The next morning, as the chickens scratched around the yard, Sonny approached Rosie, who was loitering up by Winston’s shed, pacing back and forth. “Oh Sonny, I’m glad you’re here,” she said.
“You shouldn’t be hanging around the shed, Rosie,” he said.
“I can’t help it. It’s all so strange. Have you got the video camera yet?”
“No,” said Sonny. “I said I’d get it today.”
“Oh. I don’t like it at all, Sonny. The camera still there in the shed, Ivan crowed late again this morning—one of the hens found him asleep on the doorstep—and then my egg was gone. I laid this morning, Sonny, I know I did. But when Mr McGinley came to collect the eggs, my bed was empty.”
Sonny looked down the hill. “Really?”
Rosie leaned toward him and whispered, “I think one of the other hens took it. They probably didn’t lay one themselves, so they took mine. You know what happens if we don’t lay eggs, Sonny.”
“Yes, I know. Don’t worry too much about it—you’re the best laying hen on the farm.”
“But still,” said Rosie. She sighed. “This kind of thing never happened when Winston was here.”
Sonny peered at Rosie. He smiled and gave a little nod, then darted into the shed.
“Sonny! What are you doing? You’re not supposed to go in there. If anyone sees you—”
“Keep a lookout,” said Sonny. “Let me know if anyone is coming.” With a few short flaps he leapt from shelf to shelf until he reached the top one. He hopped over a paint tin, then took an old rag in his beak and threw it down, exposing the bare wooden plank where he stood. “Rosie!”
Rosie moved toward the shed door, pecking the dirt as though looking for food. “What is it?” she whispered.
“The camera—it’s gone.”
Horror gripped Rosie’s face. She stopped pecking and looked up into the darkness at Sonny. “Gone?”
Sonny flapped down from the high shelf and scurried out of the shed. “It’s not there.”
“Oh no no no,” said Rosie, pacing back and forth. “If it’s not there, someone must have found it and taken it. This is bad, Sonny. Someone has the camera.”
Sonny looked toward the chicken yard. “We’d better go, Rosie,” he said.
Rosie followed Sonny’s gaze and saw Ivan, head and shoulders above the other chickens in the yard, watching her.
A rowdy storm of clucks and laughter near the henhouse drew Ivan’s attention, and Rosie and Sonny took the opportunity to slip back into the crowd down in the chicken yard. One of the young roosters, Melvin, strutted out from behind the henhouse, puffing his chest and crowing his hoarse, squeaky crow. Melvin was fat and stupid and usually kept to himself, so it was strange to see him parading about, especially in front of Ivan. Many of the hens laughed. Sonny ran around the back of the henhouse and saw three roosters there, snickering and calling out to Melvin. “Go on, Melvin,” said one, “you can beat him. You’re twice his size.”
The other roosters laughed. Sonny ran over to them. “What are you doing?” he said. “You’ll get him killed.”
The roosters spun around, surprised to see the little grey rooster. “Go away, Sonny,” said one.
“It’s just a bit of fun,” said another.
“You can do it, Melvin,” called the third. “You’ll be the chief rooster!”
The roosters burst out laughing, while Sonny watched Melvin stomp out into the chicken yard toward Ivan. “Oh no,” said Sonny, and he ran out after Melvin.
“Ha-ha! Go on, Sonny,” taunted one of the roosters behind him. “You can challenge Ivan too!”
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