The Monster Of Dirty Pool
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Mother duck has a new family of ducklings and one of them disappeared while swimming in Dirty Pool.
His brother, with wooden feet, plans to rescue him.
Read this story to find out who the monster is and how Hooey helps his brother Bluey.
Spring came early the year our story begins.
The ice cracked in the pond when the sun shone brightly.
The little squirrels came out from their nests where they had remained hidden most of the winter. The small and large birds were returning from the South in ever increasing numbers.
The tree buds were bursting into leaves.
Everything pointed out to the fact that Spring had indeed begun, just as the groundhog had predicted when he could not see his shadow on Groundhog Day.
At Dirty Pool, where our story takes place, another sign of Spring was also much in evidence.
Mother duck was building a nest and getting ready to sit on her eggs, but first the nest.
She really did not go to too much trouble.
She picked a nice quiet spot near the foot of a clump of oak trees and raked some twigs and leaves into a circle.
Then she lined the inside with feathers that she plucked from her downy breast.
Now, she was ready for the eggs.
These she laid, one each day, until she had thirteen eggs.
It took her thirteen days and as you know a lot of things can happen in thirteen days.
Mother duck had to have food while she was in the process of laying all these eggs, so the folks who lived around Dirty Pool all tried to help.
They used to bring food to the foot of the oak trees and leave it for Mother Duck.
She appreciated this as it was indeed a big help, but trouble began to develop.
A large woodpecker was working high up in the oak trees and pieces of bark and sawdust nearly covered the ground, where the good people kept putting the food for Mrs Duck.
I don't like to say this, but I'm afraid that Mrs Duck swallowed a lot of sawdust with her meals.
It did not begin to show up in any way, but you can be sure that it was not good.
Well, to continue the story, Mrs Duck got the thirteen eggs laid and she started sitting on them.
Now it takes, as you all know, four weeks for duck eggs to hatch, again a lot of things can happen in four weeks.
Like the time some bad boys chased Mrs Duck from her nest and accidentally broke one of the eggs or the time the weasel came and stole an egg while she was down by the pool getting a drink.
Many other things did happen, but finally the big day came when the eggs were ready to hatch.
There were only nine of them left, but I suppose that is not too bad, all things considered.
The little fluffy ducklings started to break the eggs open and hop out.
Mrs Duck was very proud.
Six of the finest little ducklings that you ever saw had already hatched, but of the three eggs that were left, only one seemed to be the least inclined to hatch.
There was considerable activity in the shell and all at once there was a crack and the seventh little duckling sprang out.
This was, as you may have guessed, the last egg that Mrs Duck had laid some four weeks ago.
One did not have to look twice to see that this little duckling must have a name.
We shall call him, Hooey, and he had wooden feet.
Don't ask me why, because all I can tell you is that his mother had eaten a lot of sawdust,so by the time she had laid the last egg, her food was pretty heavy with sawdust.
Mrs Duck was proud of all seven of her ducklings but she did try to keep Hooey in the background whenever visitors came to look at the children.
She had him sit down to cover the fact that he had wooden feet.
Wooden feet are no handicap to a duck, they don't walk much and the wood in their feet makes them float higher in the water, they swim better than a duck with ordinary webbed feet.
Mrs Duck did not realise this as she had never seen a duck with wooden feet before Hooey.
The other two eggs did not hatch, but I think that seven is a nice number of little ducks.
A couple of days after the duck eggs hatched, Mother duck called her children together and asked them to follow her.
She was going to take them down to Dirty Pool to teach them how to swim.
You may think that it is funny that a duckling would have to be taught to swim.
It is true, a duck that has never been near the water is afraid of the water, just the same as you or I would be.
It made quite a procession, Mother duck followed by seven little ducklings.
When they reached the water they started to back away; she gently nudged them into the water and before long they were swimming most gracefully.
Things were not destined to go along as smoothly as that.
Two days after Mother Duck had taught the little ones to swim tragedy struck.
Little Bluey, who was swimming right behind his Mother, suddenly disappeared under the water and did not come up again.
Mother duck and the other ducklings swam about quacking and calling.
They never found any trace where he disappeared.
They went back to the nest without him to try and figure out what had happened to him.
Out in that dark murky water was a Monster of some kind or other that had just swallowed Bluey.
Hooey was rather a bright chap for a duckling and he hit on what he thought was a way to get rid of the Monster; and maybe even save Bluey.
He whispered his idea in his Mother's ear.
At first she was reluctant to go along with his plan, but she could not come up with anything better herself.
She agreed to go along with brave little Hooey's idea, cautioning all the ducklings to remain on the bank.
Mother Duck and Hooey started swimming in the pool; gradually they neared the spot where Bluey had disappeared.
Then she left Hooey swimming there alone.
He swam around and around quacking and crying to make believe he was lost, while Mother kept a watchful eye on him.
He was just about to admit to himself that his plan had failed when all at once it happened; something grabbed him and pulled him down underwater.
In keeping with his plan, brave little Hooey did not cry out or put up a struggle.
Things were going just as he had planned.
Just as soon as he disappeared, Mother Duck swam over to the dangerous spot with a heavy heart; she really didn't think that Hooey's plan would work.
Now it looked like she had lost two of her ducklings instead of one.
The remaining ducklings on the bank became frantic as they had watched Hooey disappear from sight. They knew they could never go near the water again as long as there was something that would pull them under whenever they went swimming.
Meanwhile Hooey was sticking to his plan.
He relaxed and held his wooden feet out straight.
He felt himself sliding down the throat of the Monster; how he kept his wits about him at a time like that is more than I can tell.
I already told you, Hooey was no ordinary duck; he was just as smart as they come and he knew exactly what he was doing.
When he felt the time had come to brace himself, he brought his two wooden feet crossways to the monster's throat.
Now even a monster cannot go around underwater with his mouth open.
So when Mr Monster started to close his mouth after he had swallowed Hooey, he found that he had bitten off more than he could chew.
As you know, there are no such things as monsters.
The 'Thing' that had been molesting the small ducks in the Dirty Pool was an overgrown snapping turtle.
When this big turtle closed down his jaws on Hooey's wooden feet, he got a mouthful of slivers and splinters.
He churned and sputtered and spit out Hooey, wooden feet and all.
He also spit out little Bluey as he had a stomach full of little ducklings.
Bluey had been in the turtle's gullet for some time and was rather worse for wear.
Mother Duck pushed him to shore where she gave him artificial respiration and in an hour or two he was as good as ever.
Hooey was not hurt except his feet required a few patches put on with glue and the Monster took off for parts unknown.
He left the little ducklings to swim about Dirty Pool whenever they desired.
You can be sure Mother Duck was mighty proud of brave Hooey, when visitors came she never tried to make him hide his wooden feet again.
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