The White Rooster’s Foot (Part 2)

-A Frau Totty Knochenspiel Story (2069 words)

Now, Nora lived alone. She was still young and beautiful but very independent. Some of the village men had shown an interest but never got very far along from friendly conversation with her.

There was not long after the incident with the boy that Nora had been approached by a young traveling man. He had stopped by the farm. He told her that he had heard in several villages that she raised some of the most impressive chickens and her goats were a cut above the rest. He had come to ask her what her secret was.

Nora was immediately smitten with the tall dark haired young man. He had found a stable to sleep in somewhere in village and had made his way out to Nora’s farm. After he had explained what he hoped Nora could share with him they went out to the garden to see her chickens.

The white rooster took up a position to keep an eye on the two of them for a while before approaching. When he felt safe he approached. Nora introduced him to the young man to her white feathered knight. She praised his companionship and told him how the rooster had taken over for her favorite cat and was quite adept at keeping her little homestead free of mice and rats.

The young man was a little wary of the large white rooster because it was more than just a large version of a chicken. This rooster’s head stretched to almost three feet high when he wanted it to.

Nora hadn’t thought much about the fact that chickens are excellent flyers. She just appreciated having a thoughtful companion about to keep things safe. One day while she was trying to gather the sheep into the shed for shearing, the rooster showed another talent. He saw her struggling from the fence where he was keeping an eye on things.

The man that was going to shear her goats, in exchange for a goat, arrived early. He was just approaching the sheep pen when the rooster flew off to the far side of the field and landed. He began to flap his large wings and crow when he had the sheep’s attention he puffed up his neck feathers and lowered his head. This is a very menacing attack position for anyone standing in the line of site of a rooster.

Any rooster can command respect and trepidation from an adult doing this with them as the target. As for children they soon learn to run away when a rooster goes into the attack position. The sheep watched wearily as the rooster clucked and paced back and forth with his neck feathers up. When he flapped his wings the sheep began to back up. And when he actually struck out at one of the sheep closest to him they all turned and headed into the barn. Shearing might be bad but it must have been better than fighting with a determined rooster. All the sheep filed into the barn quickly.

Nora was dumbstruck as she watched. She was so involved in what the rooster was doing that she didn’t notice the tall dark man, the same one who had come several days before was behind her. She jumped a foot when he finally spoke.

That is some rooster you have there.” He said. The rooster had heard him also and ran the few feet to stand next to Nora. His eyes burning white for a few moments when Nora had cried out in fright.

Nora turned holding her heart. “Oh I didn’t expect you, I was expecting the man who shears my sheep but he is not due for an hour. What can I do for you?” she asked after finding her voice.

“Oh I am the man who has come to shear your sheep. The farmer has found himself ill and asked if I knew how to shear. When I told him I could, he asked if I would mind shearing for you and that he will pay me for the goat you are to give him with room and board.

Nora praised her rooster for doing such a wonderful job helping get the sheep in the small pen. They had a wonderful afternoon. The man sheered and they talked and laughed about all manner of things. They discussed the husbandry of poultry and of course the unique abilities of the rooster. Nora never thought to ask the man not to mention the rooster’s strange attributes to anyone because she herself didn’t think anything was amiss.

The whole of the afternoon spent with the three of them, for of course the rooster was always right there was more than Nora could have hoped for. She liked this man and he was many things that she wanted in a companion. And when he asked if he might call on her the evening toward the end of the week Nora was agreeable.

There is no telling if the white rooster had understood but he certainly got the message when the man called. Nora had decided that it would be best to start putting the rooster out at nights for he had taken to sitting in her kitchen windowsill at night. The nights were still mild and it was fine to leave the window open. On several occasions she had woke up and the rooster had been roosting on the back of the chair beside her bed.

Perhaps that was a bit strange but Nora pushed the feeling of apprehension away as the rooster just found it more comfortable. The rooster was now full grown at five months and Nora wondered if he knew he was a rooster at all. It did crow in the morning but never inside the house.

Nora had decided it was time for the rooster to be out at night next week. For some reason having him available when the man came to call made her feel safer but she also did not want to create an association with its new outside position with the man visiting.

