Patty the Milkmaid was going to the market carrying milk in a pail on her head.
As she went along, she began calculating what she would do with the money she would get for the milk. “I’ll buy some fowls from Farmer Brown,” said she, “and they will lay eggs each morning, which I will sell to the parson’s wife. With the money that I get from the sale of these eggs, I’ll buy myself a new dimity frock and a chip hat, and when I go to the market, won’t all the young men come up and speak to me! Polly Shaw will be so jealous, but I don’t care. I shall just look at her and toss my head like this.”
As she spoke that, she tossed her head back and the pail fell off it, and all the milk was spilt!
MORAL: DO NOT COUNT YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY ARE HATCHED.
More about the story
This story has given rise to an idiom, namely, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”
There are some people who buy a lottery ticket and immediately begin to dream about what they will do with the money when they win the prize. They begin to make plans without the slightest doubt about winning the prize. When you tell such a person “don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” you are warning him/her not to make plans before being sure of winning the prize. You are asking him/her to wait for the lottery results to be announced before he/she starts making plans.
Below given is an example of how this idiom is used.
John: “I will visit England first, and then France.”
Leo: “Oh! Are you going abroad?”
John: “Yes, my father has promised to give me money to travel the world if I pass the final exams with flying colours.”
Leo: “Oh! I thought you have some money with you. Ok, so have you prepared well for the exam?”
John: “Not yet, I don’t have all the books. I have to go and buy.”
Leo: “Dear John, first you have to buy the books, then study, then do the exam well, then get money from your father, then you will travel, right?”
John: “Yes, yes. I shall travel by Singapore Airlines. It is really a cool airline.”
Leo : “My dear John, please don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”