In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

Aesop's Fables 5: The Hen and the Golden Eggs


What would you do if someone started giving you about $3000 US dollars every day (about the value of one golden egg)?


A cottager and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every day. They supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed it. Having done so, they found to their surprise that the Hen differed in no respect from their other hens. The foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived themselves of the gain of which they were assured day by day.


In most versions, the bird is a goose, not a hen (which is a female chicken). There is a proverb: "Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg," meaning if something is productive, or if someone is generous, don't do anything to stop the benefit.


Answer these questions about the story in complete sentences:

1. Why was the cottager's hen special?
2. What did the cottager and his wife think was inside the hen?
3. What did they do to get what was inside?
4. What did they learn about the inside of the hen?
5. What happened to them in the end?


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. cottager: person who lives in a cottage (a very small house in the countryside); perhaps a small farmer
b. laid: past of "to lay"
c. lump: a shapeless piece of something
d. to differ: to be different from, to not be the same as
e. respect: here, not a verb; it means "way," "manner," "detail," or "sense"
f. pair: two things taken together; here, the husband and wife
g. to deprive (of something): to take (something) away from (someone)
h. gain: here, not a verb; it means "benefit" or "advantage"
i. to be assured of: to be certain, to be guaranteed
j. day by day: every day, day after day

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. There was a __________ of apples on the table; I took one and left one for my friend.
2. Bob complained when his boss __________ him of his day off.
3. A ¬ __________ in income allowed Mary to buy a new car.
4. Amy's wedding ring __________ her of Tom's love.
5. Working together __________ allowed Mike and Steve to get to know each other very well.
6. In most __________, men and women are different.
7. On the weekends we like to stay in our small __________ in the mountains.
8. Please throw another __________ of coal into the stove.
9. The couple agreed on most things, but they __________ on whether to have children.
10. My boss just __________ another assignment on my desk.


There are no "right" answers. Give your own opinion. If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Do you think the cottager and his wife are unusually foolish, or do you think many people would do the same?
2. Do you think this story is fair? That is, did the cottager and his wife get what they deserved?
3. What would you do if a hen you owned started laying a golden egg every day?


Remember, there may be more than one way to express your answer.

1. The cottager's hen was special because she laid a golden egg every day.
2. The cottager and his wife thought there was a big piece of gold inside the hen.
3. To get the gold, they killed the hen.
4. They learned there was no gold inside of the hen.
5. In the end, they lost their daily golden egg.


1 f pair; 2 g deprived; 3 h gain; 4 i assured; 5 j day by day; 6 e respects; 7 a cottage; 8 c lump; 9 d differed; 10 b laid

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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