[illustration: The Goose]

Amongst the Romans this bird was held sacred to Juno, their supreme

heathen goddess; indeed, it appears to have been looked upon with

reverence by all ancient nations, and not longer ago than the time of

the Crusades, a goose was carried as a standard from our own country by

an irregular band of crusaders. Possibly in former times the good

qualities of the goose were better known than now; for the sagacity and

affection of this bird have been proved by so many well authenticated

instances, that I am at a loss which to select for your entertainment,

and must try to choose those you are least likely to have met with

already. As a proof of the goose's sagacity, is the following. A goose

begun to sit on six or eight eggs, when the dairy maid, thinking she

could hatch a larger number, put in as many duck eggs, which could

scarcely be distinguished from the others. On visiting the nest next

morning, all the duck eggs were found put out of the nest on the ground.

They were replaced, but the next morning were again found picked out and

laid outside, whilst the goose remained sitting on the whole of her own

eggs. Lest she should abandon the nest altogether, she was not troubled

with the strange eggs again, but allowed to rear her own children in

peace. There are a vast number of stories told of singular and strong

attachments formed by geese to people. We hear of one old gander who

used to lead his old blind mistress to church, graze in the churchyard

during the service (for I ought to have told you that geese eat grass

like oxen), and then lead her home again. A goose attached itself so

strongly to its master that it forsook for him the society of its

fellows, followed him wherever he went, even through the crowded

streets, sat, if allowed, upon his lap, and responded with a cry of

delight to every sound of his voice. Even to other animals the goose has

been known to show strong affection. There was once a goose who had been

saved by a dog from the ravenous jaws of a fox. She seemed from that

time to centre all her affection on her preserver, left the poultry yard

for his side, tried to bite any one at whom she heard him bark, and, if

driven away into the field, would sit all day at the gate from which she

could gaze on her friend. The dog at last fell ill, but the faithful

goose would not leave him, and would have died, for want of food, at his

side had not corn been put near the kennel. The dog died, but she would

not leave the kennel, and I am sorry to tell you that when a new dog

was brought, very much like the old one, as she ran to greet him,

hoping it was her old friend restored, he seized her by the neck and put

an end to her faithful life. One more story I must tell you, though I

have already said so much. A game cock had cruelly attacked a goose on

her nest, and even pecked out one of her eyes. The gander took his

mate's part, and fought over and over again with the enemy. One day,

during his absence, the game cock attacked the goose again, when the

gander, hearing a noise, ran up, and, seizing the cock, dragged him into

the pond where he ducked him repeatedly until he had made an end of him.

In Russia, ganders are taught to fight each other, and a trained gander

has been known to sell for twenty pounds.

There is a very beautiful goose called the Egyptian Goose, or goose of

the Nile. Its feathers are very handsomely marked with black, brown,

green, and white. It is the goose so often represented, in old fresco

paintings of heathen temples, by the ancients. This goose is famous for

its devotion to its young. The old birds will remain with their

offspring during times of most imminent danger, refusing to save

themselves and leave their young in peril.

The Canada Goose is also another prettily-marked variety of goose. And

although not a native of this country, its migratory habits often bring

it to this shore.

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