In the duck yard


I andegården

A duck arrived from Portugal. Some people said she came from Spain, but that doesn't really matter. She was called the Portuguese; she laid eggs, and was killed and dressed and cooked; that's the story of her life. But all the ducklings that were hatched from her eggs were also called Portuguese, and there's some distinction in that. At last there was only one left of her whole family in the duck yard - a yard to which the hens also had access, and where the cock strutted about with endless arrogance.

"His loud crowing annoys me," said the Portuguese Duck. "But there's no denying he's a handsome bird, even if he isn't a drake. Of course, he should moderate his voice, but that's an art that comes from higher education, such as the little songbirds over in our neighbours lime trees have. How sweetly they sing; There's something so touching over their melodies; I call it Portugal. If I only had a little songbird like that I'd be a kind and good mother to him, for that's in my blood - my Portuguese blood!"

While she was speaking, suddenly a little songbird fell head over heels from the roof into the yard. The cat had been chasing him, but the bird escaped with a broken wing and fell down into the duck yard.

"That's just like the cat, that monster!" said the Portuguese Duck. "I remember his tricks from when I had ducklings of my own. That such a creature should be permitted to live and roam about on the roofs! I'm sure such things could not happen in Portugal!"

She pitied the little Songbird, and even the other ducks who weren't Portuguese felt pity for him, too.

"Poor little fellow," they said, and then one after another came up to look at him. "Of course, we can't sing," they said, "but we have an inner understanding of song, or something like that. We can feel it, even if we don't talk about it."

"Then I will talk about it," said the Portuguese. "And I'll do something for this little fellow; it's only my duty." And then she stepped into the water trough and thrashed her wings about the water so vigorously that the little Songbird was almost drowned by the shower he got, but he knew the Duck meant well. "There, that's a good deed," she said. "The others may observe it and profit by my example."

"Peep!" said the little Bird; one of his wings was broken, and he was finding it difficult to shake himself, but he quite understood that the bath was meant kindly. "You're very kindhearted, madam," he said, hoping she wouldn't give him another shower.

"I never thought much about my heart," said the Portuguese. "But I know this much - I love all my fellow creatures except the cat; nobody could expect me to love him, for he ate up two of my ducklings. Now make yourself at home, for you can be quite comfortable here. I myself am a foreigner, as you can tell from my bearing and my feather dress. My drake is a native of this country; he doesn't have my blood, but still I'm not proud. If anyone in this yard can understand you, I may safely say it is I."

"Her beak is full of portulaca," said a common little Duck, who was considered very witty. All the other common ducks decided the word portulaca was very funny, for it sounded like Portugal. They poked each other and said, "Quack!" He was really so witty! And now all the other ducks began to pay attention to the little Songbird.

"The Portuguese certainly has a great command of language," they said. "For our part, we haven't room in our beaks for such big words, but we have just as much sympathy, anyway. Even if we don't actually do anything for you, at least we will go about quietly with you; and that we think is the nicest thing we can do."

"You have a lovely voice," said one of the older Ducks. "It must be a great satisfaction to you to give so many as much pleasure as you do. I don't really understand singing, so I keep my beak shut; that's better than chattering nonsense to you the way the others do."

"Don't bother him," said the Portuguese. "He needs rest and care. My little Songbird, do you want me to give you another shower bath?"

"Oh, no, please let me stay dry!" he begged.

"The water cure is the only that does me any good when I'm sick," said the Portuguese. "But amusement helps, too. The neighboring hens will soon be coming to visit us; there are two Chinese hens among them. They wear breeches, are well educated, and have been imported, so they stand higher than the others in my esteem."

And the hens came, and the Cock came with them; today he was polite enough not to be rude.

"You're a true songbird," he said, "and you do all you possibly can with such a small voice as yours. But you should have a little steam power, so everyone would hear that you are a male."

The two Chinese were enraptured at the appearance of the Songbird. He was still very much rumpled up after his bath, so he looked to them like a little China chicken.

"He's charming!" they cried, and then engaged themselves in conversation with him; they talked in whispers and with a p-sound, in elegant Chinese. "We belong to your race.

