Archive for August 11th, 2009

The Frog Prince

In olden times when wishing still helped one, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face. Close by the king’s castle lay a great dark forest, and under an old lime-tree in the forest was a well, and when the day was very warm, the king’s child went out into the forest and sat down by the side of the cool fountain, and when she was bored she took a golden ball, and threw it up on high and caught it, and this ball was her favorite play thing.

Now it so happened that on one occasion the princess’s golden ball did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it, but on to the ground beyond, and rolled straight into the water. The king’s daughter followed it with her eyes, but it vanished, and the well was deep, so deep that the bottom could not be seen. At this she began to cry, and cried louder and louder, and could not be comforted. And as she thus lamented someone said to her, “What ails you, king’s daughter? You weep so that even a stone would show pity.”

She looked round to the side from whence the voice came, and saw a frog stretching forth its big, ugly head from the water. “Ah, old water-splasher, is it you,” she said, “I am weeping for my golden ball, which has fallen into the well.” “Be quiet, and do not weep,” answered the frog, “I can help you, but what will you give me if I bring your play thing up again?” “Whatever you will have, dear frog,” said she, “My clothes, my pearls and jewels, and even the golden crown which I am wearing.” The frog answered, “I do not care for your clothes, your pearls and jewels, nor for your golden crown, but if you will love me and let me be your companion and play-fellow, and sit by you at your little table, and eat off your little golden plate, and drink out of your little cup, and sleep in your little bed – if you will promise me this I will go down below, and bring you your golden ball up again.”

“Oh yes,” said she, “I promise you all you wish, if you will but bring me my ball back again.” But she thought, “How the silly frog does talk. All he does is to sit in the water with the other frogs, and croak. He can be no companion to any human being.”

But the frog when he had received this promise, put his head into the water and sank down; and in a short while came swimmming up again with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the grass. The king’s daughter was delighted to see her pretty play thing once more, and picked it up, and ran away with it. “Wait, wait,” said the frog. “Take me with you. I can’t run as you can.” But what did it avail him to scream his croak, croak, after her, as loudly as he could. She did not listen to it, but ran home and soon forgot the poor frog, who was forced to go back into his well again.

The next day when she had seated herself at table with the king and all the courtiers, and was eating from her little golden plate, something came creeping splish splash, splish splash, up the marble staircase, and when it had got to the top, it knocked at the door and cried, “Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me.” She ran to see who was outside, but when she opened the door, there sat the frog in front of it. Then she slammed the door to, in great haste, sat down to dinner again, and was quite frightened. The king saw plainly that her heart was beating violently, and said, “My child, what are you so afraid of? Is there perchance a giant outside who wants to carry you away?”

“Ah, no,” replied she. “It is no giant but a disgusting frog.”

“What does a frog want with you?”

“Ah, dear father, yesterday as I was in the forest sitting by the well, playing, my golden ball fell into the water. And because I cried so, the frog brought it out again for me, and because he so insisted, I promised him he should be my companion, but I never thought he would be able to come out of his water. And now he is outside there, and wants to come in to me.”

In the meantime it knocked a second time, and cried, “Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me, do you not know what you said to me yesterday by the cool waters of the well. Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me.”

Then said the king, “That which you have promised must you perform. Go and let him in.” She went and opened the door, and the frog hopped in and followed her, step by step, to her chair. There he sat and cried, “Lift me up beside you.” She delayed, until at last the king commanded her to do it. Once the frog was on the chair he wanted to be on the table, and when he was on the table he said, “Now, push your little golden plate nearer to me that we may eat together.” She did this, but it was easy to see that she did not do it willingly. The frog enjoyed what he ate, but almost every mouthful she took choked her. At length he said, “I have eaten and am satisfied, now I am tired, carry me into your little room and make your little silken bed ready, and we will both lie down and go to sleep.”

