Poor Mrs. Quack by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter VIII. Mrs. Quack Has a Good Meal and a Rest
There's nothing like a stomach full To make the heart feel light; To chase away the clouds of care And make the world seem bright.
That's a fact. A full stomach makes the whole world seem different, brighter, better, and more worth living in. It is the hardest kind of hard work to be cheerful and see only the bright side of things when your stomach is empty. But once fill that empty stomach, and everything is changed. It was just that way with Mrs. Quack. For days at a time she hadn't had a full stomach because of the hunters with their terrible guns, and when just before dark that night she returned to the Smiling Pool, her stomach was quite empty.
"I don't suppose I'll find much to eat here, but a little in peace and safety is better than a feast with worry and danger," said she, swimming over to the brown, broken-down bulrushes on one side of the Smiling Pool and appearing to stand on her head as she plunged it under water and searched in the mud on the bottom for food. Peter Rabbit looked over at Jerry Muskrat sitting on the Big Rock, and Jerry winked. In a minute up bobbed the head of Mrs. Quack, and there was both a pleased and a worried look on her face. She had found some of the corn left there by Farmer Brown's boy. At once she swam out to the middle of the Smiling Pool, looking suspiciously this way and that way.
"There is corn over there," said she. "Do you know how it came there?"
"I saw Farmer Brown's boy throwing something over there," replied Peter. "Didn't we tell you that he would be good to you?"
"Quack, quack, quack! I've seen that kind of kindness too often to be fooled by it," snapped Mrs. Quack. "He probably saw me leave in a hurry and put this corn here, hoping that I would come back and find it and make up my mind to stay here a while. He thinks that if I do, he'll have a chance to hide near enough to shoot me. I didn't believe this could be a safe place for me, and now I know it. I'll stay here to-night, but to-morrow I'll try to find some other place. Oh, dear, it's dreadful not to have any place at all to feel safe in." There were tears in her eyes.
Peter thought of the dear Old Briar-patch and how safe he always felt there, and he felt a great pity for poor Mrs. Quack, who couldn't feel safe anywhere. And then right away he grew indignant that she should be so distrustful of Farmer Brown's boy, though if he had stopped to think, he would have remembered that once he was just as distrustful.
"I should think," said Peter with a great deal of dignity, "that you might at least believe what Jerry Muskrat and I, who live here all the time, tell you. We ought to know Farmer Brown's boy if any one does, and we tell you that he won't harm a feather of you."
"He won't get the chance!" snapped Mrs. Quack.
Jerry Muskrat sniffed in disgust. "I don't doubt you have suffered a lot from men with terrible guns," said he, "but you don't suppose Peter and I have lived as long as we have without learning a little, do you? I wouldn't trust many of those two-legged creatures myself, but Farmer Brown's boy is different. If all of them were like him, we wouldn't have a thing to fear from them. He has a heart. Yes, indeed, he has a heart. Now you take my advice and eat whatever he has put there for you, be thankful, and stop worrying. Peter and I will keep watch and warn you if there is any danger."
I don't know as even this would have overcome Mrs. Quack's fears if it hadn't been for the taste of that good corn in her mouth, and her empty stomach. She couldn't, she just couldn't resist these, and presently she was back among the rushes, hunting out the corn and wheat as fast as ever she could. When at last she could eat no more, she felt so comfortable that somehow the Smiling Pool didn't seem such a dangerous place after all, and she quite forgot Farmer Brown's boy. She found a snug hiding-place among the rushes too far out from the bank for Reddy Fox to surprise her, and then with a sleepy "Good night" to Jerry and Peter, she tucked her head under her wing and soon was fast asleep.
Peter Rabbit tiptoed away, and then he hurried lipperty-lipperty-lip to the dear Old Briar-patch to tell Mrs. Peter all about Mrs. Quack.