"The Ducks, even the Portuguese one, are swimming birds, as you must have noticed. You don't know us yet; not very many people take the trouble to know us - not even any of the hens, though we were born to occupy a higher perch than most of the others. But that doesn't bother us; we go our way quietly among the others, whose ideals are quite different from ours. We look only at the bright side of things, and mention only what's good, though it's sometimes difficult to find something like that when there isn't anything. Besides us two and the Cock, there is no one in the whole hen yard who is talented. And honesty does not exist among the inhabitants of this duck yard.

"We warn you, little Songbird, don't trust that one over there with the short feathers in her tail - she's tricky. The spotted one there, with the crooked stripes on her wings, is always looking for an argument and won't let anybody have the last word, though she's always in the wrong. The fat Duck over there never has a good thing to say about anybody, and that is contrary to our nature; if we haven't something good to say, we keep our beaks shut. The Portuguese is the only one who has a little education and whom one can associate with, but she's hot-tempered and talks too much about Portugal."

"How those two Chinese are always whispering!" said one of the Ducks. "They annoy me; I have never spoken to them."

Now the Drake came up; and he thought the little Songbird was a sparrow.

"Well, I don't see any difference," he said. "It's all the same, anyway. He's just a plaything, and if you have one, why, you have one."

"Don't pay any attention to what he says," the Portuguese whispered. "He is a very respectable businessman, and with him business always comes first. But now I'm going to lie down for a rest. You owe that to yourself, so you'll be nice and fat when the time comes to be embalmed with apples and plums."

And then she lay down in the sun and blinked one eye; she lay so comfortably and felt so well, and so she slept very comfortably.

The little Songbird busied himself with his broken wing, but finally he too lay down, pressed close beside his patroness; the sun was bright and warm; it was a good place to be.

The neighbor's hens scurried about, scratching up the earth, for, to tell the truth, they had come visiting solely for the sake of getting something to eat. The Chinese were the first to leave the duck yard, and the other hens soon followed them.

The witty little Duck was talking about the Portuguese and said the old lady was on the brink of "Duckdom's dotage." At this the other Ducks chuckled. "Duckdom's dotage!" they cackled. "That's unusually witty!" Then they repeated the other joke about portulaca - that was very amusing to them - and then they lay down.

They had been sleeping for some time when suddenly some food was thrown in for them. It landed with such a thump that the whole flock started up from sleep and flapped their wings. The Portuguese woke up, too, and rolled over on the other side, squeezing the little Songbird very hard as she did so.

"Peep!" he said. "You stepped so hard on me, madam."

"Well, why do you lie in the way?" she said. "You mustn't be so touchy. I have nerves, too, but I have never yet said, 'Peep!' "

"Please don't be angry," said the little Bird. "The 'Peep' slipped off my beak before I knew it."

The Portuguese didn't listen to him, but began gobbling as fast as she could, until she had made a good meal. When she had finished, she lay down again, and the little Bird came up and tried to please her by singing:

Of your heart with glee
I shall sing with love
When I fly above!
"I need to rest after my meal," said the Portuguese. "While you're here you must follow the house rules. I want to take a nap now."

The little Songbird was quite bewildered, for he had only tried to please her. When she awoke later he stood before her with a grain of corn he had found and laid it in front of her; but as she hadn't slept well she was in a very bad humor.

"You can give that to a chicken!" she said. "And don't stand and hang over me!"

"Why are you angry with me?" he asked. "What have I done?"

"Done?" said the Portuguese. "Your manner of expression isn't very refined; I must call your attention to that."

"Yesterday it was all sunshine here," said the little Bird. "But today it's dark and cloudy. It makes me very sad."

"You don't know much about weather, I guess," said the Portuguese. "The day isn't over yet. Don't just stand there looking stupid."

"But you're looking at me just as those two wicked eyes did when I fell into the yard!"

"Impudent!" said the Portuguese. "Comparing me with the cat - a beast of prey! There's not a drop of wicked blood in me! I've stood up for you, and I'll have to teach you good manners." And with that she bit off the Songbird's head, and he lay there dead.