The king’s daughter began to cry, for she was afraid of the cold frog which she did not like to touch, and which was now to sleep in her pretty, clean little bed. But the king grew angry and said, “He who helped you when you were in trouble ought not afterwards to be despised by you.” So she took hold of the frog with two fingers, carried him upstairs, and put him in a corner, but when she was in bed he crept to her and said, “I am tired, I want to sleep as well as you, lift me up or I will tell your father.” At this she was terribly angry, and took him up and threw him with all her might against the wall. “Now, will you be quiet, odious frog,” said she. But when he fell down he was no frog but a king’s son with kind and beautiful eyes. He by her father’s will was now her dear companion and husband. Then he told her how he had been bewitched by a wicked witch, and how no one could have delivered him from the well but herself, and that tomorrow they would go together into his kingdom.

Then they went to sleep, and the next morning when the sun awoke them, a carriage came driving up with eight white horses, which had white ostrich feathers on their heads, and were harnessed with golden chains, and behind stood the young king’s servant Faithful Henry.

Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed into a frog, that he had caused three iron bands to be laid round his heart, lest it should burst with grief and sadness. The carriage was to conduct the young king into his kingdom. Faithful Henry helped them both in, and placed himself behind again, and was full of joy because of this deliverance. And when they had driven a part of the way the king’s son heard a cracking behind him as if something had broken. So he turned round and cried, “Henry, the carriage is breaking.”

“No, master, it is not the carriage. It is a band from my heart, which was put there in my great pain when you were a frog and imprisoned in the well.” Again and once again while they were on their way something cracked, and each time the king’s son thought the carriage was breaking, but it was only the bands which were springing from the heart of Faithful Henry because his master was set free and was happy.

The Mouse Deer and the Snail

Long times ago, all the animals living in the jungle lived peacefully. They helped each other and were friendly. The lion was the king. He governed the animals ini his kingdom in the jungle. Among the animals living in the jungle was Mouse deer. The Mouse deer was always cheerful and very confident. He was known as tricky and intelligent animal. Because of his intelligence and cleverness, the Mouse deer became conceited and over confident. He abused hs to deceive other animals.

?I?m the cleverest in the jungle. I am the best. No other animal can compare me.? ? If a person is afraid of the tiger, the crocodile or the elephant, it because they are big and fience.? ?But when they deal with me, I can always cheat them.?

The Mouse deer?s other habit is wandering. He would roam the jungle from one corner to another. He has the nerves to go anywhere. One day…………………….. ? Boy, its bad. It?s going to rain. I have to go home or otherwise I?ll get all wet.? ? It will be worse if the branches of these trees might fall on me.?

The Mouse deer ran and ran quickly, looking up to observe the clouds growing darker and darker. He did not notice there was a big hole in front af him, waiting to swallo him. And……………He plug into the hole…….. ? Oh, I am neer death!? ? Luckily, some shrubs and grass grew thick at the bottom of the hole …so it was a smooth landing.? ? But how can I get out of this hole. This hole is very deep too deep for me to reach the surface on the ground above.?

The Mouse deer tried hard to jump onto the surface but could not reach it…… Tired and hopeless, he could only rest thinking af any possible way to get out of the hole…. After long anough of waiting and trying, he eventually the sounds of heavy steps… ?What is that sound up there?? From the depth of the hole, he could see the elephant passing by……. ? Elephant ! Come here quickly !? ? Deer elephant. You?re the mighty one. I care for you. You?re good friend of mine. I must tell you that world is going to end …….? ? The sky above us is going to collapse and fall to the ground ….. Look up for yourself ! Now you can see.?

The elephant who had never noticed the sky above before suddenly felt scared….. ? The sky is really dark.? ?Look! The clouds are moving. That?s the sign that the sky is going to fall.? ?You?re right, Mouse deer! The sky is going to fall ….. But why are you hiding down there? Why dont you run and escape. Come up quickly.? ? Oh thats very kind of you tell me, deer Mouse deer. Please let me get down and join you in your hiding place. Please let me go down. I?m scared. The sky is going to fall on.? ? Well, you?re a good friend of mine. Now get down and safe yourself in this safe place.? The Elephant went down into the hole slowly. The Mouse deer moved aside to avoid his big body. ?Well well. You have to stay here. Go nowhere.? ? I?m going to go and see our friends up there, we might have to help them too, I?m going to tell them to hide here.?

