“Just look at him, primping all the time in the water bowl. You’d think he never saw his own reflection before.”
"Stop complaining, Eldon,” said Festus the donkey. “You know that turkeys get all the attention around this place. You’re a rooster. Get used to it.”
“It’s not fair! What’s so great about Otto? I do more things around here than he does.”
Eldon continued to grumble as he strutted back to his perch on top of the fence post. He proceeded to cock-a-doodle, just to make sure Farmer didn't forget that he was on the job. Otto stuffed his beak, preened in the sun and slept away most of the day. It really wasn't right. Eldon was up every morning in the cold darkness. As the sun peeked around the hills and through the trees, Eldon crowed, telling everyone it was time to get up and start their chores. The animals, Farmer and his wife, and even Otto needed Eldon. So why did that dumb turkey get the best grain, the freshest berries and the first drink from the water bowl?
The more Eldon thought about the special attention Otto received, the madder he got. But none of the other animals wanted to listen to Eldon grouse. They were busy taking care of babies, or exercising wobbly legs, or working with Farmer. Even Francine the rat refused to discuss Otto. Everyone seemed happy to mind their own business. Eldon sulked.
Days passed. Summer blew away and Autumn snuck in with brisk weather and crisp apples--Eldon’s favorite treat. This year, though, Otto got most of the best apples. Eldon and the others, even Farmer’s favorite horse Spencer, had to wait until Otto had his fill.
By late October, Eldon was furious. He refused to talk to Otto, although these days, Otto was quite full of himself and didn't speak to anyone. That gigantic bird thought he was too good to chat with the working animals like Eldon or Kirby, the workhorse. Otto was king. He did no work, he did nothing but eat and grow. And grow. And GROW.
November arrived and the days snapped with coldness. Still, even in the dark before dawn, Eldon hopped up to his fence post, his feet freezing, to cock-a-doodle-do. He never missed a morning, but Farmer never said, ‘Thank you, Eldon,’ or, ‘You’re doing a great job, Eldon.’ Only Otto offered an opinion. He wanted Eldon to stop doodling so he could sleep late.
“Sleep late!” squawked Eldon. “You sleep half the day already! How much more can you sleep?”
“With my thick legs, plump chest and magnificent feathers, I get very tired strutting. I need my rest.”
“Some of us have to work, even if we would like to sleep in once in a while. Farmer and the animals depend on me to wake them. You’re a lazy turkey who doesn't do anything for anyone!”
Otto yawned noisily, then dozed off, leaning against Eldon’s fence post.
“COCK-A-DOODLE DOODLE DOO!” screeched Eldon as loudly as he could.
Otto jumped, harrumphed at Eldon, and tottered off to find a quieter place in the barn. When Eldon started complaining about Otto again, the animals meandered away, shaking their heads. Only Calliope, the ancient farm cat, remained to listen. When he finished his long list of criticisms, Calliope simply shrugged.
“The grain is always better in someone else’s trough,” she purred.
“What do you mean by that?” asked Eldon crossly. He was in no mood for puzzles. And why wouldn't anyone sympathize with him? He couldn’t understand it. They were all getting cheated.
“All I’m saying is that sometimes it seems like someone else is getting more than their fair share. Wait and see if you think Otto has it so good.”
“Wait for how long? Till Yule?” snapped Eldon.
“Not that long,” was all the cat would say and she, too, went into the barn for a nap.
Eldon waited. The next day, Otto was still getting the best of everything. The day after was the same. Eldon shook his comb in disgust and went to work. He crowed until Farmer turned on his light, then waited for his breakfast.
One day, Otto was no where to be seen. He didn’t make a grand appearance for any of the meals or extra tidbits, not even for his daily parade around the yard. Eldon was too happy to care. With Otto gone, he could get the best food- especially since he was the first out of bed.
The days passed and Otto never reappeared. No one talked about him, so Eldon didn’t bother either. He was thrilled to be getting all the best grains and scraps. He was plump and sported grand feathers for a rooster. And since two youngsters were practicing their doodles, he didn't always have to get up early every day.
“So,” hissed Calliope, “the best grain is in your trough now. You’re getting nice and plump!”
“Yes!” piped Eldon disdainfully. “It’s my turn now.”
“So it seems. I hope it’s all you wished for.” She slunk off toward the root cellar where Hamilton the rat sometimes hid. At lunchtime, Farmer strolled by, throwing down some delectable apple chunks for Eldon.
“Coming to show his appreciation at last,” mumbled the rooster unkindly. In one lightning swoop, Farmer caught him, and holding him upside down, headed off to the woodshed. “Say hello to Otto for us!” snickered Francine.
After dinner, Calliope sat by the fire, scrubbing her face and paws most thoroughly. Eldon was a good friend, but he was a better dinner.
Moral: Wishes are powerful. Sometimes things that others have or do might look a lot better than what they really are. Be careful of what you wish for--you just might get it!
by Charlotte Bennardo