The Ugly Duckling :
Once upon a time in an old farm, there lived a duck family. The mother duck laid six eggs one day. Just as she finished warming up each one of them and got them hatched she suddenly noticed a seventh one just beside the six eggs. She was suddenly confused as to whether she laid six eggs or seven. As she stood wondering there, the seventh egg hatched by itself with a great difficulty and came out a small but ugly duckling. It was
uglier than all the other six ducklings. It had small and worn out grey feathers instead of the yellow feathers.
“It is the ugliest creature I have ever seen,” thought the mother duck to herself.
She watched all the six ducklings grow into beautiful ducks. All of them were beautiful except for the ugly duckling which still remained ugly.
Thee ugly duckling became everyone’s enemy. Nobody liked him. Everybody thought it
was some kind of bad omen to see him everyday. The mother duck still wondered secretly whether he was hers, but she used to treat him a little better as she had no other choice. His brothers did not want to play with him. He was a laughing stock of the neighbourhood and everybody also played pranks on him. This only worsened the situation and the duckling used to feel miserable being ill-treated by everyone.
One day, he secretly flew away from the farm yard. He flew and flew until he came across a pond in which he took a look at his face. He felt very sad as to why he was so bad to look at.
Then he started asking all the other birds around, “Do you know of any ducklings with grey feathers like mine?”
But everyone shook their heads in scorn, “We don’t know anyone as ugly as you.'’
The ugly duckling did not lose heart, however, and kept on making enquiries. He went to another pond where a pair of large geese gave him the same answer to his question.
What’s more, they warned him, “Don’t stay here! Go away! It’s dangerous. There are men with guns around here!”
The duckling was sorry he had ever left the farmyard. He ran away from there. He now traveled and reached a cottage of an old woman. The old woman mistook him for a young goose and thought he would lay eggs as she was short sighted. She took him inside the hutch and fed him a few grains. The hen next to him laughed at him. The old woman
kept feeding him waiting for him to lay eggs. But, many days passed by and he did not lay any eggs.
The old woman now used to say, "You dirty little thing, it is okay if you do not lay eggs but at least grow fat as soon as possible so that I can make a nice meal out of you.”
The duckling cried silently as he heard this. That night he somehow made an escape from the hutch and flew. This time, he found himself in a thick bed of reeds. “If nobody wants me, I’ll hide here forever.” There was plenty a food and the duckling began to feel a little happier, though he was lonely. One day at sunrise, he saw a flight of beautiful birds’ wing overhead. White, with long slender necks, yellow beaks and large wings, they were migrating south.
“If only I could look like them, just for a day!” said the duckling, admiringly.
Winter came and the water in the reed bed froze. The poor duckling left home to seek food in the snow. He dropped exhausted to the ground, but a farmer found him and put him in his big jacket rocket.
“I’ll take him home to my children. They’ll look after him. Poor thing, he’s frozen!”
The duckling was showered with kindly care at the farmer’s house. In this way, the ugly duckling was able to survive the bitterly cold winter.
However, by springtime, he had grown so big that the farmer, decided, “I’ll set him free by the pond!” That was when the duckling saw himself mirrored in the water. ’‘Goodness! How I’ve changed! I hardly recognize myself!”
The flight of swans winged north again and glided on to the pond. When the duckling saw them, he realized he was one of their kinds and soon made friends, “We’re swans like you!” they said, warmly.
“Where have you been hiding?”
“It’s a long story,” replied the young swan still astounded.
Now, he swam majestically with his fellow swans. One day, he heard children on the river bank exclaim, “Look at that young swan! He’s the finest of them all!” And he almost burst with happiness thinking that there is a silver lining for every cloud.
The Ugly Duckling
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