The elephant obeyed and sat down. The Mouse deer leaped onto his back and up onto the ground. The elephant did not realize that the Mouse deer had played a trick on him. What a smart animal!! …… He was very happy. Only in second the Mouse deer was alredy on the ground. Witahout looking back, he ran quickly into the jungle leaving the elephant alone in the hole. The Mouse deer continued to run into the jungle because he thought that the elephant would learn that he had deceived him and would kill him…….. He suddenly stopped………… ?Oh no, there is a wide river in front, I can?t go on……? ? I?ll try to get some banana trunks to make a raft to cross the river. But, there are not any around here. How then………?? The Mouse deer was thinking of how to get to the other of the river. Not far from where he was, a group of crocodile were gathering. ?Hi friends. Isn?t it the Mouse deer over there. He usually deceives all animals in the jungle.? ? You?re right. This is time for us to catch him,? ? Yes, lets surround him.? The crocodiles dived to where the Mouse deer was standing. As soon as they get close to him, the cocodile came to the surface of the water. The Mouse deer was surprised to see the crocodile around him. ?Aha ………. it?s nice to see you again, Mouse deer.? ?Oh this is horrible, these crocodile are going to kill and eat me.? ?Mouse deer, it?s time for you to die. You have fooled us many times before. You?d better surrender.? ? Come here, and we?ll make you our meal!! There is no way you can escape. We are feasting on your meat today!!? The Mouse deer stood still. But only for a while. He could control himself again. He already found a good idea to deal with the crocodiles. ? My dear friends, the crocodiles. I?ve wanted to surrender and become your good meals. But then came my second though…? ? My thin body will not make you full …….. Now listen to me…….? ? I met a wise man yesterday, he taught me how to fatten my self. This man also gave me some parfum to make my meat smell sweet. So if you already want to eat my meat, you cam say it?s good time.? The crocodiles looked at each other. They didin?t seem to really understand what the Mouse deer had said. ? Friends, I don?t believe what the Mouse deer said. He?ll probably deceive us again this time, becareful let?s listen to what he is going to said.? ? With his magic spell, the wise man has made my body sufficient to satisfy one hunderd hungry crocodiles. For that reason, I?m going to count ypu. Please form your selves in an orderly line. Don?t worry, everyone will get my meat!? ? Come on, queue up in an orderly line! I am going to start counting you. Don?t get messy or leave the row. I?ll run away if you do !? The Crocodiles were amazed. They followed the Mouse deer?s instructions and formed a neat straight line of crocodiles stretching from one side of the river to the other. ? Are you all ready ? I can start counting now……. one two three……..? The Mouse deer jumped on the crocodiles back tactfully from one side of the river towards the other side. ? Twenty five…. twenty six….. twenty seven……. twenty eight ……… twenty nine, thirty? Dear crocodiles, you are only thirty in al. How come?? ? My meat can make one hundred crocodiles full. Where are the others?? ? Listen ! I?m in hurry. I am having a meeting wth the Lion and the Elephant. So I have to go now. Hup……? ? Good bye stupid crocodiles. Have a nice day……? ? You?ll be able to eat Mouse deer meat only if you can catch me.? When the Mouse deer had already got to the other side of the river. ? Till we meet again, greedy crocodiles !……..? ? You?ll be ale to eat my meat when you are smart enough to do it.? The Mouse deer jumped his away off the crocodiles line. ? Bad so bad. He has cheated us again!? ? I wonder how can he still be so clever.? The Mouse deer had gone far into the jungle. He could always deceive other animals. He was witty, clever, intelligent and sometimes cunning too. One day………….. The Mouse der was walking along a very clear river. ? I?am the Mouse deer ! The clever, brave and shrewd animal !? ? Hi Mouse deer, where are you going? You look very happy. You?ve been singing happily.? The Mouse der stopped singing trying to find where the soft voice had come from……… ? Well, so it was you has just talked to me !? ? How are you, little snail? I mean are you small but not cute ugly like dirt.? ? Mouse deer, every animal knows you as clever animal. But now find you conceited and humiliating too !? ? Listen every animal has its own sterngth.? ? Poor snail, tell what your sterngth is. I am already curius,? ?Mouse deer , the clever animal. Listen carefully! I defy you on a race from here to the tree near the end of the deep part of the river. Who can reach the palce first is the winner! You or I ? Do you understand ?? ? Ho ho ho ! I can easily beat you even if I walk blindfolded. I don?t have to run. Lets start now!? ? Be patient dear friend. You need to practice first to beat me in the race. Let?s do it on Sunday ! ………..? ? Ok I?ll be back on Sunday. Don?t break your promise !? The Mouse deer walked back into the jungle. ? How could the Sanil be so conceited ? What is he going to show off ? How dare he was to defy me on the race?? The brave and daring Snail had in fact very clever ideas. He gathered other snails, his friends. ? Dear friends we are going to have a race with the Mouse deer on Sunday. We are going to trick him to win this race. We are going to teach him lesson on pride. He is very proud of himself.? ? You?ll have to hide yourselves behind a stone or grass along the river. And each of us has to come up every time the Mouse deer calls. This way we can confuse him.? ? Alright, so we are waiting for the day of the race.?

