THE DEVOTED FRIEND
‘And what, pray (скажите на милость), is your idea of the duties of a devoted friend?’ asked a green Linnet (коноплянка), who was sitting in a willow-tree hard by, and had overheard the conversation.
‘Yes, that is just what I want to know,’ said the Duck; and she swam away to the end of the pond, and stood upon her head, in order to give her children a good example.
‘What a silly question!’ cried the Water-rat. ‘I should expect my devoted friend to be devoted to me, of course.'
‘And what would you do in return?’ said the little bird, swinging upon a silver spray, and flapping his tiny wings.
‘I don’t understand you,’ answered the Water-rat.
‘Let me tell you a story on the subject,’ said the Linnet.
‘Is the story about me?’ asked the Water-rat. ‘If so, I will listen to it, for I am extremely fond of fiction.'
‘It is applicable to you,’ answered the Linnet; and he flew down, and alighting upon the bank, he told the story of The Devoted Friend.
‘Once upon a time,’ said the Linnet, ‘there was an honest little fellow named Hans.'
‘Was he very distinguished?’ asked the Water-rat.
‘No,’ answered the Linnet, ‘I don’t think he was distinguished at all, except for his kind heart, and his funny round good-humoured (добродушный) face. He lived in a tiny cottage all by himself, and every day he worked in his garden. In all the country-side there was no garden so lovely as his. Sweet-william (турецкая гвоздика) grew there, and Gilly-flowers (левкои), and Shepherds’-purses (пастушья сумка), and Fair-maids of France (французские цветы). There were damask Roses (дамасская роза), and yellow Roses, lilac Crocuses (крокус) and gold, purple Violets (фиалка) and white. Columbine (водосбор) and Ladysmock (сердечник луговой), Marjoram (майоран) and Wild Basil (базилик), the Cowslip (примула) and the Flower-de-luce (ирис), the Daffodil (нарцисс) and the Clove-Pink (садовая гвоздика) bloomed or blossomed in their proper order as the months went by, one flower taking another flower’s place, so that there were always beautiful things to look at, and pleasant odours (уст. аромат) to smell.