The Devoted Friend

OnemorningtheoldWater-ratputhisheadoutofhishole.Hehadbrightbeadyeyesandstiffgreywhiskersandhistailwaslikealongbitofblackindia-rubber.Thelittleduckswereswimmingaboutinthepond,lookingjustlikealotofyellowcanaries,andtheirmother,whowaspurewhitewithrealredlegs,wastryingtoteachthemhowtostandontheirheadsinthewater.

"Youwillneverbeinthebestsocietyunlessyoucanstandonyourheads,"shekeptsayingtothem;andeverynowandthensheshowedthemhowitwasdone.Butthelittleduckspaidnoattentiontoher.Theyweresoyoungthattheydidnotknowwhatanadvantageitistobeinsocietyatall.

"Whatdisobedientchildren!"criedtheoldWater-rat;"theyreallydeservetobedrowned."

"Nothingofthekind,"answeredtheDuck,"everyonemustmakeabeginning,andparentscannotbetoopatient."

"Ah!Iknownothingaboutthefeelingsofparents,"saidtheWater-rat;"Iamnotafamilyman.Infact,Ihaveneverbeenmarried,andIneverintendtobe.Loveisallverywellinitsway,butfriendshipismuchhigher.Indeed,Iknowofnothingintheworldthatiseithernoblerorrarerthanadevotedfriendship."

"Andwhat,pray,isyourideaofthedutiesofadevotedfriend?"askedagreenLinnet,whowassittinginawillow-treehardby,andhadoverheardtheconversation.

"Yes,thatisjustwhatIwanttoknow,"saidtheDuck;andsheswamawaytotheendofthepond,andstooduponherhead,inordertogiveherchildrenagoodexample.

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