“Where did he go? He said he would be back soon.” Aqua asked her friend, Mary.
“Quack! He should be back by now. He went in search of a nice surprise gift for you.” Mary replied.
Aqua felt worried. Bob never left her alone in the duck nest for so long. She brushed off a dew- drop from her feather.
“What if the fox or the dog got him? Oh no!”
“Don’t worry dear, he’s fine. Here, drink this snail soup, it will make you warm.” Mary spoke softly as she passed a bowl of white liquid to Aqua.
“Hey, Aqua, did your eggs hatch yet? Mrs. Goose, one of her neighbors, asked.
“Quack! No Mrs. Goose, my little ones didn’t come out yet. How are your goslings?”
Aqua spent the whole day taking care of her new eggs. Though she really wanted to go out looking for Bob, she could never leave her precious little ones alone. There were a lot of bad, cruel animals like cats and foxes all around. They loved to eat yummy, crunchy duck eggs.
So, Aqua sat beside her eggs for days, knitting a woolen blanket to keep her soon- to- be- hatched ducklings warm. Sometimes, she would go swimming in the river. Mary kept an eye on Aqua’s nest then.
The pleasant rays of the summer sun kept the eggs warm during the day. The moon sang a new lullaby for them every night. About a week later, Aqua noticed some cracks on both of her eggs. She had lost quite a lot of weight in such a short time. Her shiny, bright yellow feathers had lost their usual glow.
“Hey look! I think it’s time to welcome your little darlings. They will come out any minute now.” Mary announced excitedly.
“I really wish Bob was here.” Aqua muttered in a shaky tone. A drop of tear fell from her large eyes.
CRACK! Two tiny yellow heads peeped out of brokeneggshells. A soft, yet sharp quack brought a smile on Aqua’s beak, as she looked at her adorable little ducklings
“Too cute! What are you going to call them?” All her friends asked in unison.
“One’s Anna, because Aqua starts with an A. The other will be Belle, beginning with a B as in Bob.”
“Lucky little girls, named after their parents!” Marry kissed them both on the cheeks as they snuggled in Aqua’s wings.
The little ducklings were growing up day by day. All the animals that lived by the riverbank praised and loved the smart, gentle little ducklings.
Anna enjoyed being in the water more than anything else. She swam from one side of the river to the other twice daily.
On the other hand, though Belle did not enjoy playing in the water as much as her sister, she loved solving riddles.
“Uncle moon, you travel all over the world everyday. Do you know where our dad is? All our friends have dads at home, only we don’t.”
“Of course you have a father. He’s a bit busy with some work now. He loves you a lot.”
“Fetch your mother for me dearie. You go to sleep, it’s past bedtime.” The moon whispered.
The mother duck hardly stayed awake late at night. “Uncle moon has a message for you, Mom!” Belle gave her mother a light push.
Aqua waddled outside her nest reluctantly, but the charming smile on the moon’s face lifted up her spirits. He was not in his usual full face, but curled up in a crescent instead:
“Hello there, sister Aqua. Here’s a riddle for you and your daughters. The correct answer will lead you to someone who knows where Bob is.
Raindrops help me rise
I’m happiness in disguise.
I have seven colors in me,
Bright and vibrant, you see.
Who am I?
“Uh…raindrops always make Anna happy. It must be the rainbow!”
“Right you are, Belle dear. Madam Rainbow can help you get to daddy.”
“Yay!!! We’re going to daddy!” Belle chanted, as she did her favorite duck dance with her mother.
The next day, the duck family began their journey towards the Rocky Mountain. Mary and Mrs. Goose stayed behind to look after their house.
This journey was not an easy one. Little pebbles cracked under their feet. Lots of wild rose bushes had to be crossed. They had to hide behind tall blades of grass whenever they came across holes or caves. Thorns made them wounded, but nothing could stop Aqua.
“If you break the word impossible into two, what would it say?” Aqua asked Belle while they rested under an apple tree.
“Impossible…I’m possible!” Belle’s curious eyes shone.
“Yes little one, you’re right. Nothing is impossible if you try.”
“I didn’t swim for a long time Mommy, I don’t want to walk for so long!” Anna complained in an angry tone.
“Come on Anna, you can swim as much as you want, once we find daddy.” Aqua planted a soft kiss on Anna’s forehead.
Just then, a sharp pointed thorn pricked Belle on one of her wings.
“Ouch, that hurts!” she wailed.
“What happened? Who did that? Aqua yelled at the top of her voice.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry mother duck, I didn’t mean to hurt her.” A faint, feeble voice could be heard. “I can’t drink water from the ground, and I’m just so thirsty. I kept moving my branches, so my thorn hit her.”
Aqua looked here and there to find the owner of the voice. All of a sudden, she noticed a large rose bush, hidden behind the apple tree.
“Was that you, little bush? Why can’t you drink water?”
“Just take a look at my feet, you’d know.” The rose bush replied.
Aqua looked down to find a huge heap of dry leaves.
“Can you please move those leaves away? I can’t bear this thirst any longer.”
Anna and Belle helped their mother to move all the dry leaves away, one by one.
