by Katie Clark
He waddled out of the water just as fat droplets fell from the sky. They pelted his feathers. Waddle waddle waddle. He darted towards his family’s nest.
“You’re in an awful hurry, Dapper,” Mother said.
Dapper waddled under the dock. “It’s raining, Mother,” Dapper said. “I don’t want to be a soaked duck.”
“Where’s Dara?” Mother asked. She peeked behind Dapper, looking for his little sister.
Dapper shook out his feathers. He frowned. “She was right behind me.”
He stuck his head into the rain and skimmed the pond. He looked at the bank. He looked in the shallow water. He looked to the deep end. Dapper froze.
“She’s stuck in the storm!” he said.
Mother gasped. “Save her!” she quacked.
Dapper looked at the muddy bank. He hated mud. He looked at the pounding rain. He did not like to be soaked from head to webbed foot. Then he looked at Dara.
“I’m coming, Dara!” he called.
Dapper dashed into the rain. He dived into the water. He paddled as fast as his webbed feet would go. Closer, closer, closer!
Dara paddled furiously to stay afloat. Waves crashed around her as the wind blew the dark clouds closer.
“Help!” Dara quacked.
“Hold on to my tail feathers,” Dapper said. He blinked against the pounding rain.
Dara snapped her bill onto Dapper’s tail feathers and Dapper swam back to shore. They waddled over the muddy bank and darted under the protection of the dock.
“Are you okay?” Dapper asked.
“Yes,” Dara quacked. “You’re my hero!”
Dapper ruffled his feathers.
“My!” said Mother. “You did a dashing job, Dapper!”
Dapper shuffled his webbed feet. “Thank you,” he said.
Mother hovered over Dara and Dapper looked down at his muddy feathers. What a mess. Nothing was worse than a muddy duck. Yuck!
The storm slowly subsided. Dapper peeked outside, where other ducks, geese, and birds emerged from their shelters. Dapper waddled out from the protection of the dock.
“Where are you going?” Mother asked.
“I need a bath,” said Dapper. He waded into the swollen pond. A group of birds huddled together. They broke apart as Dapper swam close.
“Good afternoon, Dapper Duck!” called Goose. “You look exceptionally dapper today!”
Dapper glanced at his muddy wings. “Really?”
Seagull flew over. “I say that you are more dashing today than ever!”
Dapper frowned. “But I’m all muddy.”
Mr. Mallard swam up. “Good show, Dapper! What bravery!”
Now Dapper understood. They saw him rescue Dara!
One by one the other birds came. They quacked, honked and squawked their agreement.
Dapper felt the mud caked on his wings, but somehow, he didn’t mind it anymore. In fact, he felt more dapper than ever.
“Thank you,” he told his friends.
Dara swam over to him. “Three cheers for Dapper Duck, the most dashing of all the ducks!”
Dapper smiled timidly. “Maybe being a muddy duck isn’t really so bad, after all.”
1. Who was stuck in the storm?
2. How did Dapper help his sister?
3. What did the other birds say when Dapper went to the pond to bathe?
4. What changed Dapper’s mind about muddy ducks?