In the Duck Yard
A duck arrived from Portugal. Some people said she came from Spain, but that doesn't really matter. She was called the Portuguese; she laid eggs, and was killed and dressed and cooked; that's the story of her life. But all the ducklings that were hatched from her eggs were also called Portuguese, and there's some distinction in that. At last there was only one left of her whole family in the duck yard - a yard to which the hens also had access, and where the cock strutted about with endless arrogance.
"His loud crowing annoys me," said the Portuguese Duck. "But there's no denying he's a handsome bird, even if he isn't a drake. Of course, he should moderate his voice, but that's an art that comes from higher education, such as the little songbirds over in our neighbours lime trees have. How sweetly they sing; There's something so touching over their melodies; I call it Portugal. If I only had a little songbird like that I'd be a kind and good mother to him, for that's in my blood - my Portuguese blood!"
While she was speaking, suddenly a little songbird fell head over heels from the roof into the yard. The cat had been chasing him, but the bird escaped with a broken wing and fell down into the duck yard.
"That's just like the cat, that monster!" said the Portuguese Duck. "I remember his tricks from when I had ducklings of my own. That such a creature should be permitted to live and roam about on the roofs! I'm sure such things could not happen in Portugal!"
She pitied the little Songbird, and even the other ducks who weren't Portuguese felt pity for him, too.
"Poor little fellow," they said, and then one after another came up to look at him. "Of course, we can't sing," they said, "but we have an inner understanding of song, or something like that. We can feel it, even if we don't talk about it."
"Then I will talk about it," said the Portuguese. "And I'll do something for this little fellow; it's only my duty." And then she stepped into the water trough and thrashed her wings about the water so vigorously that the little Songbird was almost drowned by the shower he got, but he knew the Duck meant well.
The Pigeon's Bride - The Story of a Princess Who Kissed and Told
Category: Slavic Folktale
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