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'I think I'll take my chance, and go abroad into the wide world,' said the duckling.
Do,' said the hen. And the duckling went forth, and swam on the water, and dived beneath its surface ; but he was slighted by all other animals on account of his ugliness.
Autumn had now set in, The leaves of the forests had turned first yellow, and then brown ; and the wind caught them up, and made them dance about.
It began to be very cold in the higher regions of the air, and the clouds looked heavy with hail and flakes of snow; while the raven sat on a tree, crying: “Caw! caw!' from sheer cold; and you began to shiver, if you merely thought about it. The poor duckling had a bad time of it! One evening, just as the sun was setting in all its glory, there came a whole flock of beautiful birds from a large grove. The duckling had never seen any so lovely before. They were dazzlingly white, with long, graceful necks ; they were swans. They uttered a peculiar cry, and then spread their magnificent wings, and away they flew from the cold country, to warmer lands across the open sea. They rose so high—so high, that the ugly duckling felt a strange sensation come over him. He turned round and round in the water like a wheel, stretched his neck up into the air towards them, and uttered so loud and strange a cry, that he was frightened at it himself. Oh! never could he again forget those beautiful, happy birds; and when they were quite out of sight, he dived down to the bottom of the water, and when he once more rose to the surface, he was half beside himself. He knew not how these birds were called, nor whither they were bound; but he felt an affection for them, such as he had never yet experienced for any living creature. Nor did he even presume to envy them; for how could it ever have entered his head to wish himself endowed with their loveliness ? He would have been glad enough if the ducks had merely suffered him to remain among thempoor ugly animal that he was !
But it would be too painful to tell of all the privations and misery that the duckling endured during the hard winter. He was lying in a marsh, amongst the reeds, when the sun again began to shine.
The larks were singing, and the spring had set in, in all its beauty.
The duckling now felt able to flap his wings; they rustled much louder than before, and bore him away most sturdily; and before he was well aware of it, he found himself in a large garden, where the apple-trees were in full blossom, and the fragrant elder was steeping its long, drooping branches in the waters of a winding canal. Oh, how beautiful everything looked in the first freshness of spring! Three magnificent white swans now emerged from the thicket before him; they flapped their wings, and then swam lightly on the surface of the water. The duckling recognised the beautiful creatures, and was impressed with feelings of melancholy peculiar to himself.
"I will fly towards those royal birds—and they will strike me dead for daring to approach them, so ugly as I am! But it matters not. Better to be killed by them, than to be pecked at by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed about by the girl that feeds the poultry, and to suffer want in the winter.' And he flew into the water, and swam towards these splendid swans, who rushed to meet him with rustling wings, the moment they saw him. • Do but kill me !' said the poor animal, as he bent his head down to the surface of the water, and awaited his doom. But what did he see in the clear stream? Why,
his own image, which was no longer that of a heavylooking dark-gray bird, ugly and ill-favoured, but of a beautiful swan! It matters not being born in a duckyard, when one is hatched from a swan's egg !
He now rejoiced over all the misery and the straits he had endured, as it made him feel the full depth of the happiness that awaited him.
And the large swans swam round him, and stroked him with their beaks.
Some little children came into the garden, and threw bread-crumbs and corn into the water; and the youngest cried : There is a new one!' The other children were delighted too, and repeated : 'Yes, there is a new one just come ! And they clapped their hands, and capered about, and then flew to their father and mother, and more bread and cake were flung into the water; and all said : “The new one is the prettiest. So young, and so lovely!' And the elder swans bowed before him.
He then felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings. He did not himself know what to do. He was more than happy, yet none the prouder; for a good heart is never proud. He remembered how he had been pursued, and made game of; and now he heard everybody say he was the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. Even the elder-bush bent its boughs down to him in the water, and the sun appeared so warm, and so mild! He then flapped his wings, and raised his slender neck, as he cried, in the fulness of his heart : 'I never dreamed of such happiness while I was an ugly duckling !'
THE ANCIENT MARINER.
1. It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three ; By thy long gray beard and glittering eye, Now wherefore stopp’st thou me ?
2. • The bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin :
The wedding-guest stood still,
The Mariner hath his will.
He cannot choose but hear;
The bright-eyed Mariner.
5. The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the light-house top.
Out of the sea came he;
Went down into the sea.
Till over the mast at noon
For he heard the loud bassoon.
Red as a rose is she;
The merry minstrelsy.
9. The wedding-guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear! And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.