The Runaway Rhode Island Red – Chapter 3: Stuck-up Macy Adams

            (In case you missed them, here are chapters one and two.)

             When lunchtime came and they were all sitting at the table, Ashley looked at Mother and asked, “Mother, why are our chickens special?”

            Mother smiled, “They are special to me because they remind me of the chickens my grandmother had when I was a little girl,” she said.

            “Not because they’re pretty?”

            “No Sweetheart, not because they’re pretty.  They are pretty, and the colored eggs are fun, but that’s not what makes them special.”

            “So, is Spot special too?” asked Ashley.

            “She was special to Miss Hazel,” said Mother, “and because I love Miss Hazel, that makes Spot special to me too.”

            “Even if she’s not pretty?” asked Ashley doubtfully.

            “Even if she’s not pretty,” agreed Mother.  “You know, it’s not a good idea to like something or not like something because of the outside.  Or someone,” added Mother.

            “You mean Macy Adams?” asked Ashley slowly.

            “Yes, Macy Adams,” said Mother.

            “But I don’t like Macy Adams because she wouldn’t talk to me, not because of her outsides,” protested Ashley.

            “Ashley,” said Mother softly, “You don’t know Macy well enough yet to know what she’s like on the inside.”

            “So,” said Ashley doubtfully, “I wasn’t being fair to Macy Adams or to Spot?”

            “I’m sure they will both forgive you,” laughed Mother as she gave Ashley a big hug and left the kitchen.

            But Ashley, still in her chair at the table, wasn’t convinced.

*

            Later that afternoon, Mother brought Mrs. Adams and Macy into the kitchen where the children were just finishing up a snack.

            “Ashley,” said Mother, “why don’t you take Macy and show her around the farm?”

            Ashley slowly got up and with a heavy sigh, led stuck-up Macy Adams back outside.

            “What do you want to see first?” asked Ashley, reluctantly

            “Could I see your pretty chickens that you told me about?” replied Macy softly.

            “You didn’t act like you cared about the chickens when I told you about them the other day at your house,” said Ashley.

            “Oh I did care, I really did!  They sounded just beautiful!  But there were so many people there, I couldn’t say anything,” she finished sadly.

            “Why does it matter how many people are around?” said Ashley, curiously.

            “It’s hard for me to talk to people.  Especially new people.  Especially lots of new people.  I’m scared that I’ll say something wrong and they won’t like me.  So, I just don’t say anything,” said Macy looking down at the ground.  She wiggled her toes in her sandals and sighed.  “My mother says I need to talk more,” she finished glumly.

            “My mother says I need to talk less,” said Ashley, and giggled.

            Then Macy giggled.  Then Ashley laughed.  Then Macy laughed.  And before she knew quite what had happened, Ashley and no-longer-stuck-up-Macy Adams were friends.

            “Come on,” Ashley said, grabbing Macy’s hand, “let’s go see the chickens!  Then I’ll take you to our tree fort!”

            And off they went, hand in hand.

            About ten minutes later Jeremiah wandered into the kitchen where Mother and Mrs. Adams were visiting over a pot of tea at the kitchen table.

            “I thought you were playing with the girls,” Mother said.

            “I was,” he said with a sigh, “But two bossy princesses is too much!”  And shaking his head, he went into the living room to play with his army men.

            Some time later Ashley and Macy came in to the kitchen, chattering away like magpies.

            “What’s all the excitement about,” asked Mrs. Adams.

            “Mother,” said Ashley, “May I take Macy to the chicken house to look for eggs?  And then can she take the shells home to put in her room like I did in mine?”

            “I think that’s a wonderful idea!” said Mother.

            So Ashley quickly got the egg basket and the girls happily ran off to the chicken house.  When they got back, Ashley taught Macy how to blow the raw eggs out of the shells by pricking holes in the ends and blowing through them.  Ashley even blew out one of Spot’s eggs to add to her collection.  Mother carefully rinsed out the empty eggs shells and left them on the counter to dry.  Then she took the eggs that were left and mixed up the filling for her famous Ham and Mushroom Quiche.

*

            As the wonderful aroma of the baking quiche filled the house, the children happily set the table for dinner.  When Mother finally took the golden quiche out of the oven, everyone gathered eagerly around the table.  Mother said grace and then served a generous slice to each one along with a fresh, crisp salad fresh from the garden, and a big glass of ice cold milk.