The waited Sunday finally came. The Mouse deer was desperately curius to find out the Snail?s strength. He had prepared some mocking expressions to say when he won the race. ? Hi Snail ! Are you ready for the race?? ?Of course I am! We Snails always keep our promises. We can start the race ow ! We start from the point here and finish under the tree near the end of the deep part of the river.? ? You can run anywhere in between and call me. I?ll come up and answer your call. Are you ready?? ? Of course I am. I know I?ll even if I walk slowly , I don?t have to run because I?m still faster ! I can beat you with only a jump !? ? Alright we can start the race now ! One……. two………three !……? The Snail dived in the water and the Mouse deer started walking slowly towards the finish line downstream line. After a few steps the Mouse deer called Snail. ? Snail where are you ? How far are you going ?? The Snail suddenly appeared out of the water in front of him. ? Cluck cluck, hi Mouse deer I am here, in front of you. Beat me if you can !? The Mouse deer could not understand why the Snail could be faster than him. ? Hi Snail where are you now ?? ? cluck cluck ! I am here in front of you. I am a few steps ahead. Run faster to keep up with me, Mouse deer !? The Mouse deer bacame more curious. The Snail was right. He was really a head of him, now he had to run as quickly as possible. ? Oh no I can?t afford to lose this race against a small Snail, I ave to run as fast as Ican !? ? If lose this race against the Snail, all animals in the jungle will laugh at me ! They will humilliate me.? But each time the Mouse deer called the Snail, the Snail was always seen a few steps in front of him and answered his call. The Mouse deer ran with all his might when he knew that the finish line was just a few steps a head under the tree. ? Snail ! Where are you ?? The Mouse deer was totally shocked to see the Snail perching on piece of stone under the tree smiling at him. ? Wow, you?re already there !?? ? Whetever you say I am the winner ! I don?t want the prize ar bet you promised. I only want to tell you. Mouse deer dont be conceited !! Every animal has its own sterngth and weaknesses. Now you have to admit it.? After saying his words of advice and instructions the snail dived back into the river…………..

The Mouse deer was left confused and bewildered thinking about his loss. He agreed with the Snail. Every animal has its own strength and weaknesses and that over confidence and pride will destroy one?s life.

The Lion and Mouse

Once, as a lion lay sleeping in his den, a naughty little mouse ran up his tail, and onto his back and up his mane and danced and jumped on his head …

…so that the lion woke up.
lion angry and mouseThe lion grabbed the mouse and, holding him in his large claws, roared in anger. ‘How dare you wake me up! Don’t you know that I am King of the Beasts? Anyone who disturbs my rest deserves to die! I shall kill you and eat you!’

The terrified mouse, shaking and trembling, begged the lion to let him go. ‘Please don’t eat me Your Majesty! I did not mean to wake you, it was a mistake. I was only playing. Please let me go – and I promise I will be your friend forever. Who knows but one day I could save your life?’

