The King of All Roosters

Once, before the threat of bird flu, Hong Kong people could raise chickens, and there was a garden near Mui Wo where the Chan family kept some. Every morning, before school, Chan Junior rooted around the bushes looking for warm eggs. He had names for all the chickens and knew all the secret places where they laid. Chirp, for example, laid behind a honeysuckle bush. Pecker, in an old bucket. Fantail, in an old Tanka hat.

23. King of the RoostersBut then there was Rob the rooster. He didn’t lay eggs, of course. Instead, every morning, at the first streak of dawn, he would strut around the garden crowing cockadoodledo!

Now Rob had the longest tail feathers you could imagine, and the most dashing red crown. And boy, did he know it! Not only would he crow cockadoodledo, cockadoodledo hundreds of times, but also other words which only chickens understand. Like, I’m your master. I’m your king. And you’re my slave.

The chickens thought him a cocky fellow who was too big for his feet. So they kept well away.

But the Chan family were often driven mad by Rob’s noisy morning calls. Mr. Chan would block his ears with cotton wool. Mrs. Chan would hide her head under the bed covers. Chan Junior, who was up to collect the chickens’ eggs anyway, would chase Rob around the garden with a rattan brush.

But even then, Rob’s morning calls could be heard all around the village. Cockadoodledo, cockadoodledo. I’m your master. I’m your king. And you’re my slave.

One morning, Rob crowed once too much. Mr. Chan stalked out of the house, grabbed him behind the chicken coop, and whisked him off to the chopping block.

That night, Mrs. Chan cooked some delicious chicken soup.

This is an adaptation of a northern Chinese fable. 

Illustrated by Bianca Lesaca

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