For those of you who have been following the story of Henrietta and Hector, we thought you might like to have the whole story!
The Unlikely Travels of Henrietta and Hector
By Pamela Perkins
This is a story about a little black bantam hen who once had a longing to see the world. The name of this hen is Henrietta. She is very proud of her name, which is French, and means “Keeper of the Hearth”.
This is also a story about a bantam rooster with a magnificent glossy blue-green plume of a tail. He once dreamed about traveling and exploring unknown places. The name of this rooster is Hector. He is very proud of his name, which means steadfast.
Chapter 1: How It All Began
Henrietta and Hector have been best friends since they were chicks. They used to live with many other bantams, in and amongst a large stand of wild mango trees, tangles of vines and dense guava thickets. They had plenty of clean, fresh water to drink, and ever so many bugs to eat, plus ripe fruit that fell plentifully to the forest floor. They were content and loved their simple life, except for one thing: they felt a certain odd restlessness of spirit. Unlike their friends, who were quite laid back, content to scratch and peck, sun and snooze the whole day through, and when dusk came, fly up into the nearest tree to roost, Henrietta and Hector were curious about everything. Was the world just one endless forest that stretched on and on until it bumped into the rim of blue that they could just glimpse from their perches high up in the tallest mango tree? What was that blue, so dark and different from the daytime blue overhead? Where had the bright sun come from before it rose up out of the darkness into their sky each morning? Where did it go at night? They would often whisper together and wonder. Before they settled down to sleep each evening, they would promise each other that someday, when the time was right, they would travel together and discover answers to their questions.
Little did Henrietta or Hector know, but some friendly young sea breezes overheard them discuss their hopes and dreams. The young breezes smiled to each other: they had an idea. Together, they wind-whispered a plan. They would offer to help the little bantams with their wish for a most adventuresome experience! They would help them to safely see the whole island, from the mountains to the seashore. Now, at this point in time, the two little bantams had no idea that they lived on an island, nor that the island lay in the middle of a vast ocean. They had never seen more water in one place than the large puddles that pooled on the forest floor after a heavy rain.
In the end, when the right time arrived, something happened that was quite unexpected, and completely unplanned, by either the young sea breezes or Henrietta and Hector. What follows is the unlikely story of how two little wild chickens thus ended up far, far, far away from their home in the jumbled tangle of wild mango trees and vines and thickets on an island in the middle of the ocean.
Chapter 2: The Travelers Set Off
One morning Henrietta woke up before dawn and decided that it was the perfect day to travel. She nudged Hector and said, “Wake up! I have an idea! As soon as you announce the dawn, as you do so faithfully every morning, let’s take a trip together and see where the wind takes us! It is such a lovely morning, and I feel like soaring high into the blue, blue sky, higher than we have ever flown before! Let’s explore!” Hector yawned, then agreed. First, he stretched his left leg straight out behind him, and then he stretched out his right leg the same way. Then he stood firmly on both feet, flapped his wings vigorously, stretched out his neck, tossed his head back, and proceeded to crow in the day, as he always did, to let the creatures nearby know that it was time to rise. Next, he and Henrietta ate their fill of juicy fruit and crunchy insects and took long sips of cool water. After their breakfast, they took a good dust bath, fluffed out their feathers, then smoothed them down again. Now they were ready. “We’re going off to travel and see a bit of the world,” they excitedly informed their friends, who just looked at one another in complete astonishment, shook their heads and sighed. Why anyone would want to leave such a safe, comfortable life to go off into the unknown was beyond their understanding. Unruffled and undaunted by their friends’ skepticism, the two adventurers cheerfully said farewell, and headed off down a narrow trail between the trees.
For a while, Henrietta and Hector were content just to stroll along through the underbrush. When they reached a large clearing, they stopped to have a snack and enjoy the warm sunshine. Suddenly the friendly young sea breezes came huffing and puffing along, then quietly settled down beside them. “We have been looking for you two!” they exclaimed. “Your friends told us that you had set off to travel and see a bit of the world. We would love to help you.” Then the sea breezes explained how they had overheard Henrietta and Hector whispering at night. They offered to help the bantams fly high up into the blue, blue sky, just as Henrietta wished, but much farther that the little birds could possibly fly on their own. They offered to guide them around and show them the many different places that the two could safely explore, just as Hector had hoped. Henrietta and Hector were delighted by this surprise gift and thanked their new breezy friends.
