The Girl in the Goose


by Florence


Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a young girl.

She wasn’t especially pretty, nor was she especially smart. Her parents weren’t particularly rich and their house wasn’t particularly large.

 Because the young girl wasn’t smart or pretty, some of the town’s people said she reminded them of a goose. In fact they said it so often that after a while she actually did begin to look like a goose, so by the time she came of age, she had become exactly that, a goose.

 The young girl wanted dearly to be like other girls. She wanted to be pretty and bright and have a boy friend, just like the others. But no matter where she went or how hard she tried, the town’s people always found something to whisper about behind her back. Some even laughed out right! One day the town’s people’s whispering and laughing got to be too much and she decided that she had endured enough so she would therefore leave her village forever. She packed her knapsack, gave her parents a hug and started off down the road.

 She walked the whole day, meeting many people along the way. Some laughed at her because she looked like a goose. Others were friendly and spoke with her awhile. But most people she passed didn’t even notice her at all as they were mostly concerned with their own journey.

Every now and then a large carriage went thundering past her, creating a whirl wind which ruffled her feathers and then disappeared quickly in the distance. She never saw the people inside but assumed they must be in a terrible hurry to get wherever they were going. The road was long and dusty and branched many times. Every time she came to a fork in the road she had to stop to decide which way to go. If only I was as smart and clever as other people I wouldn’t have to think which way to go, I would just know she thought.

 By the time it started to get dark she had come to a forest.  Looking around she discovered there was nowhere she could make a camp for the night. She turned around to go back but realized to her dismay that she could no longer see the road in the encroaching darkness. So there was nothing she could do but keep on going forward into the forest where there were many strange and terrifying noises. What nonsense she thought, noises can’t hurt me, so squaring her shoulders and lifting her head she waddled down the road and into the woods.

 The deeper she walked into the woods the darker it became and as if that wasn’t bad enough, now she was sure she heard foot steps behind her … heavy, slow foot steps, coming closer.

It must be something very large, she thought, and dangerous. She stopped, and so did the foot steps.

Very, very slowly she turned around and there, just behind her … stood…a…TROLL!

 Her eyes grew larger, her knees turned to water and every feather on her wings trembled as though alive with dread. All she could do was stand there and gape with open beak. He was huge, at least twice as tall as she was.

 “Good evening”, said the troll with a deep, friendly voice.

 “W..w..w..what?” stammered the girl.

 “Good evening. It’s a dark night tonight. Would you like to walk with me for a while? We can keep each other company”

 Conscious that she still stood there with her mouth open she quickly clapped it shut and looked more closely at the troll. He didn’t really look as dangerous as she had first thought. He was tall but when you’re a goose almost everyone is tall, plus he had a kind voice and kind eyes.

“All right, just for a while” she said cautiously.

 They walked and talked all night long. The troll turned out to be very nice indeed and after a while she wasn’t frightened any longer. So in the end she told him how she came to look like a goose.

 “That explains a lot” said the troll, “and I think I know of a way to help you become human again, if that’s what you really want. But you will have to marry me first. After all, what will people think and what will people say when they hear that we’ve been together all night in the woods, alone?”

 The girl didn’t want to bring shame over her parents, so she reluctantly agreed to marry the troll and went to live with him in his cave in the forest. There they lived together for several years and had two children. They were strange children, half goose and half troll. But they were kind and friendly and the other children liked them in spite of their appearance.

 As time went by, the girl discovered why trolls have such bad reputations. He was neither nice nor friendly. He was actually, totally loathsome and not at all what she had been looking for. The troll had broken his promise to her; she hadn’t become human, not with one single feather! Who cares what other people think or say she said to herself, they don’t have to put up with a troll. So she packed her knapsack, took her two children by the hand and set off down the road.

 By and by the little family reached a river. The girl realized that thanks to her being a goose, she could easily swim over to the other side but her children would sink because they were half troll.

While standing on the river bank not sure what to do, she suddenly heard a voice say “I can help you and your children.” Startled she looked up the river but could only see rocks and water. Then she looked down the river but could only see more rocks and water. There was no-one in sight other than her children and herself. A movement down in the water caught her eye and there she saw a large, shinning, silvery carp swimming slowly back and forth. The carp stopped, turned his head and looked directly at her. “Well? What do you say? Do you want some help or not” he bubbled.

 “How can you help us? You’re only a fish” replied the girl.

 “I can swim over the river with your children on my back” he blurped.

 Yes of course. I should have thought of that myself she thought. “Thank you that would be very nice of you.”

 The carp took the children on his back and swam with one mighty swish of his tail out to a large stone in the middle of the river. There, he made the children get off. The girl was terrified!

“You lied to me!” she cried. “How are they ever going to get across?”

 “If you marry me, I will take care of you and your children. I will also show you how to become human again” promised the carp with a slurp.

 The girl could see no other way to save her children, so she reluctantly agreed to marry him.

 Time passed, as time has a habit of doing and they had two children. They were strange children, half goose and half carp. But they were kind and friendly and the other children liked them in spite of their appearance.

