One day Agnes the cow left the cows in the barn behind. She wandered across the pasture. She passed the brood of splashing ducks on the shore of the pond, and continued under the sad branches of the willow tree to the quiet pasture beyond. She thought she might find some peace in this solitary place, but there she found a duck reading the newspaper.
And not just any duck, this duck had bulging eyes, an odd crook in his neck, and a tongue that hung out of his beak. He was an ugly duckling who never managed to turn into a swan.
Waddles turned the page on his newspaper and looked up at Agnes. He didn’t actually know how to read the newspaper, but he’d never let that stop him before.
Agnes furrowed her brow. This was inconvenient, but no reason to lack civility. “Moo, moo, moo-ma-moo-moo-moo,” Agnes said in her refined voice.
Waddles cocked his head to the side and shrugged. Waddles hadn’t taken Bovine in school. He tried a little of the Swine he’d picked up in the back fields. “Oink unk sweeeeee oink oink snort,” he grunted at her. He smiled and his tongue lolled out of his beak.
Agnes had never heard of an oinking duck or one that used such vile language, but she had never been to the far side of the pond either and for all his oinking, this duck seemed friendly.
She reached to the back of her mind when she had gone South with the farmer and won her first blue ribbon. She had met a very suave Gander there who had taught her much about life and love. “Honk honk hoook honk hink hawh hawh,” she said sweetly.
But Geese have a whole different dialect from ducks, Waddles shrugged his wings again. He put his paper down as his mind began working. When he was little, his mother had taught him a few clucks of chicken. “Bawk bawk cluck cluck bawk cluck bihkawk?” he asked.
Agnes blushed. She had grown up right next to the hen-house, but had never taken the time to learn.
Agnes knew it was a long shot, but she tried a few phrases her Jersey cousin had taught her. “Moo ma moo-moo ma ma ma mooooo,” she said.
Waddles looked more confused than ever. He thought for a minute then did the best rabbit impression he could. It was actually quite good for a duck.
Agnes didn’t quite understand, but she did laugh. Waddles laughed too.
Finally, Agnes let go of words and motioned to the grass around them.
With a wide sweeping bow, Waddles said, “Moo moo too too moooo…” intending to make her welcome (what he actually said was “I love purple pants.”).
Agnes took more from his gesture and his tongue accented smile than from his words. She took a large bite of the grass on the far side of the pond.
Waddles grabbed his newspaper and flew up to Agnes’ back. Agnes stopped mid-chew and turned to look at him. Waddles smiled again and settled in to finish “reading.” Agnes swallowed her bite and went on grazing.