            “This is delicious!” exclaimed Mrs. Adams after the very first bite.

            “Even better than usual,” agreed Jeremiah with his mouth full.

            “Must be because of Spot’s egg,” giggled Macy.

            “Spot?  Who is Spot?” asked Mrs. Adams.

            With much giggling the children told Mrs. Adams about Spot the Spy Chicken.

            “That just goes to show,” said Mrs. Adams, “You should never judge…”

            “…a chicken by its feathers!” finished Jeremiah, and everyone laughed.

The Runaway Rhode Island Red – Chapter 2: What They Found There

    (If you missed Chapter 1 of The Runaway Rhode Island Red, click here.)

            “What’s wrong Ash?” said Jeremiah as she reached the ground.

            “Jeremiah,” she whispered, “Someone is in our tree!”

            “Don’t be silly,” said Jeremiah in his most annoying grown-up-y voice, “There’s no one out here but us.  Mrs. Adams came by to return Mother’s cake plate.  They are in the kitchen having tea.”

            “But Jeremiah,” Ashley said still whispering, “I heard someone moving around in the tree.  I thought it was you.  I was mad because you wouldn’t answer me!”

            “Why would anyone be hiding in our tree?” asked Jeremiah.  “It was probably just the wind.  Come on, let’s go.  You can be Princess Ashley,” he wheedled.

            “It wasn’t the wind,” Ashley insisted stubbornly, crossing her arms against her chest, “And I’m not going back up there!”

            “Very well, Your Highness,” said Jeremiah bowing, “I, Jeremiah, your loyal Captain of the Guard will go seek out the spy that has invaded our beloved Castle Bear Fairy.”

            “Fairy Bear,” Ashley corrected him, giggling.

            “Yes Ma’am, Fairy Bear.”

            Jeremiah saluted and picked up a small branch from the ground for a sword.

            “Be careful Captain,” Princess Ashley whispered, “The spy could be dangerous!”

            Jeremiah tucked his sword into his belt and began to climb up the ladder.  He imagined himself to be Sir Edmund Hillary scaling the treacherous heights of Mount Everest, battling the elements with every step.  As he reached the summit, he paused and looked carefully around.  He didn’t really believe there was anyone up there, but he decided to check anyway.  After all, he had heard the rustling sound as he climbed up.  And though the wind may have been blowing madly on Mount Everest, here at Castle Fairy Bear it wasn’t strong enough to make that much noise.  He wasn’t going to admit that to Ashley, though.

            He proceeded to cautiously scout out the terrain.  When he was satisfied that no one was up there, he quietly entered the castle.  As he went inside he heard another noise, different from the rustling.  And this time it came from directly in front of him!  Quickly drawing his sword, he advanced on the enemy.  Catching sight of the intruder, he stopped and stared.

            Waiting anxiously down below, Ashley heard nothing but silence.  Then suddenly, Jeremiah’s voice came from above.

            “Your Majesty, I have found the Spy!”  He chuckled, then began to laugh.  “And the spy has planted a bomb in your castle.”

            “A bomb?” said Ashley, alarmed.

            “A bomb,” confirmed Jeremiah, “And it is disguised as an egg!”

            “An egg?” said Ashley, confused.

            “Yes, an egg,” said Jeremiah.  “Our spy is a chicken!”

            “But,” protested Ashley, “I know I shut the door on the chicken house.  How did she get out?”

            “It’s not one of Mother’s chickens.  This one is all red,” explained Jeremiah.

            “Well done, Captain,” said Princess Ashley remembering who she was, “You shall receive a medal for your brave service.  We shall have to put the spy in the dungeon until we find out who sent her.”

            “How am I supposed to get the spy out of the tree, I mean castle?” asked the Captain.

            Princess Ashley thought for a moment.  “I remember seeing a cardboard box on the back porch this morning.  Could you put the spy in the box and lower it in the basket?”

            “Excellent idea, Your Highness.”

            “Then it shall be done,” declared the Princess, dashing royally off to the house to retrieve the box.

