Sunday, 9 May 2010

The story of the greedy duck.

Once upon a time there was a little narrowboat.  A young couple lived on the boat and it was around the time of their marriage that this little story unfolds. 
The couple had found some reed beds and attached them to the stern of the boat so that the beautiful reeds could grow up and hopefully attract some ducks looking for somewhere to nest.  Sadly the reeds were eaten by all the local ducks and coots and so they didn't grow.  Instead the coots decided to make a nest, gathering all the rubbish they could dredge up from the bottom of the canal. 
When the couple returned from their honeymoon the sight that met their eyes was beautiful ~ a colourful collection of feathers, shredded blue plastic bags, sticks, leaves, willow branches, sari's, mouldy bread, old vegetables, wire, boxes, coke bottles ~ all piled high on the stern of the boat in a wonderful love nest for the coots with a whopping thirteen eggs starting to hatch.

Father coot was extremely protective.  He spent all his days foraging for food for the little ones and ferociously fending off any intruders with an eye on the nest or the young chicks.  Mother coot did her best to nurture the little ones and encourage them to take their first flustered flaps on the water.
The task of protecting and providing for all those little ones is not an easy one and the coots found that they were having to work harder and harder.  One day, a rather persistant duck decided it wanted a piece of what the coots had and was causing rather a large commotion as it buried its head in the nest attacking the remaining unhatched eggs, Mother coot created quite a stir and Father coot came and a ferocious battle took place, the duck being savagedly pecked in the neck by both Father and Mother coot. 
Now whilst all this was going on Mr Boater was up in his woodshed chopping wood and heard all the commotion and ran down to see what all the fuss was about.  He stooped down and grabbed the duck and flung him away from the nest.  The duck had been badly injured by the coots and was unable to hold his head up or even stand up out of the water.  Mr Boater went over to the other side of the canal to see what could be done.  The duck was not doing very well and he thought he had better try and save it.  He picked it up and as he was carrying it across to the other side, the duck turned its head, looked at Mr Boater and gasped its last breath. 
Poor Mr Boater didn't know how the day had turned out quite like it had and he had to go and visit his mother the next day for the opening of her art exhibition.  So he did as any countryman would and skinned the duck, leaving all the feathers and bits and bobs in a bucket in the bow of the boat, roasted it and took it down to his mother's for tea. 
On his return, a few days later, Mrs Boater reminded him about the bucket in the bow.  The remains of the duck had managed to produce a bucket full of maggots and the only thing for Mr Boater to do was to feed them to the newly hatched young coots squawking for food from the nest, somehow aptly completing the cycle of the greedy duck's life...

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