The Duck in the Gun
Columbia book (maybe)
"Sir, we can't use the gun. There's a duck in it," the Gunner said to the General.
"A duck?" shouted the General.
"It has made a nest in it, sir," said the Gunner. "I think it's sitting on some eggs."
The General went to the gun. He looked down it, and saw two small eyes. "Hello, duck," he called. The duck said "Quack-quack," but did not move. "Come out!" he shouted. But the duck did not move from her nest.
"You can use it while the duck is still inside," said one of the men.
"No, no, no!" said the General. "We must think of something else. Ah! I know. We'll borrow a gun."
The General put on all his medals. Then he took a white flag, and went into the enemy town. He visited the Prime Minister.
"How do you do?" said the Prime Minister.
"Not very well," said the General, and he told the Prime Minister about the duck in the gun. Then he said, "Could you lend us a gun? You have guns, and we don't. It's not fair."
"Oh, I agree," said the Prime Minister. "But you see, we have only one gun."
"Oh, dear!" said the General.
"So you cannot begin the war now," said the Prime Minister. "You'll have to wait for three weeks. In three weeks, the eggs will all be little baby ducks, and you'll be able to use your gun again."
The General shook hands with the Prime Minister. "That's fair enough," he said.
A week later, the General had another problem. He went to see the Prime Minister again.
"How are you?" asked the Prime Minister.
"Not good at all," said the General. "I have very little money now, and I have to pay my men. Could you lend me some money?"
"No," said the Prime Minister. "I cannot lend you any money at all. But I can pay your men if they work for me. See our town? It needs painting."
"What a great idea!" said the General.
Early the next morning, the men put on old clothes, and went into town. The General went out to look at the gun. The duck was still there. The General looked around. He was alone. Quickly, he took some cake from his pocket and put it down the gun.
Every day, the men went to work in the town. Sometimes, the General visited the Prime Minister and his daughter, and drank tea in their garden. Sometimes, he went out to the gun. He always had bread or biscuits in his pocket.
Near the end of the third week, the baby ducks were born. The General rang the bell. At once, the men ran back from the town.
"Attention!" called the General. "The baby ducks have arrived." He looked inside the gun. "Hello, duck," he called. The mother duck and eight little ducks came out.
"Three cheers for the mother duck!" shouted the men.
"Now we can use the gun again," said the General. "Now we can have the war." The men stopped cheering. They became very quiet.
"Please, sir," said the Gunner. "We can't shoot at the town."
"That's right," said the other men. "We've worked for two weeks on those houses."
The General agreed. It really seemed foolish now to shoot at those beautiful houses. Also, he was now rather fond of the Prime Minister's daughter.
So that was the end of the war.
The men finished painting the town, and the General married the Prime Minister's daughter. There was a big wedding with a lot of flowers. The wedding cake had a white sugar gun on top. And, of course, the duck and her eight babies came.
JOYFUL English Communication Basic (2016) pg. 67-71
- Note: JOYFUL English Communication Basic is a high school MEXT approved textbook.
"Why not?" said the General.
"Because there's a duck in the gun, sir. It has made a nest in it, sir."
"Get rid of it at once!"
"I've tried." said the Gunner, "but the duck won't come out. I think it's sitting on some eggs."
The General looked down into the gun, and saw two small eyes looking back at him.
"You can fire it with the duck inside." said one of the soldiers.
"No, no, no!" said the General. "We'll think of something else."
The General took a white flag, and went to see the Mayor of the town. He told the Mayor about the duck in the gun.
"I was wondering if you could lend us a gun. It's not fair if you have guns and we don't."
"Oh, I agree," said the Mayor. "But you see, we have only one gun. We can't let you have our gun."
The General looked unhappy.
"How about putting the war off for three weeks," said the Mayor. "By that time, the duck will have hatched her eggs, and you will have your gun back." "That's fair enough," said the General. "We'll forget about the war for three weeks."
But after one week, the General had another problem. He took a white flag and went to see the Mayor again.
"The truth is, I'm running out of money," said the General to the Mayor. "I can't pay my soldiers. I was wondering if you could lend me some money."
"No," said the Mayor. "I can't give soldiers money for doing nothing. But I can pay them if they will work for us. See our town? It needs painting. The houses are shabby, and the shops look a mess. In two weeks, your soldiers could paint the whole town.
Early next morning, the soldiers went to the town.
Near the end of the third week, the eggs hatched.
A little head popped out of the gun. It was the first duckling.
Then another duckling came out, and another, until there were eight of them.
Last out was the mother duck. She looked at all the soldiers and quacked loudly.
"Now we can use our gun again," said the General. "Now we can fight."
The soldiers became quiet and looked down at the ground. "Please, sir," said the Gunner. "We can't shoot at that town. We would spoil the new paint." "Yes," said the other soldiers. "We've worked for two weeks on those houses.
The General thought for a long time.
"All right," he said. "I'll go and tell the Mayor. "Hurray!" shouted the soldiers, throwing their hats in the air.
That was the end of the war.
The duck and her eight ducklings waddled about, in the sunshine.
- The Duck in the Gun by Joy Cowley and Robyn Belton, 1984.
- A recitation with this title was the winning recitation in the Akita City Recitation and Speech Contest in both 2012 and 2014. In 2014 it went on to win 2nd place in the Prefectural Contest.