in the kitchen as assigned by her parents before they left, when her brother John, age 12, came running into the kitchen demanding something to eat.  It was lunch time but there was nothing to fix other than some old rye bread that was full of grit. When Mary suggested this John said, “I’ve got an idea- let’s kill the old red hen!”

The story in Dad’s notebook ends here, but I asked him about it and he told me the rest:

Now, although they didn’t realize it, the old red hen had been fattened up for a very special occasion- Sunday dinner for the visiting preacher.  They just knew that they were hungry and the hen was going to make a feast!  Even at her young age, Mary was a good cook and helped her mother enough to know where to find all the fixings for a feast!  While her brothers dispatched the hen, Mary started putting it together.  By the time their parents got back from their visiting the children had prepared and consumed their feast- much to their parent’s chagrin!  It turned out to be an expensive feast for them, but one they never forgot.

Mary always did have a soft spot for her brothers, and they for her, and despite the discipline– or maybe because of it– she never forgot this event and passed it along to Dad.

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