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The Goose

Have you not often heard people say "as silly as a goose"? Now I am

going to tell you that the goose is one of the most sensible birds we

know, and not only sensible, but very affectionate, and exceedingly

useful to man. I will tell you some stories of Mrs. Goose presently,

which will show you her real character. But I must begin with her uses.

The goose is to be found in almost every country, and its flesh is very

eating; but it is principally for its feathers and quills that it

is valued here. The quills, from which our pens, and in part our paint

brushes, are made, are plucked from the pinions of the goose, and the

best featherbeds and pillows are stuffed with her feathers. Geese

love water and marshy places, and Lincolnshire, which is a fenny place,

is famous for breeding them. People there make it their business to keep

perhaps as many as a thousand geese, which, in the course of a year,

will increase seven-fold, the geese being kept in the houses, and even

bedrooms, of their owners whilst hatching, and a person called a gozzard

having the charge of them. They are plucked, poor things, for their

feathers as often as five times a year, and for their quills once. Even

the young goslings of six weeks' old are deprived of their tail

feathers, in order, as it is said, to accustom them to this cruel

operation. When ready for the London market, the geese are marched

slowly up from Lincolnshire to London, in flocks of from two to nine

thousand. Being slow travellers, they are on foot from three in the

morning to nine in the evening, and during that time get through about

nine miles.