The Goose That Laid the Gilded Egg

The goose didn’t really lay a gilded egg. She laid an ordinary goose egg, like any other goose egg, and some joker gilded it when she left the nest for a snack or a snail. When she came back and saw the gleaming surprise, she cried, “Lo, I have laid the golden egg of lore and legend!”

“Lo, my foot,” said a Plymouth Rock hen. “That is an ordinary goose egg painted yellow, if you ask me.”

“She isn’t asking you,” said a rooster. “She is asking me, and I say that is a solid-gold egg.”

The goose did not seem overjoyed. “I had my heart set on raising a gosling,” she said.

“You’ll have a golden gosling,” said the rooster.

“Golden gosling, my feathers,” said the hen. “She’ll have a yellow gosling, like any other yellow gosling, only punier.”

“I don’t care what it looks like,” said the goose. “I just don’t want it to be gold. People would talk. They would snatch my quills for souvenirs. I would be photographed all the time.”

“I will offer you a fabulous sum for that glittering miracle,” said the rooster, and he named a sum fabulous only as things are figured fiscally among the feathered. The goose gladly accepted the offer.

“I wouldn’t sit on that egg,” said the hen. “I wouldn’t sit on it if a platinum gander encrusted with diamonds came out of it.”

“I’ll sit on it myself,” said the rooster.

And so the hopeful rooster rolled the gilded goose egg to a nest and began sitting on it. At the end of three weeks, all the hens left his bed and board.

“You’ll be sorry,” said the rooster, “when this priceless treasure is hatched. I know it will be a golden goose. I have already named her—Goldie. When she becomes a full-grown goose, I will sell her to the highest bidder for a super-fabulous sum.”

“Oh, sure,” said the Plymouth Rock hen, “and my family came over on the Mayflower,” and she went away. The old positivist sat and sat and sat on the gilded egg, and all his friends drifted away, and no hen would look at him, and his feathers began to fall out. One day, being a male and not a female, he clumsily stepped on the egg and broke it, and that was the end of the egg and the end of his dreams.

MORAL: It is wiser to be hendubious than cocksure.

The Goose That Laid the Gilded Egg

James Thurber

James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories published mainly in The New Yorker magazine, such as "The Catbird Seat", and collected in his numerous books. He was one of the most popular humorists of his time, as he celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

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