THE SAME, CHANTECLER, later THE PIGEONS, and
[After looking CHANTECLER up and down, disdainfully.] The Cock!
CHANTECLER [From the threshold, to the GUINEA-HEN.] Your pardon Madam,—my humble duty!—for venturing to present myself in this plumage—
Come in, I pray!
I hardly know whether I should. I have a limited number of toes—
[Indulgently.] Oh, never mind!
I cannot claim to be a Carpathian, and—I hardly know how to conceal it
from you—I have feet!
Oh, let not that distress you!
A plain red-pepper comb, an ordinary garlic clove ear—
Of course, of course, we will excuse you. You came in your business suit!
CHANTECLER Nay, my best! Pardon if my best combines merely the green of all April with the gold of all October! I stand abashed. I am the Cock, just the Cock, without further addition. The Cock such as he is still found in some old-fashioned barnyard. A Cock shaped like a Cock, whose outline persists in the vane on the steeple-top in the artist’s eye, and the humble toy which a child’s hand finds among shavings in a little wooden box.
AN IRONICAL VOICE
[From among the group of gorgeous prodigies.] The Gallic Cock, in short?
CHANTECLER [Gently, without even turning.] Sure as I am of my aboriginal claim to this soil, I make no point of assuming the name. But, now you mention it, I recognise that when one simply says the Cock, that is the Cock he means!
[Low to CHANTECLER.] I have seen your adversary!
CHANTECLER [Catching sight of the PHEASANT-HEN approaching.] Be still! She must know nothing of this!
[Coquettishly.] Did you come for the sake of seeing me?
[Bowing.] I am weak, you remember!
THE GUINEA-HEN [Listening to the COCHIN-CHINA COCK, who is talking in an undertone, thickly surrounded by HENS.] That Cock from Cochin China is simply awful!
[Around the COCHIN COCK, giving little scandalised cries.] Oh!—
THE GUINEA-HEN [Tickled.] Oh, you naughty bird!—He is quite the most improper of our gallinacea!
THE COCHIN-CHINA COCK
[Stops, and with mocking surprise.] Is it the Gallic Cock objecting?
CHANTECLER I am not Gallic if you give the word a base or ridiculous meaning. By Jove! Every Hen here knows whether my trumpet blast belongs to a soprano! But your perverse attempts to wring blushes from little baggages in convenient corners outrage my love of Love! It is true that I care more to retain love’s dream than these Cochin-Chinese, who, courting a giggle, use refinement in coarseness, research in vulgarity; true that my blood has swifter flow in a less ponderous body, and that I am not a feathered pig,—but a Cock!