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The Old Woman and her Hen Author: Swati Kakodkar, Story ki Bory Illustrators: 211 Studio, Ajit Narayan, Aphisith Souphavongtay, Audrey Agnier, Marleen Visser , Ndumiso Nyoni, Proiti Roy, Shadrach Munene, Swati Agarwal
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Long ago in a small village in Goa lived an old woman. Her hut stood in the centre of all the other huts. In the morning she worked in the fields and earned some money to feed herself. The old woman also owned a hen that laid eggs.
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Every afternoon, the old woman would take the eggs and sell them to the local shopkeeper. Sometimes she would keep an egg for herself. At night she would boil the egg and eat it with a thin lentil soup. The egg would fill her stomach and give her some strength. Now the hen that belonged to the old woman was quite smart.
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If the hen clucked once, then it meant she would lay 1 egg. If the hen clucked thrice, it meant 3 eggs. If the hen clucked five times, it meant 5 eggs. The entire village was amused at this clucking and laying of eggs.
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One day a wealthy man came from the city. He boasted of the big buildings, the shiny cars and the huge shops that he was used to in the city. Many of the villagers present there were impressed by the city man’s stories. “Does the building you live in almost touch the sky?” asked Vilas, the fisherwoman.
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“You go by this car everywhere? So you don’t have to walk at all?” asked Yeshwant, the farmer pointing to the city man’s yellow colour car. “People in the city don’t have to fetch water from the well? How lucky!” said Ratan, the shepherd. “But do you have a hen in the city who can predict how many eggs she will lay?”
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Hearing this pointed question, all the villagers turned around to see who this question came from. It was Veena, the farmer’s daughter. “Keep quiet” her father warned her. “Do you not see? He is a man from the city. He has such wonderful stories to tell.” “Oh please don’t scold her” said the city man.
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“But dear girl I cannot believe you, till I see the hen.” “Ok then follow me” said a proud looking Veena. They all went to the old woman’s house to watch her hen.
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As they all sat, waiting for the hen to cluck, the city man announced- “If this hen actually predicts the number of eggs she will lay, I will pay this old woman Rs.100 for each egg.” All the villagers cheered! The hen clucked, one, two, 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10! “She has clucked 10 times, that means she will lay 10 eggs” screamed Veena in joy.
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And of course the hen laid 10 eggs. The city man had no choice but to pay the old woman the money. “But maybe you just got lucky today” the city man said. “Could this not have happened by chance?” So the city man stayed on for another five days in the village, and each time the hen clucked and predicted the number of eggs
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she would lay. By the end of five days, the old woman had enough money to buy herself a cow, another hen, and to repair her hut that had been damaged by the rains. And what did she do with the rest of the money? She gave it to Veena’s parents for her schooling, for new books, for better clothes and to take a bus ride to visit the city.
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ACTIVITY Use this story to study numbers while learning different animal sounds: Cow Moo Moo Moo Moo                   4 Donkey Heehaw Heehaw                    2 Pig Oink oink oink oink oink oink oink  7 Cat Meow                                                     1 Have fun!