“Slow-Poke!” yelled his mother. “Come on. “It’s time to get ready for school.”

“Oh Mommy!” exclaimed Slow-Poke. “I’m so tired of putting boots, mittens, hats, snow pants and coats on.”

“I know,” sympathized Mrs. Duck. “I know! However, that doesn’t change anything. There is still six feet of snow out there, even though it is now February. Therefore, you still have to wear your winter clothing. Now, hurry up!”

Slow-Poke is a little black duck that lives on a farm in Mountain Grove, Ontario. As his name implies, Slow-Poke is a little slower than all his farm friends. There came a knock at the door.

“Yes,” Mrs. Duck called. “Come on in, Freddy.”

Without even seeing who was at the door, Mrs. Duck knew it was Freddy Goose. Freddy was Slow-Poke’s best friend.

“Good morning,” yawned Freddy, as an indication to his friend to hurry up.

“Oh Freddy!” yelled Slow-Poke. “I’ll be ready in a minute.”

Slow-Poke tugged at his boots with all his might. They wouldn’t go on. He was getting very upset.

“Come on Slow-Poke!” yelled Freddy. “We are going to be late!”

“Maybe you should go on alone, Freddy,” said Mrs. Duck. “It looks like Slow-Poke is going to take a bit longer to get ready this morning.”

So, Freddy left.

“Slow-Poke,” said Mother. “What is the matter with you this morning? You have never snapped at Freddy like that before and you are always running a little late but, this is ridiculous. School will be starting in about five minutes or so. There is no way that you will make it on time.”

Slow-Poke started to cry. Mother Duck went over to him and gave him a big hug. She could feel something very hot upon her wing as she wiped the tears off his face.

“Oh my!” Mother Duck exclaimed. “You’re burning up with a fever! It’s no wonder you have been so irritable this morning. Come on, Slow Poke. No school for you today. In to bed you go!”

Mrs. Duck helped Slow-Poke undress and get into his pajamas. That is when she noticed that Slow-Poke was covered in red spots, all over his body. She immediately called the doctor, Dr. Jackson Donkey.

“Well,” said Dr. Jackson Donkey, upon examining his patient. “To me, it looks like Slow-Poke has got the chicken pox. He is going to have to stay in bed for the next few weeks. You’d better speak with his teacher and get her to bring some schoolwork home for him to do.”

Once the doctor had left, Mrs. Duck called Mrs. Cluck at the school.

“Hello Mrs. Cluck,” said Mrs. Duck. “I’m afraid that Slow-Poke will not be at school for a few weeks.”

“Oh no!” Mrs. Cluck gasped. “Don’t tell me. He has the chicken pox, right.”

“Yes,” Mrs. Duck said. “How did you know?”

“All the animals, except one, have come down with them. I believe we are having an epidemic,” said Mrs. Cluck.

“That is too bad,” Mrs. Duck said. “By the way, which one is it that hasn’t come down with them yet?”

“Freddy Goose,” said Mrs. Cluck.

“Well,” said Mrs. Duck. “You may as well close the school down for a few weeks. Freddy dropped by here this morning to walk to school with Slow-Poke. I bet he’ll be coming down with them before the day is out.”

Sure enough, Freddy Goose, the only one in the classroom that day, was sent home early because, he too, had red spots covering his body. Slow-Poke was very sick with the chicken pox, as were most of his friends. In time, he gradually got better and was finally permitted to go back to school.

“Slow-Poke,” Freddy Goose exclaimed to his friend, who was taking a long time getting ready for school because he was putting his winter things on. “You don’t have to wear your winter things now. Haven’t you noticed that while we were sick, the snow has melted. It’s spring now! You only need your rubber boots on!”

Slow-Poke was so relieved to hear that for the next few months, he didn’t have to wear his winter clothing anymore, that he dashed out the door. He was the very first one in the schoolyard that morning.

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