Mrs. Quack paused and shuddered, and Peter Rabbit and Jerry Muskrat shuddered in sympathy.
“Sometimes we would have to try three or four feeding-places before we found one where there were no terrible guns. And when we did find one, we would be so tired and frightened that we couldn’t enjoy our food, and we didn’t dare to sleep without some one on watch all the time. It was like that every day. The farther we got, the worse it became. Our flock grew smaller and smaller. Those who escaped the terrible guns would be so frightened that they would forget to follow their leader and would fly in different directions and later perhaps join other flocks. So it was that when at last we reached the place in the sunny Southland for which we had started, Mr. Quack and I were alone. What became of our twelve children I don’t know. I am afraid the terrible guns killed some. I hope some joined other flocks and escaped, but I don’t know.”
“I hope they did too,” said Peter.
PETER LEARNS MORE OF MRS. QUACK’S TROUBLES
It often happens when we know The troubles that our friends pass through, Our own seem very small indeed; You’ll always find that this is true.
“My, you must have felt glad when you reached your winter home!” exclaimed Peter Rabbit when Mrs. Quack finished the account of her long, terrible journey from her summer home in the far Northland to her winter home in the far Southland.
“I did,” replied Mrs. Quack, “but all the time I couldn’t forget those to whom terrible things had happened on the way down, and then, too, I kept dreading the long journey back.”
“I don’t see why you didn’t stay right there. I would have,” said Peter, nodding his head with an air of great wisdom.
“Not if you were I,” replied Mrs. Quack. “In the first place it isn’t a proper place in which to bring up young Ducks and make them strong and healthy. In the second place there are more dangers down there for young Ducks than up in the far Northland. In the third place there isn’t room for all the Ducks to nest properly. And lastly there is a great longing for our real home, which Old Mother Nature has put in our hearts and which just makes us go. We couldn’t be happy if we didn’t.”
“Is the journey back as bad as the journey down?” asked Peter.