The lion looked at the tiny mouse and laughed. ‘You save my life? What an absurd idea!’ he said scornfully. ‘But you have made me laugh, and put me into a good mood again, so I shall let you go.’ And the lion opened his claws and let the mouse go free.

‘Oh thank you, your majesty,’ squeaked the mouse, and scurried away as fast as he could.

The Story of the Three Little Pigs

THERE was an old sow with three little pigs, and as she had not enough to keep them, she sent them out to seek their fortune. The first that went off met a man with a bundle of straw, and said to him:

‘Please, man, give me that straw to build a house.’

Which the man did, and the little pig built a house with it. Presently came along a wolf, and knocked at the door, and said:

‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in.’ To which the pig answered:

‘No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.’ The wolf then answered to that:

‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.’

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew his house in, and ate up the little pig.

The second little pig met a man with a bundle of furze and said:

‘Please, man, give me that furze to build a house.’

Which the man did, and the pig built his house. Then along came the wolf, and said:

‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in.’

‘No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.’

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.’

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he puffed, and he huffed, and at last he blew the house down, and he ate up the little pig.

The third little pig met a man with a load of bricks, and said:

‘Please, man, give me those bricks to build a house with.’

So the man gave him the bricks, and he built his house with them. So the wolf came, as he did to the other little pigs, and said:

‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in.’

‘No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.’

‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.’

Well, he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and huffed; but he could not get the house down. When he found that he could not, with all his huffing and puffing, blow the house down, he said:

‘Little pig, I know where there is a nice field of turnips.’

‘Where?’ said the little pig.

‘Oh, in Mr Smith’s Home-field, and if you will be ready tomorrow morning I will call for you, and we will go together, and get some for dinner.’

‘Very well,’ said the little pig, ‘I will be ready. What time do you mean to go?’

‘Oh, at six o’clock.’

Well, the little pig got up at five, and got the turnips before the wolf came (which he did about six), who said:

‘Little pig, are you ready?’

The little pig said: ‘Ready! I have been and come back again, and got a nice potful for dinner.’

The wolf felt very angry at this, but thought that he would be up to the little pig somehow or other, so he said:

‘Little pig, I know where there is a nice apple tree.’

‘Where?’ said the pig.

‘Down at Merry-garden,’ replied the wolf, ‘and if you will not deceive me I will come for you at five o’clock tomorrow. and get some apples.’

Well, the little pig bustled up the next morning at four o’clock, and went off for the apples, hoping to get back before the wolf came; but he had further to go, and had to climb the tree, so that just as he was coming down from it, he saw the wolf coming, which, as you may suppose, frightened him very much. When the wolf came up he said:

‘Little pig, what! are you here before me? Are they nice apples?’

‘Yes, very,’ said the little pig. ‘I will throw you down one.’

And he threw it so far, that, while the wolf was gone to pick it up, the little pig jumped down and ran home. The next day the wolf came again, and said to the little pig:

‘Little pig, there is a fair at Shanklin this afternoon, will you go?’

‘Oh yes,’ said the pig, ‘I will go; what time shall you be ready?’

‘At three,’ said the wolf. So the little pig went off before the time as usual, and got to the fair, and bought a butter-churn, which he was going home with, when he saw the wolf coming. Then he could not tell what to do. So he got into the churn to hide, and by so doing turned it round, and it rolled down the hill with the pig in it, which frightened the wolf so much, that he ran home without going to the fair. He went to the little pig’s house, and told him how frightened he had been by a great round thing which came down the hill past him. Then the little pig said:

‘Hah, I frightened you, then. I had been to the fair and bought a butter-churn, and when I saw you, I got into it, and rolled down the hill.’

Then the wolf was very angry indeed, and declared he would eat up the little pig, and that he would get down the chimney after him. When the little pig saw what he was about, he hung on the pot full of water, and made up a blazing fire, and, just as the wolf was coming down, took off the cover, and in fell the wolf; so the little pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happy ever afterwards.

