Tag Archives: Rudyard Kipling

CW12- How the Chicken Got its Flightlessness

when i was little, one of my favorite animated movies was The Jungle Book, the story of a boy named Mowgli who was raised by wild animals in the jungles of India. when i got a little bit older, my dad read to me the original tales of Mowgli’s adventures. the author, Rudyard Kipling, also wrote what he called Just So Stories, most of which tell how an animal got a certain characteristic, like How the Leopard Go His Spots. others tell of the “first” of one thing or another, like How the First Letter was Written. my own favorite Just So Story is How the Camel Got His Hump, and the following story is somewhat modeled after it.

Now this is the next story, and it tells how the Chicken became flightless.

Once upon a time, when the world was still very young, there lived a beautiful, slender Chicken who flew gracefully through the sky. Now, My Beloved, even though the Chicken was beautiful, nobody liked him much because he was a terrible coward. If ever anyone asked him to do something brave, he would squawk, “Never!”, and he would fly away.

Presently, the Dog, who was ‘scruciating busy (with the world so new and all), found the Chicken strutting around being useless, so the Dog said, “Chicken, O Chicken, why don’t you help us? Even with the world so new-and-all, we are afraid of dangers that may come to disturb our peace. Come to defend each other like the rest of us!”

“Never!” squawked the Chicken, and he flew away; and the Dog was appalled by the Chicken’s cowardice.

The next day, the Crow saw the Chicken strutting around being useless, so the Crow said, “Chicken, O Chicken, why don’t you make yourself useful? Even with the world so new-and-all, we are afraid of dangers that may come to disturb our peace. Come make clever preparations like the rest of us!”

“Never!” squawked the Chicken, and he flew away; and the Crow was appalled by the Chicken’s cowardice.

On the next day, the Ant saw the Chicken strutting around being useless, so the Ant said, “Chicken, O Chicken, why don’t you work and scurry? Even with the world so new-and-all, we are afraid of dangers that may come to disturb our peace. Come gather food in case of famine like the rest of us!”

“Never!” squawked the Chicken, and he flew away; and the Ant was appalled by the Chicken’s cowardice.

Well, the Three were so appalled by the Chicken’s ‘scruciating cowardice that they got together to decide what to do about it.

“Beat him!” barked the Dog.

“Squash him!” chirped the Ant.

“I know what we shall do,” said the clever Crow, “we shall tempt him with such scrumptious foods as he cannot resist, and we shall make him so fat that he can never fly again. That way, he cannot be cowardly and fly away from danger.”

The Ant and the Dog agreed to this, and the Three ‘mediately set out to gather the most scrumptious foods as they could find.

So the next day when the Chicken was strutting around being useless, the Three called out, “Chicken, O Chicken, come see what scrumptious foods we have for you. We have cake and bread and fruit and all sorts of things.”

The Chicken did come; and the Chicken did eat the scrumptious foods. When the Chicken had eaten most every bite and he lay on the ground as round as a pumpkin, the Three said, “Chicken, O Chicken, are you quite full of scrumptious foods?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the Chicken, “unless you have more scrumptious foods?”

“No,” said the Three, “but we do have work for you! Since you can no longer be cowardly, you must help us prepare for danger that may come to disturb our peace.”

“Never!” squawked the Chicken, but he could not fly away; he was too fat.

Even though he could not fly away, the Chicken still did not learn his lesson about cowardice; and to this day, the Chicken is still ‘scruciating cowardly. And to this day, the Chicken is still fat.