It was so
glorious out in
the country; it was summer; the cornfields were yellow, the oats were
the hay had been put up in stacks in the green meadows, and the stork
about on his long red legs, and chattered Egyptian, for this was the
he had learned from his good mother. All around the fields and meadows
were great forests, and in the midst of these forests lay deep lakes.
it was right glorious out in the country. In the midst of the sunshine
there lay an old farm, with deep canals about it, and from the wall
to the water grew great burdocks, so high that little children could
upright under the loftiest of them. It was just as wild there as in the
deepest wood, and here sat a Duck upon her nest; she had to hatch her
but she was almost tired out before the little ones came and then she
seldom had visitors. The other ducks liked better to swim about in the
canals than to run up to sit down under a burdock, and cackle with her.
At last one
another burst open. "Piep! piep!" it cried, and in all the eggs there
little creatures that stuck out their heads.
quack!" they said;
and they all came quacking out as fast as they could, looking all round
them under the green leaves; and the mother let them look as much as
chose, for green is good for the eye.
the world is!"
said all the young ones, for they certainly had much more room now than
when they were in the eggs.
this is all the
world?" said the mother. "That stretches far across the other side of
garden, quite into the parson's field; but I have never been there yet.
I hope you are all together," and she stood up. "No, I have not all.
largest egg still lies there. How long is that to last? I am really
of it." And she sat down again.
goes it?" asked
an old Duck who had come to pay her a visit.
"It lasts a
long time with
that one egg," said the Duck who sat there. "It will not burst. Now,
look at the others; are they not the prettiest little ducks one could
see? They are all like their father. The rogue, he never comes to see
"Let me see
the egg which
will not burst," said the old visitor. "You may be sure it is a
egg. I was once cheated in that way, and had much anxiety and trouble
the young ones, for they are afraid of the water. Must I say it to you,
I could not get them to venture in. I quacked and I clacked, but it was
no use. Let me see the egg. Yes, that's a turkey's egg. Let it lie
and teach the other children to swim."
"I think I
will sit on it
a little longer," said the Duck. "I've sat so long now that I can sit a
few days more."
you please," said
the old Duck; and she went away.
At last the
great egg burst.
"Piep! piep!" said the little one, and crept forth. It was very large
very ugly. The Duck looked at it.
very large duckling,"
said she; "none of the others look like that. Can it really be a turkey
chick? Well, we shall soon find out. It must go into the water, even if
I have to thrust it in myself."
day it was bright,
beautiful weather; the sun shone on all the green trees. The
went down to the canal with all her family. Splash! she jumped into the
water. "Quack! quack!" she said, and one duckling after another plunged
in. The water closed over their heads, but they came up in an instant,
and swam capitally; their legs went of themselves, and they were all in
the water. The ugly gray Duckling swam with them.
not a turkey,"
said she; "look how well it can use its legs, and how straight it holds
itself. It is my own child! On the whole it's quite pretty, if one
at it rightly. Quack! quack! come with me, and I'll lead you out into
great world, and present you in the duck-yard; but keep close to me, so
that no one may tread on you, and take care of the cats!"
And so they
came into the
duck-yard. There was a terrible riot going on in there, for two
were quarrelling about an eel's head, and the cat got it after all.
that's how it goes
in the world!" said the Mother-Duck; and she whetted her beak, for she
too wanted the eel's head. "Only use your legs," she said. "See that
can bustle about, and bow your heads before the old Duck yonder. She's
the grandest of all here; she's of Spanish blood—that's why she's so
and d'ye see? she has a red rag round her leg; that's something
fine, and the greatest distinction a duck can enjoy; it signifies that
one does not want to lose her, and that she's to be known by the
and by men too. Shake yourselves—don't turn in your toes; a well
duck turns its toes quite out, just like father and mother—so! Now bend
your necks and say 'Quack!'"
did so: but the
other ducks round about looked at them, and said quite boldly:
there! now we're to
have these hanging on, as if there were not enough of us already!
that duckling yonder looks; we won't stand that!" And one duck flew up
at it, and bit it in the neck.
alone," said the
mother; "it does no harm to any one."
it's too large
and peculiar," said the Duck who had bitten it; "and therefore it must
be put down."
that the mother has there," said the old Duck with the rag round her
"They're all pretty but that one; that was rather unlucky. I wish she
bear it over again."
cannot be done, my
lady," replied the Mother-Duck. "It is not pretty, but it has a really
good disposition, and swims as well as any other; yes, I may even say
swims better. I think it will grow up pretty, and become smaller in
it has lain too long in the egg, and therefore is not properly shaped."
And then she pinched it in the neck, and smoothed its feathers.
it is a drake," she said, "and therefore it is not of so much
I think he will be very strong. He makes his way already."
graceful enough," said the old Duck. "Make yourself at home; and if you
find an eel's head, you may bring it me."
they were at home.
But the poor Duckling which had crept last out of the egg, and looked
ugly, was bitten and pushed and jeered, as much by the ducks as by the
"It is too
big!" they all
said. And the turkey-cock, who had been born with spurs, and therefore
thought himself an emperor, blew himself up like a ship in full sail,
bore straight down upon it; then he gobbled and grew quite red in the
The poor Duckling did not know where it should stand or walk; it was
melancholy because it looked ugly, and was the butt of the whole