Their feathers burned, their combs adroop,
They were the saddest sight.
They’d run a hundred miles or more,
All day and then all night.
“Come in! Come in!” the ducks all quacked,
“For you our hearts do bleed!
We’ll share our happy lot with you;
Just tell us what you need!”
And so these poor bedraggled hens
Amongst the ducks moved in.
“For after all,” the ducks declared,
“We’re sisters ’neath the skin.”
Before too many months had lapsed,
The hens were good as new.
They sent for all their rooster friends,
And those were welcomed too.
To please their hosts, these chickens tried
To waddle and to quack.
To simulate the duckish ways,
They quickly learned the knack.
This pleased the flock of ducks because
It gratified their pride.
But hear my tale and learn how they
Got taken for a ride.
The ducks, it seemed, spent all their time
In fixing up the place;
In growing food and building homes
And cleaning every space.
They asked the hens what they would do
To earn their daily bread.
“We’ll teach and write and entertain,
And buy and sell,” they said.
And so these hens began to teach
The baby ducks and chicks.
They traded food and eggs and things,
With many clever tricks.
They wrote great books and put on shows
— Of genius they’d no lack.
It wasn’t long till chickens owned
The Duckville Daily Quack.
One day a mother duck who took
Her ducklings to the lake,
Was flabbergasted when one said,
“A swim I will not take!”
“Why duckling’s ALWAYS swim!” she gasped,
“It’s what you’re built to do!
Like bunnies hop, and crickets chirp,
And cows most always moo!”
“You’re NUTS!” her son replied,
“That stuff is all OLD HAT!
It’s wrong for birds to swim — besides,
It’s damn cold on my prat!”
“Oh fie!” the mother duck exclaimed,
“You’re talking like a fool!”
Up quacked the other ducklings then:
“He’s right! We learned in school!”
“Such things must stop!” the mother cried,
“Those hens can’t tell such lies!
For sheer ingratitude and nerve,
I’m sure this takes the prize!”
But she was wrong, for even then
The hens did thump the tub,
Demanding they be let into
The Duckville Swimming Club.
“But you don’t swim!” the ducks exclaimed,
“To join, why should you care?”
“That’s not the point” the hens replied,
“To exclude us isn’t fair!”
The younger ducks, who’d been to school
Agreed right there and then,
“To keep them out is bigotry!
’Twould just be ANTI-HEN!”
Outnumbered by the younger ducks,
The old ducks soon did lose.
The hens could join the Swimming Club,
If they would pay the dues.
That night the Duckville Daily Quack
Contained this banner spread:
“Reactionary Ducks are Licked!
Duckville moves Ahead!”
Down at the Duckville Gaity,
The young set laughed with glee,
At cracks about “old fuddy ducks”
In burlesque repartee.
Next day the hens were at the Club;
A petition they’d sent round
They objected to the Swimming Fund
With fury and with sound.
“You use our dues to fix the pond,
To keep it neat and trim
And this is wrong” they said, “because
You know we do not swim!”
“God help us!” cried a wise old duck,
“These chickens have gone mad!
We’ll take this thing to court, by George,
And justice will be had!”
But when they went before the judge,
Imagine their dismay!
A CHICKEN judge decreed that they
A heavy fine must pay!
“Minorities must have their rights!”
The judge declared right then.
“To use hens’ dues to fix the pond
Is very ANTI-HEN!”
Once more the Duckville Daily Quack
Emblazoned ’cross the page:
“Old Fuddy Ducks Refuse to See
The Great New Coming Age!!”
In Duckville’s church, on Sunday morn,
The preacher spoke these words:
“Discrimination’s got to stop!
Remember, we’re all birds!”
The wisest duck in all the town
Sat down in black despair.
“I’ll write a book,” he thought, “and then
This madness I will bare!”
“Let swimmers swim, let hoppers hop,
Let each go his own way
Let none coerce a fellow bird!”
Was what he had to say.
“’Twas wrong to force the hens to swim,
So here’s the problem’s crux:
It’s just as bad for hens to try
To CHICKENIZE our ducks!”
“I can’t print that,” the printer said,
“’Twill put me in a mess!
