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The Ugly Little Duck.
On a fine summer's day in the country, a duck was 'once sitting in her nest hatching her eggs, but of this important task she was almost tired, for scarcely any one had visited her, as the other ducks were swimming about in the pond, and did not stay to gossip with her.
At last, one egg cracked, then a second, then a third, a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth, until a dozen had cracked.
There was one large egg, however, which would not break for some time after the rest. At length it did crack. Oly, how big and ugly the new comer was! The mother scarcely dared to look at him ;
the rotten door of which had fallen 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. Here it was permitted to remain, in the hope that it would lay some eggs; but after three weeks the duckling felt himself seized with a great desire to swim once more in the clear water. At last he could bear it no longer, and he spoke his wish to the hen.
“What whim has seized you now?” answered she quite angrily; "this comes of having noth ng to do. Lay some eggs, and then you will be all right.”
“But it is so beautiful to swim on the water," answered the young drake, sighing.
"A mighty pleasure, truly !" scolded the hen. “You do not understand me," sighed the duck.
“Not understand you, indeed! If I don't who should, you yellow beak ?” exclaimed pert madam hen.
she knew not what to think of him. At last she
exclaimed, “This is certainly a curious young drake. It may turn out to be a turkey, but we will soon see. Into the water he must go, even should I be obliged to push him in.”
The next day was very beautiful, and the sun shone delightfully. The mother duck left home, with her family waddling about her. Splash ! she went into the water ; and one duck after another followed her example, and even the ugly grey lastcomer swam merrily about with the rest.
“ He is no turkey after all, and will not disgrace my family,” said the old duck. “Quack! quack ! now come with me, and I will show you the world, and introduce you to the farm-yard.”
They soon reached the yard, but when the other ducks saw the large duckling, they cried, “What an ugly thing! he is not to be suffered among us." And he was speedily pecked at, pushed, and ridiculed by both ducks and chickens. So the poor persecuted creature knew not where he might stand, or where he might go : and was quite cast down by the insults which he suffered on account of his unfortunate ugliness.
Every day the duckling was hunted like a wild animal; even his brothers and sisters behaved very badly to him, the hens pecked him, and the girl who fed the fowls pushed him roughly away.
Then he ran and flew over the palings, until towards evening he reached a poor peasant's hut,
And so the poor duckling set off again on his travels. The autumn passed away without him getting any friendly shelter. The winter, with its piercing cold and its biting blasts, came on, and the poor duckling was forced to keep swimming about in the water for fear of being frozen.
It would indeed be very mournful to describe all the trouble and misery that the poor duckling felt during the cold winter. Enough, that he remained cowering under the reeds in a marsh, 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 formerly, and carried him far away to a large garden, where was a stream which meandered picturesquely through the soft grass. Oh, how beautiful, how fresh all nature seemed! And now there came from out the thicket three noble white swans, who began to swim lightly on the water. The poor duckling envied the beauty of the stately birds, and a feeling of melancholy
came over him.
The Ugly Little Duck
“I will fly towards these royal birds, and they shall kill me for daring to go near them—1, who am so ugly.” With these thoughts he swam towards the three beautiful swans, who, as they perceived the little stranger, came to welcome him.
“Do but kill me,” said the poor bird, bending his head towards the water, and awaiting death in quiet submission; when, lo ! it was his own image in the clear surface, and instead of a dark-green duckling, he beheld a stately SWAN.
Just then two little children came into the garden and ran towards the canal. “Oh, there is a new one !” exclaimed the smallest child, and both clapped their hands for joy, and said, “The new one is the most beautiful,--so young, and so graceful!” And the old swans bowed down to their new companion.
Then the once ugly bird felt quite ashamed, and exclaimed in the fulness of his heart, “I never dreamt of such happiness when I used to be called an Ugly Duckling !"
The Wonderful Story of Henny Penny.
One fine summer morning a Hen was picking peas in a farm-yard under a pea-stack, when a pea fell on her head such a thump that she thought the sky was falling. And she thought she would go to the court and tell the king that the sky was falling : so she gaed, and she gaed, and she gaed, till she met a Cock, and the Cock said,
“Where are you going, Henny-penny?" And she said, “Oh, Cocky-locky, the sky is falling, and I am going to tell the king." And Cocky-locky said, “I will go with you, Henny-penny.”
So Cocky-locky and Henny-penny, they gaed, and they gaed, and they gaed, till they met a Duck. So the Duck said, “Where are you going to-day, Cocky-locky and Henny-penny?” And they said, "Oh, Ducky-daddles, the sky is falling, and we are going to tell the king." And Ducky-daddles said, “I will go with you, Cocky-locky and Hennypenny."
So Ducky-daddles, and Cocky-locky, and Hennypenny, they gaed, and they gaed, and they gaed, till they met a Goose and a Turkey. And when
Goosie-poosie and Turkey-lurky found that Duckydaddles, and Cocky-locky, and Henny-penny were going to tell the king that the sky was falling, they too would go with them.
