THE GOOSE WHO WANTED HER OWN WAY
T would be hard to tell which family is the most
important among the farmyard
people. There is no one animal so wise as Collie, the
farmer's dog, and all the
rest love him and mind him when he is sent to bring
them up from the pasture or to
drive them to the water. Still, he does not spend his
days in barn or field and
only comes with his master or for a visit now and then.
You may remember how the Garter Snake and the old Tree
Frog were the leaders in the
meadow, and how in the forest all looked up to the
Ground Hog. These people were
patient and old, and partly because they were old and
 had many years in
which to think about life, they were very wise. In the
farmyard the Oxen were the
most patient and the oldest, and it was to them that
all the animals went when they
were in trouble.
There were also the Horses, fine strong creatures,
always helping somebody else and
working all day during most of the year. They drew the
reaper through the tall
grain, and where in the morning had been a field of
waving golden wheat, at sunset
were bundles or sheaves of gathered grain, and the
stubble was ready for the fowls.
They were busy people; and sometimes during the winter
they liked to remind their
neighbors how much they had done.
Then again, there were the Cows, who are the sisters of
the Oxen. They are large
and there are many of them, yet they are not so wise,
and that is easily understood.
All that they have to do on the farm is to give milk
for the butter- and
cheese-making, and for the farmer's
chil-  dren to
drink. No farmer could get
along without his Cows, but they do not work like their
brothers. They have so easy
a time that they do not learn much. You know, when
people work, they have to think,
and when people think enough useful thoughts it makes
them wise. That is one of the
many reasons why it is so foolish to be lazy.
Truly, it would be hard to say which farmyard family is
the most important, but
there is no trouble at all in telling which family
think themselves the most so. If
you ask any Goose, she will tell you that one of their
flock is worth five Horses or
a dozen Cows. Nobody else would tell you this, and if
you should speak of it to the
span of Bays, or the Dappled Gray, or even the youngest
Colt in the stable, they
would answer you only with a hearty Horse laugh. The
Cows would smile and reply,
"What a Goose she was to say that!"
 There has always been a flock of Geese on the
farm, and their neighbors are so
used to their queer ways that they only smile when the
Geese put on airs, and it is
a good-natured smile, too. They even feel rather sorry
for them when they lose
their feathers, although the Nigh Ox once said that if
it were not for being plucked
once in a while, the Geese would really be too airy to
Perhaps the Nigh Ox was right in what he said, for
certainly after they have worn
their feathers all winter, they hold their heads higher
than ever, and tell what
they think and what they would do, and it is well they
should be reminded that they
work for a living like all their neighbors. The
farmer's wife never plucks the
Geese until warm weather comes. Then she takes all the
soft, short feathers that
they have worn through the winter, and this leaves them
looking very ragged indeed.
There was a time, years ago, when Geese had to give up
 their long tail- and
wing-feathers to be whittled into pens, but these Geese
didn't know about that, and
there was nobody in the farmyard old enough to remember
it and tell them, so they
thought they had a pretty hard time in even giving up
their breast feathers.
"Ssssss!" the Gander used to say, "if the farmer's boys
must have feather pillows on
which to lay their heads, why do they not grow their
"Humph!" said the Nigh Ox once; "If you must have oats
to eat, why don't you grow
the oats?" But the Gander was already waddling away
and pretended not to hear
It is in the winter that the Geese put on the most
airs. Then, when the Horses are
being harnessed, they say to each other, "Dear me!
Wouldn't it be dreadful to work
in that way for a living?" And sometimes, when the
team is hitched to a post by the
farmhouse, they waddle
 past in a single line with
the Gander at the head, and
say to the Horses: "Hear you have to take a load of
wood to town. It's too bad.
Hope you won't get very tired. We are going to the
river for a nice cold swim.
Good-bye." Then they march off with their heads held
high, and as soon as their
backs are turned, the Horses look at each other and
laugh softly. They know that
there is nothing in the world better than good, honest,
hard work, no matter of what
kind it is.
