The Ugly Duckling
Once upon a time a Mama Duck sat on her nest.
“These eggs are taking a long time to hatch,” she thought. But a Mama duck must keep her eggs warm until they do hatch.
At last, the eggs began to crack. Pretty yellow ducklings came out of their shells. They shook their little wings and said, “Quack, quack!”
Mama Duck was very happy. They were all so cute.
Mama Duck said, “Come on ducklings, off we go to the pond for your first swim.” Then she counted them; one, two, three, four, five.
“Oh dear!” she thought, “I should have six ducklings!”
There was one big egg still in the nest. “Oh well,” thought Mama Duck, “I had better sit on my nest again and wait.”
The next day, the big egg hatched and out came a baby boy duckling. He was much bigger than the others. He was dark grey and not yellow. And he had longer legs than the others.
One of the yellow ducklings pointed at him, “He doesn’t look like one of us!”
“Such an ugly duckling!” said another.
“That is not a nice thing to say,” said Mama Duck, “he hatched from the same nest as you. Now, off to the pond for your very first swim.”
The other ducklings quacked, “Ugly! Ugly! Ugly!”
The Ugly Duckling did not know why the other ducklings were being so horrible to him.
Each yellow duckling jumped in the pond and swam behind Mama Duck. The Ugly Duckling jumped in and started to paddle, too.
“He’s a good swimmer,” Mama Duck thought.
The Ugly Duckling tried to play with his brothers and sisters. But they yelled, “Go away, you are ugly and grey. And your legs are too long!”
One day, one of the yellow ducklings said to the Ugly Duckling, “We don’t like you and wish you would go away!”
Then they all quacked, ‘“Go away, go away, go away!!”
The Ugly Duckling was sad. “Maybe I should just go,” he thought to himself.
That night, the Ugly Duckling flew away to the other side of the pond. He met two grown-up ducks.
“Can I stay with you, please?” asked the Ugly Duckling.
“All right”, said one of the ducks, “but just keep out of our way.”
“Woof! Woof!” Suddenly a big hungry dog started chasing the two ducks. They flew up in the air, and some feathers fell down on the ground.
The poor Ugly Duckling was frightened. The dog sniffed and sniffed at the Ugly Duckling then turned away.
“I am so ugly that even a big hungry dog doesn’t want me,” thought the Ugly Duckling with a tear in his eye.
Soon he found a new pond. He looked up and saw a flock of big white birds flying by. They were the most beautiful birds he had ever seen!
He stayed at that pond all by himself for a long time.
Then winter came and the cold wind and the dark clouds made the poor Ugly Duckling very sad and lonely.
He had to go into the cold pond to fish, but it was getting hard to swim. The lake turned to ice. One day he felt the water freezing around him and trapping him in the water.
“Oh, I’m so tired!” he thought, paddling hard. The ice got thicker and thicker.
Suddenly two big hands picked him up.
“You poor little thing!” said a farmer. He took the Ugly Duckling back to his warm farmhouse.
For the rest of that winter, the kind farmer looked after the Ugly Duckling.
Then spring came.
“Time for you to go to the pond to swim again, that’s what you were born to do,” said the farmer. He took the young bird back to the pond where he had found him and set him down on the water.
“I feel so strong now!” said the young bird to himself, and flapped his wings.
Just then a flock of those same beautiful birds he had seen before landed on the water.
“I know I’m ugly,” he said to them, “so I will go away.” A great big tear rolled down his cheek.
But when he opened his eyes, he saw a reflection in the water. It looked just like one of those beautiful white birds. Why was it so close to him? He jumped back. And the reflection jumped back, too.
He stretched out his long neck and the reflection stretched its neck, too.
“We wish you would stay,” said one of the beautiful birds.
“Yes, stay with us!” said another, “we can all be great friends.”
Then he knew just what had happened! He wasn’t an ugly grey bird with funny long legs any more. He was a beautiful swan after all!
Suddenly, all the other swans flapped their wings and took off into the sky.
“Come with us,” one called back.
So he flapped his beautiful white, swanny wings as fast as they could go and joined his new friends.