Friday, 6 July 2012

The Young Duck

Once there was a little town of ducks, called Splashville.

It was a little town in the countryside, filled with lots of ponds. It had a park, and the roads were made of cobblestone, which were hard and apt to hurt a young duck’s feet if she wasn’t careful.

‘Mummy, mummy,’ a young duck cried, as she tripped over a particularly hard cobblestone. ‘Can’t there be a better way to walk across town? The cobble stones are painful, and my feet are always bruised and battered.’

But the mother knew there wasn’t anything to be done, and so life continued as it always had: safe and happy, as long as you knew where to place your feet.

However the young duck was a clumsy one, and it seemed that no matter how hard she looked, or how carefully she stepped out on the stones there would always be a cobble there to find its way under her foot. 

And so, she spent most of her time swimming around in the pond, where there weren’t any nasty cobblestones, and where there was hardly any chance of running into them.

But her friends would all play featherball in the afternoon (which is a played lot like soccer with feathers, and is a duck’s favourite sport). It was played on the cobblestones, and so the young duck could only watch from the sidelines, or risk bumping or scratching or bruising her toes, which always made her sore in the evenings. She was very lonely, and wished that she could play like the other ducks.

One day, while swimming around in the pond (the other ducks had waddled off to play featherball some time ago), she came across a piece of rubber which had floated downstream, along with a piece of ribbon which lay beside it. The young duck was curious, and nuzzled the two inquisitively. The rubber was thick, but soft, and gave away under her touch. The ribbon was a bright red, and had no doubt adorned the hat of some sonsy lass. At last the duck gave a happy ‘quack’. She’d had an idea.

All through the night the young duck worked on her project: pulling and prodding, fashioning and fastening, until finally it began to take shape. Her mother hovered behind her, worried and curious, but the young duck continued her work unheeded, her crest puffed up in concentration.

In the morning a curious sight came into Splashville, and a crowd gathered all along Feather Way. What was in the middle of the crowd? Was it a horrific traffic accident? A fowl crime that would ruffle the feathers of all who saw it, and leave no duck unflappable? No. It was the young duck proudly waddling down the cobbled way. On her feet were two wellies fashioned from the rubber she had found. A piece of leftover ribbon had been tied around her neck and caught the wind and sun as she walked.

The young duck quacked happily as she waddled, giving no notice of the cobbles as she passed, much as you or I would give no notice of a pebble under our boots. The little duck was happy, and went on to have a semi-professional career in featherball, until she was indicted for her part in a match-fixing scandal which saw her banned professionally for life.

Picture credit: Stephen G. Johnson

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