The sea breezes wanted to explain a few more details, so they chatted a while longer before they all set off up, up, up and over the trees of the forest. Higher and higher, and farther and farther they flew into the blue, blue sky, soaring just the way Henrietta had imagined they would. They looked down upon strange new sights, just as Hector had hoped they would. The two travelers were astonished by how big and beautiful the world was! A vast mountain swelled up behind them, tipped with snow. Below them they sighted a fast-flowing river, high waterfalls, many deep ravines, patches of open farmland and pastures, and everywhere, ribbons of rich red soil that wound in and out between the green. They learned from the friendly young ocean breezes that their world was called an island, and that it was set in the middle of an even bigger, endless world of blue called an ocean that stretched all the way to the sky. But the breezes had no idea what lay further than they all could see. They were still quite young and only allowed to puff and float around the island, close to shore. Henrietta and Hector were overjoyed and thrilled! This experience was already beyond their wildest dreams and imagining. Neither of them had ever flown so far, so fast, nor so high. All the while, their sea breeze friends swirled and swooped under their wings, help to lift and support them, and gently pushed them here and there to show them new and interesting places.
Chapter 3: The Cloud Nest
All of a sudden, Henrietta and Hector felt exhausted. They quickly glanced at one another: they were afraid. They knew that they could not fly much longer, and that they were terribly high up in the air. What would they do? Where could they safely land? The mountains behind them looked too high and too far away. The ravines looked too steep and narrow and scary. The tired travelers began to struggle to keep their wings flapping. One of the friendly young sea breezes suddenly noticed what was happening and realized that the little chickens needed her immediate help. While her friends stayed and supported the two weary chickens, she sped away and gathered some nearby wisps of fluffy cloud. She huffed and puffed and gathered them up into a large soft cloud nest. Then she pushed this right up beside Henrietta and Hector. “Quickly! Settle down on this,” she said, indicating the cloud. “You will be safe and secure here until you feel well rested and ready to fly again. After that you can begin to look for a spot where you would like land. Then call us and we will come back and help float you closer to the ground. You can then jump off and safely fly the rest of the way down to the ground.”
Henrietta and Hector gratefully flopped down onto the cloud and thanked their friends. “We are sorry that you were so frightened,” apologized the young sea breezes. “We were not paying attention to how weary you had grown, for we do not have wings and never really tire. We forgot about everything else besides helping you to have a wonderful adventure.”
The two bantams reassured them that they held no hard feelings, thanked them again sleepily and wriggled themselves side to side, the way chickens do, until they were nestled deep in the softness of the downy cloud. Then the young sea breezes headed back out towards the seashore to play with the waves as these splashed up onto the sand and rocks.
Ahhh! Henrietta and Hector sighed. It was such a relief to feel safe again, to rest their weary wings and relax. The warm sun smiled down on them. The cloud under them rocked gently back and forth. Soon both little bantams fell fast, and deeply, asleep.
Now clouds, as you probably know, are friendly things, and like to meet up with one another to chat and socialize, just as good friends do everywhere. Soon many clouds joined the one where the two little bantams peacefully slept.
Chapter 4: Danger!
The young sea breezes were so absorbed in their play (as children of all kinds can easily be) that they forgot to pay attention to what was happening around them. Suddenly, they remembered about Henrietta and Hector, but by then, a thick blanket of white and grey had covered the whole sky. Down beneath the clouds, rain began to fall heavily onto the earth and the ocean, but above them, the sun still shone. Henrietta and Hector, safe and dry, still slept on peacefully.
The young sea breezes tried to push and poke through the clouds, to find the one where Henrietta and Hector were (hopefully) still resting. They pushed, and they poked, and they pushed, and they poked, but they were not strong enough to break through the thick cloud cover. They were out of breath and had to rest a while. “We won’t give up!” they declared emphatically. “We won’t stop until we know our little friends are safe!” Fortunately, the clouds soon finished their conversations. It was time to go their separate ways, and they slowly drifted apart. Unfortunately, by the time the young sea breezes spotted the large cloud nest where the bantams lay nestled deep in its downy softness, it had floated far out over the ocean. “Oh no!” They exclaimed. “Little bantams may like puddles, but they cannot swim out there. The waves are too rough, and there are many creatures who would love a meal of tender chicken. But we need help…we cannot go way out there! (They were, after all, still very young sea breezes, and did not have much experience with emergencies such as this.) They raced away to find Makani, their big wind brother.
Makani swiftly returned with them. “Hmmm,” he said seriously, but calmly. “This cloud is now too far out over the ocean even for me to go and bring it back to the Island. But, do not be afraid,” he continued with confidence. I know who can help us now. Cover your ears, for I must shout out across the blue, blue ocean to my friend, Coastal Wind who lives along the other edge of the waters to the East. She can bring this cloud with its little passengers to safety.” Henrietta and Hector were still so tired, that they kept on sleeping peacefully.
