(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Winter is making its hasty retreat, and spring is making its entry. Farmer Jess Birdwell smells melting snow and wants to hasten winter’s exit. He is in the mood to celebrate the rites of spring. Unhappily, he finds nothing new to celebrate either in nature or in his family; maybe there is nothing new under the sun, he reflects.

Jess is particularly worried about the geese that Eliza raises every spring. They are destructive: They mow down sprouting corn and level off rows of pie plants, and fences do not make good neighbors as far as the geese are concerned. The only good thing about geese is that they make good roast for the table. On the other hand, Eliza loves the geese. According to her, they are beautiful, lordly creatures who are far more productive than they are destructive; there is no better food than a fried goose egg for breakfast, according to Eliza’s father. In fact, Eliza has already purchased eight goose eggs, without Jess’s knowledge, from the Overby farm and has set them under a hen.

Jess is worried about his corn. Knowing that Eliza, as steady as a pump bolt, is determined to have her way, he decides to use devious means to scuttle Eliza’s project. He hatches a plot by enlisting the help of Enoch, his hired man. He instructs Enoch to puncture all the eggs with a darning needle. Unwillingly, Enoch agrees, even though he is convinced that most of the eggs are bad.

On the thirtieth day, when the geese are expected to break their shells, Eliza finds that only one egg has hatched. She is happy and relieved. She is happy that she can have the new gray-gold goose for a pet; she is relieved that she does not have to raise geese for the table. She gives the gosling the name Samantha; she will call it Sam if the gosling turns out to be a gander, she announces.

The goose grows up well-rounded, as a pet, in the...

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