The Death of the Little Hen – Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Well, friends, Halloween is almost upon us! And that means this is the last Freaky Fairy Tale of October 🙁 But I saved you a good one for last. It’s one of the wackiest and most morbid-for-no-reason fairy tales I’ve probably ever heard. Are you ready?
BEHOLD! Day 1 + Day 2 + Day 3 + Day 4 + Day 5
Sweet and silly piece by Ross Sullivan-Wiley
THE DEATH OF THE LITTLE HEN
[Original source] – I’ve added punctuation and fixed formatting here.
You don’t expect it. It builds with the sunny, round-faced optimism and sweetness you’d expect in a 1940s Disney short. And for the record, an old-fashioned term for a rooster is a cock. GET OVER IT!
Once upon a time the little hen went with the little cock to the nut-hill, and they agreed together that whichsoever of them found a kernel of a nut should share it with the other.
Dawww, isn’t that adorable, they’re gonna share! Why, aren’t Chanticleer and Pertelote the cutest lil’ couple you ever did see?
Then the hen found a large, large nut, but said nothing about it, intending to eat the kernel herself. The kernel, however, was so large that she could not swallow it, and it remained sticking in her throat, so that she was alarmed lest she should be choked.
Then she cried, “Cock, I entreat you to run as fast as you can and fetch me some water, or I shall choke.”
Yes, yell for help, choking victim. THAT ALWAYS WORKS!
The little cock did run as fast as he could to the spring, and said, “Stream, you are to give me some water, the little hen is lying on the nut-hill, and she has swallowed a large nut, and is choking.”
The well answered, “First run to the bride, and get her to give you some red silk.”
…So, which is it, a spring, a stream or a well? Also, if you know someone is dying, why do you ask the person to run an errand for you first when you can just give them what they need?? And by the way, the red silk won’t help the rooster carry the water or anything, the SpringStreamWell just wants it for no reason! And what the heck does it need silk for, anyway?
The little cock ran to the bride and said, “Bride, you are to give me some red silk, I want to give red silk to the well, the well is to give me some water, I am to take the water to the little hen who is lying on the nut-hill and has swallowed a great nut-kernel, and is choking with it.”
Way to explain it quickly, Rooster. There are actually stories like this that I’ve heard from other places involving a rooster running around asking long-winded favors of people and running out of time, and no one helps him until the very end. It’s called a Cumulative Tale, and “The House That Jack Built” and “The Gingerbread Man” are familiar versions of these kinds of tales. This is shaping up to be one of those if it keeps going.
The bride answered, “First run and bring me my little wreath which is hanging to a willow.”
Again, HE JUST SAID HIS WIFE WAS DYING, JUST GIVE HIM THE SILK!
So the little cock ran to the willow, and drew the wreath from the branch and took it to the bride, and the bride gave him some red silk for it, which he took to the well, who gave him some water for it.
Finally! That wasn’t as long as other rooster stories I’ve read, maybe there’s still time.
Then the little cock took the water to the hen, but when he got there the hen had choked in the meantime, and lay there dead and did not move.
Oh, seriously. Wow. Downer.
I don’t care if I already used it, this is how I feel about the whole story.
The rooster went on to sue the water and the bride for his wife’s death.
Then the cock was so distressed that he cried aloud, and every animal came to lament the little hen, and six mice built a little carriage to carry her to her grave, and when the carriage was ready they harnessed themselves to it, and the cock drove.
Suddenly everyone is anthropomorphized, and the mice somehow can build a cart that is at least ten times their size, and then hitch themselves up to drive it? This is starting to sound like Redwall.
Martin! Only you can save us from the armies of Attila the Hen!
So, the funeral procession starts off.
On the way, however, they met the fox, who said, “Where are you going, little cock?”
“I am going to bury my little hen.”
“May I drive with you?”
“Yes, but seat yourself at the back of the carriage, for in the front my little horses could not drag you.”
That fox just sounds like he’s planning something dastardly. He’s going to end up eating the rooster AND the dead hen, isn’t he?