Have you ever played a game where one person tells a message to another, and that person passes it to the next, and so forth? Well, this is exactly what happened with the messages shared from one wind to another. The young sea breezes explained all about Henrietta and Hector and their travel plans to Makani, who explained everything to Coastal Wind. She thought that perhaps the little bantams might be happier up in the hill country, so she brought the cloud (and the young sea breezes’ message) to Mountain Wind, who brought the cloud (and the young sea breezes’ message) to Forest Wind, who thought that perhaps the little bantams might prefer the desert. Desert Wind was sure the plains would be more suitable; then Plains Wind was positive that Lake Wind could find the destination that Henrietta and Hector had wished for. Things went on and on like that, until at last, a gentle Spring Breeze grew tired of tediously pushing the cloud with its still sleeping passengers any further. She could not even remember where she was supposed to be taking them, or why. She knew only that she must keep them safe until they were fully rested and could fly back down to the earth. But … they were still asleep! She decided to slowly lower the cloud until it gently bumped into the thick fog that lay just above the ground. Mother Night came over to investigate, and upon hearing the situation (as well as Spring Breeze could remember it) offered to take over. She thanked Spring Breeze, who then went on her way. At long last, the two sleeping travelers were safely placed in the middle of a thicket of thorny shrubs and reedy grasses by the edge of a small pond. Mother Night watched over Henrietta and Hector until Dawn arrived, whereupon she returned to her own bed to rest far away beyond the mountains to the West.
Chapter 5: What Happened Next
Henrietta’s eyes slowly opened. She gazed around in the dull greyish blue-lavender light. It was almost dawn. Suddenly she was very wide awake. She remembered falling asleep on a cloud, high up in the blue, blue sky, the warm sunshine above her, the soft downy bed beneath her … and then …? Why, she must have fallen asleep!!! She looked over and saw Hector, still snoozing. Where were they now!!! She nudged him and whispered, “Wake up!” He yawned, blinking sleepily. First, he stretched his left leg straight out behind him, and then he stretched out his right leg the same way. He was very much a creature of habit. Next, he stood firmly on both feet, flapped his wings vigorously, stretched out his neck and, tossed back his head, and prepared to crow in the day, as he always did, to let the creatures nearby know that it was time to rise. Before his ‘Cock-a-doodle-do !!!’ could begin to come out, he suddenly stopped and shut his beak. The memory of their traveling suddenly flooded back to him, at least, up until the time when they had gratefully flopped down onto the cloud, wriggled themselves side to side, the way chickens do, and nestled deep in the softness of the downy cloud. The last thing he remembered was the feel of the warm sunshine smiling down on them and the gentle up and down movements of the floating cloud. Clouds! Sky! Oh my! Suddenly, he too was very wide awake. He and Henrietta stared at each other, then they slowly looked all around, then turned back to look at each other. They could feel the cool dewy grass under their feet, they could feel the mild air puff over them from a faint breeze. They could smell new strange scents and hear strange new sounds. Splashing. Plopping. Swishing. They were most definitely “somewhere else.” They were definitely no longer anywhere near their home in the jumbled tangle of wild mango trees and vines and thickets on an island in the middle of the ocean.
They were too astonished to feel afraid. Besides, they were quite hungry and thirsty, and rather excited and curious, in spite of their shock and surprise. (Bantams are remarkably resilient and plucky little creatures.) Henrietta announced in her most matter-of-fact voice, “We must find something to eat and drink. But first, you must finish your cock-a-doodle-do.” Hector, steadfast rooster, nodded. He stood firmly on both feet, flapped his wings vigorously, stretched out his neck, tossed his head back, and proceeded to finish crowing in the day, as he always did, to let the creatures nearby know that it was time to rise. After all, it was dawn, and this was his appointed task.
Nearby, several creatures startled. What in the world was a rooster doing way out here by this pond, so far from the barnyard! And what in the world kind of rooster crowed like THAT? They were very curious, and a bit cautious. All of the birds announced the news: “Zik-zik! Zik-zik! Grk-grk! Conk-la-ree! Tweedle-dee! Cree-cree-cheeroo! Pee-oo-eee! We have visitors!!! The red-winged blackbirds found them first, for they had their nests close by in the reeds. Now it was Henrietta and Hector’s turn to be startled. They had never heard anyone speak all those languages before. What were the voices saying? Were these strangers friendly?
Chapter 6: Meetings and Greetings
The red-winged blackbirds looked at Henrietta and Hector. They could see right away that they need not be cautious and that the strangers were frightened, so they called out “Conk-la-ree! Chit! Chit! Good morning to you, and welcome friends!” Even though they spoke an unusual language, the two little bantams understood their message. They relaxed and felt safe. Quite soon both blackbirds and bantams were chatting easily with each other. That is how it is, with the language of the heart. “What beautiful glossy feathers!” “Where are we?” “Where are you from?” “Have you come to live here?” “I love those beautiful red and gold bar along your wing feather”. Everyone talked excitedly at once.
At last, one of the red-winged blackbirds said above the din, “Ahem, we forget our manners! Are you folks hungry? Thirsty? You must have traveled a long way. Come, eat and drink, then we can chat more. We too have just recently arrived at the pond from the South, but this is our home every Spring and Summer, here among the reeds and cattails by the pond, so we know all of the neighbors. We will introduce you after breakfast.”
