‘ONE day Henny-penny was picking up corn in the cornyard whenâ€”whack!â€”something hit her upon the head. “Goodness gracious me!” said Henny-penny; “the sky’s a-going to fall’ I must go and tell the king.”‘ So begins Joseph Jacob’s 1895 retelling of the “Henny-Penny” story, a tale that also goes under the titles “Chicken-Licken” and “The End of the World.” For those who have forgotten it, in short: Henny-penny convinces several animals (a rooster, a duck, a goose, and a turkey) to help her deliver the apocalyptic message to the king. Along the way, they meet Foxy-woxy who changes the group’s direction and leads them on to “the proper way,” that is, the way that leads to Foxy-woxy’s cave. The scene that follows has all the murderousness readers expect from children’s stories:
So foxy-woxy went into his cave, and he didn’t go very far, but turned around to wait for Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey and Turkey-lurkey. So at last at first Turkey-lurkey went through the dark hole into the cave. He hadn’t got far when “Hrumph,” Foxy-woxy snapped off Turkey-lurkey’s head and threw his body over his left shoulder.
In quick succession, the goose and duck also lose their heads. Cocky-locky, only injured after the first bite, cried out before the second, fatal bite to Henny-penny, who, hearing his cry, “turned tail and off she ran home, so she never told the king the sky was a-falling.” The moral is obvious: do not follow foxes into caves.