The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
What a funny sight it is to see a brood of ducklings with a hen!
—Listen to the story of Jemima Puddle-duck, who was annoyed because the farmer’s wife would not let her hatch her own eggs.
“I wish to hatch my own eggs; I will hatch them all by myself,” quacked Jemima Puddle-duck.
Jemima Puddle-duck became quite desperate. She determined to make a nest right away from the farm.
She was wearing a shawl and a poke bonnet.
She thought that it looked a safe quiet spot.
She skimmed along over the tree-tops until she saw an open place in the middle of the wood, where the trees and brushwood had been cleared.
But—seated upon the stump, she was startled to find an elegantly dressed gentleman reading a newspaper.
He had black prick ears and sandy coloured whiskers.
“Quack?” said Jemima Puddle-duck, with her head and her bonnet on one side—”Quack?”
“Madam, have you lost your way?” said he. He had a long bushy tail which he was sitting upon, as the stump was somewhat damp.
Jemima thought him mighty civil and handsome. She explained that she had not lost her way, but that she was trying to find a convenient dry nesting-place.
Jemima complained of the superfluous hen.
“Indeed! how interesting! I wish I could meet with that fowl. I would teach it to mind its own business!”
He led the way to a very retired, dismal-looking house amongst the fox-gloves.
It was built of faggots and turf, and there were two broken pails, one on top of another, by way of a chimney.
There was a tumble-down shed at the back of the house, made of old soap-boxes. The gentleman opened the door, and showed Jemima in.
Jemima Puddle-duck was rather surprised to find such a vast quantity of feathers. But it was very comfortable; and she made a nest without any trouble at all.
He was so polite, that he seemed almost sorry to let Jemima go home for the night. He promised to take great care of her nest until she came back again next day.
He said he loved eggs and ducklings; he should be proud to see a fine nestful in his wood-shed.
At last Jemima told him that she intended to begin to sit next day—”and I will bring a bag of corn with me, so that I need never leave my nest until the eggs are hatched. They might catch cold,” said the conscientious Jemima.
“May I ask you to bring up some herbs from the farm-garden to make a savoury omelette? Sage and thyme, and mint and two onions, and some parsley. I will provide lard for the stuff—lard for the omelette,” said the hospitable gentleman with sandy whiskers.
She went round the farm-garden, nibbling off snippets of all the different sorts of herbs that are used for stuffing roast duck.
The collie-dog Kep met her coming out, “What are you doing with those onions? Where do you go every afternoon by yourself, Jemima Puddle-duck?”
Jemima was rather in awe of the collie; she told him the whole story.
The collie listened, with his wise head on one side; he grinned when she described the polite gentleman with sandy whiskers.
Then he went out, and trotted down the village. He went to look for two fox-hound puppies who were out at walk with the butcher.
She flew over the wood, and alighted opposite the house of the bushy long-tailed gentleman.
“Come into the house as soon as you have looked at your eggs. Give me the herbs for the omelette. Be sharp!”
He was rather abrupt. Jemima Puddle-duck had never heard him speak like that.
She felt surprised, and uncomfortable.
Jemima became much alarmed.
And nothing more was ever seen of that foxy-whiskered gentleman.
Presently Kep opened the door of the shed, and let out Jemima Puddle-duck.
He had a bite on his ear and both the puppies were limping.
Jemima Puddle-duck said that it was because of her nerves; but she had always been a bad sitter.
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