The Milkmaid

By Jeffrys Taylor

A milkmaid who poised a full pail on her head,
Thus mused on her prospects in life, it is said;
“Let’s see – I should that this milk would procure
One hundred good eggs, or fourscore to be sure,

“Well, then – stop a bit – it must not be forgotten,
Some of these may be broken and some may be rotten;
But if twenty for accidents should be detached,
It will leave me just sixty sound eggs to be hatched.

“Well – sixty sound eggs – no, sound chickens, I mean;
Of these some may die – we’ll suppose seventeen;
Seventeen – not so many – say ten at the most,
Which will leave fifty chickens to boil or to roast.

“But then, there’s their barley; how much will they need?
Why, they take but one grain at a time when they feed;
So that’s a mere trifle – now, then, let us see,
At a fair market price, how much money there’ll be.

“Six shillings a pair – five-four-three and six
To prevent all mistakes, that low price I will not fix;
Now, what will that make? – fifty chickens, I said –
Fifty times three and sixpence – I’ll ask Brother Ned.

“O, but stop – three and sixpence a pair, I must sell’m;
Well, a pair is a couple – Then let us tell’em
A couple in fifty will go (my poor brain!) –
Why, just a score times, and five pair will remain.

“Twenty-five pair of fowls – now how plague-some it is
That I can’t reckon up as much money as this!
Well, there’s no use in trying; so let’s five a guess:
I will say twenty pounds and it can’t be much less.

“Twenty pounds, I am certain, will buy me a cow,
Thirty geese, two turkeys, and eight pigs, anyhow;
Now, if these turn out well, at the end of the year
I shall fill both my pockets with guineas, ’tis clear.

Then I’ll bid that old tumble-down hovel goodby;
My mother she’ll scold, and my sisters they’ll cry;
But I won’t care a crow’s egg for all they can say;
I shan’t go to shop with such beggars as they!”

But forgetting her burden, when this she had said,
The maid superciliously tossed her head;
When, alas for her prospects; her milk-pail descended;
And so all her schemes for the future were ended.
This moral, I think, may be safely attached.
Reckon not on your chickens before they are hatched.


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