Poor Fool’s Gold
(1) "Ow! Ow! That hurt—confounded egg!" Farmer Hash hopped around holding his injured foot, fussing and complaining at the egg, which now lay quiet and still on the grass. After a few minutes, Farmer Hash reached down to pick up the egg, very carefully, so he would not drop it again on his other foot. The egg was heavy and cold to the touch, even though the mother goose had just been sitting on it.
(2) "Hmm, there’s something different about this egg. Maybe it’s rotten," he thought to himself, as he carried the egg out from under the dim shade of the weeping willow tree. The farmer had not been happy when the mother goose had chosen this overgrown patch of marshy land to make her nest, but she had laid many eggs in the cozy but squishy spot. Walking into the bright sunshine, the farmer almost tripped over the mother goose. "Get out of my way!" he snarled, aiming an impatient kick at her for good measure.
(3) Farmer Hash carefully laid the egg on the hay wagon to see it better. Now, Farmer Hash was very nearsighted and colorblind. However, even he could see the bright glow glinting off of the egg’s shell. "Must be bad…" he grumbled to himself, since he had never seen an egg shine like this before.
(4) "Papa!" a voice called to him. The cheerful voice belonged to his daughter, Felicity. She had come to tell him that Mrs. Hash had his lunch ready: wheat grass soup again. Felicity, however, forgot to give him the message when she saw the egg lighting the hay with a golden glowing radiance. "Oh!" she breathed in admiration. "It’s lovely, Papa. Where ever did you find an egg of gold?"
(5) "Huh?" Farmer Hash answered her. "An egg of gold?"
(6) Felicity began to name the good things and the happiness they could now have with the treasure that lay before them. Before she could finish her thoughts, Farmer Hash was in the wagon headed to town to sell the egg. He came back with a new wagon and horses but no more money.
(7) First thing every morning, Farmer Hash would run to the goose’s nest to look for another golden egg. The farmer was furious when he realized that the goose laid an egg only once a week, on Fridays, and his family was saddened to realize that the egg money was gone by Saturday night.
(8) After three months of this unexplained but mixed blessing, Farmer Hash stood watching Felicity feeding the goose from a bag of marigold and mustard seeds. He hated to think of the cost of such fine food for a goose that would lay her golden eggs only once a week. The words of Felicity came back to him about the fortune they would have and their guaranteed happiness.
(9) "Of course," the farmer yelled aloud, "we need all the eggs at once to be truly happy! I will cut open the goose, and we shall have many eggs to sell for our good fortune."
(10) "Oh no! Please, no, Papa!" Felicity begged, weeping bitterly. "The goose has been a faithful creature to us and deserves our care, not our greed…"
(11) The farmer paid no heed to the words of his daughter, setting the day for butchering the goose. That day dawned with a blood-red sky. It was a Sunday, after the money from the last egg was spent on Saturday night. Farmer Hash carried his sharpest ax out to the bank of the pond, near the weeping willow tree. He had never really looked at the geese he owned and could not tell which one was the goose that laid the golden eggs. The farmer simply waded into the flock of geese and slaughtered every one of them, looking in vain for the glint of gold among white feathers.
(12) At the end of the day, Farmer Hash dropped his dulled ax with a muffled thud into the quiet of the barnyard. As the sun set with rays of golden light wickedly beaming through breaks in purple clouds, he shuffled slowly towards the house listening to the soft sound of his wife and child weeping for lost golden promises.