[Touching his brow with his wing.] She is dotty!
THE GUINEA-HEN [At the back, with shrill GUINEA-HEN cries.] It’s my last day! How do you do? My last day until August! Mondays in August, don’t forget!
[Seeing cherries dropping around her.] Oh, cherries, look!
[Looking upward.] It is the Breeze!
THE GUINEA-HEN [Fluttering forward again, excited as ever.] I have the Breeze, who now and then shakes down a cherry! I never ask her. She comes unasked. What’s-his-name is here! And What’s-her-name is here, and—[To the back tumultuously.]
THE BLACKBIRD And Thingumbob, and Stick-in-the-mud! [He has arrived without appearance of design beneath the tree where the CAT is lying, and asks rapidly, under breath.] Cat, what about the conspiracy?
THE CAT [Who from his tree can see beyond the hedge.] It is afoot. I see the interminable file of phenomenal Cocks approaching, headed by the Peacock who comes to present them.
[Outside.] Ee—yong! [The CROWD throngs toward the entrance.]
[Grumbling.] That abominable concertina cry—
[To the BLACKBIRD.] Have you a fancy name for him?
[Imitating the PEACOCK’S cry.] Our great Accordee-yong!
THE SAME, THE PEACOCK.
THE GUINEA-HEN [To the PEACOCK, who enters slowly, with his head borne very stiff and high.] Master, dear Master, would you be so extremely condescending as to come and stand with your back to these sunflowers? Peacock! Sunflowers! A study for Burne-Jones!
[Crowding around the PEACOCK.] Master! Master!
[Low to the DUCK.] A word from him can make one’s fortune in society!
ANOTHER CHICKEN [Who has succeeded in forcing his way to the PEACOCK, stammering with emotion.] Master, what do you think of my latest “cheep”? [Suspense. Religious silence.]
THE PEACOCK [Solemnly, letting the word drop slowly from his beak.] Definitive. [Sensation.]
[Trembling.] And my “quack”? [Suspense.]
THE GUINEA-HEN [Delighted, to the HENS.] I may say that it is at my days most especially he throws off these specimens of a verbal art which might fairly be called—
ALL THE HENS
[Rolling up their eyes.] Wonderful!
A HEN [Coming forward, faint with emotion.] Master, high priest of taste, what do you think of my dress? [Suspense.]