 But as with the troll, over time the girl discovered that the carp wasn’t as smart as he pretended. He was both lazy and dim-witted. So one day the girl decided that enough was enough. She packed her knapsack, found a large old tree trunk and sailed her two oldest children over to the other bank. The two youngest children could self swim over as they were half carp.

 When they all reached the safety of the river bank the girl realized the carp had tricked her. She hadn’t become a human, not with one single feather! She also realized she could have found the old tree trunk earlier, if she really had wanted to.

Many years went by as the little family wandered from place to place. By and by the children grew up and became young adults.

One evening they came to a place where the road branched in two once again. The girl saw it was a good place to set up camp for the night and there were some friendly young people there for her two oldest children to talk with.

Her two children who were half goose and half troll enjoyed themselves together with the young people all night long and when morning came they gave their mother a hug and a kiss and returned to their waiting friends. The girl watched in wonderment as they began to change the closer they came to their friends. By the time they reached them, her children had transformed into happy, laughing young people. Turning once, they smiled and waved goodbye and then they were gone.

 A large tear rolled down the girl’s cheek as she watched them disappear down the road but she still had her two youngest children – those who were half goose and half carp. So they continued on their journey down the long dusty road.

 One evening, they again arrived at a place where the road forked in two. The girl thought it was a good place to set up camp and once again there were some friendly young people there for her children to talk to.

Her two youngest children – those who were half goose and half carp – enjoyed themselves all night long together with the young people. When morning came they walked over to their mother and gave her a hug and a kiss. The girl watched in dismay as they too walked from her toward their waiting friends. But to her joy, she saw them change from the half carp, half goose children they had been into young beautiful people. They turned once smiling, waved goodbye and then they too were gone.

 With her children gone, the girl who was a goose found herself all alone. The road which parted in two in front of her seemed long and lonely now and she had no idea which way she should go.

It doesn’t really make any difference anymore she thought. So she nestled down right in the middle of the road and put her head under her wing (as geese sometimes do) and thought that indeed nothing much mattered any more.

 As she huddled there with her head under her wing, she felt a light breeze move through her feathers, caressing her neck and back. It was kind of nice, a little cool, but definitely not unpleasant.

When she lifted her head, she could feel the breeze become a little stronger, blowing around her and bringing with it the scent of places unknown to her. Now she could also hear a voice, now stronger, now weaker as if carried from great distances and it was speaking to her! The wind was speaking to her.

 “Such a dumb goose; why are you just sitting there with your head under your wing?” breathed the wind.

 “I’m all alone. My children became young people and left me for their friends” cried the girl. “I would so like to be a human being as well, then at least I could decide which direction to go. The journey has been so long and the road so dusty and I am so tired that I can’t go any further.”

 “Such a dumb goose” blew the wind harder. “You have wings and feathers! Come fly with me. I can’t promise you that you will become a human being, but you will never be bored.”

 The wind’s voice was so deep and soft, that the girl didn’t ponder for one moment. She opened her wings, lifted her head and with one mighty beat the wind lifted her up over the tree tops. She could suddenly see the road where she had walked with all the people whom she had passed under her. She could also see the river with the carp and the forest with the troll. Even her home town! It was so wonderful it made her heart sing with joy!

As she flew high above the tree tops with the wind under her wings he told her of all the places he had been, mountains and seas, castles and deserts. He talked about the people he had met. About kings and popes, fine ladies and beggars and, some of the tricks he had played on them. Most were quite funny but some were not very nice at all she thought. The girl really enjoyed herself, flying high and low, slow and fast and the best was that she was never, ever bored.

 Sometimes the wind was a light breeze from the south, warm and pleasurable. On those occasions she enjoyed just gliding lazily along with the sun warming her back. Other times the wind was hard and cold, howling mercilessly from the north. When he was like that, it was hard for the goose to hold herself on the wing as she was thrown up and down or pitched back and forth. But never once did the wind excuse himself, he was only being himself. Of course, he told her after one of his fast and furious northerly tempests, if I tried to be anything other than the best wind I could be, I would be miserable and, ultimately, everyone I touched would also be miserable. So I am myself.

 One day the wind was again only a light breeze, scarcely rustling the leaves on the trees. He told her he was tired and set her down by a large pond and blew away. The girl didn’t really understand this, but she waited patiently for the wind to return. Many days went by. Sometimes she noticed small ripples on the water but when she swam out to greet them she found that it wasn’t the same wind she knew.

 Days became weeks, and weeks became months. In the end the girl realized the wind would never return to lift her up over the tree tops again. She began to cry bitter tears of disappointment. He had been the only one who had kept his promise. She hadn’t been bored, not for one feather of a moment!

Miserable, she decided to swim one last time on the pond before nestling down with her head under her wing again. So she walked down to the pond and was just about to glide into the water when she stopped and gasped. There, reflected in the pond, stood a beautiful woman.

 She had become a human being again.



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