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A Harpy “Helps” Cook a Goose

Maggie had arranged the table just-so and now listened as the entire family started to settle into the seats, waiting to bring out the goose and present it to Odnar’s father and mother, which was what Odnar had said was the proper thing to do. She was all nerves as she checked the goose again and again, not that it made any difference. Maggie cooked a fine goose, and this one was no exception: the skin was golden brown, the potatoes perfectly cooked, and the gravy, which she had ladled carefully around the spuds, was, in her own opinion, fantastic.

She’d double-checked every dish before she left it, afraid that something would happen before everyone was sat. She thought that with this one meal she might sway the rest of the family toward liking her. She noticed that Tenk had been watching the dishes closely, too, which had made her feel both better and worse.

She hadn’t even changed her dress yet for dinner, she’d been so busy making sure everything was just so. The door opened and she smiled expecting Odnar, but saw, instead, one of the sisters, Petronella, who smiled widely at her.

“Grandmother thought you might like to change before dinner.”

“Oh, I would like that very much! It won’t take me long, if’n you don’t mind?” She smiled broadly.

Petronella waved her hands at her, “Go, go! and be quick!”

Maggie dashed to the little room she’d been sleeping in and shed her stained working dress and changed into her nicer dress, the one she sometimes wore to country dances when she was shepherding in the summers. She brushed her hair and braided it and pinched her cheeks. She took her hat in her hands and, with a furtive glance around the room as if she expected to find a spy, pressed it between her hands and twisted it and did something peculiar and when she settled it on her head it was no longer a large top hat but, instead a wreath of holly and ivy.

She hurried back to the kitchen, calling out an apology for taking so long even as she entered but discovered it was empty. The oven had been re-kindled and was burning so hot it was nearly cherry red. She hurried over to it to dampen the fire down, her sense of economy briefly overwhelming a feeling of dread. When she straightened up she noticed that the goose was gone.

“Oh no…”

She ran to the dining room and pushed through the door just in time to hear Solveig say, “I thought we were having Geese-a-laying? That looks more like a Swan-a-Swimming to me.”
Maggie’s beautiful goose was no longer golden brown but instead a deep black-ish brown and it was in a deep cooking pan up to its wings in gravy. The potatoes floated past it as Odnar’s father tried to push the knife through the blackened carcass.

Maggie lifted her hands to her mouth, her eyes wide.

“That’s not…” Odnar started, but stopped when he spotted Maggie in the door.

Maggie, as any reasonable girl would, turned and fled from the room.

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  1. Mr Tenk Mr Tenk January 5, 2015

    Odnar was on his feet in a second shouting “Maggie!” and starting toward the kitchen door.

    Dagmar stopped him and gestured to her sisters. “Let us, Uncle. This is women’s business, isn’t it grandmother?”

    “Of course.” Said Freyja. “Find her and bring her back. Even if the goose is not quite right, the rest looks delicious. She’s nothing to be upset about.”

    The three sisters exchanged glances and disappeared through the door after Maggie.

    Tenk was looking after them with narrow eyes, his mood appearing fouler than ever.

    “I don’t understand it.” Odnar said as he sat down again. “I saw it just as it came out of the oven and it didn’t look like that.”

    “Didn’t it?” Freyja asked. She exchanged a look with her husband who glowered down at the burned goose.

    “Those girls.” Búri said as he began to deftly slice away the burned skin to reveal the still juicy interior. “Ruining a fine goose like this.” He cut a slice and placed it on his wife’s plate.

    “Best go after them, Odnar. You know how Halberstadt women can be when they take against someone.” She looked significantly at Tenk, who had once been on the receiving end of a Halberstadt woman’s fury.

    “I’ll get the ponies.” Tenk said, pushing away from the table.

    “I’ll get the crossbows.” Odnar replied, following him out.

    Odnar’s brother, Skirfir, passed his plate to his father, he looked amused. “I hope Odnar’s girl is a fighter.”

    Gunnar, the youngest in the family, had been sneaking food from every bowl and plate on the table, “I hope so too! Do you think she’ll cook for us tomorrow, too?” A few of the children who had been following their young uncle’s example nodded along with him.

    The meal was, burned skin aside, considered a success by those who weren’t fleeing through the snowy woods.

    • Mr Tenk Mr Tenk January 5, 2015

      right, two days of christmas left! we can do this!

      • Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs January 5, 2015

        I was wondering if we’d ever see the completion of this. *chuckle*

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