IT’S ABSOLUTELY TRUE
BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
Note to tellers: I like the quote, “The naked truth is presentable when clothed in a story”
This is as close to the oral as writing can make it, so it should be easy to tell, and humorous! That is always a plus. I also show in underlining the words that are emphasized.
“It’s a terrible affair! I can’t sleep for thinking about that awful chicken house! And to think that it is absolutely true!”
This is what a hen was saying and she lived in a different part of town from where it all happened—
She told the story to the other hens and it made their feathers stand on end and turned the rooster’s combs a scarlet red!
It happened in a chicken house at the other end of town. The sun went down, and the hens flew up. One of them was a perfectly respectable hen who laid her eggs and minded her own business. When she got to her perch, she preened herself with her beak and a little feather came out and fluttered down. “So much for that one! ´ she said, and just for fun she added, “The more I preen, the lovelier I’ll be, for sure!” Now you and I know that it is perfectly respectable to love fun, and she said that for fun!
The hen next to her on the perch was still awake and she heard, and she had not heard, as happens sometimes if you want to live in peace and quiet, but just the same, she clucked to the hen on the other side, “Did you hear that? I will not name names, but acertain hen means to pluck out her feathers, thinking it will make her look good to the roosters. If I were a rooster, I would despise the looks of such a hen!”
Who was sitting just above that hen? Why, it was the owl, of course, with her husband and her owl children. They had sharp ears and theyheard every word that hen said.They rolled their eyes and the mother owl fanned herself with her wing. “You heard what she said, didn’t you? For pity’s sake, one of those silly hens has set about plucking out all of her feathers and in plain view of the rooster!” The father owl scolded, “Little pitchers have big ears! Do you want the children to hear such stuff?” Then both of them hooted, “Who? Tu-whit! Tu-Who!” and the doves heard it all the way down in their dovecote across the yard. “Tu-who! Here’s a hen who has plucked out all of her feathers to impress the rooster. She’ll freeze to death, if she isn’t dead already!” “Where, ooh, where?” cooed the doves. “In the hen yard, over there! It happened!—things like this are really too naughty to speak of, but when we know it is absolutely true—what can we say?” “True, true,” the doves repeated the story—“There’s a hen—some say it is two—who have plucked out all their feathers to attract the attention of the rooster. Suppose they catch cold and die? OhYes! It is true! Two of them are dead!”
Then the rooster had something to crow about! “Wake up, everybody! Wake up!” Even though it was not time to crow, what did he care! “Three hens have died for the love of a rooster. They plucked out all of their feathers!” Then he felt duty bound to say, “Pass it on!” (Squeak here) “Pass it on!” “Pass it on!” squeaked the bats, and hens clucked and the roosters kept on crowing, “Pass it on! Pass it on!”
And the story flew on, henhouse to henhouse, until, at last it was back again to the henhouse where it all started. Now the story ran this way: “There are five hens who have plucked out all their feathers to show which one of them was the thinnest, all for the love of the rooster! Then they plucked at each other until the blood came and they all fell down dead to the shame and disgrace of their family, and the serious loss of their owner.”
The hen that had lost that one little feather did not recognize her own story. She was a respectable hen, she exclaimed, “How despicable! We must not shut this up, for there are plenty more such hens about. We need to get it in the paper so that it can be known all over the country. It will serve those hens right, and their families too!
So it was in all the papers—in print—and it is absolutely true that one little feather can easily become five hens!