The Ugly Duckling

IT was lovely summer weather in the country, and the golden corn, the green oats, and the haystacks piled up in the meadows looked beautiful. The stork walking about on his long red legs chattered in the Egyptian language, which he had learnt from his mother. The corn-fields and meadows were surrounded by large forests, in the midst of which were deep pools. It was, indeed, delightful to walk about in the country. In a sunny spot stood a pleasant old farm-house close by a deep river, and from the house down to the water side grew great burdock leaves, so high, that under the tallest of them a little child could stand upright. The spot was as wild as the centre of a thick wood. In this snug retreat sat a duck on her nest, watching for her young brood to hatch; she was beginning to get tired of her task, for the little ones were a long time coming out of their shells, and she seldom had any visitors. The other ducks liked much better to swim about in the river than to climb the slippery banks, and sit under a burdock leaf, to have a gossip with her. At length one shell cracked, and then another, and from each egg came a living creature that lifted its head and cried, ?Peep, peep.? ?Quack, quack,? said the mother, and then they all quacked as well as they could, and looked about them on every side at the large green leaves. Their mother allowed them to look as much as they liked, because green is good for the eyes. ?How large the world is,? said the young ducks, when they found how much more room they now had than while they were inside the egg-shell. ?Do you imagine this is the whole world?? asked the mother; ?Wait till you have seen the garden; it stretches far beyond that to the parson?s field, but I have never ventured to such a distance. Are you all out?? she continued, rising; ?No, I declare, the largest egg lies there still. I wonder how long this is to last, I am quite tired of it;? and she seated herself again on the nest.

?Well, how are you getting on?? asked an old duck, who paid her a visit.

?One egg is not hatched yet,? said the duck, ?it will not break. But just look at all the others, are they not the prettiest little ducklings you ever saw? They are the image of their father, who is so unkind, he never comes to see.?

?Let me see the egg that will not break,? said the duck; ?I have no doubt it is a turkey?s egg. I was persuaded to hatch some once, and after all my care and trouble with the young ones, they were afraid of the water. I quacked and clucked, but all to no purpose. I could not get them to venture in. Let me look at the egg. Yes, that is a turkey?s egg; take my advice, leave it where it is and teach the other children to swim.?

?I think I will sit on it a little while longer,? said the duck; ?as I have sat so long already, a few days will be nothing.?

?Please yourself,? said the old duck, and she went away.

At last the large egg broke, and a young one crept forth crying, ?Peep, peep.? It was very large and ugly. The duck stared at it and exclaimed, ?It is very large and not at all like the others. I wonder if it really is a turkey. We shall soon find it out, however when we go to the water. It must go in, if I have to push it myself.?

On the next day the weather was delightful, and the sun shone brightly on the green burdock leaves, so the mother duck took her young brood 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, and the ugly duckling was also in the water swimming with them.

?Oh,? said the mother, ?that is not a turkey; how well he uses his legs, and how upright 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 was a great disturbance, 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 flag 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, as she can be recognized both by man and beast. Come, now, don?t turn your toes, a well-bred duckling spreads his feet wide apart, just like his father and mother, in this way; now bend your neck, and say ?quack.??

The ducklings did as they were bid, but the other duck stared, and said, ?Look, here comes another brood, as if there were not enough of us already! and 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 any harm.?

?Yes, but he is so big and ugly,? said the spiteful duck ?and therefore he must be turned out.?

?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 improve him a little.?

?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 can 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, and 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 and laughed at by the whole farmyard. So it went on from day to day till it got worse and worse. 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 said 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 because I am 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, and were very saucy. ?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 pretty wild geese, all unmarried. It is a chance for you to get a wife; you may be lucky, ugly as you are.?

