It was an overcast day at the duck pond, and Pintail was in the mood for some juicy gossip. She swam over to her friend, Muscovy and asked, “Have you seen Mallard and her new little ones?”
Muscovy snorted and preened. “It’s hard to miss them, Pintail. That scandalous hatchling of hers is the talk of the pond.”
”Have you ever seen anything like it, Muscovy?”
She shook her neck feathers. ”Certainly not. No respectable mallard would produce such an offspring … I can’t help but wonder what her Drake must be thinking.”
Suddenly, they heard a rustling in some nearby reeds. Muscovy said, “Well, speaking of Mallard: there she is. She has some nerve. If I were ever unfortunate enough to have such a peculiar duckling, I’d be too ashamed to face the rest of the flock.”
Pintail arched her back, for a better look. “Will you just look at that hideous creature? Mallard ducklings have lovely amber and brown masks on their faces, and brown tufted wings. That… thing is covered completely with unruly grey spikes.”
Muscovy hissed, “I don’t like to judge, but surely Mallard must have angered the Creator, somehow. You just don’t get a duckling like that; by normal means.”
Pintail gasped, “Gracious; here she comes. What can she be thinking; bringing that creature over here? Quick: swim away!”
“Too late,”quacked Muscovy.
Mallard swam over and greeted them as if grey ducklings were de rigueur . She called out, “Good morning, ladies. I see you’re admiring my special little one. Isn’t he magnificent?”
”How can you say that?” squawked Pintail.
“Well, he’s so distinctive,” replied Mallard. “It’s true he doesn’t look like the others – or like any other mallard I’ve ever seen – but that doesn’t mean he’s not my son. If the Creator hadn’t wanted this little one to be in my brood, He wouldn’t have created him.”
Muscovy huffed,” If you say so.”
Pintail was just as cold. “Well, Mallard, we’ll take our leave. Good luck with your … umm… duckling.”
As Mallard gazed admiringly at her brood – all of them equal, in her loving eyes – the other two ducks haughtily flew away.
”Well, I don’t know how she can hold her head up,” grumbled Pintail.
”Did you hear her? No shame at all,” responded Muscovy.
Pintail grew quiet as they landed and waddled on the lake’s edge. “Could she have been right? I mean: perhaps it was meant to be.”
”Oh, Muscovy. Please. That thing is as much a proper duckling as it is; well… a swan, for Pete’s sake!”
”Yes, I suppose you’re right.”
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