By Joan Zambelli

It was one of those lovely sunny days when everyone usually feels happy, especially if you happen to be a duck. Overhead, fleecy clouds drifted along in the blue sky. Whilst below, the reeds swayed in the gentle breeze and ripples danced on the pond.

But, Dulcie Duckling was unaware of her beautiful surroundings. She was too busy preening herself and gazing at her reflection in the water.  She liked what she saw.
In fact, she liked what she saw very much indeed!

Then she shook herself and stretched out her webbed feet before gazing at her reflection again.   

The other ducks always invited Dulcie to play with them in the pond. But it seemed she preferred to gaze at her reflection, rather than go into the pond and have fun playing in the water with them. They couldn’t understand her at all.

But then, none of them knew that Dulcie had a BIG problem. You see, she couldn’t swim. Just imagine being a duck and not being able to swim!

“Come on now, Dulcie, dear!” Mummy Duck would encourage her.  “It’s time you could swim. You’re not a little duckling now. Danny is a strong swimmer already.”

Danny Duckling was Dulcie’s twin brother. He was always boasting what a brilliant swimmer he was, especially each time he won a race. And just like all the other ducks, he couldn’t understand Dulcie, either. Perhaps that is why he often teased her.  Luckily though, Dulcie didn’t really mind at all.

What nobody knew was that Dulcie was AFRAID of water.  She thought that if she went into the pond, she would sink right down to the bottom! And this was the reason why Dulcie just sat and watched the other ducks swimming on the pond, instead of playing in the water with them.  Of course, she looked at her reflection in the water every so often, too!

“If I had a face like yours,” Danny teased, “I’d never look at my reflection, in case it scared me.”

“Now, that wasn’t very nice,” Mummy Duck quacked sternly.  “Tell Dulcie you’re sorry.”
Danny didn’t hear her though.  Being such a quick swimmer, he had already swum right over to the other side of the pond.

One night, when the ducks were all fast asleep, there was a terrible storm. Luckily, the ducks slept so soundly they didn’t hear the wind howling, the thunder crashing, or see the lightning flashing.

Next morning, when Dulcie went down to the pond to see how pretty she was, she had such a shock, and wondered whatever had happened. There were small branches of trees, twigs, and leaves, floating on top of the pond. These made the water so dirty, that Dulcie’s reflection had disappeared completely!

“Oh dear!” Dulcie sighed, near to tears. “Perhaps I’ll never see myself again.”
Then she noticed a branch floating near the edge of the pond. If I jump on that, she thought, I can float around the pond looking for my reflection. So that is what she did!
“Look everyone – I’m on the pond!” Dulcie quacked excitedly. “I’m looking for my reflection.” All the ducks rushed down to the pond to have a look.

Soon Dulcie was blown into a clean part of the pond. She looked down into the water and – lo and behold – there was her reflection! She certainly wasn’t going to let it get away from her this time.

Without thinking, she dived head-first into the pond…SPLASH!

Of course, Dulcie didn’t catch her reflection, but suddenly that didn’t matter any more.
Now, for the first time in her life, she was swimming.

“Look at Dulcie!” the other ducks quacked excitedly, hardly able to believe what they were seeing. “She’s swimming. Bravo, bravo, Dulcie.”

Next day, Dulcie hurried to the pond. She was pleased to see that the water was crystal clear once more. When she looked down into the water, her reflection looked up at her. She couldn’t wait to swim and play in the water with her friends again, so she ran into the pond as fast as her little webbed feet could carry her.

Each day, Dulcie practised swimming until she could swim further and faster. And then one day, she actually beat Danny in a race!

“Your swimming has improved a lot,” Danny praised her. But Danny couldn’t stop himself from teasing her as well.

“With a bit of luck, your face might improve one day, too!” he quacked, but not loud enough for Mummy Duck to hear! Now that Dulcie was able to swim well, too, she simply ignored Danny’s teasing.

After that, she could always be found swimming on the pond and having fun with her friends. In fact, she hasn’t felt sad since, not even when, at times, her reflection disappeared!