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MRS. GANDER'S .TORY
M $. GHNDEI'J $TO2Y
BY H. A. H.
ILLUSTRATED BY J-1.
MACMILLAN AND CO.
F'iHtied b R. & R. CLARK, ETinl '.
MRS. GANDER'S STORY.
So glad to see you, dear Snow, this wet afternoon," said Mrs. Gander
to her friend, Miss Vellowbill, who had just come in, and had seated
herself in a comfortable arm-chair by the fire.
S"Well, dear Mrs. Gander, I really wanted to see you; and it
S wasn't because I was bored at being alone, and didn't know what to do
with myself, that I came. You don't think so, I hope?"
Not for a moment, dear Snow. I know that there is a some-
thing about me that attracts people. Every one says so. One cannot
Help being-what one is-and therefore I am not vain."
Silly goose," hissed Miss Yellowbill under her breath.
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2 lrs. Gander's Story.
"Now," said Mrs. Gander, "let me give you a nice hot cup of
tea whilst you dry your feet. Do you take sugar and milk?"
"No milk, thank you. I detest milk and cows too. There are
two great huge-eyed creatures who take up half the room in my field,
and go mooning about, without thinking who is near them. One of
them nearly crushed my foot yesterday, and then quietly stared me in
the face. They have no manners. But what can you expect from a
creature that has four stomachs, and goes on all day long, chewing its
food? Vulgar beast 1 I thank my feathers I am not a cow \!
At this moment Miss Vellowbill looked up, and sa.w ?F. and Mrs.
Gander's portraits on the wall.
"Those are good portraits you have of Mr. tnder and yourself,"
exclaimed Miss Yellowbill, though just a little too young."
"Ah!" replied the.hostess with a tender smile, those were taken
just after we met-two whole years ago. What an age !"
"Where and how did you first see Mr. Gander?" said Miss
4 Mrs. Gander's Story.
Yellowbill. Would you mind telling me all about it? In confidence,
of course; nothing would induce me to cackle it abroad. I am so
interested in family histories."
Mrs. Gander beamed a nervous smile; a faint blush tinged the rim
of her yellow bill, and settling herself comfortably in her chair, with
her fair orange toes spread fanwise to the fire, she began-
It was at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Gobbles of Grass Common
that I first met MAr. Gander, at a dance. What a delightful evening I
had 1 We wound up with Sir Roger de Coverley. Mr. Gander flew
down with outstretched wings to meet me. I spread mine in turn,
and revolved in a stately waddle round Mr. Gander."
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6 frs. Gander's Story.
"That was the turning-point of your life," said Miss Yellowbill.
Don't be flippant, dear; it jars upon me. Let me see, where was
I ? Oh! I remember. When the dance was finished, Mr. Gander proposed
a walk in the garden, and led me to an elm tree, against which I
leaned, whilst he politely fanned me with his wings.
"'You cannot,' said he, 'imagine how lonely I am since my
father and mother left me. I see no one but the goose-boy who
attends to my wants, but he is unsympathetic and coarse. Ah! if
only- Mr. Gander hesitated. 'If only what?' I continued. If
I had but a fair companion, and if that companion were you, dear
Miss Gosling!' Think, Snow, how agitated I felt. 'I shall pluck a
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8 Mrs. Gander's Story.
flower,' said Mr. Gander. If you accept it, I shall understand that
you will accept me with it.' He plucked a flower. It was a dandelion.
I took it, and thereby sealed my fate.
Mr. Gander's breast swelled with pride and joy. He uttered a
few tender hisses of affection. We were engaged.
"Mr. Gander then offered me his wing, and led me into the
supper-room. How generously he helped me to snail and slug salad,
eating nothing whatever himself, though he confessed to a great liking
for frog-pie. When I had finished supper, he conducted me to my
mother, and, promising to call the next day, he walked away; and on
turning my head I saw that- "
What?" screeched Miss Yello\vbill.
Mrs. Gander hesitated. "Well, Snow, I fear that he returned to
And no doubt supped heartily off frog-pie," said Miss Yellowbill
f i l ,' /
10 Ars. Gander's Story.
"Snow, do you want to hear my story, or do you not? If you
do, don't make disagreeable remarks."