So Turkey-lurky, and Goosie-poosie, and Duckydaddles, and Cocky-locky, and Henny-penny, they gaed, and they gaed, and they gaed, till they met a Fox. So the Fox said, “Where are you going to-day, Turkey - lurky, Goosie - poosie, Duckydaddles, Cocky-locky, and Henny-penny?” And they said, “Oh, Mr. Fox, the sky is falling, and we are going to tell the king.” And the Fox said, “Come with me, Turkey- lurky, Goosie-poosie, Ducky-daddles, Cocky-locky, and Henny-penny, and I will show you the road to the king's house."
So they all gaed, and they gaed, and they gaed, till they came to the Fox's hole, and the Fox took them all into his hole ; and he and his young cubs ate them all up ; so they never got to the king to tell him that the sky had fallen on the head of poor Henny-penny.
ONCE upon a time there was a miller, who at his death had nothing to leave to his three children but his mill, his ass, and his cat. The eldest took possession of the mill; the second brother the ass ; while the share allotted to the youngest consisted of nothing but the cat. The latter could not, therefore, help saying, “My brothers will be able to earn an honest livelihood by going into partnership ; but as for myself, when I shall have eaten my cat and sold his skin, I shall die of hunger." The cat, who had overheard these words, now came up to his master, and said to him, “Dear Master, do not be downcast. Give me
bag, and get me a pair of boots made, so that I may stride through the brambles, and you will soon see that you have a better bargain than you think for."
Although the cat's new master did not put much faith in these promises, yet he had seen him perform so many clever tricks in catching rats and mice that he did not quite despair of his helping him to better his fortunes. As soon as the cat was provided with what he asked for, he drew on his boots, and, slinging the bag round his neck, set off for a warren plentifully stocked with rabbits. Having filled his bag with bran and sow-thistles, he stretched himself out as stiff as though he had been dead. He had scarcely lain a few moments before a thoughtless young rabbit went headlong into the bag ; whereupon the cat drew the strings and immediately strangled it. The cat immediately went to the palace, and, having been admitted to the presence of the King, he said, “Will your Majesty deign to accept this rabbit from the warren of the Marquis of Carabas (such was the title the cat gave to his master), which he desired me to present to your Majesty ?"
“Tell your master that I accept his present with much pleasure,” replied the King.
During two or three months the cat continued to carry game every now and then to the King, which was supposed to be the produce of his master's sport. One day, when he happened to hear the King was going to take a drive on the banks of the river in company with his daughter, who was the most beautiful princess in the world, puss desired his master to go and bathe in the river at the spot that he should point out, and leave the rest to him. The Marquis of Carabas did as his cat advised him. Just as he was bathing, the King came past, when the cat bawled out as loud as he could, "Help! help! or the Marquis of Carabas will be drowned ! On hearing this, the King looked out of the carriage-window, and, recognising the cat, ordered his bodyguards to fly to the assistance of my Lord Marquis of Carabas. As the poor Marquis was being fished out of the river, the cat informed his Majesty that, while his master was
bathing, some robbers had stolen his clothes. The King immediately ordered the gentlemen of his wardrobe to go and fetch one of his most sumptuous dresses. No sooner had this been done and the Marquis suitably attired, than he looked to such advantage, that the King took him for a very fine gentleman ; while the princess was so struck with his appearance that at once she became over head and ears in love with him.
The King insisted that the Marquis should get into the carriage. The cat, highly delighted at the turn things were taking, now ran on before, and, having reached a meadow where were peasants, he thus accosted them : “I say, good folks, if you do not tell the King that this field belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped as fine as mince-meat." The King did not fail to inquire of the peasants to whom the meadow belonged. “To the Marquis of Carabas,
* please your Majesty,” said they in a breath.
And the cat kept running on before the carriage, and repeating the same instructions to all the labourers he met with, so that the King was astonished at the vast possessions of the Marquis of Carabas.
At length the cat reached a magnificent castle belonging to an ogre, who was immensely rich. The cat having inquired what sort of a person the
and what he was able to do, sent in a message to request leave to speak with him.
The ogre received him civilly. “I have been told,” said the cat, “ that you have the power of transforming yourself into all sorts of animals.” “So I have,” replied the ogre, “and to prove the truth of what I say, you shall see me become a lion."
When the cat beheld a lion standing before him, and saw the monster quietly light his pipe, he was seized with such a panic that he clambered up to the roof. After a time, the cat perceiving that the ogre had returned to his natural shape, came down again.
“And do you possess the power of assuming the shape of the smallest animals likewise ?” “You shall see"; and the ogre immediately assumed the shape of a mouse when the cat pounced upon him and ate him up.
By this time the King had reached the gates of the ogre's magnificent castle, and expressed a wish to enter so splendid a building. The cat ran out to meet the King, saying, “ Your Majesty is welcome to the Marquis of Carabas's castle.”
The King was so delighted with the Marquis of Carabas, that he accepted him as his son-in-law, and that very same day he was married to the princess.
The cat became a great lord, and ever after hunted mice only for his own amusement.