Rusty Rooster

by Solveig Paulson Russell

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    Rusty Rooster wanted to crow. Although he had never crowed before, he declared, “Today I’m going to crow! I’ll fly up on the fence post, flap my wings, and crow, Cock-a-doodle doo! Then all the hens will hear and look at me and I’ll be so proud.”

    Up on the fence Rusty Rooster flew. He flapped his wings, stuck out his chest, flipped his tail, opened his mouth, and out came a squeaky, “Cock-a-diddly-dub!”

    “Oh, my!” he said to himself when he heard these strange sounds.

    The hens down on the ground laughed noisily in a cluckety-chuckly way.

    Pussycat Pete stopped on his way to the barn and stared at Rusty Rooster.

    Dubby Duck came waddling from the pond. “Poor fellow,” he said.

    Rusty Rooster flew down from the fence post as fast as he could and hurried off to a far corner of the pasture. “I’m no good for crowing!” he said, hanging his head. “I guess I’ll never amount to anything. I just can’t crow!”

    Pussycat Pete and Dubby Duck felt sorry for Rusty Rooster so they followed him to the pasture.

    “You just need more practice,” said Pussycat Pete. “It takes time to become a good crower.”

    “Please try again,” begged Dubby Duck. “We won’t laugh at you!”

    Rusty Rooster looked at them and smiled. “Maybe you’re right,” he said. “I’ll try once more.”

    Then he jumped up on a rock, opened his mouth, stretched his neck, and crowed, “Cock-a-diddly-dub!”

    “It’s no use. I’ll never be able to crow!” he sighed.

    “Yes, you will,” said Pussycat Pete. “You can start by making a soft sound like this—Meow! Try it!”

    Rusty Rooster tried. “Meow!” he said in a quiet voice.

    “Fine! Fine! Beautiful!” cried Pussycat Pete.

    “Now,” said Dubby Duck, “make loud clear sounds like this—Quack, quack, quack!

    “Quack, quack, quack!” said Rusty Rooster much louder.

    “Excellent! Wonderful!” said Dubby Duck. “You see, you can do it. Now keep practicing.”

    Pussycat Pete and Dubby Duck went back to the barnyard while Rusty Rooster practiced in the meadow. He practiced all day. When evening came, he ate a few grass seeds and then practiced some more before he went to sleep.

    “Where is Rusty?” the hens asked early the next morning. They looked everywhere for the little rooster, but no one could find him.

    The next day the hens asked again, “Where is Rusty Rooster? We hope he isn’t lost.”

    All the hens clucked when they saw Rusty Rooster come strutting into the barnyard later that afternoon.

    “Going to criddle-crow again today, Rusty?” one hen asked with a chuckle.

    “I’m going to crow,” Rusty answered firmly as he flew to the top of the fence post. He proudly flapped his wings, flipped his tail, and fluffed out his chest. Then he opened his mouth and crowed loudly, “Meow! Meow!”

    The hens that were gathered below gasped in astonishment. Pussycat Pete’s tail stood straight up in surprise, and Dubby Duck’s eyes began to blink open and shut, open and shut.

    But before any of them could say a word, Rusty Rooster stretched his neck and crowed, “Quack, quack, quack!”

    The hens stood silent and Pussycat Pete and Dubby Duck couldn’t move either.

    Then Rusty Rooster threw back his head, stuck out his chest, and crowed, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” The sound was loud and clear and sure.

    The hens cackled with joy and danced about making scritchy-scratchy markings on the ground with their yellow feet.

    “Wonderful! Wonderful!” they cried, spreading their wings and flipping their tails. “Rusty Rooster can crow three ways! He’s a marvel—the best in the country!”

    From high on the fence post Rusty Rooster winked at Pussycat Pete and Dubby Duck. He nodded his head to say thank you, and Pussycat Pete and Dubby Duck smiled and winked back.

    Illustrated by Dick Brown