The Diary of a Goose Girl
The day was Friday; Phoebe's day to go to Buffington with eggs and chickens and
rabbits; her day to solicit orders for ducklings and goslings. The village cart was ready in
the stable; Mr. and Mrs. Heaven were in Woodmucket; I was eating my breakfast (which
I remember was an egg and a rasher) when Phoebe came in, a figure of woe.
The Square Baby was ill, very ill, and would not permit her to leave him and go to
market. Would I look at him? For he must have dowsed 'imself as well as the goslings
yesterday; anyways he was strong of paraffin and tobacco, though he 'ad 'ad a good barth.
I prescribed for Albert Edward, who was as uncomfortable and feverish as any little
sinner in the county of Sussex, and I then promptly proposed going to Buffington in
She did not think it at all proper, and said that, notwithstanding my cotton gown and
sailor hat, I looked quite, quite the lydy, and it would never do.
"I cannot get any new orders," said I, "but I can certainly leave the rabbits and eggs at the
customary places. I know Argent's Dining Parlours, and Songhurst's Tea Rooms, and the
Six Bells Inn, as well as you do."
So, donning a pair of Phoebe's large white cotton gloves with open-work wrists (than
which I always fancy there is no one article that so disguises the perfect lydy), I set out
upon my travels, upborne by a lively sense of amusement that was at least equal to my
feeling that I was doing Phoebe Heaven a good turn.
Prices in dressed poultry were fluctuating, but I had a copy of The Trade Review, issued
that very day, and was able to get some idea of values and the state of the market as I
jogged along. The general movement, I learned, was moderate and of a "selective"
character. Choice large capons and ducks were in steady demand, but I blushed for my
profession when I read that roasting chickens were running coarse, staggy, and of
irregular value. Old hens were held firmly at sixpence, and it is my experience that they
always have to be, at whatever price. Geese were plenty, dull, and weak. Old cocks,--why
don't they say roosters?--declined to threepence ha'penny on Thursday in sympathy with
fowls,--and who shall say that chivalry is dead? Turkeys were a trifle steadier, and there
was a speculative movement in limed eggs. All this was illuminating, and I only wished I
were quite certain whether the sympathetic old roosters were threepence ha'penny apiece,
or a pound.
Everything happened as it should, on this first business journey of my life, which is
equivalent to saying that nothing happened at all. Songhurst's Tea Rooms took five dozen