The white rooster stayed in his kitchen window perch that night when the man came calling. Nora made a lovely stew with fresh vegetables, a bit of salted pork with herbs and spices from the garden. She baked some hard bread earlier in the day for the evening meal. They ate and talked then went for an evening stroll.

Of course the rooster joined them but they were none the wiser. They had a wonderful time and although Nora knew the man hoped to join her than night, she thanked him and explained how she hoped he would come again.

She was happy to have the company and hope there would be more with intent. No one noticed in their revelry that the rooster had left its perch in the kitchen window. It followed the man home and discovered where the man slept. He was sleeping in farmer’s house not his stables. His sleeping arrangements had been a lie.

As the rooster began its way home it reached the deep woods and heard an unnatural noise behind it. It quickly made its way into the highest branches and watched. The man was returning with a large bag. He was heading back to Nora’s house. To cause mischief? Who knows because he never got that far?

The rooster kept a great distance and waited for its opportunity. It came when the man reached a small clearing in the woods not far from the start of Nora’s farm.

The rooster did a thorough job this time. It was not about a bit of medicine it was about protecting its position in his home. Nora was his hen and no one bothered his hen.

The next day Nora did not see the rooster. It was not in his kitchen window perch to greet her when she rose from bed. It did not follow her around the farm. And in the evening when several men from the village knocked on her door she still had not seen it.

The village men had come part on investigation and part to share a warning that the night is not safe. They asked Nora if she had seen the tall dark stranger. She told them of their evening together and his shearing of the sheep. All with the innocents it deserved. The men then told Nora what they had found.

The stranger it seems had been terrorizing the farmer and his wife into letting him stay in the house. They are not sure why but he had left last night stealing the old couples valuable and was found murdered not far from where they now sat talking. Whoever or whatever had killed him had not taken any of the booty. What they did find that puzzled them is he had a net that was in no condition to hold any animal but it surely was just for this purpose.

Nora was sincere in her lack of knowledge in the man’s background and told the men she had thought the man came with good intentions. She was hurt that she had been so bad at judging his character promising herself she would not suffer anyone’s attentions so quickly as to be fooled by them.

She gasped when they mentioned the net. When asked what the surprise was she told them she had not seen her prized white rooster all day. He was like her shadow never far from her.

Well that would explain the white feathers one man said. He must have come back and stolen your prize rooster.

The condition in which the man died portrayed a wild beast or demon and the rooster was nowhere to be seen. Nora’s eyes misted up when the man described the carnage they had found.

They left her with instructions to lock her doors tight. Taking whatever precautions she felt best against something unknown as this. They would send out someone to check on her in a day or two and see if she had any sightings or unusual occurrences to report.

Nora was heartbroken about her big white rooster. She felt bad that she had pushed it aside for the attentions of a stranger and vowed if he should return it would not happen again.

He did return worse for wear. She found him in the barn the next day when she went to let out the ducks. She normally just opened the small door and they streamed out in an orderly fashion. This morning she had to open the larger door and go inside. The ducks were huddled against the far wall and there by the small door was the rooster. He was splattered with blood.

Nora made sure she would not hurt him before she picked him up and carried him into the house. She carefully washed off his feathers, gently put some arrowroot powder on his wounds which were minor ones and let him roost next to the fire all the day.

He became her life-long companion and lived an incredibly long time for a rooster. They never found the demon or beast that had maimed the young man or killed the dark haired stranger but over time Nora figured it out. There was a few more incidents over the years but most were to the benefit to the community. It was the stories used to scare unruly children into being good. Most from the stories told and not any physical teachings.

Nora decided to enter her rooster in the herding competition. The one opened to any whose beast showed the quality needed to herd animals. The white rooster won the very first one and everyone he was entered for the next few years. He gained a great reputation and people all around the countryside clamored for his offspring.

Twice a year Nora would hatch a couple clutches of eggs and they would quickly sell out. When he died, she kept his tail feathers for her Sunday best hat and a foot for which she had carved a small stone egg to be held in its clutches.

She kept one of his son’s to raise in his place. Although the offspring showed promise he was never up to his father’s vast achievements. White roosters became synonymous with protection of home and family in the countryside surrounding her little farm.

 

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