Why Duck's Quack has no Echo
The Gods of Olympus had decided to entrap Narcissus with fascination of his own reflection. It was Hera who decided to put an enchanted pool of water in Echo's Grove. Hera knew that Echo was still in love with Narcissus. Hera didn't do this out of spite for Echo, instead out of spite for Narcissus. But that didn't help Echo's plight. Each day she had to watch and listen to Narcisuss adore himself from the edge of the pond. Narcissus would share his innermost thoughts with his reflected lover. It was during these times that Echo was a witness to a complicated yet extraordinary being.
He recited love poetry and long monologues to his reflection. He sang songs and recited prayers to muses. Narcissus talked about how he was isolated as child, learning early to keep his own company. He spoke of his lonely, over controlling mother, his pleasure obsessed father, and the villa in the country he grew up in. And when Narcissus spoke of the people of his youth, the servants, the slaves, his upper class Athenian family, he spoke of them as objects. “I was surrounded by all the art and beauty money had to offer. They all adored me above everything else, making me the most wonderful living thing on earth.” said Narcissus to his reflection. “I felt so lonely and never thought I would meet another soul as lovely in face and countenance as myself, until you my love.”
As Echo watched the exchange she was filled with conflicting emotions for Narcissus. On one hand, he had been born and bred to believe that he was the most elaborate person in all of creation. It seemed as though real living never reached him and he didn't have a chance of survival. On the other hand, the level of conceit and arrogance from one living thing was amazing and quite sickening. He lacked the wisdom to see himself for what he truly was, an over educated, unbelievably shallow, lack-luster artist.
Echo was exposed to a side of Narcissus that no one had ever seen. The fact of the matter was that Narcissus believed those things because he had too. Otherwise, his lack of survival skills would have done him in long ago. Echo discovered that his father had squandered the family fortune. Debt collectors showed up at the villa. In Greece, that meant that a small army showed up at the door. They took everything except the land and the house, including his own mother, and sold to pay the debt. Narcissus had managed an escape and returned to his father. His father had already remarried, had additional children, and had moved them into the house and land Narcissus had grown up on. Narcissus was abandoned, rejected, and cut off from any support from his father. Narcissus took up a life of scheming. He hopped from one noble family to another, slowly wearing out his welcome in Athens upper society. His life continued a downward spiral that his character just didn't have the ability to conceive. As his life turned worse, his arrogance increased; leaving him as he was that day, crooning at his reflection in a pool of water.
Echo understood more of Narcissus. She was filled with love and pity for him. If only he had a chance to see himself and had a chance to change, maybe he could be different. She wanted to help him but she couldn't think of anything she could do about it, except answer back occasionally as she imagined a person would do. Of course, Narcissus believed it was the voice of his lover in the pool. He would continue to amuse his lover, no matter what the situation in the environment.
Narcissus proved just how far he would go one day. The weather had turned terrible. The wind blew hard, bringing in storm clouds. The sky gave way to a horrible storm. The rain rippled the pond and Narcissus grew highly agitated. He yelled at his lover in the pond, telling him not to go. The wind pushing the youth away from the edge of the pond. Echo couldn't handle the yelling and agitation of Narcissus, nor could she deal with the wind and the rain. Echo caused the trees of her grove to grow their branches together. It created a shelter from the storm. Narcissus calmed down. He lay at the pond's edge and fell asleep. After such terrifying activity, Echo settled in sleep as well.
The next morning, Echo woke to the soft murmurings of Narcissus. He was crooning morning kisses at his reflection. This wasn't unusual behavior from him. The unusual moment came from a loud over powering quack from a bush on the other side of pond.
Assuming her misty form, she strode over to the bush to inspect it. Under one of the more sturdy branches, sat a water drenched duck with a lame wing. It stood up and waddled out from the underbrush. “Quack!” it said, flailing its wings.
Echo giggled. “Quack!” She responded. Then, she pointed to the grapes on the vines that filled the grove; a divine gift left behind as proof of the conception of Dionysus.
The duck waddled quickly to the grapes and devoured them. Just as quickly as it ate, the vines replaced them. It was very soon that the duck was full. It settled itself down on a mossy spot for a nap.