Every winter the Geese forget about having to be
plucked, and every spring they are
surprised to lose their feathers. They are plucked
four times before fall comes,
and these four times come so near together that even
they can remember from one to
another. You would think that then they would not be
so airy, but instead of
saying, "Of course we work for our living—why
shouldn't we?" they say, "Why, yes,
we do let the farmer's
 wife have some of our
feathers when she wants them. We
suppose you might call it work to grow feathers for
her, still it does not take much
of our time, and it is quite different from drawing
loads and getting tired as the
Horses and Oxen do. Growing feathers is genteel."
They do not remember anything long, and so, when they
have made a mistake once, they
are likely to make the same mistake over and over
again. Then, too, they cannot
tell big things from little things, and they are not
happy unless they can have
their own way all the time. And you know that nobody
can be sure of that. It all
comes of their not being willing to think hard, and
sometimes it makes them a great
deal of trouble, as it did on the day when the Gray
Goose would not go through the
This was soon after the Gander and his wife had hatched
their brood of seven
Goslings, and they were taking them at
 once to
the brook. It was a happy day
for all the flock. The Gander and the mother Goose
were glad because their children
were safely out of the shell, and because they would no
longer have to sit with
cramped legs on the nest. Ganders are good fathers,
for they cover the eggs half of
the time, while the Mother Goose is resting. The other
Geese were not only proud of
the Goslings, but they were glad to have the Gander and
the Mother Goose free to go
around with them again. They had missed them very
The gate from the farmyard into the meadow stood wide
open, and all the Geese except
the Gray one followed the Gander through. The Gray
Goose tried to go through a
small hole in the fence very near the gate. She
squeezed her head into it and
stretched her neck on the meadow side of the fence, but
she could not get any
farther, although she pushed until she was dizzy.
THE GRAY GOOSE TRIED TO GO THROUGH.
 "Wait for me," she cried. "Wait for me-ee!"
"Hurry, then," said the Gander.
"I am hurrying," she cried, and she pushed with all her
strength, but since the hole
in the fence was so small, she did not get any farther
"Go through the gateway," said the Nigh Ox, who was
grazing near by.
"Sssss!" said the Gray Goose stiffly. "I would rather
go through here. I have
chosen to go this way."
"Oh!" said the Nigh Ox, "excuse me! Do go through
there by all means!"
"We are going on," called the Gander; "we would wait,
but the Goslings are in a
hurry to take their first bath. Come as soon as you
The Gray Goose tried harder than ever to go the way
that she had chosen, but it only
made her so out of breath that she had to lie down and
rest. Once she thought she
heard somebody laugh, yet
 when she looked at the
Nigh Ox, who was the only
person around, he was lying with closed eyes and
solemnly chewing his cud, so she
decided that she must have been mistaken.
Down by the brook the rest of the flock were cackling
merrily, and she could see the
seven Goslings swimming with the Geese and the Gander.
"Oh," she cried, "how I wish
I were with them! I don't see what is the matter with
this hole in the fence. The
farmer ought to make it bigger."
She pushed and scolded and fussed until her neck was
sore and she was too tired to
swim if she had a chance, so she sat down to rest. She
did remember what the Nigh
Ox had said; still, if she couldn't go as she had
planned, she wouldn't go at all.
She walked into the barn to find a cool and shady
place, lowering her head as she
stepped over the threshold of the high front door.
 "What did you do that for?" twittered a Swallow.
"Because I don't want to hit my head on the top of the
doorway," she replied. "I
always do so. All of our flock do so."
"Tittle-ittle-ittle-ee," laughed the Swallow, as she
darted away and alighted on the
fence by the Nigh Ox. "Why isn't the Gray Goose in
swimming with the rest?" asked
"Because she can't push her fat body through that hole
in the fence," said the Nigh
Ox, switching his tail toward it as he spoke.
"Why doesn't she go through the gateway, then?" asked
"Because she says she would rather go the other way,
and that if she can't go that
way, she won't go at all."
"And she is missing all that fun?" said the Swallow.
"All of it," answered the Nigh Ox, "but then, you know,
she is such a Goose!"