"Now what does this mean?" she said. "Couldn't he even stand that? Then he certainly wasn't intended for this world. I know I've been like a mother to him, because I have such a good heart."

And then the neighbor's Cock stuck his head into the yard and crowed like a steam engine.

"Your crowing will kill me!" she cried. "It's all your fault! He's lost his head, and I've nearly lost mine."

"There isn't much left of him," said the Cock.

"You speak of him with respect," said the Portuguese, "because he had a voice and a fine education. He was tender and soft, and that's as good in animals as in so-called human beings."

And all the Ducks gathered around the little dead Songbird. Ducks have strong passions, whether they feel envy or pity, and since there was no one here to envy, they all felt pity, and so did even the two Chinese hens.

"We'll never find such a songbird again; he was almost a Chinese," and they both wept with a great clucking noise. All the other chickens clucked, too, but the Ducks walked around with the reddest eyes.

"We have hearts," they said. "Nobody can deny that."

"Hearts!" said the Portuguese. "Yes, that we have; they're almost as tender as in Portugal."

"Let us now think about getting something in our stomachs," said the Drake. "That's the most important thing. If one of our playthings is broken, why, we have plenty more of them!"
Der kom en and fra Portugal, nogle sagde fra Spanien, det er lige meget, hun blev kaldt den portugisiske, hun lagde æg, blev slagtet og anrettet; det er hendes levnedsløb. Alle de, som krøb ud af hendes æg, blev kaldt de portugisiske og det betød noget; nu var her af hele den slægt kun en tilbage i andegården, en gård, som også hønsene havde adgang til og hvor hanen trådte op med uendelig hovmod.

"Han krænker mig med sit voldsomme gal!" sagde den portugisiske. "Men køn er han, det kan man ikke nægte, uagtet han ikke er nogen andrik. Moderere sig skulle han, men det er en kunst at moderere sig, det viser højere dannelse, den har de små sangfugle oppe i nabohavens lindetræ! hvor yndigt de synger! der ligger noget så rørende i deres sang; jeg kalder det Portugal! Havde jeg sådan en lille sangfugl, jeg ville være ham en moder, kærlig og god, det ligger mig i blodet, i mit portugisiske!"

Og lige idet hun talte kom der en lille sangfugl; den kom hovedkulds oppe fra taget. Katten var efter den, men fuglen slap med en knækket vinge og faldt ned i andegården.

"Det ligner katten, det afskum!" sagde den portugisiske; "jeg kender ham fra jeg selv havde ællinger! At et sådant væsen får lov at leve og gå om på tagene! det tror jeg ikke finder sted i Portugal!"

Og hun ynkede den lille sangfugl, og de andre ænder, som ikke var portugisiske, ynkede ham også.

"Det lille kræ!" sagde de, og så kom den ene og så kom den anden. "Vel er vi selv ikke syngende," sagde de, "men vi har indvendig sangbund eller sådant noget; det føler vi, om vi ikke taler derom!"

"Da vil jeg tale om det!" sagde den portugisiske, "og jeg vil gøre noget for den, for det er ens pligt!" og så gik hun op i vandtruget og baskede i vandet, så hun nær havde druknet den lille sangfugl i den skylle, han fik, men det var godt ment. "Det er en god gerning," sagde hun, "den kan de andre se på og tage eksempel af!"

"Pip!" sagde den lille fugl, hans ene vinge var knækket; det var ham svært at ryste sig, men han forstod så godt den velmente pjasken. "De er så hjertensgod, madame!" sagde han, men forlangte ikke mere.

"Jeg har aldrig tænkt over mit hjertelag!" sagde den portugisiske, "men det ved jeg, at jeg elsker alle mine medskabninger undtagen katten, men det kan da ingen forlange af mig! han har ædt to af mine; men vær nu som hjemme her, det kan man; jeg selv er fra en fremmed egn, som De nok ser på min rejsning og fjerkjole! min andrik er indfødt, har ikke mit blod, men jeg hovmoder mig ikke! – forstås De af nogen herinde, så tør jeg nok sige, at det er af mig!"

