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"It is not a fatted calf?" I inquired,
satirically; "nor, still more, a calf, alive and
kicking, which I am expected to fatten, is it?"

"No," she said, changing colour a little,
"it is not that. It is only a beautiful
Michaelmas goose, fourteenpence cheaper
than we can get it in the market, and an
enormous bargain."

"It will make the house unbearable, as the
others did," I cried, in a passion; "we shall
get indicted for a nuisance."

''It's a live goose," quoth Mrs. P.,
severely, "and just ready for killing."

"And where," inquired I, "in the name
of common sense, are we to keep a live

"Why, of course, my dear," replied she,
"it must be kept in the back garden."

This animalthis beast with a billin due
course arrived; was uncarted in the passage,
which is otherwise denominated the
front-hall; and, at once disengaging itself
from the terrified domestic, took its way,
with the most awful anserine imprecations,
up-stairs into the drawing-room. Never
shall I forget the scene which ensued for
the next ten minutes! that royal game of
goose played out between us four and that
dreadful bird: its malicious hisses; the long,
shrill gurgle in its throat, half gobble and
half quack, so convincing of its relationship
to duck and turkey; the agonised flapping
of its short ungainly wings; even the thud
of its naked webbed feet, as they ran over
the keys of the piano, extorting undreamt-of
harmonies,—will never be erased from my

The carrier, incited by the reward of
sixpence set upon the head of the fugitive, at
last secured it, but not before it had done
considerable damage, and bore it under his
arm, playing upon it as if it were an
unsound bagpipe, into the place which had
been assigned for its reception.

I watched it that night for hours, roaming
up and down the walled back garden,
and complaining to the stars; gazing up
into the elder bush with an eye to its
practicability as a means of egress, and
shaking its goose's head with the melancholy
of blank despair. When I saw it lie
down to sleep under that tree, I also retired
to my couch with a contented mind; for
I knew well the cats would come at their
accustomed hour. They did come. Never
shall I lose the recollection of that shriek
which rang out on the startled ear of night
about one o'clock, and wakened every sleeper
in the terrace. Our goose had been dreaming
probably of home and peace and barley-meal,
when she was roused to the awful sense of her
real position: four-and-twenty cats at the
very least, Toms and Thomasinas, tabbies
and tortoiseshells, were standing around her
in solemn conclave, doubtful whether she was
alive or not, but certain that she was excellent
eating; in another instant they were up the
elder bush and scattered over all the back
gardens under the sky. The outcry which
the geese made who saved the Capitol, was
nothing to the outcry which our goose made
to save herself. The memory of it abode
with her enemies long after her spirit had
fled; for the cats did not return to their
usual rendezvous for nearly a week.

The next day being Sunday the captive
was spared from destruction, and well fed
with her favourite food at the cost of
sixpence; twopence, therefore, setting aside the
damage in the drawing-room, was, upon
Monday morning, our total pecuniary saving
by having purchased her alive.

"Cook," said I, authoritatively, you must
kill that bird at once, or it will be a positive
loss to us."

"La, sir, me kill it?" answered she; "I
should be terrified out of my life."

"Who is to kill it, then?" I inquired, in
unfeigned astonishment.

"Well, sir, missus thought (you see the
poulterer charges eightpence for coming in
and doing on it) as how you might be kind
enough to kill it yourself."

The poulterer came and performed his
savage office. The cook took half the day to
pluck the corpse, and even then left so many
feathers upon it that the dish looked more
like a singed sheep's head than a roast goose.
The tenant of our back garden cost us exactly
sixpence more than if we had purchased it at
the poulterer's in the first instance, and
finally turned out to be as tough as a goose
could be.

Since the decease of this leathery bird, our
back garden has been left to its grass, its
dandelions, its elder-bush, and its cats.



MR. CHARLES DICKENS will read at HALIFAX on the
16th; at SHEFFIELD on the 17th; at MANCHESTER on the
18th; at DARLINGTON on the 21st; at DURHAM on the 22nd;
at SUNDERLAND on the 23rd; at NEWCASTLE on the 24th
and 25th; at EDINBURGH on the 27th, 28th, 29th, and
30th of September. At DUNDEE on the 1st and 2nd of
OCTOBER; at ABERDEEN on the 4th; at PERTH on the
5th; and at GLASGOW on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th of

Now ready, price Five Shillings and Sixpence,
bound in cloth,




Containing the Numbers issued between the Nineteenth
of December last year, and the Twelfth of June in
the present year.

This and the preceding volumes may be had of all

The Right of Translating Articles from HOUSEHOLD WORDS is reserved by the Authors.

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