( Originally Published 1884 )
Dec. 24. An instance of horrid barbarity, coupled with gross superstition, lately occurred at Hoo, in Kent. A farmer having a duck in his possession which layed eggs of a dun colour, the animal was immediately considered unlucky, and a resolution taken to dispose of it. A distemper, just at the time, broke out among the farmer's cattle, which was attributed to the ill-fated bird. A female servant in the family, whose superstition can only be equalled by her cruelty, secretly took the resolution to destroy the animal, conceiving it would avert farther disaster. For this purpose she heated the oven, and one morning precipitated the bird into it alive but though its feathers were burnt, the vital spark still remained :—three successive mornings did she repeat this inhuman process, before the animal died. On avowing the circumstance, she was overwhelmed with reproaches, and threatened with punishment. The threat operated so powerfully upon her, that she fell into convulsions, which in all probability will speedily terminate her existence.