The Ugly Duckling
Han's Christen Andersen's classic retold
Down by the river bank, on a warm summer’s day, a mother duck was waiting for her eggs to hatch. She had one, two, three, four, five beautiful, small, perfect eggs. And a sixth, not so small and perfect egg. In fact, it was a rather large and lumpy looking egg.
Mother Duck had been sitting on her eggs for a long, long time and was beginning to wonder if her ducklings would ever arrive.
Then Mother Duck heard a tap, tap, tap and a crack, crack, crack. And a lovely, little, yellow head poked out of each egg, followed by a little, fluffy, chubby, body.
One, two, three, four, five ducklings were born.
“Quack!” Mother Duck said.
“Quack, quack, quack…” the five little ducklings replied.
Mother Duck looked at her sixth egg. She waited for a tap, tap, tap. But nothing happened. Mother Duck poked the egg with her beak. Still nothing happened.
“Quack, quack, little duckling…” she said. “Where are you?”
Mother Duck had to wait and wait and wait until finally there was a tap, tap, craaa-ck. And a little grey head poked out of the sixth egg, followed by a stringy, skinny, odd-shaped body. Mother Duck looked at her sixth duckling. He was the ugliest duckling she had ever seen.
“Oh Quaaaack!” Mother Duck said. She wondered if this ugly duckling was really one of hers.
The Ugly Duckling fell out of his egg. He was taller and skinnier than all the other ducklings. They looked at him and laughed.
Mother Duck took all six of her ducklings down to the river. She jumped into the water. Her head went under the surface and then up she popped. One, two, three, four, five, six little ducklings did the same. Mother Duck looked at Ugly Duckling. He could swim. He must be her duckling after all.
Off they swam together down the river. One, two, three, four, five pretty little ducklings and one odd ugly duckling. A happy duckling family. Except it wasn’t happy for the Ugly Duckling. His brothers and sisters thought him strange.
“You have an odd quack,” said Brother Duck.
“You swim different,” said Sister Duck.
“You can’t play with us,” said Brother Duck.
Poor Ugly Duckling was left out of all the duckling games. They called him names and laughed at him.
“No one wants me here,” Ugly Duckling said to himself. “My brothers and sisters hate me. Even my mother thinks I’m strange.”
One morning Ugly Duckling woke before everyone else. Silently, he swam out of his nest and away down the river.
“I will find a better place to live out my days,” he said to himself.
Ugly Duckling came to a huge lake. It was still early and the sun was only just coming up. In the morning light, he saw the most wonderful creatures in all the world. Long, elegant necks,
beautiful white feathers, orange beaks. They were a family of swans and they glided together across the lake and called to each other.
Honk! Honk! Honk!
Ugly Duckling thought it was the most magnificent sound he had ever heard. He wanted to join in. But he knew they would only laugh at him. Ugly Duckling watched the swans fly away. And he was alone on the lake. It started to get cold. The lake froze over. Ugly Duckling headed into the forest and came across a group of wild ducks.
The wild ducks looked at Ugly Duckling. “What are you?” one asked.
“I’m a duck,” Ugly Duckling said.
The wild ducks laughed. “You’re the ugliest looking duck we’ve ever seen.”
The wild ducks told Ugly Duckling he could stay with them, but he would never be one of them.
So, poor Ugly Duckling lived with the wild ducks, who laughed at him and never treated him as equal. Then, one day, there was a loud BANG, BANG, BANG. And a nasty, barking dog appeared. All the wild ducks flapped and quacked, they rushed in every direction. Ugly Duckling tried to run away too. But he wasn’t very fast. The dog was right behind him. He thought it might catch him. But as it got hear, it shouted at him.
“Woof! Get out of the way, you ugly thing! I’m after the ducks!”
The dog chased all the wild ducks away. Ugly Duckling was glad the dog didn’t catch him.
But sad… The dog thought he was too ugly to be a duck!
It was cold and lonely in the forest without the wild ducks. Ugly Duckling found a farm, where there lived a cat and a hen. The hen looked him up and down.
“What kind of creature are you?” the hen asked.
“I’m a duck,” said Ugly Duckling.
The cat and the hen laughed.
“Miaow,” the cat said. “You’re the ugliest looking duck I ever saw.”
Poor Ugly Duckling had to sit in the corner and eat only the leftovers the cat and hen didn’t want. They laughed at him. They were cruel to him. They never showed him any kindness. Eventually, the winter passed and Ugly Duckling decided it was time to move on. If he was going to be laughed at and treated badly, he was rather it was done by the beautiful swans on the lake than an old farmyard cat and a hen.
Ugly Duckling made his way back to the lake, where the swans, with their elegant necks, beautiful white feathers and orange beaks, lived. He swam out to them, head bowed.
The swans took one look at him…. swam over.
“Honk! Honk! Come and join us,” said a swan.
Ugly Duckling couldn’t believe what he was hearing. They wanted him to join them? Then Ugly Duckling saw himself in the water. Over the winter, Ugly Duckling had changed. He now had white feathers, an elegant long neck, an orange beak.
Ugly Duckling swam with the swans down the river, past the farm, where the cat and hen lived, past the forest where the wild ducks grazed, past the river bank where his brothers and sisters swam. They all watched him pass. But not one of them recognised him. For now, he was a beautiful, elegant swan and nothing like the Ugly Duckling they had known.
When the swans stopped swimming, a group of children ran over with bread.
“Look! Look!” cried one child. “There’s a new swan and he’s the most beautiful swan of all.”
Ugly Duckling’s chest puffed with pride. His heart sang with happiness. He may have been an Ugly Duckling once, but now he had turned into a beautiful swan.
From that day on no one ever laughed at him, he never felt bad and he lived happily ever after.