CHAD'S STORY OF THE GOOSE
BY F. HOPKINSON SMITH
I nodded my head, and Chad closed the door softly, taking with him a
small cup and saucer, and returning in a few minutes followed by that
most delicious of all aromas, the savory steam of boiling coffee.
"My Marsa John," he continued, filling the cup with the smoking
beverage, "never drank nuffin' but tea, eben at de big dinners when all
de gemmen had coffee in de little cups--dat's one ob 'em you's drinkin'
out ob now; dey ain't mo' dan fo' on 'em left. Old marsa would have his
pot ob tea: Henny use' ter make it for him; makes it now for Miss Nancy.
"Henny was a young gal den, long 'fo' we was married. Henny b'longed to
Colonel Lloyd Barbour, on de next plantation to ourn.
"Mo' coffee, Major?" I handed Chad the empty cup. He refilled it, and
went straight on without drawing breath.
"Wust scrape I eber got into wid old Marsa John was ober Henny. I tell
ye she was a harricane in dem days. She come into de kitchen one time
where I was helpin' git de dinner ready, an' de cook had gone to de
spring house, an' she says:
"'Chad, what ye cookin' dat smells so nice?'
"'Dat's a goose,' I says, 'cookin' for Marsa John's dinner. We got
quality,' says I, pointin' to de dinin'-room do'.
"'Quality!' she says. 'Spec' I know what de quality is. Dat's for you
an' de cook.'
"Wid dat she grabs a caarvin' knife from de table, opens de do' ob de
big oven, cuts off a leg ob de goose, an' dis'pears round de kitchen
corner wid de leg in her mouf.
"'Fo' I knowed whar I was Marsa John come to de kitchen do' an' says,
'Gittin' late, Chad; bring in de dinner.' You see, Major, dey ain't no
up an' down stairs in de big house, like it is yer; kitchen an'
dinin'-room all on de same flo'.
"Well, sah, I was scared to def, but I tuk dat goose an' laid him wid de
cut side down on de bottom of de pan 'fo' de cook got back, put some
dressin' an' stuffin' ober him, an' shet de stove do'. Den I tuk de
sweet potatoes an' de hominy an' put 'em on de table, an' den I went
back in de kitchen to git de baked ham. I put on de ham an' some mo'
dishes, an' marsa says, lookin' up:
"'I t'ought dere was a roast goose, Chad.'
"'I ain't yerd nothin' 'bout no goose,' I says, 'I'll ask de cook.'
"Next minute I yerd old marsa a-hollerin':
"'Mammy Jane, ain't we got a goose?'
"'Lord-a-massy! yes, marsa. Chad, you wu'thless nigger, ain't you tuk
dat goose out yit?'
"'Is we got a goose?' said I.
"'Is we got a goose? Didn't you help pick it?'
"I see whar my hair was short, an' I snatched up a hot dish from de
hearth, opened de oven do', an' slide de goose in jes as he was, an' lay
him down befo' Marsa John.
"'Now see what de ladies'll have for dinner,' says old marsa, pickin' up
his caarvin' knife.
"'What'll you take for dinner, miss?' says I. 'Baked ham?'
"'No,' she says, lookin' up to whar Marsa John sat; 'I think I'll take a
leg ob dat goose'--jes so.
"Well, marsa, cut off de leg an' put a little stuffin' an' gravy on wid
a spoon, an' says to me, 'Chad, see what dat gemman'll have.'
"'What'll you take for dinner, sah?' says I. 'Nice breast o' goose, or
slice o' ham?'
"'No; I think I'll take a leg of dat goose,' he says.
"I didn't say nuffin', but I knowed bery well he wa'n't a-gwine to git
"But, Major, you oughter seen ole marsa lookin' for der udder leg ob dat
goose! He rolled him ober on de dish, dis way an' dat way, an' den he
jabbed dat ole bone-handled caarvin' fork in him an' hel' him up ober de
dish an' looked under him an' on top ob him, an' den he says, kinder sad
"'Chad, whar is de udder leg ob dat goose?'
"'It didn't hab none,' says I.
"'You mean ter say, Chad, dat de gooses on my plantation on'y got one
"'Some ob 'em has an' some ob 'em ain't. You see, marsa, we got two
kinds in de pond, an' we was a little boddered to-day, so Mammy Jane
cooked dis one 'cause I cotched it fust.'
"'Well,' said he, lookin' like he look when he send for you in de little
room, 'I'll settle wid ye after dinner.'
"Well, dar I was shiverin' an' shakin' in my shoes, an' droppin' gravy
an' spillin' de wine on de table-cloth, I was dat shuck up; an' when de
dinner was ober he calls all de ladies an' gemmen, an' says, 'Now come
down to de duck pond. I'm gwineter show dis nigger dat all de gooses on
my plantation got mo' den one leg.'
"I followed 'long, trapesin' after de whole kit an' b'ilin', an' when we
got to de pond"--here Chad nearly went into a convulsion with
suppressed laughter--"dar was de gooses sittin' on a log in de middle of
dat ole green goose-pond wid one leg stuck down so, an' de udder tucked
under de wing."
Chad was now on one leg, balancing himself by my chair, the tears
running down his cheek.
"'Dar, marsa,' says I, 'don't ye see? Look at dat ole gray goose! Dat's
de berry match ob de one we had to-day.'
"Den de ladies all hollered, an' de gemmen laughed so loud dey yerd 'em
at de big house.
"'Stop, you black scoun'rel!' Marsa John says, his face gittin' white
an' he a-jerkin' his handkerchief from his pocket. 'Shoo!'
"Major, I hope to have my brains kicked out by a lame grasshopper if
ebery one ob dem gooses didn't put down de udder leg!
"'Now, you lyin' nigger,' he says, raisin' his cane ober my head, 'I'll
"'Stop, Marsa John!' I hollered; ''t ain't fair, 't ain't fair.'
"'Why ain't it fair?' says he.
"''Cause,' says I, 'you didn't say "Shoo!" to de goose what was on de
Chad laughed until he choked.
"And did he thrash you?"
"Marsa John? No, sah. He laughed loud as anybody; an' den dat night he
says to me as I was puttin' some wood on de fire:
"'Chad, where did dat leg go?' An' so I ups an' tells him all about
Henny, an' how I was lyin' 'case I was 'feared de gal would git hurt,
an' how she was on'y a-foolin', thinkin' it was my goose; an' den de ole
marsa look in de fire for a long time, an' den he says:
"'Dat's Colonel Barbour's Henny, ain't it, Chad?'
"'Yes, marsa,' says I.
"Well, de next mawnin' he had his black horse saddled, an' I held the
stirrup for him to git on, an' he rode ober to de Barbour plantation,
an' didn't come back till plumb black night. When he come up I held de
lantern so I could see his face, for I wa'n't easy in my mine all day.
But it was all bright an' shinin' same as a' angel's.
"'Chad,' he says, handin' me de reins, 'I bought yo' Henny dis arternoon
from Colonel Barbour, an' she's comin' ober to-morrow, an' you can bofe
git married next Sunday.'"
~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~