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|The Magic of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
15. The Lonesome Duck
|Page 3 of 5||
"There's lots o' things folks don't 'preciate," replied the sailor-man. "If somethin' would 'most stop your breath, you'd think breathin' easy was the finest thing in life. When a person's well, he don't realize how jolly it is, but when he gets sick he 'members the time he was well, an' wishes that time would come back. Most folks forget to thank God for givin' 'em two good legs, till they lose one o' 'em, like I did; and then it's too late, 'cept to praise God for leavin' one."
"Your wooden leg ain't so bad, Cap'n," she remarked, looking at it critically. "Anyhow, it don't take root on a Magic Island, like our meat legs do."
"I ain't complainin'," said Cap'n Bill. "What's that swimmin' towards us, Trot?" he added, looking over the Magic Flower and across the water.
The girl looked, too, and then she replied.
"It's a bird of some sort. It's like a duck, only I never saw a duck have so many colors."
The bird swam swiftly and gracefully toward the Magic Isle, and as it drew nearer its gorgeously colored plumage astonished them. The feathers were of many hues of glistening greens and blues and purples, and it had a yellow head with a red plume, and pink, white and violet in its tail. When it reached the Isle, it came ashore and approached them, waddling slowly and turning its head first to one side and then to the other, so as to see the girl and the sailor better.
"You're strangers," said the bird, coming to a halt near them, "and you've been caught by the Magic Isle and made prisoners."
"Yes," returned Trot, with a sigh; "we're rooted. But I hope we won't grow."
"You'll grow small," said the Bird. "You'll keep growing smaller every day, until bye and bye there'll be nothing left of you. That's the usual way, on this Magic Isle."
"How do you know about it, and who are you, anyhow?" asked Cap'n Bill.
"I'm the Lonesome Duck," replied the bird. "I suppose you've heard of me?"
"No," said Trot, "I can't say I have. What makes you lonesome?"
"Why, I haven't any family or any relations," returned the Duck.
"Haven't you any friends?"
"Not a friend. And I've nothing to do. I've lived a long time, and I've got to live forever, because I belong in the Land of Oz, where no living thing dies. Think of existing year after year, with no friends, no family, and nothing to do! Can you wonder I'm lonesome?"
"Why don't you make a few friends, and find something to do?" inquired Cap'n Bill.
"I can't make friends because everyone I meet--bird, beast, or person--is disagreeable to me. In a few minutes I shall be unable to bear your society longer, and then I'll go away and leave you," said the Lonesome Duck. "And, as for doing anything, there's no use in it. All I meet are doing something, so I have decided it's common and uninteresting and I prefer to remain lonesome."
"Don't you have to hunt for your food?" asked Trot.
"No. In my diamond palace, a little way up the river, food is magically supplied me; but I seldom eat, because it is so common."
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|The Magic of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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