"You have pretty children, mother!" said the old duck with the rag round her leg. "They are all pretty except one, which hasn't turned out well at all! I wish you could make him over again!"
"Impossible, your grace!" said the mother of the ducklings; "he is not pretty, but he
has a good disposition and swims as nicely as any of the others; I may say even a bit better! I fancy he will grow prettier, or perhaps somewhat smaller, in time. He has lain too long in the egg and therefore he has n
ot got the proper shape!"
Then she trimmed the ruffled feathers of his neck with her beak and smoothed down the rest of his person. "Besides, he is a drake," she said, "and so it doesn't so much mat
ter! I think he'll be strong enough to fight his way along!"
"The other ducklings are very nice," said the old duck. "Pray make yourself quite at home, and if you find an eel's hea
d you may bring it to me."
And so the family made themselves comfortable.
But the poor duckling who had come out of the egg last of all and looked so ugly, was bitten, pushed abo
ut, and made fun of both by the ducks and the hens, "He is too big!" they all cried; and the turkey cock, who had been born with spurs, and therefore thought himself an emperor at least, puffed himself out like a ship in full sail, pitched into him, and
then gobbled till he was red in the face. The poor duckling knew not where to turn, and was so distressed because he was ugly and the laughing-stock of the whole duck-yard.
「她的孩子都很漂亮，」那只腿上系着一条红布的母鸭说。 「他们都很漂亮，只有一只例外。这真是可惜。 我希望能把他再孵一次。」
「那是不可能的了，太太！」鸭妈妈回答说：「他长得不好看，但是他有副好脾气。他游起水来也不比别的差，甚至还可以说他游得比别的好呢！ 我想他长大之后会慢慢变好看，或者到了适当的时机，也有可能缩小一点。 他在蛋里躺得太久了，模样有点不太自然。」
然后她在他的颈上啄了一下，把他的羽毛理一理。 「此外，他还是一只公鸭，」她说：「所以这问题也不会太大。 我想他的身体很强壮，将来总会找到自己的出路。」