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The Ugly Duckling

Read by Colin Dexter

The Ugly Duckling
Find out more
about the contributors

The Ugly Duckling

Thanks to Colin Dexter for reading this story for KidsOut.


One fine summer’s day Mother Duck found a lovely spot under a willow tree by the pond to lay her eggs.  She nestled down and waited for them to hatch.

After what seemed to her a long time they began to crack which was very exciting. 

First one little fluffy head appeared and she called him Oscar.

Then a second little fluffy head appeared and she called her Maya.

Then a third little fluffy head appeared and she called him Henry.

Then a fourth little fluffy head appeared and she called her Katie.

“Oh what sweet babies I have” she said “what a lucky mother I am.  But what has happened to the fifth egg I sat on?”

This egg was bigger than all the rest and showed no sign of cracking.  So, telling the ducklings to be patient and play where she could see them, Mother Duck settled down on the fifth egg.

Days later, much to her relief, a tiny crack appeared in the egg.  Slowly it grew bigger and bigger until POP, out came the ugliest ducking she had ever seen.

The Ugly Duckling“Oh dear, oh dear” she said “what can have happened?  He doesn’t look at all like his brothers and sisters; he’s much bigger and he’s all grey and straggly”.

The other ducklings looked at him “Yuck” they said “what’s that?”

“Now, now” said Mother Duck “don’t be nasty, he can’t help what he looks like.  He’s your brother and I’m going to name him Jonathan”.

 

Mother Duck led them onto the pond for their first swimming lesson. As they floated onto the water all they could hear were comments and whispers:

“What a funny looking duck!”

“Where did he come from?”

“I haven’t seen one like that before”.

“Is it smelly as well as ugly?”

Poor Jonathan, he couldn’t bear it and felt very lonely. His brothers and sisters wouldn’t let him play with them. However much Mother Duck tried to encourage him, and tell him that she loved him, he just wanted to hide away. 

So one day he decided that the only thing to do was to run away.  That night, when all the others were fast asleep, he crept down to the pond, swam across to the other side, and set off to find a pond of his own.

The Ugly DucklingFor many days he wandered, but every time he thought he’d found somewhere to stay he heard more whispers:

“What an ugly chap”

“Have you ever seen a beak like that?”

“That’s such a long neck you could tie it in a knot”

Poor Jonathan.  He was very sad. 

Early one evening, as he was moping along, he heard a strange magical noise that seemed to come from the sky.  Looking up he saw the most glorious sight he had ever seen.

“I wish I could fly up there with those beautiful birds” he thought.  What he had seen was a flock of swans flying overhead.

On and on he went until he came to a river.  To his surprise, the strange birds he had seen in the sky were there floating majestically on the glistening water.  He hid behind some reeds ashamed of his ugly body.  Jonathan couldn’t take his eyes off these graceful white swans.

Suddenly, one of the swans caught sight of him peering out from the reeds and swam across to him

“Good evening young sir” he said bowing his neck “may I ask your name?”  Because swans are very polite.

Jonathan was too overcome to speak, his beak dropped open but no sound came. No-one had been that nice to him before. 

He took a deep breath and tried again “Ppppppplease sir, mmmmy nnname is Jjjjjjjonathan”.

“Well Jonathan” said the swan, “why don’t you come and join us, it’s a beautiful day for a swim”.

“Bbbbut you ddddon’t want to be seen with me; I’m so ugly” said Jonathan.

“What nonsense” said the swan “whatever makes you think that?  Just look at yourself in the sparkling water”.

JoThe Ugly Ducklingnathan bent his neck and looked down.  To his astonishment he saw, not an ugly grey duckling reflected in the river, but the most beautiful, graceful white swan.

“Is that really me?” he asked, forgetting to be nervous. 

“Of course” answered the swan, “who did you think it was?”

Jonathan explained how everyone had been so nasty to him and the swan listened sympathetically.

“Well, you’re not ugly now” he said “you’re one of us”.

“Oh, how lucky I am” said Jonathan happily.

From that day on Jonathan lived with his new friends on the river.  Never again did people say horrid words about him. Each evening as the swans flew over the pond  his brothers and sisters would look up at the sky little knowing that one of them was the brother they had made so unhappy.

The Ugly Duckling
Find out more
about the contributors

The Ugly Duckling

Thanks to Colin Dexter for reading this story for KidsOut.


Den grimme ælling


En skøn sommerdag fandt Mor And et dejligt sted under et piletræ ved siden af dammen, hvor hun kunne lægge sine æg. Hun satte sig ned og ventede på, at de ville klække.

Efter hvad der for hende virkede som en evighed, begyndte de at klække, hvilket var meget spændende.

Først dukkede et lille dunet hoved op, og hun kaldte ham Oscar.

Så dukkede et andet lille dunet hoved op, og hun kaldte hende Maja.

