CHANTECLER I say, my dear sir, that these resplendent gentlemen are manufactured wares, the work of merchants with highly complex brains, who to fashion a ridiculous Chicken have taken a wing from that one, a topknot from this. I say that in such Cocks nothing remains of the true Cock. They are Cocks of shreds and patches, idle bric-a-brac, fit to figure in a catalogue, not in a barnyard with its decent dunghill and its dog. I say that those befrizzled, beruffled, bedeviled Cocks were never stroked and cherished by Nature’s maternal hand. I say that it’s all Aviculture, and Aviculture is flapdoodle! And I say that those preposterous parrots, without style, without beauty, without form, whose bodies have not even kept the pleasing oval of the egg they were hatched from, look like so many desperate fowls escaped from some hen-coop of the Apocalypse!
My dear sir—
CHANTECLER [With rising spirit.] And I add that the whole duty of a Cock is to be an embodied crimson cry! And when a Cock is not that, it matters little that his comb be shaped like a toadstool, or his quills twisted like a screw, he will soon vanish and be heard of no more, having been nothing but a variety of a variety!
CHANTECLER [Going from one to the other.] Yes, Cocks affecting incongruous forms, Cocks crowned with cocoa-palm coiffures—Hear me talk like the Peacock! I lapse into alliteration! [Finding his fun in bewildering them with cackling guttural volubility.] Yes, Cockerels cockaded with cockles, Cockatrice-headed Cockasters, cock-eyed Cockatoos! Not content to be common Cocks, your crotchet it was to be what but crack Cocks? Yes, Fashion, to be accounted of thy flock, these chuckle-headed Cocks craved to be Super-cocks. But know ye not, ye crazy Cocks, one cannot be so queer a Cock, but there may occur a queerer Cock? Let some Cock come whose coccyx boasts a more flamboyant shock, and you pass like childish measles, croup or chicken-pox! Consider that to-morrow, high Cockalorums, fancy Cocks, consider that day after to-morrow, cheese-capped goblet-crested Cocks, in spite of curly hackle and cauliflowered hocks, a more fantastic Cock than ever may creep out of a—box! For the Cock-fancier, to diversify his stock, may more fantastically still combine his Cutcutdaycuts and his Cocks, and you will be no more—sad Cuckoos made a mock!—but old rococo Cocks beside this more coquettish Cock!
A COCK And how, may one learn from you, can a Cock secure himself against becoming rococo?
One royal way there is: to think only of crowing like a right and proper
A COCK [Haughtily.] We are well known, I beg to state, for our exceptionally fine crowing!
Known to whom?
THE SAME, three CHICKENS, noticeable among the rest for a certain jaunty pertness of gait and demeanour, who for a minute or so have been moving among the artificial COCKS.