The Golden Goose Girl
Once upon a time a gaggle of golden egg laying geese were thoroughly adored by the queen of a far way land. Adored, spoilt rotten and taken care of by a prince who only cared for the gold they produced, not the feelings of the geese themselves. Not that he ever took the time to care for them properly. He was too busy trying to find a wife for himself, other than the one to which he was currently betrothed. He’d heard that she collected every snippet of news about his mother’s geese and he was thoroughly sick of them. He was sick of banquets thrown in honour of these geese, their golden eggs piled high upon the tables to be gorged on by willing and unwilling guest aplenty. H was sick of ensuring the geese had their nests heated to exactly 37 degrees every night and feeding them the best choices of grain which should have been used to make his bread for his breakfast toast. And he thoroughly hated The Statue.
The Golden Goose Girl was a statue made in honour of the queen’s geese, standing proudly next to the stables that bordered the fields where the geese roamed throughout the day. Some swore that she occasionally spoke in rhyme and riddle, while others believed that she brought good luck if you left offerings of golden eggs at her feet instead of indulging in them yourself. Either way, there was never proof to any claims. Until the new goose girl arrived.
In another far away land, the princess who was betrothed to the Goose Prince was bouncing about with barely contained anticipation. She was preparing for her marriage to the prince who cared for the geese that laid golden eggs. Astride her horse, her maid was day dreaming of all the money the golden eggs could provide. She loathed the fact that she would be cast off as a useless peasant once the princess was married for the prince would provide the servants for his new wife. If only she was the new princess! The wicked idea grew in her mind. She swapped her luggage with that of the princess. Then she sent for a messenger and wrote a letter to the prince, on behalf of the besotted princess. In it she detailed the princess’s obsession with the geese that laid golden eggs, and complained that her amazing maid did not enjoy the company of such fine animals which troubled her greatly. This she sent ahead of her and the princess, so that the prince might read it prior to their arrival.
The prince read the letter with disgust and delight. For he too understood the idea of the wicked plan forming. So when the princess and her maid arrived, the prince declared the princess would wed him in the morning, leading her to her chambers for the evening. During the night however, he and the maid stole into the stables and killed every single goose that laid golden eggs. Then they smeared blood on the hands of the princess and put feathers in her bed all while she slept. Then he killed her horse so that she would not be able to escape her fate.
When the palace awoke the next morning, the prince cried out bitterly that this princess must be false and truly the maid in disguise, for the letter was proof of the devotion the princess had for the golden geese, thereby guaranteeing that she could not have committed the hideous crime. As punishment, he stripped the true princess of her robes and title, declaring her to truly be a scullery maid, and announcing his marriage to the former maid who was his new princess.
The fallen princess wept for the injustice and torment but had no choice but to follow the new orders as a servant. But later when she had a moment’s rest, she visited The Statue, the blood still dripping from her fingers.
The goose’s blood spilled onto the feet of the Golden Goose Girl Statue, but did not stain. The fallen princess wept, clasping her hands begging for forgiveness. To her surprise, she felt a hand stroke her head. She slowly gazed up, almost falling backwards in disbelief to see the golden statue kneeling down before her.
“Princess, I am here. Tell me what troubles you so”. The princess told her everything.
“With a little luck I can help you. Bring me the geese. Plant them in the field behind me and water them with the blood of your fallen horse. Then return to me.”
The princess did as she was bade, although it tortured her so and she wiped her hands clean in grief constantly and she had to do so under cover of darkness, lest the prince and his new bride find her. The Golden Goose Girl once more knelt down to whisper to the princess, holding her hand and promising good luck would shine upon her if she waited but three days and nights.
The prince and his bride were joyful now that they were not tethered to feathered creatures, but because there were no longer banquets with extravagant golden eggs piled high, royalty and noble people from neighbouring kingdoms did not bother to visit and to grace the royal family with their presence, infuriating the happy couple. For what was the point of being wealthy if there was no one to show it off to? “The scullery maid, she loved those damn birds so much” hissed the new princess, “She will bring back the golden eggs for us”. The prince swiftly summoned the scullery maid to him. Head lowered, she almost smiled as he ranted about how the golden eggs were yet another thorn in his side but have them he must.
“Your highness, the geese are gone and their eggs with them”. The prince stomped his foot so hard he almost fell through the floor.
“I can bring them back for you. But in return you must bring me three things. One perfect golden egg. Two strands of hair that are as fiery as a dragon’s breath. And three tears of pure joy.” The Prince could not feint his surprise. “My bride’s hair is the colour that you command, but where will I find a perfect golden egg? The geese have not laid for weeks. And tears of pure joy? If you had asked for those before our wedding I could have done so but now I have nothing to be joyful about.” The fallen princess left the prince to ponder her words.
For three days and nights, the prince searched high and low with his bride to source the remaining ingredients, but to no avail. Until the sun rose again whilst they were in the royal treasury and found one perfect golden egg hidden away safely at the back of the room, in a box hidden by a curtain. But what of the tears? They could only feel tears of anger and frustration not pure joy. They did not shed tears of pure joy for a very long time, not until a neighbouring kingdom’s prince and princess happened to visit their palace to share their joyful news that they were going to have a child. The mother’s eyes filled with tears of pure joy as she spoke and the prince and princess carefully wiped the tears from her face onto a silk handkerchief. The pair finally brought the items forth to the fallen princess who still scrubbed and scoured the pots and pans from their meals, awaiting them to complete their task. These in turn she presented to the Golden Goose Girl Statue standing watch over the fallen geese.
The Golden Goose Girl took the three items, rubbing the tear-stained handkerchief over the golden egg, and wrapping the dargon-breath hair around it also before she buried it at the foot of her statue. For a moment nothing happened. But then before the princess’s’ eyes, the Golden Goose Girl began to melt. The gild and golden façade flowed away, coursing along the ground towards the field where the geese were buried and disappeared into the ground. A golden glow surrounded the field, basking the scullery maid in a breathtaking light. But she turned to see in astonishment a beautiful maiden standing before her where the statue once stood. Immediately she lost her heart to the maiden who carefully stepped down from her plinth and smiled. As they held hands, they watched the newly healed geese rise from the field and scurry towards them, surrounding them with hungry honks and quacks.
The former goose girl scooped some of the fading golden dust from the base of the statue, saying to the scullery maid, “Summon their royal highnesses here. Tell them I will ensure they have all the admirers they could ever want”. And so it was done. The gloomy and grumpy royal couple found themselves perched upon the plinth the golden goose girl had once watched from. The goose girl smiled at them and gently blew the golden dust over the pair. To their horror, the couple began to solidify and become golden statues themselves. And to this day, people from all over the land still come to feast at a banquet filled with delicious golden eggs, cared for by the newly wedded princesses. And they always admire the double golden statue that presides over the fields that the geese spend their days in, as the former royal couple had always yearned for.