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[199] “stolen nests” of the great barn chamber, but at least in the various odd nooks and cubby-houses where the brooding hens are encouraged to establish their strongholds, in the more methodical organization of modern days.

Then there are the liens themselves to be fed-thirty or forty chickens clucking and clambering at once over the feet of the little people who sit beneath the shade of the raspberry-bushes and dole out the food as parsimoniously as possible, that it may last the longer. Such a peering of eager eyes and protruding of timid beaks, drawn back and thrust forward again a dozen times before actual contact with the children's fingers, while bolder hens meanwhile advance unseen and steal the whole bit of bread from the lap. Then all the chickens run away in a fluttering mob, pursuing the successful thief-feathered things of all sizes, all breeds, all gradations of awkwardness. Why is it that every growing animal, even the human, must pass through its awkward age? Nothing is prettier than a little downy chicken; nothing more gauche and gaunt than the same thing when a little older-a mere loose bundle of bones and beak and long legs and livid flesh, with one or two ludicrously large wing-feathers fastened uselessly on, as if with packthread. Yet each of these to the children is “sweet,” or “lovely,” or “cunning.”

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