DUCKLING. I shall starve there.
CAT. It would really be a good thing for you if I should eat you.
DUCKLING. I’d thank you to do so, dear sir.
HEN. Eat him, since he is so willing. He is too ugly to live.
CAT (turning away). I can’t, he is too ugly to eat.
(To the Duckling.)
Come, out with you!
HEN (running at him). Yes, yes! Out with you! Out with you!
[They push the Duckling out of the door into the snow.]
DUCKLING. Alas! What shall I do? Where shall I go? Why was I made so ugly that every one despises me!
TIME: the next spring.
PLACE: the brook on the Moor Farm.
* * * * *
THE UGLY DUCKLING.
* * * * *
[The UGLY DUCKLING sits on the hill of a MOLE near the brook which winds through the Moor Farm.]
MOLE (from the mole hill). Will you please move? I wish to come out.
DUCKLING (rising quickly). Why, ’t is a mole hill I’ve been sitting on!
(The Mole comes out from the hill.)
I’m sorry, friend Mole, I didn’t notice your hill.
MOLE. Who are you?
DUCKLING. Madam Duck of this farm is my mother.
MOLE. That can’t be! You are no duck.
DUCKLING. Yes, but I am. Only, I am uglier than any duck in the world.
MOLE. You have not the voice of a duck. You do not speak with the quack of which they are so proud. And then, if you are truly a duck, why are you not with your family?
DUCKLING. They drove me out last summer because I was ugly and could not quack.
MOLE. Then why have you come back?
DUCKLING. To let the swans kill me.
MOLE. What! To let them kill you?
DUCKLING. I would rather be killed by those beautiful birds than pecked by the hens, beaten by the geese, or starved with hunger in the winter.
MOLE. Perhaps you are not so ugly now as you were then.
DUCKLING. I have not looked at myself in the water since spring came and took the ice away. But I know well enough how dark and badly formed I am. The swans will kill me if I dare to approach them.
[A noise is heard in the distance.]
MOLE. They are coming! Go, while there is yet time.
DUCKLING. There is no place to go to. All winter long I was driven from moor to moor. I could not make a friend—I no longer wish to live.
[The SWANS are seen swimming down the brook.]
MOLE. They are here! Do not go to them, I pray you!
DUCKLING (shaking head). Farewell!