Echo spent the rest of the morning listening to Narcissus drone on about one thing or another. Discovering another fact of his character that she didn't mind for the moment, but she knew would get very bored of quickly. Narcissus would not be quiet. He simply wasn't happy unless he filled the grove with one sided conversations about sculpture or philosophy. The meanings of cloud formations or moon phases as they relate to Orion. She secretly wondered if Narcissus had any commentary on any subject that didn't include himself as the primary authority. “And I told him that Greek toes were far more beautiful than Egyptian. I also told him I was available for modeling...”
“Quack!” said the duck. It had quietly waddled within an arm's length of Echo and Narcissus, as they sat at the pond's edge.
Narcissus grabbed his ears. “Ugh! What a horrible sound!” Of course, his reflection did too. “Oh, Lover! Did you not like the sound either?” He said, while shaking his head negatively. Echo groaned as Narcissus perceived that his lover nodded negatively to the sound as well. “Well, true love I shall sing to you. It will drown out the dreadful sound.”
Narcissus began to sing a hymn of love. Echo groaned. To say that he was killing the melody was an understatement, he was off pitch and rewording to it his own liking. That didn't sit well with the duck either. It waddled around Narcissus just out of arm's reach quacking as loud as it could. As the duck got louder, Narcissus would get louder. It soon became a yelling contest. Echo groaned and shifted away from the scene to watch across the pond from under a bush.
As the contest continued, Narcissus and the duck became more and more agitated. He tried to ignore the duck, his priority was to soothe his lover in the pond. But Narcissus only reflected his own discomfort which escalated the entire situation. In response, the quacking duck continued its obnoxious objections. To make matters worse, as it padded about on the dry land, it left behind a trail of foul fodder. When they were finally done, they were both out of breath and Narcissus was surrounded by duck poop.
The duck thought nothing more of it. It wandered over to eat more grapes and go to sleep. Narcissus tired from the ordeal, noticed that his lover was also tired. “My sweet lover, you are tired. Perhaps we should sleep.” Narcissus yawned and so did the reflection, so they both laid down for the night.
Echo was relieved that finally it was quiet. She curdled up, in her misty form. She watched the stars until sleep overtook her as well.
Echo awoke the next morning to screaming. Narcissus was yelling into the pond. “Lover, what is that in your beautiful hair!” Echo flew over to him quickly to find that Narcissus had wallowed in duck poop during the night. The duck woke to Narcissus screaming. It fluttered about the pond quacking in panic. As it panicked, it found its way into the pond...right on top of the reflection of Narcissus.
The only thing Narcissus could perceive that his lover was being attacked by a duck. “I'll save you, Lover!” He screamed. He jumped into the pond, which frightened the duck. It flew out of the pond to the other side. Narcissus crawled out of the pond, the poop had been washed away. He placed himself back on the edge of the pond, calling out his his lover whom he thought had run away. As the pond water calmed itself, Narcissus did too. He perceived that his lover had returned to him. Narcissus began to sooth his distraught lover with poetry.
Echo sighed. The situation was ridiculous. She didn't think it was going to get better either. The duck had clearly recovered from its battle with the storm. But its reluctance to leave was made clear as it began to build a nest near the largest part of the grapevine that held the juiciest grapes. Echo was going to have to do something to make it leave. Echo sat in her misty form, thinking of how she could make it leave. When in the distance, she heard a flock of quacking ducks.
The duck also heard the flock. It paused its nest building and craned its neck. The flock grew closer, the quacking grew louder. The duck drew in a great breath and quacked back as loud as it could. The sound carried. The flock answered back, and Echo could hear the flock coming straight for her grove. Echo groaned as the duck began to quack for the flock.
“Oh, no,” thought Echo. “It is calling a whole flock to settle here?” Echo reacted without thought. She reached out with her power and subdued the duck's quack by taking away the echo. The quack became significantly quieter.
The duck still tried to call the flock but to no avail. The flock could easily be heard flying over the grove, completely missing it. The noise of the flock began to die away. The duck at the pond became upset. It waddled back and forth, trying to quack as loud as possible. But as the flock got further away, the duck made a choice. It took flight toward the direction of the flock.
The instant the duck was out of sight, Echo sealed her grove. She certainly didn't want the return of the duck to the pond, much less an entire flock. She kept it sealed for several days before she opened it back up to the sun. The ducks had long gone and did not return.
That is why a duck's quack has no echo.
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