Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Harriet’s Easter Surprise


Jan Baynham

Harriet’s Easter Surprise

Sweet Hot Chocolate



‘Oh no!’ I clucked to myself, watching Patsy Poulet and Fiona Fowl as they headed my way. These two birds thought they ruled the roost.
‘Come on, Harriet Hen,’ squawked Patsy. ‘Off you get. You’ve been sitting on that nest for days. Let’s see.’ The two hens pushed me off and gazed in at my clutch of precious eggs.
‘What on earth is that?’ clucked Fiona unkindly and pointed one of her talons at the smallest egg which was tucked safely in the corner of the straw. They both cackled with laughter and flew back to the high perch at the other end of the hen house.
I looked down on my eight eggs with the pride that only a broody hen could understand. To me, the smallest egg was special not different, with a pink lilac shell delicately spattered with fine purple speckles and a translucent coating almost like a powder that didn’t rub off. I returned to warm the eggs, fluffed up my feathers and sat back down. How dare they make fun of my beautiful tiny egg? I thought.
‘Over there, my little one,’ I clucked to the pink egg, rolling it to the edge where it was cooler. Something told me instinctively not to over-heat my special egg. That evening, I felt the first pecking and gentle tapping from a few of my chicks inside their shells and knew it wouldn’t be long before they hatched. I loved this time of year when all my careful nest sitting would soon result in baby chicks entering the world from the safety of their silky smooth eggs.
Sure enough, a few days before Good Friday seven out of my eight eggs hatched out into straggly wet chicks. It wasn’t long before they were fluffy and yellow, opening their beaks wide for any food I could give them. My special pink egg just lay there.
‘When are you going to hatch, my little one?’ I clucked, but half knowing that would never happen. Deep down, something told me there was no chick inside the pink shell. As well as producing chicks, my other job was to lay eggs for the family’s breakfast and soon I had laid another clutch of fresh eggs.

*

‘Sophie, Josh! Come and choose your eggs!’ said their mum. ‘As soon as we’ve had breakfast, we can start the egg hunt.’
 It was Easter Sunday at last and the children found their way to where Harriet had laid her eggs.
‘I know why you two always head for Harriet’s eggs,’ she said.
‘Because they are always the brownest and the creamiest,’ Sophie laughed. ‘I’m sure Patsy and Fiona must be jealous.’ She looked over to the part of the henhouse where the two other hens were strutting up and down their perches as if to attract the children’s attention away from Harriet.
 ‘Can I have this one, Mum?’ said Josh, holding up a large shiny brown egg.
‘Mum, Mum, come quick!’ said Sophie. ‘Look Harriet’s laid a pink egg! It must be for me.’
            ‘Don’t be daft,’ said her mum. ‘Hens don’t lay pink eggs!’
‘Come and see,’ said Sophie. ‘Harriet has!’
Her mum strolled over to the corner where Sophie was jumping up and down, unable to contain her excitement.

            ‘Well, I never. In all the years I’ve been looking after hens, I swear I’ve not seen one like that before, ever.’
Sophie picked up the pink egg and carried it back to the house as if she was holding a precious jewel.
All but one of the eggs were dropped into boiling water for four and a half minutes precisely but something told Sophie’s mum just to warm the pink egg gently. Buttered bread soldiers were waiting in rows around the plates for the children to top their eggs.
‘Wow,’ said Josh, as the yolk, like golden lava, trickled down the side of the shell when he opened his egg.
But when Sophie’s spoon cut through the pink shell of her egg, a smooth creamy chocolate oozed out instead.
          ‘I knew the pink egg was special,’ Sophie said, delighted. ‘Thank you, Harriet. It’s a real Easter surprise!’      

About the Author
A writer living in Cardiff, Jan joined a writers' group three years ago and began writing for her own enjoyment. It wasn’t until she joined a university writing class taught by a published author that she began to submit stories for publication. She is currently writing her first novel.
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