The Greedy Goose that Laid Golden Eggs: A Fable

greylag goose

In a kingdom long ago, a Greylag goose lived on an island in the middle of a lake. She built her nest in the reeds, and after eating certain flowers and grasses, she laid an egg made of pure gold.

Every day, the goose ate the same flowers and grasses, and every morning she laid a golden egg until she had a clutch of five eggs. She sat on them all day long, and whenever she left her nest to eat, she covered them with sticks.

One day, a young man rowed his boat to the island. As he walked through the reeds, he saw the goose sitting in her nest.

“Get out of here!” the young man yelled. “I’m taking your eggs.”

The goose stretched out her neck. “No, you’re not!” she cried. “I made them, and they’re mine.”

The young man drew his sword. “Then I’ll have eggs and goose for dinner.”

“Oh my,” the goose sighed.

The young man started waving his sword, and the goose, fearing for her life, flew away.

The goose was so upset at being robbed, she flew straight to the king’s castle. But when the guard took her to the throne room, the king was asleep. After waiting for an hour, she honked until the old man woke up.

“A young thug stole my eggs,” the goose said sadly, bowing before the throne.

The king, whose name was John, shrugged his shoulders. “My people are poor and need to eat.”

“But these aren’t eggs you can eat. They are golden eggs.”

King John’s eyes opened wide, and he ran his fingers through his long grey hair. “Real gold you say?”

“Yes, if I eat the same flowers and grasses each day, I can lay an egg made of pure gold.”

King John thought for a moment; then he ran his fingers through his long grey beard. “I will help you if you help me.”

“You can get my eggs back for me?” the goose asked.

“Probably not,” King John admitted. “But I can protect you from thieves. You can build a nest in the turret of my castle, and my guards will bring you grass and flowers to eat.”

The goose looked at the guard; then she looked at the king. “What do you want in return?”

King John smiled. “Only one out of every ten eggs that you lay.”

The goose looked into the king’s eyes. They were dark, swollen, and half-open, and she didn’t know if she could trust him. She thought long and hard; then finally she said, “Okay. One-tenth sounds fair to me.”

And so, King John let the goose live in the turret of his castle where she built the largest nest a goose has ever made. (It was five feet wide and two feet deep.) The guards brought her grass and flowers to eat, and every day she laid a golden egg. She sat on them, stared at them, and sometimes, when no one was looking, kissed them with her beak.

When summer came to an end, the goose had laid one hundred golden eggs, and she gave ten to King John.

The following spring, when the goose started to lay eggs again, she was summoned to see the king. A guard escorted her to the throne room, and after he opened the double doors for her, she bowed her head and walked to the throne.

“My dear goose,” King John said with a smile, “my people are poor, and I need you to give a little bit more to help me provide for them.”

The goose raised her head. “But we agreed to one-tenth.”

“That was last year. Times have changed, and I need you to give a little bit more.”

“How much?” the goose asked.

“One-fifth.”

The goose looked at the guard; then she looked at King John. “What if I say no?”

“Then you can go back to your island and take your chances with thieves.”

The goose loved her eggs, and didn’t want to lose any of them, so she agreed to the king’s terms.

The following spring, the goose was summoned again before the king, and he asked her for one-fourth. And the year after that, one-third.

The fifth year, a guard came to turret and took the goose to see King John. But when she entered the throne room, she did not bow her head.

“Let me guess,” the goose said. “You want more of my eggs.”

“Yes, goose,” King John said sternly. “You have much more gold than you need. My people are poor, and I need you to serve the greater good.”

“How much do you want now?” the goose wondered.

“Half.”

The goose thought for a moment, and then she said, “No; that’s too much. I’ve spoken to another king, and he will let me live in his castle for much less.”

“You greedy goose!” King John shouted. “I will not allow this!”

The goose stretched out her neck. “I made my eggs, not you!” she said defiantly. “And I’ll do whatever I want with them.”

King John turned to the guard. “Seize her and lock her up!”

The guard chased the goose around the throne room, but he couldn’t catch her. Then he drew his sword, but she flew over him, escaped the castle and fled to another kingdom.

With the goose gone, King John took all the eggs that the goose left behind, kept a dozen for himself, and used the rest to provide for his people. However, when the gold ran out, the people were just as poor as they were before.


This story was published in The Donkey King and Other Stories

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The Cat that Suffered from Dogphobia: A Fable

cymric2

An old man lived alone in his house, and he didn’t want to live that way anymore. So one morning, he climbed out of bed, put in his false teeth, combed his white hair, and after he ate breakfast, he got in his car and drove to the SPCA.

He adopted a cat to keep him company. It had long orange hair and was missing one ear.

The old man carried the cat to his car, then drove to a pet store to buy cat food, and a leash and harness.

When he returned home, the cat followed him to the kitchen, and he set the bag of items he bought on the counter.

“Would you like something to eat?” he asked the cat.

