Once upon a time there was a queen who wanted to have a child. But she didn’t know how. Still, she wished and thought and wanted it so much that one day she laid an egg.
And with nothing better to do she decided to sit on it. What a long boring time, just sitting, with no end in sight. And yet the queen kept telling herself over and over, “This is my chance.” Finally, after three whole weeks the egg hatched out, and she had a little chick.
All the people of the kingdom rejoiced and gave the queen a new title. Henceforth, she was known throughout the land as Queen Mother. “Not exactly a little child,” the queen said to her chick, “but at least you’re mine.”
And she cared and fed him so well that he quickly grew. Very soon he became the biggest pullet in the kingdom. The queen mother was so proud of him. But he got to be so greedy. In no time he grew to be the biggest rooster—oh, bigger than that! He got bigger than the queen herself. He began strutting around her garden rooting up the trees to find all the grubs and worms.
One day the queen came upon all that damage, and then she saw her big rooster. “What have you done?” she shouted up at him. “Just look at this mess!”
The rooster didn’t bother with an answer. “Hum, a tasty morsel!” was all he thought. And before she said one more word he snapped her up and gulped her down.
When the queen found herself inside, she was angry for a time, and then frightened for a time. But at last she decided to make the best of it and set up house. With some old bones and sticks and stones she put together a table and chair. So when the rooster ate up her herb garden she made a tea with the leaves. And when the rooster broke into the granary bin she made a nice oatmeal porridge.
All this was fine as far as it went, but she couldn’t see very well. She only got the light in very small snatches—when the rooster crowed. “I need a candle,” she said. And so with a little tallow from the rooster’s fatty parts she dipped a fine long candle. Then with a couple of flint stones found in his gizzard she struck a light. Now she could see! Oh, what a comfort.
But not so for the rooster. He felt a fever coming on. And as the candle glowed inside he got to feeling worse and worse. “Oh, it feels like heartburn. It must be something I ate. I need a drink of water.” And he ran across the long lawn down to the pond. But before he got there he fell over dead. He was cooked all through.
The queen stepped out and ordered her servants to prepare a great feast. The whole kingdom was invited, and they ate roast chicken on the lawn, to the last tasty bite.
But the queen mother had eaten so much of it that she just sat there on her throne making strange noises. “Cluck, cluck!”
“What is the matter with our queen?” the people whispered. Then as the moon rose into the sky something under her cloak began to flap. It made such a flutter that the cloak fell off. “Ah!” the people gasped, “the queen mother has grown wings.” They watched her fly to a lower branch of the nearest tree and settle for the night.
“So this is what I’ve become,” she said. “Cluck, cluck, and fine feathers too.”
And so the people gave her a new title. Henceforth throughout the kingdom she was known as the Queen Mother Hen!