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“You are ugly, indeed,” said they ; “but that is no consequence,
do not marry into our family.” The poor exile was safe enough on that point,- he only wanted leave to remain quietly lying amongst the reeds, and drinking a little marsh water. Here he lay two whole days. Then came two wild geese, who by chance were ganders, and having just broken out of the egg-shell, were very pert on that account.
“Listen, comrade,” said they ; “ you are so ugly that we shall not object to you for a companion. Fly with us to another marsh hard by, wherein some exceedingly pretty wild geese have dwelt since last autumn. You may perhaps obtain one of them, in the dearth of beaux, ugly as you are.”
“ Bang! bang!” sounded at this moment over them, and both wild geese sank down dead, while the water around them was dyed red. Bang! bang!” it went again, and whole flocks of wild geese rose up out of the reeds.
The sportsman beat about the marsh on all sides, and a spaniel dashed through the thick morass. It was a terrible fright for the poor ugly duckling, when the fearful dog opened his jaws and showed his teeth ; but, splash, splash, the hound ran off, without troubling himself about this easy booty.
“God be praised !” sighed the little duck, “I am so ugly, that even the hound will not touch me.” And so he remained quite still, while the shots rattled briskly over his head among the rushes.
his hiding-place, and then
away from the terrible marsh.
Towards evening our fugitive reached a poor peasant's hut, the rotten door of which had fallen from its hinges, so that very welcome chink was left, through which he could slip into
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 dame, who, not seeing well, took the poor lean bird for a fat duck who had mistaken his way in the dark. . “ Here is indeed a piece of good luck!” exclaimed she, overjoyed. “Now I can have duck's eggs, provided the stupid thing be not a drake after all!” addded she. " But we will let it remain on trial.” And so the youngster remained three weeks, but without laying any eggs, when one morning, after a sleepless night, he felt himself seized with an unconquerable longing 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 upon you now?” answered she, quite angrily; "this comes of having nothing 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.