Henrietta and Hector looked at each other a blankly, for they were not quite sure what their new friends meant by “South” and “Spring” and “Summer’ and ‘pond’ and where “away” was. Until they woke up on that fine morning …when was it now?… and decided to see a bit of the world, they had only known sunshine and rain, daytime and night-time and the weather was always warm. But the red-winged blackbirds’ friendly greetings reassured them. “We have come a long way, at least, we think we have,” Hector told them. “And actually, we have no idea where we are, nor exactly how we got here-wherever ‘here’ is. but we can certainly tell you where we came from.” Henrietta cleared her throat and nudged Hector gently but firmly. “Oh, and yes,” he continued, “Thank you, we would love some breakfast. We are very hungry and thirsty. “
The bantams followed their friends to an open area near the pond. Here they found plentiful green grasses, seeds and even flowers and shoots to nibble, plus an assortment of insects new to the bantams, but delicious. The pond water tasted fresh and cool. They loved the feel of the soft mud by its edge as it squished up between their toes. All around the trees slowly waved their new pale yellowy green leaves. The warm Spring air (for that was the season in this place) smelled sweet. By now, the sun was high up over the gently rolling landscape that was forested with evergreens, as well as maples, oaks and birch.
Many other kinds of birds had joined them by now, along with small furry folks that the bantams had never dreamed existed, even in their wildest imaginations. Back home in the large stand of wild mango trees, tangles of vines and dense guava thickets where they had lived, the only creatures other than birds, bats and insects that they had seen were mongoose, wild boars, and an occasional dog or cat, and these they gave a wide berth. They avoided the large two-legged creatures called ‘People’, as they had heard that they were even more dangerous than the other four types.
Of course, now each time some new woodland or meadow folk arrived, Henrietta and Hector had to start the story of their adventure all over again. Everyone was fascinated by their description of everyday life in the jungled forest.
In the next days, the bantams roamed around the edge of the pond and beyond it, through the grassy open area that was surrounded by many sugar maples. They explored the pine grove up on the hillside and followed the stream flowing out of the woods along the edge of another meadow on the far side of the grove. This stream emptied into a second pond. The Red-winged blackbirds accompanied them whenever they could get away, but now much of their time was taken up feeding their newly hatched and very hungry babies. Everywhere Henrietta and Hector made friends. They learned to be cautious of some folks, such as coyotes, skunks or raccoons. They were polite whenever they spotted them but did not go out of their way to socialize, just in case one of the larger animals had hungry babies of their own to feed. When dusk crept over the landscape, they knew it was wise to perch safely high up in the tallest tree they could find, far out on a branch. Some nights they visited the Red-wings and slept in the dense thorny thickets and stiff reeds by the pond, for that too was quite safe from predators.
Henrietta and Hector enjoyed being with their new friends. They liked the stream and pond, the meadows and forest. They loved the hot late Spring days and cool late Spring evenings. When it rained, which was not often, they were reminded nostalgically of their old home, but not enough to try to find their way back there, even if they could. There were so many new varieties of good things to eat, and it seemed to them that every week, a new flower bloomed, or plant went to seed. They had plenty of clean, fresh water to drink. Henrietta and Hector talked it over one evening as they perched in a tall oak tree. They had traveled together and seen the world. They had explored unknown places. They no longer felt that odd restlessness of spirit. They were content, although they remained curious all the rest of their lives. They decided to make their permanent home here now, in this new land. As Henrietta pointed out, her name meant “Keeper of the Hearth. “It was time to settle down and start a family.
The End, but also A Beginning
And so, this tale of the unlikely travels of Henrietta and Hector comes to an end. Or does it? Unlikely though it may seem, something very interesting occurred shortly after the bantams made their decision. Maeve, the farm girl who lived not too far from the pond, and her three cousins loved to explore the meadows and woodlands, especially in Springtime when the world was so delightfully fresh and full of flowers. One day, they caught a fleeting glimpse of Henrietta and Hector in the distance. “Wild bantams! ” exclaimed Kay, the oldest “Why I haven’t seen any of those since we moved from Hawaii.” “It’s strange,” said her cousin Violet wonderingly, “They look exactly like the ones we used to watch for whenever we went picking wild mangos with Papa, in that tangle of vines and guava thickets. Remember? We wanted to catch them, but they always ran away. “Yes, yes!” interjected Lily, Kay’s sister, “We decided to name them Henrietta and Hector, in case we ever could lure them to us and keep them as pets. They always seemed so unusually curious and adventurous, wandering off the way they did from the others we’d seen. How strange a coincidence. You don’t think these could possibly be….??? No. I guess that would be too unlikely.”
(And you, the reader … what do you think?)