Newspaper Archive of
Catholic Northwest Progress
Seattle, Washington
December 14, 1962     Catholic Northwest Progress
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December 14, 1962
 

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5-B--Cafhol;c Norfhwesf Progress ) ,the goose th a t slept o n frankineense December 14, 1962 "The Goose That Slept on Frankincense" is the title of Steve Ring's winning story. A junior at Bellarmine High School, Tacoma, Steve is the 16-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Marvin A. Ring, 3110 N. 22nd. One of four children, Steve hopes to go to college. His choice at the moment is Gonzaga, but he hasn't made t,p his mind. His major interests are science and writing. ARLY Christmas morning, while the sky was still half dark in the west, I took the axe from its accus- tomed position next to the fireplace and went out to kill the goose. I never felt good about having to do this job, and I always got it out of the way as soon as possible. This morning as I walked out the back door Ma said, "Now don't you go gettin' sentimental, Billy. Just chop off that scrawny old head and remember that you're a fetchin' Christmas dinner." Same old advice as every year, but sterner in tone. Ma was obvi- ously pondering over the one thing that never failed to rile her--the loss of a wise man from our nativity scene. These thoughts accounted for her sternness. Disaster Had Struck For years one of the most valuable possessions of the family had been our nativity set, with each figure intricately carved of mahogany and weighted with lead at the base. Disaster had struck, however, in the form of four year old cousin Fred, visiting from New York, who, finding the set stored in the barn, had made a game of hiding each figure in a different place about the farm. An hour later, he had for- gotten both the game and the hiding places. A relentless search by the entire family turned up all the statues except one--the wise man bear- ing frankincense. I forgot about Ma and the wise man and cousin Fred when I drew up to the gate of the pen iia which we kept the goose. Located in the center of the pen was a brown doghouse which served the goose as protection from cold and rain. I had expected to find her in this homely shelter and groaned with dismay when I saw she had chosen to spend the night in the open air, nestled peacefully in the far corner of the pen. I had a real job ahead of me now. If the goose awoke she would be able to elude me far easier in the area of the pen than in the con- fines of the doghouse. It's simple, I told myself, catch her asleep. Approach Is Stealthy I quietly entered the pen and in short, stealthy steps advanced on my prey. I had crept soundlessly to within two feet of the goose when I stopped. Darn it, I thought, why can't somebody else kill the poor thing. Then I shook myself and repeated, don't get sentimental. I would count to three, then lunge. I tensed myself. One... two ... squawk! The goose was awake. I lunged. I landed in the dirt, my only reward a handful of feathers. "Oh no," I groaned. The chase was on. I ran pell-mell around the pen in hot pursuit of the honking whirlwind of white feathers and orange bill. I started waving the axe in the air and screaming like an Indian, for I felt the same thrill of happiness in this contest as in some exciting game of tag or hide-and-go-seek. Twice I drew close enough to touch her tail feathers and once I grazed her horny ankle with my fingers, yet each time she managed to shake away with an awkward burst of speed. Faster Or Smarter? I kept trying, nevertheless, with strong determination and vigor. The goose seemcd to have a secret source of speed and endurance all her own, however, and ten minutes later with nothing more accom- plished than twice falling flat on my face, I admitted to myself, "She's faster than I am." I thought for a minute. "But maybe she's not smarter. I'll use some strategy." I tried everything from razzle-dazzle to sham, from sudden reversals in direction to fake departures from the pen, feigned sleep, and pretensions of friendship, all with the common goal of getting close, enough to grab that long xaeck. Results--nothing, As each at- tempt failed in turn the goose honked sarcastically. "Oooh, you're gonna taste good," I said to her. Somewhat disgusted, I sat down with my back to a fencepost to mull over this state of affairs. Then, when I least expected it, I got my c/lance. The goose made her big mistake. For no apparent reason, she waddled somberly and mysteriously into her doghouse. "Aha," I cried, as I leapt up. Swiftly I dashed to the entrance of the doghouse, dropped down in front of it, and blocked it with my knee. I pondered a moment, then lowered myself the rest of the way until I was lying flat on my stomach, peering into the dark interior of the doghouse. I could see the goose sitting towards the back and I gloated, "I've got you now. Ha-ha. Your goose is cooked." I wriggled my hand in through the straw that covered the dirt floor, protected thus from the angry bill of the goose, and groped for her ankles. My fingers touched something hard . . . and smooth. An ankle? I took hold of the thing and began to pull it out. No resistance. Excited now, I jerked it out the rest of the way and held it up in the light. "'Come Quick, Ma" For a moment I stood dumb staring at the intricate mahogany carving of a handsome old man, carrying a box of frankincense. Then I shouted joyously, "The wiseman, Ma, the lost wiseman. Come quick, Ma." She dashed out the back door a second later. "What are you sayin' . . . Oh, it's true," she cried as she saw the figure in my hands. "Where in heaven's name did you find it." Breathlessly I told her my sto W. As I drew near to the conclusion the goose herself came waddling complacently out of the doghouse, halted several feet from us, and began to stare at us with an interested look in her eye. "Look, Ma," I said. "Here's the goose. I would've never found the statue except/or her. I don't have to kill her now, do I ?" She pondered on this question and I could see it was a hard, sudden decision for her to make. At length she said, "But we've always had us a goose for Christ- mas." Menu ls Changed "Oh, I wouldn't want to eat any of that goose, Ma, I had too much fun chasing her." She gazed at the wiseman for a second, looked down at the goose, and finally said, "All right, Billy. Run down to the cellar and fetch up a leg of ham. They'll have to start thawing."