242 THE UGLY DUCKLING
recognized by man and beast. Shake yourselves—don't turn in your toes ; a well-brought-up duck turns its toes quite out, just like father and mother, so ! Now bend your necks and say " Rap ! " '
And they did so ; but the other ducks round about looked at them, and said quite boldly,
* Look there ! now we're to have these hanging on as if there were not enough of us already ! And—fie !—how that Duckling yonder looks ; we won't stand him !' And one duck flew up immediately, and bit it in the neck.
' Let it alone,' said the mother ; ' it does no harm to any one.'
; Yes, but it's too large and peculiar,' said the Duck who had bitten it; ' and therefore it must be buffeted.'
' Those are pretty children that the mother has there,' said the old Duck with the rag round her leg. * They're all pretty but that one ; that was a failure. I wish she could alter it.'
' That cannot be done, my lady,' replied the Mother-Duck : ' it is not pretty, but it has a really good disposition, and swims as well as any other ; I may even say it swims better. I think it will grow up pretty, and become smaller in time ; it has lain too long in the egg, and therefore is not properly shaped.' And then she pinched it in the neck, and smoothed its feathers. ' Moreover, it is a drake,' she said, 4 and therefore it is not of so much consequence. I think he will be very strong : he will make his way all right.'
' The other ducklings are graceful enough,' said the old Duck. ' Make yourself at home ; and if you find an eel's head, you may bring it me.'
And now they were at home. But the poor Duckling which had crept last out of the egg, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and jeered at, as much by the ducks as by the chickens.
' It is too big ! ' they all said. And the turkey-cock, who had been born with spurs, and therefore thought himself an emperor, blew himself up like a ship in full sail, and bore straight down upon it; then he gobbled, and grew quite red in the face. The poor Duckling did not know where it should stand or walk ; it was quite melancholy