An argosy of fables/English fables/The Chicken's Mistake


A LITTLE chick one day
Asked leave to go on the water,
Where she saw a duck and her brood at play,
Swimming and splashing about her.

Indeed she began to peep and cry
When her mother wouldn't let her;
"If the ducks can swim there, why can't I?
Are they any bigger or better?"

Then the old hen answered: "Listen to me,
And hush your foolish talking;
Just look at your feet and you will see
They were only made for walking."


But chicky wistfully eyed the brook
And didn't half believe her,
For she seemed to say, by a knowing look,
Such stories couldn't deceive her.

And as her mother was scratching the ground,
She muttered, lower and lower,
"I know I can go there and not be drowned,
And so, I think, I'll show her."

Then she made a plunge where the stream was deep,
And saw, too late, her blunder,
For she had hardly time to peep;
When her foolish head went under.

And now I hope her fate will show
The child my story reading,
That those that are older sometimes know
What you will do well in heeding;

That each content in his place should dwell,
And envy not his brother;
For any part that is acted well,
Is just as good as another.

For we all have our proper sphere below,
And this is a truth worth knowing:
You will come to grief if you try to go
Where you were never made for going.