            It took Jeremiah a few minutes to chase the spy into a corner so he could pick her up.  Then he gently put her in the box that Ashley had brought up.  The box was then put into the basket.   Using the rope, he slowly lowered the basket to Ashley who was now waiting at the bottom of the tree.  The children took their prisoner over to the chicken house dungeon and released her.  As they watched her through the fence, she headed straight for the feed tub and began to eat.

            Ashley didn’t like the looks of this spy chicken.  She wasn’t pretty like Mother’s chickens.  She didn’t sparkle in the sun.  In fact, she was the color of the old rusty latch on the barn door.    “She probably doesn’t lay pretty eggs, either,” Ashley grumbled to herself.

            “No, she doesn’t, she’s a Rhode Island Red, not an Araucana like the others,” said Mother’s voice from behind her.  Startled, Ashley turned quickly around to find Mother smiling at her.  “Her name is Spot,” Mother continued, “And she will lay twice as many eggs as the other girls.  I’m glad you found her.  She wasn’t in her coop this morning when Farmer Dennis went to get her.”

            “Spot?” Ashley sputtered.  “Spot?  That’s an ugly name for an ugly chicken!” she declared.

            “Ashley,” Mother said gently, no longer smiling, “That is a very unkind thing to say.”

            “But Mother,” protested Ashley, “This chicken is a spy we caught sneaking around in the castle.  We must find out why she’s here and then send her back to wherever she came from!”

            “Spot was Miss Hazel’s chicken,” Mother replied.  “Miss Hazel left today to go live with her daughter in the city.  Before she left, she asked me if Spot could come and live with us.”

            “But she’s so ugly!  Whatever will I say when stuck-up Macy Adams finds out?”

            “That is quite enough, Ashley,” said Mother sternly.  “Macy is not stuck-up, she is just very shy.  I will not allow you to talk about her that way.  As for what you’re going to say, you should decide quickly.  Mr. Adams has gone to town, so I have invited Mrs. Adams and Macy for dinner.”  Then Mother left to go pick vegetables from the kitchen garden.

            Ashley looked at Jeremiah who had been standing very quietly by the corner of the chicken house.  He shook his head slowly, then whistled to Sheila-the-Wonderdog and ran off to the pasture to play.  Ashley watched as Jeremiah climbed over the top of the split rail fence surrounding the pasture.  Sheila-the-Wonderdog just squeezed under the bottom rail instead of jumping over.  Soon they were both hidden by the tall grass swaying in the gentle summer breeze.

            After they were gone, she wandered slowly back over to the oak tree and spent the rest of the morning sitting quietly by herself in the tree fort, thinking about what Mother had said.

The Runaway Rhode Island Red-Chapter One

     This is a story about a little girl named Ashley who had curly blond hair that all the grownups thought was adorable, green eyes that flashed when she was out of temper, and who was very grown up for being only eight. It’s also about her brother, Jeremiah, who had dark reddish brown hair like Grandmother’s that curled up on the ends, green eyes that turned almost blue when he was happy, and who was very smart for being only nine. Their very best friend was Sheila-the-Wonderdog, who was black on the top, the color of Mother’s buttercream on the bottom, and was the bravest dog in all the world. Ashley, Jeremiah, and Sheila-the-Wonderdog all lived with Mother on Bear Creek Farm. They had many exciting adventures there, and this is one of them.

Chapter One: The Tree Fort

     It was a fine summer morning at Bear Creek Farm. As Ashley looked out her bedroom window, the sunlight was so thick and golden that it made her think of Farmer Lee’s clover honey. An altogether perfect day, she thought, to climb to the very top of the tree fort with Jeremiah and find animals hiding in the white puffy clouds scattered across the sky. The tree fort sat snugly between the three largest branches of an ancient oak tree. The rough brown trunk was so big it took four children holding hands to go all the way around it. The branches went up so high that Ashley sometimes wondered how the clouds didn’t get caught in them. This was Ashley’s favorite place on the farm. She loved the old tree. She could sit in it’s branches for hours. In the springtime, the leaves were bright green. When she laid along the branches it was like floating on a sea of swaying emeralds. In the summer, Mother allowed the children to spend the night in the fort. She would string twinkle lights on the branches so it wouldn’t be too dark. Ashley always thought the lights looked like a cloud of softly glowing fireflies as she drifted off to sleep. In the fall, the children would take turns burying each other in the deep drifts of red and gold and brown leaves. Sometimes they would throw great piles of them high up into the air and dance as they drifted down, with Sheila-the-Wonderdog dashing around in circles and barking madly. And in the wintertime, huge drifts of snow would gather on the roof of the fort and on all the tree branches. Ashley thought the snow sparkled just like diamonds in the sunlight. And the fort was the very best place to hide in and throw snowballs at people.

