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The Late Cuckoo

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     In a little Swiss village high up in the Swiss Alps there was once a little clockmaker’s shop
full of cuckoo clocks.
     At every hour
through the day and
night, the cuckoo clocks

   Author:  Louis Slobodkin
Copyright Date:  1962
Publisher:  Vanguard
Pagination:  34 p.
would mark the hours as they passed.
     At one o’clock they would strike one. At two o’clock they would strike two, and so on at each and every hour.

     And the little cuckoos who lived in the clocks would hop out and shout “Cuckoo” as hard as they could.
     They would shout “Cuckoo” at one o’clock, and they shouted “Cuckoo, Cuckoo” at two o’clock ... and so on every hour of the day and night.
     All except one cuckoo. He was always a little late. His clock would strike with the others on the hour, but the cuckoo would not pop out with all the others and shout “Cuckoo.”
     He came out almost a minute after all the cuckoos had gone back into their clocks, and he would shout as loudly as he could, “Cuckoo,” if it was past one o’clock or “Cuckoo, Cuckoo” if it was past two o’clock, and so on at each and every hour.
     The village children on their way home from school would always stop at the clockmaker’s shop to see and hear the cuckoos as they hopped out of their clocks.
     And they waited anxiously for the late cuckoo to pop out of his clock, too. It always seemed like a long, long time before the late cuckoo came out. But at last out he would pop, shout his three “Cuckoo’s” (for three o’clock), flap his wings, and hop back into his clock.
     The village children would smile and nod at the old clockmaker in his window and then go home.
     The old clockmaker would smile and shake his head at the late cuckoo as he said:
     “Someday I must fix that little clock ... yes, someday I will fix it.”
     But he never seemed to find the time to fix that clock. All the villagers knew about the late cuckoo. And if one of them came in to have his watch fixed or to buy a new cuckoo clock about the time the cuckoos were to pop out, he’d wait to see and hear them; then he’d wait one more minute for the late cuckoo to appear. And then he’d smile and go chuckling home to tell his family that the late cuckoo had been late again.
     But sometimes if a stranger came into the shop to buy a cuckoo clock and heard the late cuckoo, he’d shake his head.
     “Your cuckoo clocks are not perfect,” the stranger would say to the old clockmaker. “I think I’ll look for a cuckoo clock in the next village.”
     Again the old clockmaker would say to himself:
     “I must find time to fix that clock ... I must find time ...”

         But he never did fix the clock
         until one very important day...

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