THE ORANGE FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

A Collection of Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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THE UGLY DUCKLING
83
know where to look, but was comforted when his mother answered:
'He may not be quite as handsome as the others, but he swims better, and is very strong; I am sure he will make his way in the world as well as anybody.'
'Well, you must feel quite at home here,' said the old duck waddling off. And so they did, all except the duck­ling, who was snapped at by everyone when they thought his mother was not looking. Even the turkeycock, who was so big, never passed him without mocking words, and his brothers and sisters, who would not have noticed any difference unless it had been put into their heads, soon became as rude and unkind as the rest.
At last he could bear it no longer, and one day he fan­cied he saw signs of his mother turning against him too; so that night, when the ducks and hens were still asleep, he stole away through an open door, and under cover of the burdock leaves scrambled on by the bank of the canal, till he reached a wide grassy moor, full of soft marshy places where the reeds grew. Here he lay down, but he was too tired and too frightened to fall asleep, and with the earliest peep of the sun the reeds began to rustle, and he saw that he had blundered into a colony of wild ducks. But as he could not run away again he stood up and bowed politely.
'You are ugly,' said the wild ducks, when they had looked him well over; 'but, however, it is no business of ours, unless you wish to marry one of our daughters, and that we should not allow.' And the duckling answered that he had no idea of marrying anybody, and wanted nothing but to be left alone after his long journey.
So for two whole days he lay quietly among the reeds, eating such food as he could find, and drinking the water of the moorland pool, till he felt himself quite strong again. He wished he might stay where he was for ever, he was so comfortable and happy, away from
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