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In The Duck-yard
by [?]

A duck arrived from Portugal. Some said she came from Spain, but that’s all the same. At any rate she was called the Portuguese, and laid eggs, and was killed and cooked, and that was her career. But the ducklings which crept forth from her eggs were afterwards also called Portuguese, and there is something in that. Now, of the whole family there was only one left in the duck-yard, a yard to which the chickens had access likewise, and where the cock strutted about in a very aggressive manner.

“He annoys me with his loud crowing!” observed the Portuguese duck. “But he’s a handsome bird, there’s no denying that, though he is not a drake. He ought to moderate his voice, but that’s an art inseparable from polite education, like that possessed by the little singing birds over in the lime trees in the neighbour’s garden. How charmingly they sing! There’s something quite pretty in their warbling. I call it Portugal. If I had only such a little singing bird, I’d be a mother to him, kind and good, for that’s in my blood, my Portuguese blood!”

And while she was still speaking, a little singing bird came head over heels from the roof into the yard. The cat was behind him, but the bird escaped with a broken wing, and that’s how he came tumbling into the yard.

“That’s just like the cat; she’s a villain!” said the Portuguese duck. “I remember her ways when I had children of my own. That such a creature should be allowed to live, and to wander about upon the roofs! I don’t think they do such things in Portugal!”

And she pitied the little singing bird, and the other ducks who were not of Portuguese descent pitied him too.

“Poor little creature!” they said, as one after another came up. “We certainly can’t sing,” they said, “but we have a sounding board, or something of the kind, within us; we can feel that, though we don’t talk of it.”

“But I can talk of it,” said the Portuguese duck; “and I’ll do something for the little fellow, for that’s my duty!” And she stepped into the water-trough, and beat her wings upon the water so heartily, that the little singing bird was almost drowned by the bath she got, but the duck meant it kindly. “That’s a good deed,” she said: “the others may take example by it.”

“Piep!” said the little bird; one of his wings was broken, and he found it difficult to shake himself; but he quite understood that the bath was kindly meant. “You are very kind-hearted, madam,” he said; but he did not wish for a second bath.

“I have never thought about my heart,” continued the Portuguese duck, “but I know this much, that I love all my fellow-creatures except the cat; but nobody can expect me to love her, for she ate up two of my ducklings. But pray make yourself at home, for one can make oneself comfortable. I myself am from a strange country, as you may see from my bearing, and from my feathery dress. My drake is a native of these parts, he’s not of my race; but for all that I’m not proud! If any one here in the yard can understand you, I may assert that I am that person.”

“She’s quite full of Portulak,” said a little common duck, who was witty; and all the other common ducks considered the word Portulak quite a good joke, for it sounded like Portugal; and they nudged each other and said “Rapp!” It was too witty! And all the other ducks now began to notice the little singing bird.

“The Portuguese has certainly a greater command of language,” they said. “For our part, we don’t care to fill our beaks with such long words, but our sympathy is just as great. If we don’t do anything for you, we march about with you everywhere; and we think that the best thing we can do.”