There was great excitement at the Old Barn Yard. A big mistake had been made. Whose fault it was no one could tell; but the fact was that Henny Penny had hatched out a brood of ducklings.
At first nobody thought anything was wrong, except that, perhaps, her little brood had very large bills and feet, much larger than those of any little chicks at the farm.
But one day when the whole brood waddled off down to the Old Duck Pond and jumped in everybody knew that Henny Penny had little ducks and not little chickens.
Poor little Henny Penny! She stood upon the bank and clucked and clucked to them to come back.
"You'll be drowned, my darlings!" she cried. But the little ducks threw out their great brown feet as cleverly as if they had taken swimming lessons all their lives and sailed off on the Old Duck Pond, away, away among the ferns, under the pink azaleas, through reeds and rushes and arrowheads and pickerel weed, the happiest ducks that ever were born. And soon they were quite out of sight.
Poor little Henny Penny. She didn't know how to swim, so she sat down on the bank and waited for her little ducks to come back. Now and then she wiped her eyes on her downy breast feathers.
"Don't cry," said Cocky Doodle kindly.
"Don't worry," said Rosy Comb. "Your children seem to know how to swim as well as Ducky Waddles."
Just then across the Old Duck Pond came a chorus of quacks, and at a distance was seen the little brood swimming home, their feathers gleaming in green and gold.
"Such a splendid time we've had," they all cried as they waddled up the bank. "And we know now how to get our own living, for there are lots of little fish and flies out there on the Old Duck Pond. We can take care of ourselves, so don't worry any more about us, Mother Henny Penny."
"They are little ducks, not chickens," said Ducky Waddles.
"Are you sure?" asked Henny Penny tearfully, wiping her eyes with a tiny yellow handkerchief.
"Of course I am," replied Ducky Waddles. "Don't I know a duck's foot when I see it?"
"Dear, Oh dear!" sighed the poor little hen, "there has been a dreadful mistake!"
But whose mistake it was no one could tell, for the Kind Farmer never confessed that he put duck eggs in Henny Penny's nest.