Chapter XVII. Mr. Quack is Found at Last

Sammy Jay's eyes sparkled as he watched that spot of green under the pile of brush in the swamp through which the Laughing Brook finds its way to join the Big River. All around was water, for you know it was spring, and the melting snows on the hills way up where the Big River has its beginning were pouring more water into the Big River than its banks would hold as it hurried down to the Great Ocean. It just couldn't hurry fast enough to take all that water down as fast as it ran into the Big River, and so the water had crept over the banks in places. It had done this right here in the little swamp where Sammy was.

Sammy sat perfectly still, for he learned long ago that only by keeping perfectly still may one see all that is to be seen. That green spot had moved. He was sure of that. And if it moved, it must be something alive. If it were alive, it must be somebody, and Sammy wanted to know who it was. Try as he would he couldn't remember any one who wore such glossy green as that. So he sat perfectly still, for he knew that if whoever was hiding under that brush should even guess that he was being watched, he would not come out.

So, his eyes sparkling with excitement, Sammy watched. He was impatiently patient. Did you know that it is possible to be impatiently patient? Well, it is. Sammy was just boiling with impatience inside, but he didn't let that impatience spoil the patience of his waiting. He sat there just as still as still, with his eyes fixed on that green spot, and you would never have guessed that he was fairly bursting with impatience to know who it was he was watching. That is what is called self-control. It means the power to make yourself do a certain thing, no matter how much you may want to do something else. It is a splendid thing to have, is self-control.

After what seemed to Sammy a very long time, the green spot moved again. Little by little something reached out from under the pile of brush. It was a head, a very beautiful green head, and it was exactly like Mrs. Quack's head, only hers was a sober brown instead of green. Sammy choked back a little gasp of surprise as a sudden thought popped into his head. Could this be the lost Mr. Quack? He had forgotten that probably Mr. Quack dressed differently from Mrs. Quack, and so of course he had been looking for some one all in brown. There was the bang of a gun somewhere over on the Big River, and the green head was hastily withdrawn under the bush, but not before Sammy had seen a look of terrible fear in his eyes. "I believe it is Mr. Quack!" thought Sammy. "If it is, I'll have the best news ever to tell Mrs. Quack. Just trust Sammy Jay to find anything he goes looking for."

This was just plain boasting, and Sammy knew it. But Sammy always does have a good opinion of himself. It is one of his faults. He quite lost sight of the fact that it was entirely by accident that he had come over to this swamp. Now that he had guessed who this might be, he was less impatient. He waited as still as you please, and at last the green head was slowly stretched out again, and Sammy could see that the neck was green, too, and that around the neck was a white collar. Sammy could keep still no longer.

"Are you Mr. Quack?" he asked eagerly.

The beautiful head disappeared like a flash. Sammy waited a minute or two, before he repeated his question, adding: "You needn't be afraid. There isn't anybody here but me, and I'm your friend. I just want to know if you are Mr. Quack because I've been looking for you for Mrs. Quack. Are you?"

Slowly, looking this way and that way with fear and suspicion in his eyes, a handsome Duck came out from under the pile of brush. "Yes," said he in a low voice, "I am Mr. Quack. Where is Mrs. Quack?"

"Safe and sound over on the Big River," replied Sammy joyfully. "Oh, I'm so glad I've found you!"