THE UGLY DUCKLING 247
a warm room, and have you not fallen into company from which you may learn something ? But you are a chatterer, and it is not pleasant to associate with you. You may believe me, I speak for your good. I tell you disagreeable things, and by that one may always know one's true friends ! Only take care that you learn to lay eggs, or to purr and give out sparks ! '
' I think I will go out into the wide world,' said the Duckling.
' Yes, do go,' replied the Hen.
And the Duckling went away. It swam on the water, and dived, but it was slighted by every creature because of its ugliness.
Now came the autumn. The leaves in the forest turned yellow and brown ; the wind caught them so that they danced about, and up in the air it was very cold. The clouds hung low, heavy with hail and snow-flakes, and on the fence stood the raven, crying, ' Croak ! croak ! ' for mere cold ; yes, it was enough to make one feel cold to think of this. The poor little Duckling certainly had not a good time. One evening—the sun was just setting in his beauty—there came a whole flock of great handsome birds out of the bushes ; the duckling had never before seen anything so beautiful ; they were dazzlingly white, with long flexible necks ; they were swans. They uttered a very peculiar cry, spread forth their glorious great wings, and flew away from that cold region to warmer lands, to open lakes. They mounted so liigh, so high ! and the ugly little Duckling felt quite strangely as it watched them. It turned round and round in the water like a wheel, stretched out its neck towards them, and muttered such a strange loud cry as*frightened itself. Oh ! it could not forget those beautiful, happy birds ; and so soon as it could see them no longer, it dived down to the very bottom, and when it came up again, it was quite beside itself. It knew not the name of those birds, and knew not whither they were flying ; but it loved them more than it had ever loved any one. It was not at all envious of them. How could it think of wishing to possess such loveliness as they had ? It would have been glad if only the ducks would have endured its company—the poor ugly creature !