Classic fables: the ugly duckling

 Classic fables: the ugly duckling

One summer afternoon Mother Duck smiled as she looked at her new-born eggs, which were soon to crack open. “Crick crack”, went the first egg. “Crick crack” went the other eggs, one after the other. The shells broke and five yellow balls of fur came out. “How beautiful you are!” said their mum. But one last egg, bigger and darker than the others, was still closed. Mother Duck was worried, but finally it started opening too. “Pac!” went the shell as it broke open. Mother Duck was very surprised when she saw her new baby. “It looks nothing like the other ones!” she said. “He is so big, and he has grey feathers and a big beak!” “How ugly he is!” said all the other ducks in the farm. “How ugly he is!” said his five brothers. “That’s ok. He will be handsome when he grows up!” sighed his mum, and she brought all her babies at the lake for their first swim.

The days went by, but for the ugly duckling they were not happy days. His brothers would peck at him, cats would scratch him, and kids would chase him. One afternoon, looking at the sky, the ugly duckling saw some beautiful white birds flying towards the sun. “How beautiful they are! I wish I could fly away with them!” he thought, and he decided to leave everything behind and look for a better place.

The duckling wandered the world alone for a while, feeling sad and hungry. One day he reached a farm with a chicken and a cat. “Come in” they said. “You can stay with us if you want”. He eagerly accepted, but his glee did not last long.
“Can you lay eggs?” the chicken asked him.
“No” he replied.
“Can you meow?” asked the cat.
“No” he replied again.
“Then go away, you are not needed here.”
Desperate, the duckling began wandering alone again. All of a sudden, through the leaves of a bush, he caught sight of the glittering water of a lake. He got closer, and here he saw the same beautiful white birds that he once had seen flying towards the sun, gracefully floating on the lake.
The duckling could not resist, he wanted to be with them, so he ran and dove into the lake. “I don’t care if they peck me away!” he thought.

But nobody did. On the contrary, the beautiful birds went towards him and welcomed him warmly. The ugly duckling lowered his head and, catching his reflection in the water, he realised that he was no longer ugly and odd, but he had become a beautiful white bird, a wonderful swan! That was the happiest day of his life.

Translation by Chiara Amoretti

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