The Little Down Duvet Feather

Paul is lying in bed and should be asleep. But it is still very light outside. Furthermore, he would much rather have another ride on his tricycle.

Paul is lying in bed and should be asleep. But it is still very light outside. Furthermore, he would much rather have another ride on his tricycle.

Paul screws up his eyes and waggles his toes. Then he lies very still and listens to noises from outside as they enter his room. Even the hens are still awake and squawking away excitedly. The farm dog, Bruno, barks briefly and growls.

What has he found now? Paul is dying to know.

Suddenly, he hears a soft voice right next to his ear.

'Hello, Paul, it's me!'

Paul wonders who is speaking to him.

'It's me, the little down feather in the corner of your feather duvet. Would you like to hear a story? I bet you'd like to know what I've already experienced here in the village! You know, I wasn't always in your duvet. I used to sit under the belly of Berta the hen. Well, "sat" is probably not the best word for it. I grew with Berta's plumage, along with lots of other feathers — both big and small.

'One day, Berta started plucking little feathers out of her plumage and built a nest out of straw and hay. It was soft, warm and cosy. It wasn't long before she laid five eggs. Berta sat around hour after hour, brooding. Needless to say, she wanted to hatch her chicks.

'For me, as a little down feather, it was awfully boring and often far too warm. It was much better when Berta went scratching in the yard or garden for a while to eat a few seeds or worms. Then I could let the wind blow through me or get fluffed up and put right.

'On such a farm there really are all sorts of things to discover and experience. The whole brooding thing lasted quite a long time — around 30 days, I think.

'One day, the eggs began to clatter and crack and there was knocking against the shells. Aha, the chicks wanted out. And before long, the chicks began hatching — one after the other — out of their shells. The excited, yellow, fluffy chicks chirped cheerfully at their Mummy. Berta was so pleased and proud. So was I; after all, I had been part of the whole "warming business".

'Now, you will ask yourself how it came about that I am now in your bed. It was like this: Berta and her sisters moult once a year. It's a bit like changing out of your winter clothes and putting on your summer things. During this time, lots of feathers become very loose and fall out on their own, or are carefully plucked out. And that's what happened to me. Your grandma gently but firmly plucked me out and put me in a sack where there were already plenty of other little down feathers. I could hear her say that it was going to be a marvellous feather duvet for her grandson Paul. And that is exactly what happened.

'Grandma brought me to the village hall one evening. Lots of woman had gathered there to do some "feathering". They plucked the fluffy down off the hard shafts so that there weren't any parts left that could poke or scratch. They told lots of stories, laughed and worked hard. Grandma had plucked away diligently. Now she took all the down and stuffed us together into the brand new feather duvet.

'Yikes, it was so dark in there, and yet we were all looking forward with great anticipation to what was awaiting us — namely, it was once again time to take on the responsibility of providing warmth. I knew I was coming to a little boy who would most likely have lots of adventures... you see, that's how I came to be with you, Paul.'

Paul had fallen fast asleep and held the corner of the duvet with the little down feather tightly in his hand.