Then the procession went onwards, and they reached a stream. “How are we to cross over?” said the little cock.
A straw was lying by the stream and it said, “I will lay myself straight across, and then you can drive over me.”
A straw? Like, a piece of straw. Like this?
This one is lodged in a tree during a tornado, but that’s where the awesomeness ends, folks!
Yes, let’s put our faith in Small McBendweak!
But when the six mice came to the bridge, the straw slipped and fell into the water, and the six mice all fell in and were drowned.
Whaaat? I can’t believe that happened oh no what a horrible accident A STRAW CAN’T HOLD ONE MOUSE, LET ALONE SIX! And how did the mice just drown and not pull the cart in with them?
Then they were again in difficulty, and a coal came and said, “I am large enough, I will lay myself across, and you shall drive over me.”
So the coal also laid itself across the water, but unhappily just touched it, at which the coal hissed, was extinguished and died.
WAIT! A coal, like a coal from a fire? Oh my gosh! I’m imagining it walking up to them, all aglow, like a coal is supposed to be, and being like “hey! I’ll lay across the water and you can get over me!” And then he jumps in the water and PUTS HIMSELF OUT! Not to mention that a coal is NOT BIG ENOUGH TO HELP A CART GET ACROSS A CREEK! OH MY GOSH!!!!
Also, how much do you wanna bet it’s the same creek who wouldn’t give the cock water before and now it’s just laughing maniacally at them?
When a stone saw that, it took pity on the little cock, wished to help him, and laid itself over the water. Then the cock drew the carriage himself, but when he got it over and reached the shore with the dead hen, and was about to draw over the others who were sitting behind as well, there were too many of them…
Wait…there was only mention of the fox climbing aboard. Were there more that got on without us knowing? That would have been HELPFUL!
…the carriage ran back, and they all fell into the water together, and were drowned.
Well, that’s probably why they weren’t mentioned, because they were gonna die anyway, but I’m not upset, I’m confused!
Then the little cock was left alone with the dead hen, and dug a grave for her and laid her in it, and made a mound above it, on which he sat down and fretted until he died too, and then everyone was dead.
For reals? That’s how it ends?
MY GOSH! It sounds like a story some super annoyed person would tell to some kids who wouldn’t stop asking for one.
“YOU WANT A STORY!? Fine! Here’s your story! Once upon a time, there was a cute little hen and a cute little rooster, and one day the hen CHOKED on a nut, and the little rooster tried to get help for her, but it was too late and she DIED! So he got all the little animals together for a funeral, but they came to a little creek and couldn’t cross over. So a piece of hay tried to help, but when the little mice ran over it, they fell in and DROWNED, and the hay drowned too! Then a little piece of coal came along–DON’T give me that look, this is my story, coals can talk!–but when he touched the water he went out and DIED! Then the rooster pulled the cart across, but all the animals fell out and they all DROWNED! So when the rooster got to the other side he was all alone, and he buried his little hen and stayed there on that hill until he died too! Then EVERYONE was dead! THE END!” *muffled children’s sobs* “Now leave me alone and LET ME WATCH THE PACKERS!”
I kinda wish I did know the rhyme or reason behind this story, though. This type of story can be found in many cultures worldwide, and there is apparently a cumulative tale trope that involves a chain of death that ends in everyone dead, but there isn’t really a reason as to why people would tell pointless stories like this that don’t even really have a lesson. It’s not like they’re shaggy dog stories that, if told well, can actually be funny. Maybe some of these could be funny too in the hands of a good storyteller, but there isn’t even a punchline. I dunno.
I’ll tell you the punchline as soon as you can find my eyes.
Well, I guess this entry is dead too. *freaky eyes* Everything is dead…
And the moral of the story? Share your stuff, kids. If you’re too greedy, you might choke on it. And die.
Thanks for reading, guys! It’s been a really fun and goofy time for me, getting back into hard blogging on such a fun subject. Hopefully this means I will be blogging more in the future!
You guys are the best! Have a Happy Halloween!
Every day is Halloween for Chicken Boo