The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling
Once upon a time a mother duck was waddling by the lake, when she found a strange-looking egg.
“This is odd,” said Mother Duck, “I must have misplaced one of my eggs.” So, using her wide, able bill, she pushed the egg back to her nest, where she sat on it and its five brother and sister eggs, keeping them warm until they hatched.
One day the eggs hatched, and out popped six little ducklings. All the ducklings were cute and cuddly, except for one. The duckling that popped out of the odd-looking egg was the ugliest duckling Mother Duck had ever seen.
“What a strange-looking fellow you are,” said Mother Duck. “But you're still one of my babies, and I love you no matter what.”
The Ugly Duckling loved his Mother Duck and all his little brother and sister ducklings, and they loved him as well.
But the other ducks on the pond weren't so nice.
“What an ugly duckling,” said one.
“He really isn't very pretty,” said another.
Whenever the family was on the pond, the other ducks would laugh or call the Ugly Duckling names.
Finally, the Ugly Duckling could stand it no longer, so he swam away to a marshy corner of the pond and hid. This was a very inhospitable place for ducks, so he was all alone. He felt very lonely and missed his mother and brothers and sisters, but it was still better to live alone than to be teased so relentlessly. From his hiding place he could see almost the whole pond, which at times made him feel lonelier.
Summer passed and fall came. The Ugly Duckling noticed some new birds swimming on the pond. They were much larger than ducks and had long white necks and beautiful thin beaks.
“They are so beautiful,” thought the Ugly Duckling. “But I am so ugly, I can't let them see me.” So the Ugly Duckling stayed hidden in the rushes.
One day, the Ugly Duckling heard a voice say, “Look at that beautiful bird.”
He turned around and was surprised to see one of the beautiful white birds talking to him.
“Are you making fun of me?” asked the Ugly Duckling.
“Oh no,” said the white bird. “You're very handsome.”
The Ugly Duckling didn't understand. The bird seemed to be telling the truth.
“What are you?” the Ugly Duckling asked.
“I am a swan. Just like you.”
“Me? A swan?” said the Ugly Duckling. “That can't be, I'm just an ugly duckling.”
“No, you're not,” said the swan. “Come here.”
The Ugly Duckling followed the swan into the middle of the pond and looked down into the water at his reflection. The swan was right — the Ugly Duckling had grown into a beautiful swan!