“Ah that feels so good! Thanks a million!” Aqua watched quietly as a new hue of bright green appeared on the bush. “I hadn’t drank water in ages, because there was none to clean that mess. Here, these are for you. You might need them on the way.”
Three beautiful pink roses bloomed on the bush. “So sweet of you, little bush. I’m so sorry I shouted at you.” Aqua apologized.
“No problem mother duck. My mom would have done the same if someone hurt me. See you!”
The duck family said goodbye to their new friend and moved on. Almost five hours later, they reached a little pond. Anna tucked both her mother and sister’s wings into her own so that they would be tied together. Then she paddled her feet as fast as she could. Thus, they crossed the pond within seconds.
It took them five days to reach the base of the RockyMountain.
“Phew! We’re here at last. Now we can meet Madam Rainbow very soon.”
“But that mountain…it’s so high! How are we going to climb to the top of that?” Anna and Belle questioned each other.
“I’m not going to give up after coming so far.” Aqua declared.
“We want to meet daddy!” Anna and Belle chimed together.
All three ran towards the Rocky Mountain, but every time they tried to climb up, their feet slipped. They did not even have large wings to fly over the mountain.
“Oh no! We need to call Madam Rainbow if we want to see daddy. How do we do that now?”
“Anna, we can do anything, just have to try hard. There must be someone who can help us.”
Just then, they heard someone say:
“Welcome, Aqua. Don’t worry, Bob’s safe with me. I’ve hidden him in one of my colors, to keep him out of the reach of harmful animals.”
This voice was like that of a young woman. This particular voice was extremely loud, so the little ducks ran to their mom to hide under her wings.
“Wh…who are you?” Aqua managed to speak after some time.
“Hey now, don’t be afraid, girls. I’m Madam Rainbow.” The same scary voice spoke again. “I live at such a height that I have to be very loud even if I don’t want to.”
“Oh, hello there, pleased to meet you.”
“Aqua, there’s a friend who needs your help. Can you please see what he needs?”
Aqua glanced around to find a handsome white pigeon sitting on the branch of a nearby cherry tree. He looked gloomy and worried:
“Hello Mr. Pigeon, why are you so sad?” Anna asked with a smile.
“I came to get a birthday present for my cousin, but now I lost my way.”
“Where do you live, my darling?” Aqua asked.
“I live on an oak tree by the riverbank, with my parents and a little brother.”
“The riverbank! Why, that’s our home too!” Belle exclaimed.
“I want to see my daddy!” Anna wailed again. She got impatient very easily.
“Are you Aqua, by the way?” I heard about you from Madam Rainbow.
“Yes I am, I’m here to get their father, Bob. They haven’t seen him since they were hatched.” Aqua replied, pointing a wing at her two daughters.
“Bob the duck, he’s a very brave one. I heard he was caught by the cunning red fox.”
“That’s dad! How did he escape, Mr. Pigeon?”
Bob was the best chef in the duck community. Everyone who had visited his restaurant, always came back to taste those mouth watering dishes again.
The pigeon continued: “Bob always has some black pepper powder hidden under his wings, to be used as a weapon against enemies if needed. The day you laid the eggs, Aqua, Bob went across the river in search of some special ingredients. He wanted to craft something wonderful and magical, for his family.”
Anna offered some grains she had in her backpack. The pigeon accepted in an instant:
“Yum! Thank you little one, I was very hungry!”
“Oh, by the way, Mr. Pigeon, you needed a present for your cousin, right?” Belle joined the conversation after being quiet for a long time.
“Yes, I do need to get something for her.”
“Here, she might like these flowers.” Aqua held the pink roses in front of him.
“Please tell us more about daddy, we want to know all from you.”
“ Ha ha! You’re an inquisitive little girl, Anna.” Mr. Pigeon swallowed a mouthful of grains. “Bob sprinkled a wing- full of pepper powder in the fox’s eyes when he got a chance. A blind fox is not such a strong enemy you know.
In the meantime, Madam Rainbow rose above the Rocky Mountain:
“ Thanks a lot for helping Mr. Pigeon with the gift. Now, Belle, if you can name all my colors, I will bring your daddy to you.” Her roaring voice could be heard once again.
“Madam Rainbow, your seven colors are: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.”
“Bravo, dear girl! Get ready to give daddy a big duck-hug.”
“Quack!” Daddy- duck Bob came down from the top of the mountain in a parachute. He had four star-shaped pendants tied around his neck.
Madam Rainbow had hidden him with her magic, inside the mountain. This kept Bob safe from all the dangers. As he was invisible, cruel animals could not see him.
“Daddy!” The little ducklings jumped with joy as he pulled all three of them closer in a duck-hug.
“Daddy was safe with Madam Rainbow, my dears. I just took some time to craft these for you. That’s why I couldn’t be there when you two hatched out. Wear these, and no meat-eating animal will ever harm you.”
Mr. Pigeon also accompanied the duck family on their way home. That day when they reached home safe and sound, Bob took a photograph of Aqua and the two ducklings standing on brown rocks. From then on, Bob always kept the photograph with him whenever he went away from home.