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another; and from each came a living creature that lifted its head and cried, "Peep, peep."
“Quack, quack!" said the mother; and then they all tried to say it, too, as well as they could, as they looked all about them on every side at the tall, green leaves. Their mother allowed them to look about as much as they liked, because green is good for the eyes.
“What a great world it is to be sure!" said the little ones, when they found how much more room they had than when they were in the egg-shell.
“Is this all the world, do you imagine?" said the mother. “Wait till you have seen the garden. Far beyond that it stretches down to the pastor's field, though I have never ventured to such a distance. Are you all out?" she continued, rising to look. “No, not all; the largest egg lies there yet, I declare. I wonder how long this business is to last. I'm really beginning to be tired of it;" but for all that she sat down again.
"Well, and how are you to-day?" quacked an old duck who came to pay her a visit.
“There's one egg that takes a deal of hatching. The shell is hard and will not break," said the fond mother, who sat still upon her nest. "But just look at the others. Have I not a pretty family? Are they not the prettiest little ducklings you ever saw? They are the image of their father,—the good-for-naught; he never comes to see me.
“Let me see the egg that will not break," said the old duck. “I've no doubt it's a Guinea fowl's egg. The same thing happened to me once, and a deal of trouble it gave me, for the young ones are afraid of the
water. I quacked and clucked, but all to no purpose. Let me take a look at it. Yes, I am right; it's a Guinea fowl, upon my word; so take my advice, and leave it where it is. Come to the water, and teach the other children to swim."
“I think I will sit a little while longer," said the mother. “I have sat so long, a day or two more won't matter."
“Very well, please yourself,” said the old duck, rising; and she went away.
At last the great egg broke, and the latest bird cried, "Peep, peep," as he crept forth from the shell. How big and ugly he was! The mother duck stared at him, and did not know what to think. “Really," she said, "this is an enormous duckling, and it is not at all like any of the others. I wonder if he will turn out to be a Guinea fowl. Well, we shall see when we get to the water,—for into the water he must go, even if I have to push him in myself."
On the next day the weather was delightful. The sun shone brightly on the green burdock leaves, and the mother duck took her whole family down to the water, and jumped in with a splash. “Quack, quack, cried she, and one after another, the little ducklings jumped in. The water closed over their heads, but they came up again in an instant, and swam about quite prettily, with their legs paddling under them as easily as possible; their legs went of their own accord; and the ugly gray-coat was also in the water, swimming with them.
"Oh," said the mother, “that is not a Guinea fowl. See how well he uses his legs, and how erect he holds
himself! He is my own child, and he is not so very ugly, after all, if you look at him properly. Quack, quack! come with me now. I will take you into grand society, and introduce you to the farmyard, but you must keep close to me or you may be trodden upon; and, above all, beware of the cat."
When they reached the farmyard, there wretched riot going on; two families were fighting for an eel's head, which, after all, was carried off by the cat. “See, children, that is the way of the world,” said the mother duck, whetting her beak, for she would have liked the eel's head herself. “Come, now, use your legs, and let me see how well you can behave. You must bow your heads prettily to that old duck yonder; she is the highest born of them all, and has Spanish blood; therefore, she is well off. Don't you see she has a red rag tied to her leg, which is something very grand, and a great honor for a duck; it shows that every one is anxious not to lose her, and she is to be noticed both by man and beast. Come, now, don't turn in your toes; a well-bred duckling spreads his feet wide apart, just like his father and mother, in this way; now bend your necks, and say, 'Quack!'
The ducklings did as they were bade; but the other ducks stared, and said, “Look, here comes another brood, as if there were not enough of us already! and bless me, what a queer looking object one of them is! we don't want him here;' and then one flew out and bit him in the neck.
“Let him alone,” said the mother; "he is not doing
“Yes, but he is so big and ugly. He's a perfect
fright," said the spiteful duck, “and therefore he must be turned out. A little biting will do him good."
“The others are very pretty children,” said the old duck with the rag on her leg, “all but that one. I wish his mother could smooth him up a bit; he is really illfavored.' “That is impossible, your grace,
replied the mother. "He is not pretty, but he has a very good disposition, and swims as well, or even better than the others. I think he will grow up pretty, and perhaps be smaller. He has remained too long in the egg, and therefore his figure is not properly formed;" and then she stroked his neck, and smoothed the feathers, saying, “It is a drake, and therefore not of so much consequence. I think he will grow up strong, and able to take care of himself.'
“The other ducklings are graceful enough," said the old duck. “Now make yourself at home, and if you find an eel's head, you can bring it to me.'
And so they made themselves comfortable; but the poor duckling, who had crept out of his shell last of all, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and made fun of, not only by the ducks, but by all the poultry.
“He is too big,” they all said; and the turkey cock, who had been born into the world with spurs, and fancied himself really an emperor, puffed himself out like a vessel in full sail, and flew at the duckling. He became quite red in the head with passion, so that the poor little thing did not know where to go, and was quite miserable because he was so ugly as to be laughed at by the whole farmyard.
So it went on from day to day; it got worse and
The poor duckling was driven about by every one; even his brothers and sisters were unkind to him, and would say, “Ah, you ugly creature, I wish the cat would get you;" and his mother had been heard to say she wished he had never been born. The ducks pecked him, the chickens beat him, and the girl who fed the poultry kicked him with her feet. So at last he ran away, frightening the little birds in the hedge as he flew over the palings.
“They are afraid of me, too, because I am so ugly," he said. So he closed his eyes and flew still farther, until he came out on a large moor, inhabited by wild ducks. Here he remained the whole night, feeling very tired and sorrowful.
In the morning, when the wild ducks rose in the air, they stared at their new comrade. “What sort of a duck are you?" they all said, coming round him.
He bowed to them, and was as polite as he could be; but he did not reply to their question.
“You are exceedingly ugly,' said the wild ducks; “but that will not matter if you do not want to marry one of our family."
Poor thing! he had no thoughts of marriage; all he wanted was permission to lie among the rushes and drink some of the water on the moor. After he had been on the moor two days, there came two wild geese, or rather goslings, for they had not been out of the egg long, which accounts for their impertinence. "Listen, friend," said one of them to the duckling; "you are so ugly that we like you very well. Will you go with us and become a bird of passage? Not far from here is another moor, in which there are some