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The Milkmaid: Aesop Fables for Kids
A milkmaid, who poised a full pail on her head,
Thus mused on her prospects in life, it is said:
“Let’s see—I should think that this milk will procure
One hundred good eggs, or fourscore to be sure.
“Well then—stop a bit,—it must not be forgotten,
Some of these may be broken, and some may be rotten;
But if twenty for accidents should be detach’d,
It will leave me just sixty sound eggs to hatch’d.
“Well, sixty sound eggs—no; sound chickens, I mean;
Of these some may die—we’ll suppose seventeen—
Seventeen!—not so many—say ten at the most,
Which will leave fifty chickens to boil or to roast.
“But then there’s their barley; how much will they need?
Why they take but one grain at a time when they feed,
So that’s a mere trifle; now then let us see,
At a fair market price, how much money there’ll be?
“Six shillings a pair—five—four—three-and-six,
To prevent all mistakes, that low price I will fix;
Now what will that make? fifty chickens, I said,
Fifty times three-and-sixpence—I’ll ask brother Ned.
“Oh! but stop—three-and-sixpence a pair I must sell ’em;
Well, a pair is a couple—now then let us tell ’em;
A couple in fifty will go—(my poor brain!)
Why just a score times, and five pair will remain.
“Twenty-five pair of fowls—now how shameful it is,
That I can’t reckon up as much money as this!
Well, there’s no use in trying; so let’s give a guess;
I will say twenty pounds, and it can’t be no less.
“Twenty pounds, I am certain, will buy me a cow,
Thirty geese, and two turkeys—eight pigs and a sow;
Now if these turn out well, at the end of the year,
I shall fill both my pockets with guineas ’tis clear.
“Then I’ll bid that old tumble-down hovel good-bye;
My mother she’ll scold, and my sisters they’ll cry:
But I won’t care a crow’s egg for all they can say;
I shan’t go to stop with such beggars as they!”
But forgetting her burden, when this she had said,
The maid superciliously toss’d up her head
When alas! for her prospects—the milk pail descended!
And so all her schemes for the future were ended.
This moral, I think, may be safely attach’d:
Reckon not on your chickens before they are hatch’d.