A Story From: Denmark
Read Time: ["3 to 5mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.
Read More of This Story
Suddenly a big hungry dog came tearing by, chasing the two ducks.
“Brrr!” he said with both wings held close to his chest. “If only there was a place I could get dry.”
All at once, a tiny light blinked far off in the woods. “Could it be someone’s hut?”
He flew to the door. “Quack?” said the Ugly Duckling. The door of the hut creaked open.
“What is all this noise?” said an old woman, looking right and left. Her eyes were not that good. Then she looked down. “Ah, look at that, it’s a duck!” She picked up the Ugly Duckling and dropped him inside her hut. “You can stay here, but only if you lay eggs,” she said.
A tomcat and hen crept up to the Ugly Duckling. “Who do you think you are, coming in here and taking up room by the fire!” said the tomcat.
“Squawk!” said the hen. “I do not need anyone else in this hut laying eggs.”
“Do not worry about that,” said the Ugly Duckling. “I am a boy duck.”
“Then why are you still here?” said the tomcat. “Did you not hear what the old woman said?”
“Get out of here, pretender!” clucked the hen.
“Get out! Get out!“ hissed the tomcat.
“Why are you still here?” said the tomcat.
The door was still a bit open, so our poor Ugly Duckling slipped out the door, and back into the storm.
“No one ever wants me,” said the Ugly Duckling with a tear in his eye.
The storm ended. Soon he found a new lake. Looking into the water, the Ugly Duckling saw the reflection of a flock of large white birds flying. He looked overhead and could not believe what he saw. There, above him, were the most beautiful birds he had ever seen! Their long white bodies and slender necks seemed to just glide through the sky. He watched until the very last bird had winged its way out of view.
He stayed at that lake all by himself, and time passed. The leaves of the trees turned deep red and gold, and then the leaves fell to the ground. Winter came, setting a blanket of white snow all over. The cold wind and the dark clouds made the Ugly Duckling feel even more sad. He had to go into the cold, cold lake to fish, but it was getting harder to swim. The lake was turning to ice. One day, it was all he could do was to paddle the water to keep it from freezing around him, and trapping him in the lake.
“I am so tired!” he said, paddling with all his might. The ice got thicker and drew closer to him.
In a moment, two giant hands swept him up. “You poor thing!” said a farmer. He held the Ugly Duckling close to his thick wool jacket and took the bird to his home.
“You poor thing!” said a farmer.
Never was a warm fireplace more welcome! For the rest of the winter, the farmer cared for the Ugly Duckling. Then spring came. Tips of green covered the trees. Short, bright flowers popped up from the ground.
“It is time for you to go to the lake to swim again, as you were born to do,” said the farmer. He took the duckling back to the lake where he had found him, and set him with care on the water.
“Gosh, I feel strong,” said the young bird, flapping his wings. “Why, I never felt as strong as I do right now!”
He heard quiet splashing sounds behind him, and turned around. A flock of those same beautiful birds he had seen in the sky before landed behind him on the water.
“Do not worry!” he said to them, holding out one wing. “I will go now. I will not make trouble for you.” A big fat tear rolled down his cheek. He turned to go away. When he opened his eyes, he saw a reflection in the water of one of those beautiful white birds. Why was it so close to him? He jumped back. And the reflection jumped back, too.
A big fat tear rolled down his cheek.
“What is this?” he said. He stretched his neck, and the reflection of the beautiful bird stretched its neck, too.
“Why are you going so soon?” said one of the beautiful birds.
“Stay here, with us!” said another. “We’ll be great friends.”
Then, the bird who used to be the Ugly Duckling knew what had happened! He was no longer an ugly gray bird that wobbled when it walked.
He was now a beautiful white swan!
At one moment, all the swans flapped their wings and took off into the sky. “Come with us,” one called back. “Take the lead!” So he flapped his wings fast and took his place in front of the whole flock. All his new friends flapped their wings behind him.
“Say!” he said, gliding and dipping through the sky as he sped on. “Who’s an ugly duckling now? Surely, Not I!”
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