"I never meant to be disagreeable; do go on. Where were you
"At Greystone church, on the brightest of May mornings. There
were six bridesmaids-the Miss Penfeathers, the M1iss Wabbles, and
the Miss Puffles. They were all dressed in white, with down trimmings,
yellow stockings, and shoes. The only drawback was, that Mr. Gander
kept me waiting, and came in after ten minutes, looking very scared.
He afterwards told me that a great dog had flown at him, and that it
was only by turning round, and walking backwards he ever reached the
church in time. When I saw his left wing with a stain of crimson
on it, I thought I should have fainted.
"The breakfast was superb. I remember a dish they called by
some French name, PAt de foie gras.' Somebody made a joke about
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12 Mrs. Gander's Story.
it, and called me a cannibal for eating my ancestors. Of course I
wasn't such a goose as to believe that.
During the breakfast, Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale, those sweet
singers, sang that lovely old song of our great poet-
'Oh, happy geese oh, happy pair !
None but the geese, 'None but the geese,
None but the geese, Deserve the fair.'
It made a great impression upon the company, and there were
tender tears in many a goose's eye.
We came away at three o'clock to this house on the common,
and I must own that although Mr. Gander may not have been quite
all I imagined him to be, yet on the whole he has been a very good
"You are thinking of some particular thing, in which Mr. Gander
disappointed you, I am sure," said Aliss Yellowbill.
iMrs. Gander's Story. 13
"How you divine my thoughts, dear Snowv I Well, I will confess
that I was thinking of the time, when Mr. Gander used to beseech me,
to be allowed to hold my wools for me, whilst I wound them. He
said it was a joy, a delight to him. How geese change! Just a week
after our marriage I asked him to hold a skein of silk for me, and will
you believe it, Snow? he never turned his head, but sat still in his
arm-chair warming his feet, and muttered something about trouble-
"One must make great allowance for their more selfish nature,"
said Miss Yellowbill.
Mrs. Gander, fearing she had been a little too confidential to her
friend, pretended not to hear, and proceeded-
"We were happy souls when our three little goslings arrived.
We named them Lightfoot, Zephyr, and Swallow."
So appropriate," murmured Miss Yellowbill.
"When we walked out, every one looked at them. Miss Brown,
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16 Mrs. Gander's Story.
the farmer's daughter, used to bring them bread and milk, and say it
would fatten them. I didn't like the attention nor the remark, for I
remembered that two of Mrs. Penfeather's children disappeared, just
after Miss Brown had fed them for a month, and had made the same
observation. Nobody saw them any more."
"How mysterious is Fate 1" said Miss Yel.lowbill.
"Did you ever hear the lines I wrote about my darlings, dear
"Often and often," said the friend; "but to please you I don't
mind listening to them again."
"Their repetition can only exercise a softening effect upon the
Mrs. Gander then began to repeat in a soft sibilant voice:
Mrs. Gander's Story. 17
Web-feet wide, Side by side,
Wobbling on in goosely pride,
Cackle loud, and hiss, hiss, hiss.
What can mothers want but this ?"
"It was in the autumn of that year, that M1r. Gander proposed
taking us to the sea. I was delighted, for I had never seen any large
sheet of water, except the pond on our common. We had to go by
train. The noise at the station was greater than anything I ever
heard before-greater than when they had the steam machine, for
cutting up the hay, in Farmer Brown's yard. Mr. Gander was very
angry with the porter for upsetting his hat-box; and once, when we
got out for refreshment, the guard was nearly sending off the train,
without us, although we had paid our fares for the whole journey.
Lightfoot and Zephyr almost flew in, whilst their father caught up
Swallow by the neck, and just contrived to get in before the train
moved on. My feathers I but it was a narrow escape!
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20 Mrs. Gancer's Story.
"We got out at Littlemere, and as the house we had taken was
close to the station, we all walked there and had our luggage sent
"The little ones were allowed to have tea with us; they did
nothing but gabble about all they had seen; but I soon sent them to
bed, with a promise that they should go down to the sea the next
day, and play on the sands.
"And so they did. They had great fun, paddling about, whilst
their dear father and I sat watching them.
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22 AMrs. Gander's Story.
"The ocean rather disappointed me; it wants variety-a few
little islands, with a shady tree or two, and plenty of grass on them,
would improve it. I am told that the ocean has disappointed others
besides myself. Still, I enjoyed the quiet, after the noise of Grass
Common, where I was often dinned by the clamour of the country
people-the Gobble-gobbles, the Bantams, the Duiks, and Chanticleers."
