|The kindly looking man climbed the steps to
the big stone office building. He took off his hat and ran a hand over his
hair to straighten it before knocking on the door.
"Honk?" inquired the goose he carried under his arm.
"Well, I don't know whether any smart people work here, Gwendolyn," replied the man. "This is the eighth door we've knocked on today. So far everybody's told us the same thing."
The goose wearily rested her chin on the man's shoulder.
The unusual pair heard footsteps approaching and the man straightened his tie.
The goose raised her chin and fluffed her feathers a bit to try to look her best.
The office door opened a little ways.
"Well, what do you want?" inquired a voice from within.
It did not invite them inside.
"How do you do," the man with the goose said politely. "I am an inventor. In my arms here, I've got a goose that's been genetically engineered to lay golden eggs. Her name is Gwendolyn. The thing is, Gwendolyn needs to have nourishment in order to produce her golden eggs."
"We're both very tired and hungry sir," he continued. "We've been traveling for a long, long time. If you'll give us food and shelter, Gwendolyn and I will be happy to share the golden eggs with you."
"If you like, sir," continued the inventor. "Gwendolyn will show you what she's capable of." And with that, the inventor set Gwendolyn down on the steps.
|Gwendolyn looked up tiredly.
"Honk?" she asked.
"Yes, please, Gwendolyn," answered the inventor. "If you show him, perhaps he'll understand the value of what we're offering."
Gwendolyn nodded. She settled herself carefully on the stoop, with a look of concentration on her face. After a moment she began to speak.
Honk. Honk. HONK!, said Gwendolyn, and then she stood up. Right next to Gwendolyn's flat little goose feet, there was a tiny golden egg.
It was about the size of a marble, and sure enough, it was real gold.
The inventor picked it up and held it out towards the door. "Look here sir," he said. "You see, I told you the truth. It's solid gold. The egg is small right now because Gwendolyn is tired and hungry. So am I. We've come a very long way, all by ourselves. But if you'll just give us food and shelter, you'll see that she's capable of producing golden eggs as big as baseballs."
"We'd only consider giving you food and shelter if she could produce golden eggs as big as baseballs right now," said the voice behind the door. "Go away."
"But sir," said the inventor. "Have you ever SEEN a goose that could lay golden eggs before?."
"No," replied the voice behind the door.
"Don't the people in your company LIKE golden eggs?" the puzzled inventor asked.
"Indeed we do," the voice replied as it closed the door. "Talk to us when you have a lot of golden eggs. We might consider doing something for you then."
And the door clicked soundly shut.
The inventor and Gwendolyn looked at each other and sighed.
A chill wind whistled down the street. "Why on earth would we be asking for food and shelter if we already HAD a lot of golden eggs?" the inventor asked Gwendolyn.
"Honk!" said Gwendolyn, and she shrugged.
The inventor laughed and shook his head. "It beats me too."
He looked at the small golden egg the size of a marble.
"Well," he said to Gwendolyn. "We can either buy food with this bit of gold, or we can use it to buy shelter for the night."
He looked up at the sky. A snowflake drifted past. And then another. And another.
"Honk!" said Gwendolyn with a tiny shiver.
"You're right," said the inventor. "If we use it for food, but have no place for shelter, we'll freeze to death for sure."
"On the other hand, if we use it to pay for shelter, we'll likely live through the night, but we'll be so weak from hunger, that I probably won't be able to carry you, and you probably won't be able to produce any more gold."
The inventor sighed again and picked up Gwendolyn, gently tucking her under his arm.
"No food again," he said sadly, turning up
the collar on his coat. "We'll have to use the last of the gold to pay
for shelter from the cold." Gwendolyn nodded and nestled closer.
The inventor paused in front of a shop that had a small, hand-lettered sign in the window. The sign said "We buy winter coats and hats."
"I could sell my coat and hat," said the inventor thoughtfully. "With what we get for my coat and hat, we could buy something to eat, and maybe we could try one more day."
Gwendolyn looked up at the inventor.
"What do you say, Gwendolyn, old girl?" he asked. "We've made it this far, haven't we? No guts, no glory, eh?"
"Honk!" said Gwendolyn, nodding her head in agreement, and so they opened the door and stepped inside.
|The man behind the counter looked at the inventor in surprise. "It's going to snow," he said. "You can't sell your coat and hat, you'll freeze to death."|
"But if I don't sell my coat and hat," the inventor replied, "Gwendolyn and I could starve to death."
"Ahhhh," said the man behind the counter. "I see."
"Listen," he said, "You both look hungry. Here, come in
back, sit down, share a cup of coffee and some fresh-baked bread with me."
|The inventor and Gwendolyn gratefully accepted the offer and the three of them sat companionably in the cozy room, enjoying the warm, sweet bread.|
"I'll tell you what," said
the man. "I'll buy your coat and hat and pay you for them now, but I insist
on lending you the coat and hat as a friend, until the weather turns warm again
and I know you are safe."
The inventor and Gwendolyn looked at the man in surprise. "But you don't even know us," said the inventor. "We are strangers, and we have nothing left to give you but our word, to assure you that we will return in the spring."
"There's something to be said for that," replied the man. "You've come a long way, haven't you?" he asked.
The inventor and Gwendolyn nodded.
"And you must believe in yourselves very strongly, or you'd never have been able to make it this far. The fact that you were willing to sell your coat and hat speaks volumes."
"Gwendolyn can lay golden eggs, sir," said the inventor. "But she hasn't enough strength left to show you," he said quietly.
"Oh wait!" he said, digging into his pocket.
"There is one very small golden egg left. But we have to use it to pay for shelter."
The man who had been behind the counter shook his head. "You don't have to show me," he said. "I can see it in your eyes." "How long do you think the money from the sale of your coat and hat will last you?" he inquired.
|"We hope it will last long enough," said the inventor, "to find a big company who will give us food and shelter until Gwendolyn grows strong again, and can lay golden eggs as big as baseballs."|
Their host laughed. "Well, golden eggs as big as baseballs would be very nice, indeed," he said, "But let me ask you a question. Are you cold now? Are you hungry?"
The inventor and Gwendolyn looked at each other. "Why no," replied the inventor. "Thanks to you, we are both warm and full."
|"Good," said the man. "There is food, there is warmth, and there is shelter here. I have an extra room with two soft beds. You are invited to stay and to make Gwendolyn strong."|
"But we are total strangers," replied the inventor, "And you are not a big company. Who are you, and why would you be willing to help us?"
The man turned in his chair and reached for what looked like a big cookie tin on the counter behind him.
|With some effort, he placed the
heavy container on the table in front of him, then removed the lid to show
them what was inside.
It was filled to the brim with golden eggs, as big as baseballs. He smiled briefly, as if remembering something, and then he spoke.
"My friends," he said,"I was an inventor."
About the Author:
C.K. Gurin lives in South Florida. Send Mail