     Ashley shared her plan for the day at the breakfast table with Jeremiah, who happily agreed. So, as soon as they had finished the last little bit of cereal, they hurried off to do their chores. Ashley skipped over to the chicken house, humming happily to herself, while Jeremiah took Sheila-the-Wonderdog and ran off to the barn to feed their cow Rosie. Sheila went along to make sure Rosie didn’t get too frisky when Jeremiah filled her manger with sweet smelling hay from the hayloft. Jeremiah thought that his job was more important because, “Mother sells the butter, you know.” But Ashley didn’t care. She loved Mother’s chickens. When they were inside they looked black, but after she opened the door and let them out into the sun, their feathers sparkled with green and blue flecks just like someone had sprinkled glitter all over them. Mother said that they were special and had named them all after queens.

     After Ashley finished filling the water and feed tubs she went back inside the chicken house. This was her most favorite part. Very carefully she put her hand into the first nesting box. She felt all around inside until her hand touched the cool, smooth, roundness of an egg. She put it gently into her wicker basket and continued down the row of boxes. Some of the eggs were a pale green and some of the eggs were sky blue. Ashley was very proud of their pretty chickens and colored eggs. She and Jeremiah had gone with Mother last week to welcome a new family to the neighboring farm. There, she met the daughter, stuck-up Macy Adams. Ashley told Macy about the chickens and said, “Our eggs aren’t ordinary brown or white eggs like yours. It’s like having Easter every day!” After carefully gathering all the eggs and taking them inside to Mother, Ashley skipped over to the oak tree in the far corner of the yard.

     The fort had a ladder that went right up to the blue door, and windows on the other three sides with green shutters that could be closed against the wind and rain. A rope was attached to the wall under one of the windows. The other end of the rope was tied to the handle of an old wicker basket. The children liked to have snacks or sometimes even lunch in the fort. They would put all the goodies in the basket at the bottom of the tree and pull it up to the fort with the rope. Jeremiah had wanted to name it “Fort Bearus Creekus” because it made it sound like someplace in one of Mother’s history books. Ashley thought the name rather silly and wanted to call it “Castle Fairy Bear”, but Mother liked Fort Bearus Creekus and said it sounded ‘educational’ whatever that meant, and so the name had stuck.

     As Ashley climbed the long wooden ladder up to the fort her imagination was already at work. She was no longer Ashley-of-Bear Creek Farm, she was now Princess Ashley-of-Castle Fairy Bear. Princess Ashley was climbing to the top of her tallest castle tower to escape her arch enemy – the evil Prince Jeremiah!

     “I don’t think he’s going to like this game,” she thought, and giggled to herself.

     Just then, Princess Ashley heard a rustling in the leaves above her.

     “Rats,” she thought, “the evil Prince Jeremiah finished his chores before I did!”

     “Evil Prince Jeremiah,” she said to the leaves in her most princess-y voice, “I, Princess Ashley, command you to come down from my tower!”

     There was no answer from above, just more leaves rustling.

     “Evil Prince Jeremiah,” she said again in an extremely annoyed princess-y voice, “you must follow my commands!”

     This time there was nothing but silence.

     “Jeremiah, don’t be mean,” she said crossly, stomping her foot. It wasn’t easy to stomp her foot while standing on a wooden ladder halfway up a tree, but somehow she managed.

     “What are you all mad about, Ash?” asked Jeremiah.

     “Why didn’t you ans…” Ashley stopped mid-word. She suddenly realized that Jeremiah’s voice had come from below her, not above her. She looked down and there he was, standing at the foot of the ladder with Sheila-the-Wonderdog at his side.

     “But I thought…” she began and then stopped because she heard the rustling noise from above her again. Then, as fast as her eight-year old legs would move, she scrambled back down the ladder, all thoughts of cloud animals and evil princes forgotten.