?Pop, pop,? sounded in the air, and the two wild geese fell dead among the rushes, and the water was tinged with blood. ?Pop, pop,? echoed far and wide in the distance, and whole flocks of wild geese rose up from the rushes. The sound continued from every direction, for the sportsmen surrounded the moor, and some were even seated on branches of trees, overlooking the rushes. The blue smoke from the guns rose like clouds over the dark trees, and as it floated away across the water, a number of sporting dogs bounded in among the rushes, which bent beneath them wherever they went. How they terrified the poor duckling! He turned away his head to hide it under his wing, and at the same moment a large terrible dog passed quite near him. His jaws were open, his tongue hung from his mouth, and his eyes glared fearfully. He thrust his nose close to the duckling, showing his sharp teeth, and then, ?splash, splash,? he went into the water without touching him, ?Oh,? sighed the duckling, ?how thankful I am for being so ugly; even a dog will not bite me.? And so he lay quite still, while the shot rattled through the rushes, and gun after gun was fired over him. It was late in the day before all became quiet, but even then the poor young thing did not dare to move. He waited quietly for several hours, and then, after looking carefully around him, hastened away from the moor as fast as he could. He ran over field and meadow till a storm arose, and he could hardly struggle against it. Towards evening, he reached a poor little cottage that seemed ready to fall, and only remained standing because it could not decide on which side to fall first. The storm continued so violent, that the duckling could go no farther; he sat down by the cottage, and then he noticed that the door was not quite closed in consequence of one of the hinges having given way. There was therefore a narrow opening near the bottom large enough for him to slip through, which he did very quietly, and got a shelter for the night. A woman, a tom cat, and a hen lived in this cottage. The tom cat, whom the mistress called, ?My little son,? was a great favorite; he could raise his back, and purr, and could even throw out sparks from his fur if it were stroked the wrong way. The hen had very short legs, so she was called ?Chickie short legs.? She laid good eggs, and her mistress loved her as if she had been her own child. In the morning, the strange visitor was discovered, and the tom cat began to purr, and the hen to cluck.

?What is that noise about?? said the old woman, looking round the room, but her sight was not very good; therefore, when she saw the duckling she thought it must be a fat duck, that had strayed from home. ?Oh what a prize!? she exclaimed, ?I hope it is not a drake, for then I shall have some duck?s eggs. I must wait and see.? So the duckling was allowed to remain on trial for three weeks, but there were no eggs. Now the tom cat was the master of the house, and the hen was mistress, and they always said, ?We and the world,? for they believed themselves to be half the world, and the better half too. The duckling thought that others might hold a different opinion on the subject, but the hen would not listen to such doubts. ?Can you lay eggs?? she asked. ?No.? ?Then have the goodness to hold your tongue.? ?Can you raise your back, or purr, or throw out sparks?? said the tom cat. ?No.? ?Then you have no right to express an opinion when sensible people are speaking.? So the duckling sat in a corner, feeling very low spirited, till the sunshine and the fresh air came into the room through the open door, and then he began to feel such a great longing for a swim on the water, that he could not help telling the hen.

?What an absurd idea,? said the hen. ?You have nothing else to do, therefore you have foolish fancies. If you could purr or lay eggs, they would pass away.?

?But it is so delightful to swim about on the water,? said the duckling, ?and so refreshing to feel it close over your head, while you dive down to the bottom.?

?Delightful, indeed!? said the hen, ?why you must be crazy! Ask the cat, he is the cleverest animal I know, ask him how he would like to swim about on the water, or to dive under it, for I will not speak of my own opinion; ask our mistress, the old woman?there is no one in the world more clever than she is. Do you think she would like to swim, or to let the water close over her head??

?You don?t understand me,? said the duckling.

?We don?t understand you? Who can understand you, I wonder? Do you consider yourself more clever than the cat, or the old woman? I will say nothing of myself. Don?t imagine such nonsense, child, and thank your good fortune that you have been received here. Are you not in a warm room, and in society from which you may learn something. But you are a chatterer, and your company is not very agreeable. Believe me, I speak only for your own good. I may tell you unpleasant truths, but that is a proof of my friendship. I advise you, therefore, to lay eggs, and learn to purr as quickly as possible.?

?I believe I must go out into the world again,? said the duckling.

