Corner of a kitchen-garden, enclosed on the sides by hedges. At the back, espaliers. Vegetables and flowers of all kinds. Cold frames. Among the fruit trees, an upright pole, rigged in an old frock-coat, pair of trousers, and opera hat, fills the function of scarecrow.
The GUINEA-HEN, HENS, DUCKS, etc.; the PHEASANT-HEN, the BLACKBIRD, later PATOU.
At the rise of the curtain, multitudinous clatter and confused swarming of HENS and CHICKENS.
THE GUINEA-HEN [Going impetuously from one to the other.] How do you do? How do you do?—There is scarcely room to move! My guests reach all the way to the cucumber patch!
[Up in the air.]
A regular crush!
[Gazing at a row of huge pumpkins.] What attractive objects!
Art pottery! Rather good of its kind, if I do say so!
[Listening with his bill in the air.] Singers?
THE GUINEA-HEN [In her sprightliest manner.] The Wasps! [To a CHICKEN.] How do you do? [She flits from one guest to the other.]
Fill we with murmurs
The mulberry trees!
[Passing with the BLACKBIRD and laughing.] So you were caught?
THE BLACKBIRD [Finishing his story.] Exactly as if a hat had been plumped down over me. But I managed by beating my wings to throw off the beastly pot. [Looking around him.] Chantecler has not come yet?
[Surprised.] Is he coming?
PATOU [Suddenly appearing on the wheelbarrow, from whence he can watch the scene as from a pulpit.] I still hope he may change his mind.
Patou there, in the wheelbarrow?
PATOU [Shaking his surly head, and a bit of broken chain hanging from his collar.] Chantecler told me everything Blackbird, as he went by. In a towering rage I broke my chain, and am here to keep an eye on the wicked lot of you.
THE GUINEA-HEN [To the BLACKBIRD.] Has he invited himself to my party, that moth-eaten old thing?
[Among the trees.]
Our praises, Sun, our praises!
[Looking upward.] Music?
CHORUS OF CICADAS
We simmer in thy gaze,
We bask beneath thy blaze,
Receive our grateful praise!