Authors: Dick King-Smith
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Ace: The Very Important Pig
Babe: The Gallant Pig
The Invisible Dog
A Mouse Called Wolf
Mysterious Miss Slade
Three Terrible Trins
The Water Horse
Jemima Tabb was a farmer's daughter. She was eight years old, she had dark hair worn in a pigtail, and she particularly liked chickens, especially baby chicks.
Whenever one of her father's hens went broody, Jemima would put a clutch of eggs under the hen—eggs that, with luck, would in twenty-one days' time hatch out into fluffy little chicks.
Out in the orchard was a duck pond that was fed by a small stream, and not far from the edge of this pond was where Jemima chose to put her broody coop with its wire run attached. Sitting on eggs
must be very boring, she thought, which is why she selected this spot.
“Just you listen to the chuckle of the water as it falls into the pond, and the sounds of the ducks quacking and splashing about, and you'll find the time will pass quite quickly,” she would say to each broody hen as she settled it upon the eggs.
Three weeks after she had said all this to a hen called Gertie, eight little chicks duly hatched out.
When the chicks first came out of the coop into the wire run, seven of them scuttled excitedly about on the grass, but the eighth one walked to the end of the run that was nearest to the duck pond
and stood there, quite still, listening to the chuckle of the water and the sounds of the ducks quacking and splashing. From then on, he would do this every day, standing and gazing and listening, so that by the time the chicks were a month old, Gertie—the chicks' mother—was worried and felt she needed to share her worry.
One fine morning when she and her
best friend, Mildred, were scratching about together in the orchard, pecking at worms and beetles and the seeds of flowering grasses, Gertie said to Mildred, “You know, I think that one of my chicks is funny.”
“Funny, Gertie?” clucked Mildred. “Do you mean funny ‘ha! ha!’ or funny ‘peculiar’?”
“Peculiar,” replied Gertie.“I've suspected it for some time now. The other seven chicks behave quite normally, but this one
is different. To begin with, he keeps himself to himself. Look at him now.”
Mildred looked at Gertie's chicks as they scuttled about in the grass, pecking at anything and everything, and she saw that there were only seven of them doing this. The eighth chick was standing at the edge of the duck pond, looking at the ducks swimming about in it.