Half Chick


An Adaptation of a Spanish Folk Tale

by Rose Owens


Once upon a time there was a Spanish hen.  She hatched a clutch of eggs.  All of the chicks were exactly alike—cute little yellow balls of fluff—all except the last one.  This chick had one eye, one wing, one leg and half a beak. 

            “Oh, the poor little thing,” said his mother.  He will never grow up to have a barnyard of his own.  He will not be able to manage on his own.”  She tucked him protectively under her wings and said, “Never mind, little Medio Pollito.  (That means half chick in Spanish.)  You will always have to stay at home with your mother.  I will take care of you.”  And she loved him very much.

            Now although Medio Pollito looked helpless, it soon became obvious that he was a very self-sufficient, independent chick.  He quickly learned how to get around the barnyard.  Hoppity-kick.  Hoppity-kick.  Hoppity-kick. 

            When his brothers and sisters went down to the pond, Mother Hen said, “Oh no Medio Pollito, it is too far to the pond.  You had better stay in the barnyard with me.”

            “Mother!” Medio Pollito insisted, “I can do it.”  And off he went.  Hoppity-kick.  Hoppity-kick.   Hoppity-kick.

            Sometimes Medio Pollito liked to tease.  Sometimes he got tired or being protected and receiving extra care.  So he hid in the corn field.

            “PAWK!  PAWK!  Pawk-pawk-pawk!  PAWK!  PAWK!  Oh where, oh where is Medio Pollito?  Where can he be?”  His mother spun in frantic circles as she looked for him. 

After a while Medio Pollito would pop up.  “Here I am, Mother.  Let’s go home.”  And hoppity-kick!  Hoppity-kick!  Hoppity-kick went Medio Pollito back to the barnyard.

One day when the chicks were grown up, Medio Pollito announced, “Mother, I have decided to go to Madrid to see the king.”

“Oh, Medio,” said his brothers and sisters.  “You had better stay in the barnyard with us.  The king would only laugh at a funny rooster like you.”

Medio Pollito drew himself up very tall.  “I,” he said, “have grown into a very unusual rooster.  The king cannot help but see my worth.  He will give me a barnyard of my own.  And maybe—if I feel like it AND if you ask very politely—maybe I will let you come to visit me.”

“Oh no, Medio Pollito,” said his mother.  “You cannot go to Madrid.  It is too far.  Your leg will get too tired.  You had better stay here in the barnyard with me.  Maybe we can take a little trip when you are a little stronger.”

“Mother!” said Medio.  “I am going.”   And away he went.  Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick. 

            His mother sadly waved to her determined son.  “Good-bye Medio, good-bye.” 

            Medio Pollito looked back over his shoulder and waved his wing.  “Goodbye Mother.”
            “Medio Pollito,” she called.  “Remember to be kind to everyone you meet.”

            Medio glanced over his shoulder.  “I will, Mother.”

            “Medio,” called his mother, “do be careful.

            Medio didn’t look back.  “I will Mother.”

            Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick went Medio Pollito down the road.

            The Spanish hen continued to wave until Half Chick was out of sight.  “Oh, I do hope he will be all right.”

            As Medio Pollito hopped past a field, he saw a fire that had been left by some gypsies.  “Oh Medio,” called the fire.  “Please put some branches on me.  I am about to die.”

            “What is that to me?” said Medio.  “I am off to Madrid to see the king.  If I put branches on your flames my glossy wings might get smoky and dirty.  As you can see, I am a most unusual rooster.  The king will not give me a barnyard of my own if I am smoky and dirty.”

            Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick went Medio Pollito down the road.

            He stopped at a stream to get a drink.  There were many weeds blocking the flow of the stream.  “Oh Medio Pollito,” said the stream, “as long as you are here, will you please clear the weeds out for me?  It is so hard for me to flow smoothly.”

            “What!” said Medio Pollito.  “I haven’t got time to pull weeds.  I am on my way to Madrid to see the king.  He is going to give me my own barnyard.”

            Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.  Down the road went Medio Pollito.  Madrid was a long way and Medio Pollito’s leg did get tired.  So he sat down under a shady tree to rest.

            “Oooooooh,   OoooWooooooooh.”  Medio Pollito looked up.  The wind seemed to be all tangled up in the branches of the tree.  “Heeeelp meeeee,” wailed the wind.  “I am so uncomfortable.  Pleeeeaase untangle meee!”

            “Impossible!” said Medio Pollito.  “I simply haven’t got the time.  I am on my way to Madrid so the king can give me my own barnyard.  I can’t be bothered with you.  You got yourself tangled up.  You can get yourself untangled.”  Medio Pollito left the wind stuck in the tree and hoppity-kicked on down the road toward Madrid.  The sun was setting just as Medio arrived at the gates of Madrid.  Medio continued on through the city, through the palace doors and into the audience chamber.

            It was the end of a long, tiring day. The king was getting tired.  He was feeling hungrier and hungrier by the minute.   He glanced up and saw Medio Pollito.  He motioned to a messenger.  “See that rooster,” said the king.  “Take him to the kitchen immediately and tell the cook to dress him for dinner.”

            As Medio Pollito got closer to the king, he heard the king say, “. . . . dress him for dinner.”  

            “I knew it!” thought Medio Pollito exultantly.  “The king recognized my worth immediately!  He wants me to have dinner with him.”

            “Follow me,” said the messenger.

            Medio Pollito was thinking happy thoughts as he hoppity-kicked along behind the messenger.  “The king is even going to give me new clothes.   . . . What kind do I want?  Perhaps I shall choose a purple robe. . . . Maybe I shall have a bit of gold trim around the neck. . . . And after dinner, I am sure the King will give me my barnyard.    . . . I shall probably have----“

            Bump.  The messenger had stopped right in front of the cook!  Medio Pollito stopped too.  The messenger gestured disdainfully at Medio, “The King wants you to dress this. . . . this half of a bird for dinner.”

            “How dare he insult me!” fumed Medio Pollito.  He drew himself up to reply, but before he could utter a sound, the cook had snatched him up by his half-a-neck and tied him to a roasting spit.  As the cook positioned Medio over the fire, Medio saw a bucket of water.   He called out to it, “Help!  Oh please help me.  Water, tip over your bucket and put the fire out.”

            “Why should I?” replied the water.  “You would not help me when I was stuck in a stream full of weeds.  I could not flow smoothly and you did not care.  Do not expect me to run help you now.”

            “Ooooh,” moaned Medio Pollito.  “I am getting too warm.  Oh fire, do not burn so hot.  I will surely be roasted!”

            “Ha!” said the fire.  “You would not give me wood when I was dying in the fields.  Now I have plenty of wood and I feel like burning very brightly!”  And the fire’s flames curled higher and hotter.  Poor Medio Pollito was burned to a crisp.

            “Goodness!” said the cook.  “I can’t serve that to the King.”  He grabbed Medio Pollito and flung him out the open window.  The wind caught Medio Pollito and whirled him up, up, up into the air.

            “Oh, Wind,” gasped Medio Pollito, “do not blow so hard.  I can scarcely breathe.” 

            “You did not care about meee,” said the Wind, “ when I was caught in a tree.  “why should I care about yoooou?”

            The Wind spun Medio around and around, faster and faster, higher and higher.  Then he dropped Medio on the top of the highest church in Madrid.  So if you ever go to Spain, be sure to walk down the streets of Madrid and look for the tallest church.  Perhaps Medio Pollito is still there perched on one leg with his one wing drooping down and with his  one eye sadly gazing out over the town, turning this way and that way—whichever way the wind blows.


This version of Half Chick is copyrighted c 1997 by Rose Owens.

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