Madam’s Ducks

Madam’s Ducks

Early MMM Publication                      Nigeria                                                         22.03.2024

Editor’s Note: Miss Murphy in this story is Lily Murphy, a long-time volunteer in Nigeria with MMM in the early days.

Augustus sat outside his hut and stared at the rain, his whole form the picture of misery and dejection.  A frog leaped close beside him and took refuge in the corner of the doorway, but Augustus paid no attention.  His eyes were fixed in an unseeing stare, and he was thinking hard.  He moved inside the doorway as the rain found passage through the mat roof over the balcony and came pouring down on him.  It was typical wet-season rain, dancing off the path, for you know that in Nigeria the wet season means torrential rain for months at a time.

But it wasn’t the rain that made Augustus feel sad.  Oh, no, the tragedy was that he had lost Madam’s ducks.  Madam, of course, is Miss Murphy, but all the schoolchildren love to call her “Ma-dam”.  When Miss Murphy came back from her  holiday last year the patients were so pleased to see her again that they presented her with a duck and a drake and eitght little ducks.  Madam was delighted and said that when the little ducks got big, she would sell them in the market and buy scout uniforms with the money.  The scouts were delighted when they head this, and Augustus was elected to look after the ducks, and he certainly looked after them very well until yesterday.  Every evening at 5pm he would lock them up for the night, but yesterday evening he got so engrossed in watching the football match that he forgot all about the ducks.  When he went to look for them this morning, they were gone.  No wonder Augustus was so unhappy.  What would Madam say?  What would the scouts say when they heard that there would be no uniforms because there were no ducks?

Suddenly he moved.  Rain or no rain, he must go out and search for the ducks.  Everyone knew them as he had tied a piece of wire around the leg of each to distinguish them from the other ducks in the village.  I wish I could tell you that Augustus put on his waterproof coat, rain hat and wellington boots before going out in the rain.  But Augustus had none of these.  He just broke off a large banana leaf from one of the banana trees and holding this over his head he ventured forth in search of the ducks.  He went into every hut, but no one had seen Madam’s ducks.  Suddenly he brightened up as he thought of the stream.  Yes, they would surely be there.  There had been no rain yesterday, just the burning heat of a tropical sun.   Augustus usually left water for the ducks, but he had neglected that duty too.  Probably the ducks had gone to the nearest stream which was almost a mile away.

Dropping his banana leaf, as the rain eased off, he hurried towards the stream, praying hard to the Virgin Mary that she would help him find the ducks.  Soon his swift strides brought him in view of the stream and the sound of running water came to his ears.  He lifted his head and stopped in his race as he saw advancing in line to meet him the familiar figures of Madam’s ducks.
Augustus exhaled an audible sigh of relief.

Yes, it was a wonderful day, thank God.