« ElőzőTovább »
sighed, “I am so ugly that even the dog won't touch me !
It was late in the afternoon before the noise was over, and only then the poor duckling dared to come out of his hiding-place ; and you may be sure he made off from the terrible marsh as fast as he could.
Towards evening our runaway reached a poor peasant's hut, the rotten door of which had dropped from its hinges, so that a very welcome chink was left, through which he could slip into the room.
An old woman with her cat and hen were the only inhabitants; and they next morning discovered their strange, unbidden guest.
“ What is that?” said the damne, who, not seeing well, took the poor lean bird for a fat duck who had mistaken her way in the dark.
“Here is, indeed, a piece of good luck!” exclaimed she, overjoyed.
Now I can have a nice duck's egg for my breakfast. But,” added she, “perhaps it is a drake, after all! However, we shall see that in good time.” Well, there the youngster remained three weeks ; but without laying any eggs.
At last, one morning, after a sleepless night, he felt himself seized with a longing to swim once more in the clear water. He could bear it no longer, and he spoke his wish to the hen.
“A mighty pleasure, truly !” scolded she. are certainly crazy; ask the cat, who is wiser than 1, if he likes swimming on the water ?”
“You do not understand me," sighed the duckling. “Not understand you, indeed ! if we don't, who
! should, you ugly yellow beak !” exclaimed Madam Hen.
“I am determined I will wander out into the world,” said the little drake, taking courage.
“That you certainly should,” answered the hen, uncivilly. And the poor duckling set off again on his travels ; but no sooner did any animal see him, than he was sure to be twitted with his ugliness.
Autumn was now approaching; the leaves in the wood became yellow and brown ; and, driven by the wind, danced about in mournful eddies. The weather was bleak and raw ; and on the hedge sat the crow, and cried “Caw, caw," from sheer cold and want. The poor forsaken duckling was even worse off than he. Then winter came on a pace.
In fact, it was so piercingly cold that our duckling was forced to keep swimming about in the water for fear of being frozen. But every night the ring in which he swam became smaller and smaller ; the top of the ice kept growing thicker and thicker. At last, he became so weary, that he was forced to remain fast frozen in the ice.
Early in the morning a peasant passed by; and seeing the unhappy bird, ventured on the ice, which he broke with his wooden shoe. He saved the halfdead creature, and carried him home to a warm fireside, where he quickly recovered. The children wished to play with him ; but the young duckling, thinking they were bent on mischief, flew in his terror into an earthen milk-can, and splashed the milk all over the room.
The housewife shrieked and wrung her hands, so that the poor bird became more and more stupid, and flew into the churn, and thence into the meal barrel. The housewife tried to hit him with the tongs, while the children tumbled over one another in their haste to catch him. Happily for our duckling the door stood open, and
, he escaped into the open air, and flying with difficulty to the nearest bushes, he sank down on the snow, where he lay quite done up. It would, indeed, be very mournful to tell all the miseries that the poor duckling went through until the sun again shone warmly on the earth, and the larks once more welcomed spring with their songs.
Then the young duckling raised his wings, which were much stronger than before, and carried him far away to a lake in a large garden, where the apple trees were in full bloom. And now there
from out of the thicket, three noble white swans, who began to swim lightly on the water.
The ugly duckling, on seeing the stately birds, said to himself, "I will fly towards these royal birds. They may kill me for my impudence in daring to go near them,
-I, who am so ugly. But it matters not; better is it to be killed by them than to be bitten by the ducks, pecked at by the hens, and chased about by the children.” With these thoughts he flew into the middle of the water, and swam towards the three beautiful swans; who, noticing the little stranger, came to welcome him.
Oh, just kill me outright," said the poor bird, bending its head towards the water,—when, lo! it saw its own image in the clear surface, and, instead of an ugly dark-green duckling, it beheld in itself a stately swan!
It matters little being born in a duck yard, provided one is hatched from a swan's egg! He now blessed his former trials, which had taught him to value the delights that surrounded him. Meanwhile the larger swans gathered about him, and stroked him lovingly with their beaks.
Just then two little children came into the garden and ran towards the canal. They threw corn and bread down to the swans.
Oh, there is a new one!” exclaimed the younger child, and both clapped their hands for joy. Then they ran away to call their parents. So more bread and cake was thrown into the water, and all said, “ The new one is the most beautiful—so young and so graceful!” and, indeed, the old swans themselves seemed proud of their new companion.
Then the once ugly bird felt quite shy and abashed, and put his head under his wing; for, though his heart was bursting for joy, still he was none the prouder. A good heart is never proud.
WE ARE SEVEN
I MET a little cottage girl,
She was eight years old, she said;
That clustered round her head.
“Sisters and brothers, little maid,
How many may you be ?"
And, wondering, looked at me.
And where are they, I pray you tell ?"
She answered, “Seven are we; And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea;
“ Two of us in the churchyard lie,
My sister and my brother; And in the churchyard cottage I Dwell near them with
“You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Then did the little maid reply,
Seven boys and girls are we; Two of us in the churchyard lie,
Beneath the churchyard tree."
"You run about, my little maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
Then ye are only five.”
;« Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
The little maid replied, “ Twelve steps or more from my mother's door
And they are side by side.
" My stockings there I often knit,
My 'kerchief there I hem;
I sit and sing to them.