?Yes, do,? said the hen. So the duckling left the cottage, and soon found water on which it could swim and dive, but was avoided by all other animals, because of its ugly appearance. Autumn came, and the leaves in the forest turned to orange and gold. then, as winter approached, the wind caught them as they fell and whirled them in the cold air. The clouds, heavy with hail and snow-flakes, hung low in the sky, and the raven stood on the ferns crying, ?Croak, croak.? It made one shiver with cold to look at him. All this was very sad for the poor little duckling. One evening, just as the sun set amid radiant clouds, there came a large flock of beautiful birds out of the bushes. The duckling had never seen any like them before. They were swans, and they curved their graceful necks, while their soft plumage shown with dazzling whiteness. They uttered a singular cry, as they spread their glorious wings and flew away from those cold regions to warmer countries across the sea. As they mounted higher and higher in the air, the ugly little duckling felt quite a strange sensation as he watched them. He whirled himself in the water like a wheel, stretched out his neck towards them, and uttered a cry so strange that it frightened himself. Could he ever forget those beautiful, happy birds; and when at last they were out of his sight, he dived under the water, and rose again almost beside himself with excitement. He knew not the names of these birds, nor where they had flown, but he felt towards them as he had never felt for any other bird in the world. He was not envious of these beautiful creatures, but wished to be as lovely as they. Poor ugly creature, how gladly he would have lived even with the ducks had they only given him encouragement. The winter grew colder and colder; he was obliged to swim about on the water to keep it from freezing, but every night the space on which he swam became smaller and smaller. At length it froze so hard that the ice in the water crackled as he moved, and the duckling had to paddle with his legs as well as he could, to keep the space from closing up. He became exhausted at last, and lay still and helpless, frozen fast in the ice.

Early in the morning, a peasant, who was passing by, saw what had happened. He broke the ice in pieces with his wooden shoe, and carried the duckling home to his wife. The warmth revived the poor little creature; but when the children wanted to play with him, the duckling thought they would do him some harm; so he started up in terror, fluttered into the milk-pan, and splashed the milk about the room. Then the woman clapped her hands, which frightened him still more. He flew first into the butter-cask, then into the meal-tub, and out again. What a condition he was in! The woman screamed, and struck at him with the tongs; the children laughed and screamed, and tumbled over each other, in their efforts to catch him; but luckily he escaped. The door stood open; the poor creature could just manage to slip out among the bushes, and lie down quite exhausted in the newly fallen snow.

It would be very sad, were I to relate all the misery and privations which the poor little duckling endured during the hard winter; but when it had passed, he found himself lying one morning in a moor, amongst the rushes. He felt the warm sun shining, and heard the lark singing, and saw that all around was beautiful spring. Then the young bird felt that his wings were strong, as he flapped them against his sides, and rose high into the air. They bore him onwards, until he found himself in a large garden, before he well knew how it had happened. The apple-trees were in full blossom, and the fragrant elders bent their long green branches down to the stream which wound round a smooth lawn. Everything looked beautiful, in the freshness of early spring. From a thicket close by came three beautiful white swans, rustling their feathers, and swimming lightly over the smooth water. The duckling remembered the lovely birds, and felt more strangely unhappy than ever.

?I will fly to those royal birds,? he exclaimed, ?and they will kill me, because I am so ugly, and dare to approach them; but it does not matter: better be killed by them than pecked by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed about by the maiden who feeds the poultry, or starved with hunger in the winter.?

Then he flew to the water, and swam towards the beautiful swans. The moment they espied the stranger, they rushed to meet him with outstretched wings.

?Kill me,? said the poor bird; and he bent his head down to the surface of the water, and awaited death.

But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck?s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan?s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.

Into the garden presently came some little children, and threw bread and cake into the water.

?See,? cried the youngest, ?there is a new one;? and the rest were delighted, and ran to their father and mother, dancing and clapping their hands, and shouting joyously, ?There is another swan come; a new one has arrived.?

Then they threw more bread and cake into the water, and said, ?The new one is the most beautiful of all; he is so young and pretty.? And the old swans bowed their heads before him.

Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wing; for he did not know what to do, he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He had been persecuted and despised for his ugliness, and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful of all the birds. Even the elder-tree bent down its bows into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and bright. Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, ?I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.?