“Good morning, Mrs. Quack,” said he very politely. “I hope you had a good rest and are feeling very well this morning.”
“Thank you,” replied Mrs. Quack. “I’m feeling as well as could be expected. In fact, I’m feeling better than I have felt for some time in spite of the sore place made by that terrible gun yesterday. You see, I have had a good rest and two square meals, and these are things I haven’t had since goodness knows when. This is a very nice place. Let me see, what is it you call it?”
“The Smiling Pool,” said Peter.
“That’s a good name for it,” returned Mrs. Quack. “If only I could be sure that none of those hunters would find me here, and if only Mr. Quack were here, I would be content to stay a while.” At the mention of Mr. Quack, the eyes of Mrs. Quack suddenly filled with tears. Peter felt tears of sympathy in his own eyes.
“Where is Mr. Quack?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” sobbed Mrs. Quack. “I wish I did. I haven’t seen him since one of those terrible guns was fired at us over on the Big River yesterday morning a little while before Little Joe Otter told me about the Smiling Pool. Ever since we started for our home in the far North, I have been fearing that something of this kind might happen. I ought to be on my way there now, but what is the use without Mr. Quack? Without him, I would be all alone up there and wouldn’t have any home.”
“Won’t you tell me all that has happened since you started on your long journey?” asked Peter. “Perhaps some of us can help you.”
“I’m afraid you can’t,” replied Mrs. Quack sadly, “but I’ll tell you all about it so that you may know just how thankful you ought to feel that you do not have to suffer what some of us do.”
HOW MR. AND MRS. QUACK STARTED NORTH
Peter Rabbit was eager to help Mrs. Quack in her trouble, though he hadn’t the least idea how he could help and neither had she. How any one who dislikes water as Peter does could help one who lives on the water all the time was more than either one of them could see. And yet without knowing it, Peter was helping Mrs. Quack. He was giving her his sympathy, and sympathy often helps others a great deal more than we even guess. It sometimes is a very good plan to tell your troubles to some one who will listen with sympathy. It was so with Mrs. Quack. She had kept her troubles locked in her own heart so long that it did her good to pour them all out to Peter.
“Mr. Quack and I spent a very comfortable winter way down in the sunny Southland,” said she with a far-away look. “It was very warm and nice down there, and there were a great many other Ducks spending the winter with us. The place where we were was far from the homes of men, and it was only once in a long while that we had to watch out for terrible guns. Of course, we had to have our wits with us all the time, because there are Hawks and Owls and Minks down there just as there are up here, but any Duck who can’t keep out of their way deserves to furnish one of them a dinner.