Så dukkede et tredje lille dunet hoved op, og hun kaldte ham Henrik.

Så dukkede et fjerde lille dunet hoved op, og hun kaldte hende Karen.

"Åh, hvilke søde babyer jeg har," sagde hun, "hvilken heldig mor, jeg er. Men hvad, er der sket med det femte æg jeg sad på?"

Dette æg var større end alle de andre og viste ingen tegn på at klække. Så, efter at have bedt ællingerne om at være tålmodige og lege, hvor hun kunne se dem, satte Mor And sig ned på det femte æg.

Flere dage senere, kunne hun ånde lettet op, da en lille revne viste sig i ægget. Revnen voksede sig langsomt større og større indtil PLOP, og ud kom den grimmeste ælling hun nogensinde havde set.

"Åh nej, åh nej," sagde hun, "hvad kan der være sket? Han ligner slet ikke sine brødre og søstre, han er meget større, og han er grå og tjavset".

De andre ællinger kiggede på ham, "Addr," sagde de, "hvad er det?"

"Hold så op,” sagde Mor And,  "I skal ikke være onde, han kan ikke gøre for hvordan han ser ud. Han er jeres bror og han skal hedde Jonathan".

Mor And førte dem ned til dammen til deres første svømmetime. Da de flød på vandet, var det eneste de kunne høre, kommentarer og hvisken:

"Hvor ser den and sjov ud!"

"Hvor kom han fra?"

"Jeg har aldrig set sådan en før".

“Den både lugter og er grim."

Stakkels Jonathan, han kunne ikke bære det, og følte sig meget ensom. Hans brødre og søstre ville ikke lade ham lege med dem. Uanset hvor meget Mor And forsøgte at opmuntre ham, og fortælle ham, at hun elskede ham, ville han bare gemme sig.

Så en dag besluttede han, at det eneste han kunne gøre, var at løbe væk. Den nat, da alle de andre sov, krøb han ned til dammen, svømmede over til den anden side, og begik sig ud for at finde hans helt egen dam.

Han vandrede i mange dage, men hver gang han troede, han havde fundet et sted at bo, hørte han mere hvisken:

"Hold da op, hvor er han grim"

"Har du nogensinde set sådan et næb?"

"Den hals er så lang, at man kan binde det i en knude"

Stakkels Jonathan. Han var meget trist.

Tidligt en aften, mens han gik rundt og havde ondt af sig selv, hørte han en underlig magisk lyd, der syntes at komme fra himlen. Da han kiggede op, så han det mest storslåede syn, han nogensinde havde set.

"Jeg ville ønske jeg kunne flyve deroppe med de smukke fugle," tænkte han. Hvad han havde set, var en flok svaner der fløj over ham.

Han vandrede og vandrede indtil han kom til en flod. Til hans overraskelse, lå de mærkelige fugle, han havde set oppe i himlen, og flød majestætisk på det glinsende vand. Han gemte sig bag nogle siv, fordi han skammede sig over sin grimme krop. Jonathan kunne ikke tage øjnene væk fra disse yndefulde hvide svaner.

Pludselig, fik en af ​​svanerne øje på ham blandt sivene og svømmede hen til ham.

"God aften, unge mand," sagde han og bøjede nakken, "må jeg spørge om Deres navn?". Fordi svaner er meget høflige.

Jonathan var alt for overvældet til at tale, hans næb stod åbent, men der kom ingen lyd ud. Ingen havde nogensinde været så sød ved ham før.

Han tog en dyb indånding og prøvede igen, "Undssssssskyld Hr., mmmmit nnnavn er Jjjjjjjonathan".

"Jamen, Jonathan," sagde svanen, "hvorfor kommer du ikke over til os, det er en smuk dag til en svømmetur".

"Mmmmmmen I øøøøøønsker ikke at blive set med mig, jeg er så grim," sagde Jonathan.

"Sikke noget vrøvl" sagde svanen, "hvad får dig til at tro det? Bare se på dig selv i det glitrende vand".

Jonathan bøjede nakken og kiggede ned. Til sin forbavselse så han ikke en grim grå ælling afspejlet i floden, men den smukkeste, yndefulde hvide svane.

"Er det virkelig mig?" spurgte han, og glemte helt at være nervøs.

"Selvfølgelig", svarede svanen, "hvem troede du ellers det var?"

Jonathan forklarede, hvordan alle havde været så onde ved ham og svanen lyttede med sympati.

"Ja, men du er ikke grim nu," sagde han, "du er en af ​​os".

"Åh, hvor er jeg heldig", sagde Jonathan med glæde i stemmen.

Fra den dag af, levede Jonathan med sine nye venner på floden. Aldrig igen sagde folk onde ting om ham. Hver aften, når svanerne fløj over dammen, kiggede hans brødre og søstre op mod himlen uden at ane, at en af ​​dem var den broder, de havde gjort så ulykkelig.

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