The Goose Girl And The Blue Gander
: The Green Forest Fairy Book,
Once upon a time there was a goose girl who tended her flock in a green
meadow. The meadow was dotted with forget-me-nots and yellow buttercups,
and the sun shone down on it; her geese were fine blue geese and
uncommonly knowing. She should have been the happiest goose girl in all
the world, but she was not. She thought not of the beautiful meadow nor
of her geese that were a pleasure to tend, for they were so wise and
always did her bidding; but instead this goose girl wept every day
because she longed to marry a certain lord who lived in a gray stone
castle at the top of a high hill. All day long she sat looking at this
castle, and her eyes could see nothing else for admiration of it. She
dreamed dreams a hundred times a day, in which she married the lord,
and was cross with her geese because she had to tend them.
Now when the lord of the castle went riding by the green meadow, this
silly goose girl would run after the carriage, shouting his name and
throwing bouquets of wild flowers to him. But alas! The carriage always
whirled by so quickly that the lord heard her not, and the bouquets of
wild flowers fell in the dust by the roadside. Each time the goose girl
wept and threw sticks at her geese because she had been disappointed,
until they fled to shelter.
"It is the stupid coachman's fault," said the goose girl to herself one
day, after she had chased the carriage for a long distance. "My lord is
within, of course, and cannot hear me, for the windows of glass shut out
all sound." She knew that maidens often wrote letters when they were
unable to obtain speech with those whom they fancied, and she resolved
to write to the lord of the gray stone castle.
She spent her year's earnings on some pink paper with red hearts
lovingly entwined on the border, and that her letter might be colorful
and splendid, she bought also some purple ink. Then the goose girl sat
before a flat rock and strove to compose such a letter to the lord that
he would stop his carriage the next time he rode by the meadow.
"The first day he will ask me to ride with him, and the second day he
will ask me to wed him," thought the goose girl, as she sat gazing at
the gray stone castle. "The third day I shall ride with him a bride to
yonder castle, where I shall dwell forevermore and have naught to do
with geese but to eat them roasted!"
Her geese, thinking perhaps she had spread on the rock something fine to
eat, crowded about her, but she drove them off. They bothered her, and
she wished to give her mind to the letter. One large blue gander
remained near, in spite of her angry motions and cross words. The goose
girl was about to begin her letter when she remembered that she had
brought no pen.
"Ah me! What shall I do?" she cried. "I shall have no more earnings for
another year, and by that time my lord may be wed to some fair maiden,
and I will surely die of a broken heart!" She covered her face and wept
aloud at her misfortune. Suddenly she began to laugh instead.
"Oh, that I should be so foolish!" she exclaimed. "Here waiting my hand
I have a hundred pens." She seized the large blue gander and plucked a
fine quill from under his wing, but no sooner had she done so than the
bird began to speak.
"That is not right," declared the gander. "You have taken what belongs
not to you but to me. Put back my quill, or I shall be vexed."
"And who is there to care?" replied the goose girl rudely. "When I have
written a letter to my lord of the gray stone castle, you shall have
your quill and not before."
She began to speak her thoughts aloud, as goose girls often do, and
started once more to compose the letter. "To my dearest lord of the gray
stone castle, whom I love with all my heart, but who whirls past me as I
sit tending geese in the meadow," she planned to write, and dipped the
quill in the purple ink. To her dismay the pen wrote not at all as she
planned, but seemed possessed of a spirit to go of itself. It wrote
with a remarkable flourish:
But the goose girl pulled it from the paper before it could write more.
"What manner of pen is this?" she cried in vexation.
"It is not your quill," said the blue gander. "I am its master, and it
will write letters to none but me."
"Well, upon my word!" declared the goose girl. "You are the most forward
creature I have yet seen, and this is what you will get." She took a
long branch and beat the gander until he hid from sight in the bushes.
Then again she strove to write her letter, but again the pen was
possessed of a spirit of mischief.
"Oh! Oh!" wept the goose girl, "I have spent all my earnings on splendid
pink paper with red hearts lovingly entwined on the border, and purple
ink I bought also that my letter might be fine as a valentine. But,
alas! I am bothered with a stubborn quill that will not write as I
think. If I write not my letter to my lord, he will never know of me.
Then he will never marry me, and I shall dwell forever in my wretched
hut instead of the gray stone castle, as I have desired."
"You weep because you cannot marry the lord who lives in yonder gray
stone castle," said the blue gander, poking his long neck from the
bushes where he had fled. "Let me give you some advice. A wretched hut
is not a pleasant place, 'tis true, but your manners suit it better than
the castle of your dreams."
"Hold your tongue, forward bird!" screamed the goose girl in anger. She
seized a clod of earth and hurled it with such force that had it struck
the gander, he would have fallen flat in his tracks; but luck was with
him, and he dodged.
The next day and the next day after that the goose girl sat down to
write before the flat rock in the meadow; but the quill was stubborn as
ever. She spoiled all but one sheet of the precious pink paper. Then
once more the blue gander spoke to the goose girl.
"You have spoiled many sheets of your precious pink paper," said the
gander, nodding his head and cocking his eye in the wisest sort of way.
"Why will you not let the quill write a letter to me,--if only to see
what will happen?"
"But then I shall have no more paper on which to write to my lord, and I
shall dwell forever in my wretched hut instead of the castle of my
dreams," answered the goose girl.
"Mayhap there might be a betwixt and between," remarked the gander
sagely. "Write the letter and hand it to me with a bow."
So at last, after much thought, the goose girl did as the blue gander
bade. She dipped the quill in the purple ink, and immediately it touched
the paper it began to write such a marvelous letter as never before was
seen or read! It called the blue gander all manner of tender names and
vowed he was handsome and knowing. At the end, this remarkable quill
wrote the goose girl's name with a flourish so fine that she was pleased
in spite of herself. She folded the letter and handed it to the gander
with a bow.
No sooner had she done this than the blue gander spread his wings and
flew away in the clouds, and in his place stood a handsome shepherd lad
dressed in blue corduroys. He had a hundred sheep in the fold that
followed him, and in his hand a bag of silver.
"Dearest Goose Girl, wilt be mine?" asked he. "Yonder is my cottage,
where I am sure we shall be very happy."
The goose girl was amazed at the change. But so handsome was this young
shepherd lad, and so winning of speech and manner, that all thoughts of
the gray stone castle and the lord tumbled out of her head. She gazed
with delight at the little cottage to which the shepherd lad pointed.
Blue smoke was curling from its chimney, and a bluebird was singing in a
cage beside the kitchen door.
"We shall be married at once, shepherd lad of my heart," she answered
him sweetly, "and I shall make you griddlecakes for your supper."
So the goose girl and the shepherd were married and went to live in the
little cottage. Indeed, for all that I know, there they may be living to
this day, for I have met no one who has ever told me of the death of