"You mean the Ducks, don't you?" said Miss Yellowbill.
I may mean the Ducks, but I say 'the Duiks,' for in the society
in which I move, dear Snow, we do not always pronounce names as
they are spelt."
Then the sooner society alters that the better," said M1iss
24 Mrs. Gander's Story.
Mrs. Gander resumed her story-
"Sometimes we went for a row on the sea. I steered, MIr.
Gander rowed, whilst the children amused themselves in different
ways; but the unusual exercise fatigued Mr. Gander, and we soon
gave it up.
One day we went for a picnic. Swallow took the kettle;
Lightfoot and Zephyr carried the provision basket between them. I
wish, Snow, that you could have seen how cleverly they caught the
handles of the basket in their beaks. I am sure that if Briton Riviere,
who has painted so many distinguished geese, could have seen my
darlings, he would have longed to paint them."
Miss Yellowbill with difficulty kept back a smile.
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26 l/frs. Gander's Story.
Mrs. Gander continued-
At length we found a field of thick grass. When we unpacked
our basket, spread a tablecloth, and set our provisions, Mr. Gander
and I walked a little way off with the children, to collect some wood
for lighting the fire, when we heard a great grunting, and on turning
our heads, saw that an odious pig was eating up all our dinner, and
grinning, with malicious glee, at his wickedness.
He was enormous Few would have ventured to go near him,
but cowardice was never a failing in our family. Mr. Gander and I
rushed at him, and the very sound of our voices frightened him away.
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28 Mrs. Gander's Story.
But of all things that happened at the sea-side, the worst was
what befell Swallow. I can scarcely think of it now without
"If it is something exciting and horrible, I shall vastly enjoy
hearing all about it," exclaimed Miss Yellowbill.
It is indeed horrible and thrilling, Snow. You must know that
I had sent on Gabble and Hispeth, the nurses, with the children,
giving strict orders that they) were not to lose sight of the little ones;
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32 Mrs. Gander's Story.
but it appears that they let the children, who had taken out their
butterfly nets, go chasing the butterflies a long way off, when on a
sudden a huge cat sprang out upon our youngest darling, and began
to carry him off. The loud cries of his brothers soon brought the
nurses to his help, and Hispeth, who is a powerful creature, ran down
the hill, and, rushing at the monster, seized it by the tail. It yelled
and dropped my poor sweet Swallow, and fled howling.
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34 ifrs. Gander's Story.
Mr. Gander and I were walking in the cool of the evening
to meet our dear children, when we came upon the party-Hispeth,
the tears rolling down her cheeks, with Swallow lying in her arms to
all appearance dead. Zephyr followed, and Lightfoot ran forward,
eagerly trying to tell us how it all came about. But I heard no more,
and I believe I fainted."
"I shouldn't have fainted," said Miss Yellowbill; "I should have
pecked open a vein to see if he lived."
"Very likely," answered Mrs. Gander a little sharply; "but then
you were not his mother."
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38 Ifrs. Gander's Story.
"When I recovered they had sent off for the doctor, who arrived
as soon as the very vicious animal he drove would allow him. Unhappy
as I was, I yet could not help noticing that the doctor was driving
the very pig who ate up our dinner at the picnic. Just as Mr. Pinion
drew up at the door, the wicked pig reared and nearly threw the doctor
out of the gig.
"We had put our darling in his bed; he lay quite floppy and
helpless, whilst the doctor felt his pulse. My heart throbbed in fear
and suspense when Mr. Pinion slowly uttered the prophetic words,
'It's never too late to mend.' Oh, the bliss of that moment I Hispeth
and Gabble, when they heard that Swallow would recover, cried bitterly
and said they never felt so happy in all their lives.
40 AMrs. Gander's Story.
Many an evening in winter we sit round the fire and talk over
that dreadful day.
"I am not a vain mother, as you know, dear Snow, and I try to
make my children humble-minded; but I must always think with pride
that it was Lightfoot's cackling that saved his brother's life. Yet what
else but wisdom is to be looked for in a descendant on the mother's
side from that noble flock whose cackling ages ago saved Rome's great
Capital!" echoed Miss Yellowbill. "May your motherly hopes
be realized, and your son become even a greater goose than his dear
father is! Thank you for this charming little history. But the rain
is over; I must go home."