THE TALE

OF

JEMIMA PUDDLE-DUCK

 

Jemima and the Gentleman

 

THE TALE OF

JEMIMA PUDDLE-DUCK

BY

BEATRIX POTTER

Author of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", &c

Emblem

 

Frederick Warne & Co., Inc., New York

1908

 


A FARMYARD TALE
FOR
RALPH AND BETSY


 

At Home

 

What a funny sight it is to see a brood of ducklings with a hen!

—Listen to the story of Jemima Puddle-duck, who was annoyed

because the farmer's wife would not let her hatch her own eggs.

 

Jemima takes a stand

 

Her sister-in-law, Mrs. Rebeccah Puddle-duck, was perfectly

willing to leave the hatching to some one else—"I have not the

patience to sit on a nest for twenty-eight days; and no more

have you, Jemima. You would let them go cold; you know you

would!"

"I wish to hatch my own eggs; I will hatch them all by myself," quacked Jemima Puddle-duck.

 

Carried Off

 

She tried to hide her eggs; but they were always found and

carried off.

Jemima Puddle-duck became quite desperate.

She determined to make a nest right away from the farm.

 

Setting Off

 

She set off on a fine spring afternoon along the cart-road that

leads over the hill.

She was wearing a shawl and a poke bonnet.

 

Top of A Hill

 

When she reached the top of the hill, she saw a wood in the

distance.

She thought that it looked a safe quiet spot.

 

Starting to Fly

 

Jemima Puddle-duck was not much in the habit of flying.

She ran downhill a few yards flapping her shawl,

and then she jumped off into the air.

 

Soaring

 

She flew beautifully when she had got a good start.

She skimmed along over the tree-tops until she saw an open

place in the middle of the wood, where the trees and brushwood

had been cleared.

 

Fox-gloves

 

Jemima alighted rather heavily, and began to waddle about in

search of a convenient dry nesting-place. She rather fancied a

tree-stump amongst some tall fox-gloves.

But—seated upon the stump, she was startled to find an

elegantly dressed gentleman reading a newspaper.

He had black prick ears and sandy coloured whiskers.

"Quack?" said Jemima Puddle-duck, with her head and her bonnet

on one side—"Quack?"

 

Gentleman Reading

 

The gentleman raised his eyes above his newspaper and looked

curiously at Jemima—

"Madam, have you lost your way?" said he. He had a long bushy

tail which he was sitting upon, as the stump was somewhat damp.

Jemima thought him mighty civil and handsome. She explained

that she had not lost her way, but that she was trying to find

a convenient dry nesting-place.

 

Jemima Tells Her Troubles

 

"Ah! is that so? indeed!" said the gentleman with sandy

whiskers, looking curiously at Jemima. He folded up the

newspaper, and put it in his coat-tail pocket.

Jemima complained of the superfluous hen.

"Indeed! how interesting! I wish I could meet with that fowl.

I would teach it to mind its own business!"

 

The Shed

 

"But as to a nest—there is no difficulty: I have a sackful of

feathers in my wood-shed. No, my dear madam, you will be in

nobody's way. You may sit there as long as you like," said the

bushy long-tailed gentleman.

He led the way to a very retired, dismal-looking house amongst

the fox-gloves.

It was built of faggots and turf, and there were two broken

pails, one on top of another, by way of a chimney.

 

Closing the Door

 

"This is my summer residence; you would not find my earth—my

winter house—so convenient," said the hospitable gentleman.

There was a tumble-down shed at the back of the house, made of

old soap-boxes. The gentleman opened the door, and showed

Jemima in.

 

A Cozy Nest

 

The shed was almost quite full of feathers—it was almost

suffocating; but it was comfortable and very soft.

Jemima Puddle-duck was rather surprised to find such a vast

quantity of feathers. But it was very comfortable; and she

made a nest without any trouble at all.

 

So Polite

 

When she came out, the sandy whiskered gentleman was sitting

on a log reading the newspaper—at least he had it spread out,

but he was looking over the top of it.

He was so polite, that he seemed almost sorry to let Jemima go

home for the night. He promised to take great care of her nest

until she came back again next day.

He said he loved eggs and ducklings; he should be proud to see

a fine nestful in his wood-shed.

 

So Attentive

 

Jemima Puddle-duck came every afternoon; she laid nine eggs in

the nest. They were greeny white and very large. The foxy

gentleman admired them immensely. He used to turn them over

and count them when Jemima was not there.

At last Jemima told him that she intended to begin to sit next

day—"and I will bring a bag of corn with me, so that I need

never leave my nest until the eggs are hatched. They might

catch cold," said the conscientious Jemima.

 

A Request

 

"Madam, I beg you not to trouble yourself with a bag; I will

provide oats. But before you commence your tedious sitting, I

intend to give you a treat. Let us have a dinner-party all to

ourselves!

"May I ask you to bring up some herbs from the farm-garden to

make a savoury omelette? Sage and thyme, and mint and two

onions, and some parsley. I will provide lard for the

stuff—lard for the omelette," said the hospitable gentleman

with sandy whiskers.

 

Herb-gathering

 

Jemima Puddle-duck was a simpleton: not even the mention of

sage and onions made her suspicious.

She went round the farm-garden, nibbling off snippets of all

the different sorts of herbs that are used for stuffing roast

duck.

 

Telling Kep All

 

And she waddled into the kitchen, and got two onions out of a

basket.

The collie-dog Kep met her coming out, "What are you doing

with those onions? Where do you go every afternoon by yourself,

Jemima Puddle-duck?"

Jemima was rather in awe of the collie; she told him the

whole story.

The collie listened, with his wise head on one side; he

grinned when she described the polite gentleman with sandy

whiskers.

 

Kep Goes Looking

 

He asked several questions about the wood, and about the exact

position of the house and shed.

Then he went out, and trotted down the village. He went to

look for two fox-hound puppies who were out at walk with the

butcher.

 

Jemima Brings Herbs

 

Jemima Puddle-duck went up the cart-road for the last time, on

a sunny afternoon. She was rather burdened with bunches of

herbs and two onions in a bag.

She flew over the wood, and alighted opposite the house of the

bushy long-tailed gentleman.

 

Kep Watches

 

He was sitting on a log; he sniffed the air, and kept glancing

uneasily round the wood. When Jemima alighted he quite jumped.

"Come into the house as soon as you have looked at your eggs.

Give me the herbs for the omelette. Be sharp!"

He was rather abrupt. Jemima Puddle-duck had never heard him

speak like that.

She felt surprised, and uncomfortable.

 

Kep and Friends

 

While she was inside she heard pattering feet round the back

of the shed. Some one with a black nose sniffed at the bottom

of the door, and then locked it.

Jemima became much alarmed.

 

Chasing

A moment afterwards there were most awful noises—barking,

baying, growls and howls, squealing and groans.

And nothing more was ever seen of that foxy-whiskered gentleman.

Presently Kep opened the door of the shed, and let out

Jemima Puddle-duck.

 

Unlocked

 

Unfortunately the puppies rushed in and gobbled up all the

eggs before he could stop them.

He had a bite on his ear and both the puppies were limping.

 

In Tears

 

Jemima Puddle-duck was escorted home in tears on account of

those eggs.

 

Ducklings

 

She laid some more in June, and she was permitted to keep them

herself: but only four of them hatched.

Jemima Puddle-duck said that it was because of her nerves; but

she had always been a bad sitter.

 

THE END