“Yes,” the cat purred. “I’m starving.”

The old man opened a can of cat food, put it in a bowl, and the cat ate it.

“Would you like a saucer of milk?”

“Yes; I’m thirsty.”

The old man went to the fridge, poured milk into a saucer, and the cat lapped it up.

“Would you like to go for a walk?”

“No,” the cat said, and he strutted to the kitchen table and sat under it.

The old man took the leash and harness out of the bag. “You’re going to love wearing this!”

The cat frowned. “No, I won’t.”

Kneeling by the table, the old man put the harness on the cat and clipped on the leash. Then he tried to walk out the door, but the cat stepped back and hissed.

The old man pulled on the leash, but the cat spread his claws and scratched the hardwood floor, so the old man removed the harness and went for a walk by himself.

When he came back, he tried to pet the cat. The cat was sitting on the kitchen counter.

“I’m not touchy-feely,” the cat said, jumping down to the floor.

Every day for a week, it was the same. The cat refused to go for a walk, and he wouldn’t let the old man pet him. So the old man drove to the SPCA and got a dog: a Standard Schnauzer with black hair.

When he returned home with the dog, he opened a can of beans, and emptied it into a bowl. After the dog ate the beans, he started barking.

“More! More!” the dog said.

The cat came into the kitchen and hissed. “The dog has to go!”

“What’s wrong with you?” the old man asked the cat.

“The dog will kill me.”

The dog shook his head. “No; no. I’m a good dog.”

The old man, who couldn’t understand a word the dog or cat said, warned them: “I don’t want any fighting in this house!”

A week went by, and the old man and the dog became best friends. Every morning, they went for a walk, and the dog let the old man pet him and rub his back and belly.

Every night, after the old man went to bed, the cat slept on top of the fridge, and the dog sat by the stove and stared at the cat.

A month later, the cat still hated the dog, so the old man made an appointment with a veterinarian. He drove the cat to the animal hospital, and the receptionist took them to a waiting room. The old man sat on a chair, while the cat sat under the table.

“Are you planning to fix me?” the cat asked.

When the vet came into the waiting room, he asked the old man: “What can I do for you today?”

The old man sighed and said, “My cat hates my dog. He hisses at him all the time.”

The vet got down on one knee and looked at the cat. “He’s missing an ear. What happened to him?”

The old man shrugged. “I don’t know; I got him from the SPCA.”

“A Rottweiler tried to eat me,” the cat said to the vet.

The vet tried to pet the cat, but the cat stepped back. “What kind of dog do you have?” the vet asked the old man.

“He’s a Standard Schnauzer.”

“It’s normal for a cat to be afraid of a dog. And Schnauzers do attack cats.”

The old man shook his head. “Not my Schnauzer. He wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“The dog is planning to kill me,” the cat said to the vet. “He taunts me every night.”

“Is there anything you can do to make the cat relax?” the old man asked.

“I’ll give you a prescription for diazepam. It will help calm his fear.”

The old man smiled at the cat. “Let’s try it.”

The cat frowned. “Let’s not.”

After leaving the animal hospital, the old man drove to a pharmacy and ordered the diazepam. When he got home, he mixed the drug in the cat food and put it in a bowl.

“I don’t do drugs,” the cat said, staring at the bowl. “I’d rather starve.”

The old man tried for two days, but the cat refused to eat the diazepam. So he fed him normal cat food.

Then he warned him: “You need to learn how to get along with the dog.”

“He’s my enemy!” the cat said, hissing at the dog.

“I didn’t do anything to you!” the dog said.

“You will,” the cat replied.

That night, after the old man went to bed, and the dog went to sleep by the stove, the cat jumped down from the fridge and walked to the bathroom to get a drink of water.

But the dog was only pretending to sleep. He followed the cat to the bathroom and said, “The Master is good to you, but you won’t go for a walk with him, or let him pet you. You need to be taught a lesson.”

The cat finished lapping up water from the toilet. “Try it.”

The dog growled, charged at the cat, knocked him into the toilet, and bit his tail.

The cat yowled, broke free of the dog’s bite, and leaping out of the toilet, he landed on the dog and scratched him on his back and face.

The sound of the cat yowling and the dog yelping woke the old man up. He got out of bed and hurried to the bathroom.

The cat was still scratching the dog, so the old man kicked him to the wall.

“Why did you attack the dog?”

“It was self-defense,” the cat said calmly. “He tried to kill me.”

“No; no. I just wanted him to be nice to you,” the dog said. “He doesn’t love you like I do.”

The old man saw how badly the dog was scratched, so he picked up the cat, walked to the front door and threw him outside. “You’re a mean and nasty cat!” he yelled.

The cat landed on the grass and said, “I’m the victim here. The dog is the bad guy, not me!”

The old man looked at the cat, shook his head with disappointment and shut the door.

And the next day, he drove the cat back to the SPCA.


This story was published in The Donkey King and Other Stories