"Hun har portulak i kroen!" sagde en lille almindelig ælling, der var vittig, og de andre almindelige fandt det så udmærket med "portulak," det klang som "Portugal"; og de stødte til hinanden og sagde rap! han var så mageløs vittig! og så indlod de sig med den lille sangfugl.

"Den portugisiske har rigtignok sproget i sin magt!" sagde de. "Vi har det ikke med store ord i næbbet, men vi har lige så stor deltagelse; gør vi ikke noget for Dem, så går vi stille med det; og det finder vi smukkest!"

"De har en yndig røst!" sagde en af de ældste. "Det må være en dejlig bevidsthed at glæde så mange, som De gør! jeg forstår mig rigtignok aldeles ikke på det! derfor holder jeg min mund, og det er altid bedre, end at sige noget dumt, som så mange andre siger til Dem!"

"Plag ham ikke!" sagde den portugisiske, "han trænger til hvile og pleje. Lille sangfugl, skal jeg pjaske Dem igen?"

"Oh nej, lad mig være tør!" bad han.

"Vandkuren er den eneste, der hjælper mig," sagde den portugisiske; "adspredelse er også noget godt! nu kommer snart nabohønsene og gør visit, der er to kinesiske høns, de går med mamelukker, har megen dannelse, og de er indført, det hæver dem i min agtelse!"

Og hønsene kom og hanen kom, han var i dag så høflig, at han var ikke grov.

"De er en virkelig sangfugl!" sagde han, "og De gør ud af Deres lille stemme alt, hvad der kan gøres af sådan en lille stemme. Men noget mere lokomotiv må man have, at det kan høres, at man er af hankønnet."

De to kinesiske stod henrykte ved synet af sangfuglen, han så så forpjusket ud af pjasket, han havde fået over sig, at de syntes, han lignede en kinesisk kylling. "Han er yndig!" og så indlod de sig med ham; de talte med hviskestemme og p-lyd på fornemt kinesisk.

"Vi hører nu til Deres art. Ænderne selv den portugisiske, hører til svømmefuglene, som De nok har bemærket. Os kender De endnu ikke, men hvor mange kender os, eller gør sig den ulejlighed, ingen, selv blandt hønsene, uagtet vi er født til at sidde på en højere pind, end de fleste andre. – Det er nu det samme, vi går vor stille gang mellem de andre, hvis grundsætninger ikke er vore, men vi ser kun på de gode sider, og taler kun om det gode, skønt det er vanskeligt at finde, hvor intet er. Med undtagelse af os to og hanen, er der ingen i hønsehuset, der er begavede, men honnette! dette kan man ikke sige om beboerne af andegården. Vi advarer Dem, lille sangfugl! tro ikke hende der med stumphalen, hun er lumsk! den spættede der, med det skæve spejl på vingerne, hun er disputergal og lader aldrig nogen få det sidste ord, og så har hun altid uret! – den fede and taler ilde om alle, og det er vor natur imod, kan man ikke tale godt, så skal man holde sin mund. Den portugisiske er den eneste, der har lidt dannelse og som man kan omgås med, men hun er lidenskabelig og taler for meget om Portugal!"

"Hvor de to kinesiske har meget at hviske!" sagde et par af ænderne, "mig keder de; jeg har aldrig talt med dem!"

Nu kom andrikken! han troede, at sangfuglen var en gråspurv. " Ja, jeg kan ikke gøre forskel!" sagde han, "og det er da også lige fedt! Han hører til spilleværkerne, og har man dem, så har man dem!"

"Bryd Dem aldrig om hvad han siger!" hviskede den portugisiske. "Han er agtværdig i forretninger, og forretninger går for alt. Men nu lægger jeg mig til hvile! det skylder man sig selv, at man kan være køn fed, til man skal balsameres med æbler og svesker!"

Og så lagde hun sig i solen, blinkede med det ene øje; hun lå så godt, hun var så god, og så sov hun så godt. Den lille sangfugl plukkede på sin knækkede vinge, lagde sig lige op til sin beskytterinde, solen skinnede varmt og dejligt, det var et godt sted at være.

