“I’ve known them to scatter food where we Ducks would be sure to find it and to take the greatest care that nothing should frighten us while we were eating. And then, after we had got in the habit of feeding in that particular place and had grown to feel perfectly safe there, they have hidden close by until a lot of us were feeding together and then fired their terrible guns and killed a lot of my friends and dreadfully hurt a lot more. I wouldn’t trust one of them, not one!” “Oh, how dreadful!” cried Peter, looking quite as shocked as he felt. Then he added eagerly, “But our Farmer Brown’s boy wouldn’t do anything like that. You haven’t the least thing to fear from him.”
“Perhaps not,” said Mrs. Quack, shaking her head doubtfully, “but I wouldn’t trust him. I wouldn’t trust him as far off as I could see him. The Smiling Pool is a very nice place, although it is dreadfully small, but if Farmer Brown’s boy is likely to come over here, I guess I better look for some other place, though goodness knows where I will find one where I will feel perfectly safe.”
“You are safe right here, if you have sense enough to stay here,” declared Jerry Muskrat rather testily. “Don’t you suppose Peter and I know what we are talking about?”
“I wish I could believe so,” returned Mrs. Quack sadly, “but if you had been through what I’ve been through, and suffered what I’ve suffered, you wouldn’t believe any place safe, and you certainly wouldn’t trust one of those two-legged creatures. Why, for weeks they haven’t given me a chance to get a square meal, and—and—I don’t know what has become of Mr. Quack, and I’m all alone!” There was a little sob in her voice and tears in her eyes.
“Tell us all about it,” begged Peter. “Perhaps we can help you.”
MRS. QUACK TELLS ABOUT HER HOME
“It’s a long story,” said Mrs. Quack, shaking the tears from her eyes, “and I hardly know where to begin.”
“Begin at the beginning,” said Jerry Muskrat. “Your home is somewhere way up in the Northland where Honker the Goose lives, isn’t it?”
Mrs. Quack nodded. “I wish I were there this very minute,” she replied, the tears coming again. “But sometimes I doubt if ever I’ll get there again. You folks who don’t have to leave your homes every year don’t know how well off you are or how much you have to be thankful for.”
“I never could understand what people want to leave their homes for, anyway,” declared Peter.
“We don’t leave because we want to, but because we have to,” replied Mrs. Quack, “and we go back just as soon as we can. What would you do if you couldn’t find a single thing to eat?”
“I guess I’d starve,” replied Peter simply.