That summer the country was particularly beautiful, and it was glorious to be out in the green fields and meadows. It was so amusing to see the white stork parading around on his long red legs and to hear him talking Egyptian, a language he had learned from his mother.
In the midst of the sunny meadow stood an old farmhouse. It was surrounded by a deep canal, and from the walls down to the water grew burdock shrubs so tall that children could stand under them. It was so nice and shady there that a mother duck decided it would be a good place to sit on her nest and hatch out her young ones.
At last one of the eggs cracked open, and then another and another until eight new little yellow ducklings poked out their heads and cried "Peep! Peep!"
"How big the world is!" exclaimed the ducklings. They were glad to be out of those tight little eggs, and their mother was glad to let them look around at the leaves, for she knew how good for the eyes the color green is.
"But this isn't the whole world by any means," she told the ducklings. "There is much more of it. It extends far beyond the other side of the garden. Maybe we can all go there sometime. Let me see now; are we all here?"
She looked around and saw that one of her eggs, the largest, had not yet hatched. "Oh, dear," she said to herself, "I am so tired of sitting on eggs! I wonder how much longer this is going to last."
But she sat down on the nest again and waited some more.
At last the big egg cracked and broke open. Out came two big feet and a head. But it wasn't a soft little downy yellow head like the other ducklings. This one was big and white, with a long scrawny neck and a fuzzy body.
"My, my!" exclaimed the mother duck when she saw him. "He certainly doesn't look like any of my other children. I wonder how he got to be so funny-looking?"
"He's ugly!" quacked the other ducklings. "He doesn't look a bit like us. We don't want to play with him." And they waddled down to the pond with their mother behind them. She shoved them in and jumped in after them. The all swam beautifully.