There was and there was not, over sevenfold seven lands beyond the Sea of Far Away, there was once a great bed of reeds, and on the edges of these reeds were two little houses, one on either side. In one lived a Crane, alone, and in the other a Wild Duck, alone; alone and frightfully forlorn.
One day the Crane thought and thought,
and thinking to himself of what he ought
to do, he croaked aloud:
“Oh! How sad my life! How sorrowful with strife,
for I have no one: father, mother, or a wife.
It isn’t worth a tinker’s cuss,
just to go on living thus.
Life’s so dull and never merry, that’s it!
It’s time for me to go and marry.”
The Crane did not delay,
but preened himself to fine array,
and gathered all his pluck
to go and see the Wild Duck.
He landed in a trice and knocked three times
– or maybe twice – upon her door.
“Are you home, dear Duck?”
“I am indeed, O Mr. Crane!”
“Well then, will you come and be my wife?”
“I never heard such rot in all my life!
Mr. Crane, I’ve seen you fly,
you’re not that strong;
your wing’s too short and your leg’s too long.
What crossed your mind when here you came?
If I married you, I’d die of shame!
There’s a window, there’s the door,
pray don’t pester any more!”