Nabohønsene gik om at skrabe, de var i grunden kommet der alene for fødens skyld; de kinesiske gik først bort, og så de andre; den vittige ælling sagde om den portugisiske, at den gamle gik snart i "ællingedom," og så skrattede de andre ænder, "ællingedom! han er mageløs vittig!" og så gentog de den forrige vittighed: "portulak!" det var meget morsomt; og så lagde de sig.

De lå en stund, da blev lige med ét kastet noget snaskeri ind i andegården, det klaskede, så hele den sovende besætning fór op og slog med vingerne; den portugisiske vågnede også, væltede om og trykkede forfærdeligt den lille sangfugl.

"Pip!" sagde den, "De trådte så hårdt, madame!"

"Hvorfor ligger De i vejen!" sagde hun, "De må ikke være så ømskindet! jeg har også nerver, men jeg har aldrig sagt pip!"

"Vær ikke vred!" sagde den lille fugl, "det pip slap mig ud af næbbet!"

Den portugisiske hørte ikke på det, men fór i snaskeriet og holdt sit gode måltid, da det var endt og hun lagde sig, kom den lille sangfugl og ville være elskværdig:

om hjertet dit,
vil jeg synge tit,
flyvende vidt, vidt, vidt!"

"Nu skal jeg hvile på maden!" sagde hun, "De må lære husskik herinde! Nu sover jeg!"

Den lille sangfugl blev ganske forbløffet, for han mente det så godt. Da madammen siden vågnede, stod han foran hende med et lille korn, han havde fundet; det lagde han foran hende; men hun havde ikke sovet godt, og så var hun naturligvis tvær.

"Det kan De give en kylling!" sagde hun; "stå ikke og hæng over mig!"

"Men De er vred på mig!" sagde han. "Hvad har jeg gjort?"

"Gjort!" sagde den portugisiske, "det udtryk er ikke af den fineste slags, vil jeg gøre Dem opmærksom på!"

"I går var her solskin," sagde den lille fugl, "i dag er her mørkt og gråt! jeg er så inderlig bedrøvet!"

"De kan det nok ikke med tidsregning!" sagde den portugisiske, "dagen er endnu ikke gået, stå ikke og vær så dumladende!"

"De ser på mig så vred, som de to slemme øjne så, da jeg faldt herned i gården!"

"Uforskammet!" sagde den portugisiske, "ligner De mig med katten, det rovdyr! ikke en ond blodsdråbe er der i mig; jeg har taget mig af Dem, og god omgang skal jeg lære Dem!"

Og så bed hun hovedet af sangfuglen, den lå død.

"Hvad er nu det!" sagde hun; "kunne han ikke tåle det! ja så var han såmænd ikke for denne verden! jeg har været som en moder mod ham, det ved jeg! for hjerte har jeg!"

Og naboens hane stak hovedet ind i gården og galede med lokomotivkraft.

"De tager livet af en med det gal!" sagde hun; "det er Deres skyld det hele; han tabte hovedet og jeg er nærved at tabe mit."

"Han fylder ikke meget hvor han ligger!" sagde hanen.

"Tal De med agtelse om ham!" sagde den portugisiske, "han havde tone, han havde sang og høj dannelse! kærlig og blød var han og det passer sig for dyrene, som for de såkaldte mennesker."

Og alle ænderne samlede sig om den lille døde sangfugl; ænderne har stærke passioner, enten har de det med misundelse eller med medlidenhed, og da her ikke var noget at misunde, så var de medlidende, det var da også de to kinesiske høns.

"Sådan en sangfugl får vi aldrig mere! han var næsten en kineser," og de græd så det klukkede efter, og alle hønsene klukkede, men ænderne gik og havde de rødeste øjne.

"Hjerte har vi!" sagde de, "det kan da ingen nægte os!"

"Hjerte!" sagde den portugisiske, "ja det har vi – næsten lige så meget som i Portugal!"

"Lad os nu tænke på at få noget i skrutten!" sagde andrikken, "det er det vigtigere! Går et af spilleværkerne i stykker, så har vi nok alligevel!"

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