My shop is mortgaged to the hens —
The chickens own my press!”
This worried duck then tried to warn
His friends by speech and pen,
But young ducks fresh from school just jeered,
“He’s a vicious ANTI-HEN!”
Now up the stream a little way
Was Gooseville, on the lake
The hens had come to Gooseville too,
But the geese were more awake.
When the hens began to spoil the young
And Gooseville’s laws to flout,
The geese rose up in righteous wrath
And simply threw them out.
Of course you know where they all ran
— On Duckville they converged.
“We’ve got to take these REFUGEES”
Was what the hens all urged.
The Duckville Daily Quack declared:
“Those geese will stop at naught!
They plan to conquer all the world!
Atrocities they’ve wrought!”
“That’s right!” the young ducks all agreed,
“We’ll help our fellow birds!
Those geese have plans to conquer us!
We’ve read the Quack’s own words!”
They let the hens from Gooseville in,
The whole bedraggled pack
And every hen took up a job
On Duckville’s Daily Quack.
When Duckville’s Mayor’s term was up,
The Quack put up its duck.
A vain and stupid duck was he
— A veritable cluck!
But when he praised the wild young ducks
And cursed the evil geese,
The Quack declared he was “all-wise”;
His praise would never cease.
The hens chipped in to help this cluck
Give grain away for free.
The old ducks sadly shook their heads—
The writing they could see.
And sure enough, this stupid duck,
He was elected Mayor.
From this point on, the Duckville ducks
They never had a prayer.
The Mayor said, “Gooseville must go!
We’ll wipe them off the map!”
While Duckville slept, the scheming hens
For Gooseville set a trap.
They called the geese by filthy names;
They filled their pond with sticks.
They helped the weasels catch the geese,
And other hennish tricks.
The geese got mad and threw some rocks.
“IT’S WAR!” the Quack announced.
“We ducks must fight those evil geese
Till they’ve been soundly trounced!”
The ducks (who knew not of the tricks
Indulged in by the Mayor)
Were filled with “patriotic zeal”
And pitched right in for fair!
Now when the ducks had whipped the geese
The Mayor called “Retreat!
Our Henville friends should really take
Goosevilles’s big main street!”
The hens are back in Gooseville now;
They starved and beat the geese.
They prayed for peace — but organized
The Henville ARMED POLICE!
They drained the Gooseville swimming pond;
And “De-goose-ified” the schools.
They wrung the neck of Gooseville’s Mayor
On lately made-up rules.
They formed a council of the hens—
“UNITED BIRDS” the name.
The other birds who joined the thing
Did not perceive the game.
No sooner had they set this up,
Than they announced their plan
To seize up Swanville as a home
For all their hennish clan.
They took a vote amongst themselves,
And every one approved!
“Swanville was for hens!” they said,
“Way back, before we moved!”
And so they kicked the swans all out
With Duckville’s help and power
And Duckville could not understand
Why swans on them turned sour.
By this time, Duckville was a mess —
The young ducks had gone mad.
They stole and laughed at truth and law;
They’d gone completely bad.
The hens were selling loco weed
In every nasty den.
But ducks who dared to mention this
Were labelled “ANTI-HEN.”
The hens all preached of “Tolerance”;
They invoked the “Golden Rule.”
But they subsidised the indigent,
The greedy and the fool.
At last the very dumbest ducks
Began to smell a rat.
“This Mayor is no good!” they cried,
“And we will soon fix that!”
But the hens had planned for even this
— A candidate they had,
Whom even wise old ducks believed
Just never could be bad.
This hen-tool duck had whipped the geese;
A soldier duck was he.
Although the hens had set him up,
The ducks all thought him free.
This hen-tool got elected
Through ignorance and greed,
Through hennish lies in press and speech,
And bribes of “chicken feed.”
The hens now kicked the ducks around
Without a blush of shame,
Until the Mayor ran the town
In nothing else but name.
They pumped the swimming pond all dry;
They taught the ducks to crow.
While duckish numbers dwindled,
The hens began to grow.
The hens stirred up the happy crows
From out the piney wood
To fight and mix and marry ducks
In the name of “Brotherhood.”