Once upon a time in a faraway land there lived a poor old man and woman who owned only one thing, a little duck named Daphne. The couple cherished Daphne, but they could not feed her well. And so Daphne waddled around, hungry and sad. "Quack, quack!" she lamented. "Who will feed me? Quack!"One day Daphne was idly swimming in the river when she spotted something shimmering. "Quack, quack," she sang, "Perhaps that is food!" She paddled quickly toward the glowing thing that sat not far from shore. "Ahh!" she said, "What's this? A purse!"
Indeed it was, a purse brimming with gold. Daphne flapped her wings and sang, "Quack, quack! So much gold! Who could have lost all this beautiful money!? Quack quack quack quack!"
Just at that moment the cruel Prince of Fortune was passing by. When he heard Daphne's cries, he raced to the river, reached out and seized the purse from Daphne's bill. Then, leaning heavily upon his diamond-studded walking stick, he walked as quickly as he could down the road.
Poor Daphne! She was so astonished that she could scarcely speak. At last she cried out, "Wait, give me my gold!" But the Prince of Fortune was gone.
Her master moaned. "You let all that gold slip through your bill, foolish duck! We can no longer feed you. Go find the Prince of Fortune and get the money back, or else you'll have to find another home."
The old man grabbed a woven satchel, and in this he placed some bread crusts. "Take this and be gone!" Then he pushed little Daphne out the door.
"Quack, quack," she wept. "What's a poor duck to do?" She fretted and frowned and wept some more. "I don't even know where the Prince of Fortune makes his home. And I am but a hungry little duck!"
Just as she was about to throw herself into the river, she came up with a plan. "Quack!" she cried. "I'll follow the prince's footprints and the track of his walking stick. I'll find his castle and beg him to return my gold!"
Soon Daphne came upon sleek Brother Wolf and Brother Fox sunning themselves by the roadside. "Daphne," they called. "You sound broken-hearted, my friend."
"Oh, I am," she wailed. And she told them her sad tale. "If I do not find the Prince of Fortune and get the gold, I'll never have a home again. I need help! I need friends!"
"We are your friends," said Brother Wolf and Brother Fox.
"Climb into my satchel," said Daphne. They did. And off she waddled, quacking, "Oh, beautiful money, quack, quack, quack . . ."
Daphne and Brother Wolf and Brother Fox had not gone far when they passed a tall ladder leaning against a small house. "Poor Daphne," said the ladder.
"I seldom have much to say," the ladder said, "but your song aroused my curiosity. What does it mean?" So Daphne told her tale. "Would you like my help?" asked the ladder.
"Why not?" Daphne said. She stretched her satchel wide and the ladder climbed in, right beside Brother Wolf and Brother Fox. And off they went, singing their song.
Before long Daphne came to the river. "My friend," the river gurgled, "I saw what happened this morning. Terrible!"
"Come help us then," Daphne quacked, and the river flowed into Daphne's satchel. And off they went.
Now they came upon a tree where a bees' nest sat, wedged in the highest branches. "What's that song?" cried the bees. The bees agreed to go along, too.
That evening, Daphne came to the iron gates outside the Prince of Fortune's castle. "There!" she cried. And with that she climbed over the gates, pulling her satchel of friends along.
"Quack!" she cried. "Give me my beautiful gold!"
At once the Prince of Fortune ordered his servants to grab Daphne and shut her up in the stables with the horses and the mules.
Inside the stables Daphne whispered, "Brother Wolf, Brother Fox, help me. You must go after those horses and mules." In a few moments Brother Wolf and Brother Fox had opened the barn doors and chased all the horses and mules far away.
In the morning when the servant girl went to the stables to hitch the horses to the plow, she saw that they were gone. There Daphne stood, singing her song. "Give me my gold!"
When the Prince of Fortune heard this news, he fumed and raged. "Throw that duck into the well and drown her!" he cried. "I am tired of her voice!"
And so the servants tossed Daphne into the well.
As she fell down, down, down, Daphne cried out, "Good ladder, friend, I need your help!" and out climbed the ladder from the satchel. It leaned against the side of the well, and Daphne grabbed hold of her rungs and climbed out.
But the prince would not be bullied by a little duck. "I will never give up!" he cried, and turning to his servants he said, "Fire the ovens! Heat them to a white-hot glow and throw the witch to the flames!" The servants, trembling with fear, grabbed Daphne by the wing and tossed her into the sizzling oven.
"That's the end," the prince cried. "No one can survive such flames!" The servants cheered.
But Daphne called out to the river, "Friend! Come to my aid!" And at once the river rushed out of the satchel and quenched the flames.
A few hours later the prince opened the oven door to see what was left. Out walked Daphne, quacking happily, "Give me my money, evil prince! You stole it from me!"
The prince was furious. "You fools!" he cried to his servants. "You can't do anything! Go away and I will take care of this witch." And with that he reached out to grab Daphne. "I will beat you till you never speak again!"
But just as he touched her feathers, Daphne whispered, "Bees," and out flew all the bees. They swarmed around the prince and stung his arms, legs, chest and face.
"Stop!" he cried as one bee stung his lip. "Stop them!" he cried as another stung his nose.
The prince needed no more prodding. He ran to fetch the purse of gold, and this he gave to Daphne Le Duck. "You have won," he said.
Full of joy, Daphne and her friends walked back home. "Quack, quack, quack," she sang. "I have my beautiful money and now I can help all my friends!"
Back home, the old man and woman hugged their little duck. And then Daphne waddled off to the river to tell everyone her fine tale.