The Ugly Duckling

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Read the Story on The Ugly Duckling with Illustrations

Lovely summer weather was prevalent in the country. The golden corn, the green oats, and the haystacks piled up into a beautiful meadow had a glimpsing effect.

There was a dirty wild spot, more like the center of thick wood. In the lofty corner sat a duck on her nest, watching for her young ones to hatch. 

She was beginning to get tired of her task, for the little ones were a long time coming out of their shells. 

The other ducks were keener to swim about in the river than to continue jumping across the banks and would even arrange for a short talk meet with her; while sitting under the burdock leaves. At that time, one shell cracked, then another, and from each of the eggs came a living creature that lifted its head and cried, “Peep-Peep.” “Quack-Quack,” called the duck, and they all quacked back as they could and looked about them on every side of the large green leaves.
            
“What could be the real size of the world?” asked one of the ducklings as soon as they found out how much more space they now had than while they were inside the shell. “ Can you imagine this is the whole world?” asked the mother; “ Wait till you have seen the lush green garden, it stretches far beyond that to the parson’s field, but I have never been to such a far distance. Are you all out?” she continued, rising; “No, I declare, the largest egg lies there still. I wonder how long this is to last, I am quite tired of it,” and there she seated herself again on the nest.
 
The old duck visiting the new family asked if all of the eggs were hatched, “No, still the largest one is left,” replied the mother duck. The mother duck was restless as the last egg took indefinite time, much more than the eggs hatched before it.

At last, the large egg broke, and a young one crept forth crying, “peep-peep.” It was a sizeable ugly duckling. The mother soon got frightened by the baby she had produced and started questioning whether it was an authentic turkey or not. Sooner she realized that she had to conduct a swimming test of all, especially the last one, to check if they ould jump in by themselves, or were to be dragged into the water. 

The next day, mother duck took all the ducklings for the swim session, and surprisingly, all passed the test with flying colors, especially the large ugly duckling. Pleased by the swimming skills, the mother duck claimed that it was a turkey and how well it was using its legs in the water.

The mother duck took all the young broods to be introduced to the elements of the farmyard. But due to the duck’s ugliness, no one accepted him and instead made fun of him as he walked past them. Some even started teasing him and chasing him to beat him up. His brothers and sister were so cruel towards him, wishing him to be taken away by the cat. His mother wished he was never born.

The poor duckling started staying alone. Someday, a pair of wild geese were any other animal did not use offered to go to the pond where there were some pretty wild geese, all unmarried. They said that it was a chance for him to get a wife. The duck agreed and went to this other moor, only to find that the two geese got shot as soon as they pushed out of the bush into the banks of the pond.

The two geese that took the duck to show this beautiful cluster, now lie dead, with blood strains all swallowed by the pond. The duck ran away from an approaching wild dog, which had almost opened its crushing teeth to catch the duck by its neck, but bent away to leave it alone after it observed that it was not an ordinary duck, but an ugly one, which the dog didn’t prefer to stand close to.

Guided by this incident, the duck learned that it was a blessing disguised for not being bitten by the dog, for being an ugly and unpleasant duck. Distressed by all around him's behavior, the duckling went to a pond that any other animal did not use. It swam across the pond all alone in wait for that day; all would accept it. 

One evening, as the sunset amidst some vibrant clouds, there came a large flock of magnificent birds out of the bushes. The duckling was amazed by their beauty. They were swans, and they curved their graceful necks, while their soft plumage was shown with dazzling whiteness. They uttered a singular cry as they spread their enormous wings and flew away from those cold regions to warmer countries across the sea.

Winter got harsher as the pond started freezing. Soon there was no space left for the duck to swim, as all the area was under the snow cover. The poor duck had no other option but to take shelter in a nearby farmhouse, where it wasn’t for long after being fed by the family, the duck was disgracefully thrown out from one place to another.

Finally, that day came, when one morning, the duckling felt some supernatural power in its wing and started to fly with the extra kick it had ever exerted in flapping the wings in the air. The duckling felt the flight it had never experienced before. The duckling took no time and decided to join the royal army of beautiful swans. He thought it was better to be killed by those royal birds than poked by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed about by the maiden who feeds the poultry, or starved with hunger in winter. 

The moment the swans saw an intruder in their pond, they rushed towards it. It's then when the duckling bent his head down and asked for death to be poured upon him, only when he saw his picture in the water reflection and realized that it was no longer a dark, grey, ugly bird and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan.

He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him, for the splendid swans swam round the new-corner and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.

Moral of The Ugly Duckling - “The Ugly Duckling,” is a tale with an important and eye-opening moral lesson for people to accept themselves as who they are and not what others might perceive them to be. “Acceptance is the key to happiness” is what this story depicts.