THE HENS ALL TOGETHER
CHANTECLER You may go! [They are again starting, he peremptorily calls them back.] A word! [In a stern voice.] Never when crossing the road stop to peck! [The HENS bow in obedience.] Now let me see you cross!
[In the distance.] Honk! Honk! Honk!
[Rushing in front of the HENS and spreading his wings before them.]
[Very near, accompanied by a terrific snorting.] Honk! Honk! Honk!
[Barring the HENS’ passage, while everything shakes.] Wait!
[Far away.] Honk! Honk! Honk!
[Standing aside for them to pass.] You can safely go!
THE GREY HEN
[From her hiding-place.] He has not seen me!
THE TUFTED HEN
You may think this is fun! Now everything we eat will taste of gasoline!
CHANTECLER, the BLACKBIRD in his cage, the CAT still asleep on the wall, the GREY HEN behind the OLD HEN’S basket.
CHANTECLER [To himself, after a pause.] No, I will not trust a frivolous soul with such a weighty secret. Let me try rather to cast off the burden of it myself—forget and [Shaking his feathers.] just rejoice in being a rooster! [He struts up and down.] I am beautiful. I am proud. I walk—then I stand still. I give a skip or two, I tread a measure.—I shock the cart sometimes by my boldness with the fair, so that it raises scandalised shafts in horror to the sky!—Hang care!—A barleycorn—Eat and be merry.—The gear upon my head and under my eye is a far more gorgeous red, when I puff out my chest and strut, than any robin’s waistcoat or finch’s tie.—A fine day. All is well. I curvet—I blow my horn. Conscious of having done my duty, I may quite properly assume the swagger of a musketeer, and the calm commanding bearing of a cardinal. I can—
[Loud and gruff.] Beware, Chantecler!
What silly beast is bidding me beware?
THE SAME, PATOU.
[Barking inside his kennel.] I! I! I!
CHANTECLER [Retreating.] Is it you, Patou, good shaggy head starting out of the dark, with straws caught among your eyelashes?
Which do not prevent my seeing what is plain as that hen-house rrrroof!
When he rolls his r’s like that he is very cross indeed.
PATOU It’s my devotion to you, Cock, makes me roll my r’s. Guardian of the house, the orchard and the fields, more than all else I am bound to protect your song. And I growl at the dangers I suspect lurking. Such is my humour.