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Thread: The Goose Thieves

          
   
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    The Goose Thieves

    It was Bina who first got wind of what was
    happening. She happened to be passing the school
    kitchen where they cooked meals for the nuns
    and boarders. George, the school-bus driver, was
    lounging around talking to the cooks inside. Bina,
    who was looking for some botanical specimens in
    the backyard, stopped suddenly in her tracks.
    Waddling sedately towards her was a bevy of
    large, awkward looking geese.
    "Oh hello, Christopher Columbus, hi Marco
    Polo, hi Captain Cook, hello Amundsen," she
    greeted them. The geese hurried towards her,
    their heads bobbing back and forth. The boarders
    had named the geese after famous explorers because they were constantly exploring the school
    grounds. Once they had wandered into Bina's
    classroom, during a very boring civics class and
    had scared the daylights out of Miss K. The class
    had roared with laughter as Miss K. tried to
    chase the intruders out by flapping a large, checked, board duster.
    As Bina patted them, she heard one of the
    cooks giggle and threaten George. "If you keep

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    demanding more food, we'll really fatten you up
    and have you for the Christmas feast like those
    geese outside."
    Bina's heart sank. These sweet, lovable geese
    were actually being fattened for Christmas! It
    couldn't be! The schoolgirls were much too fond
    of them. But what could they do anyway? Bina
    sought her friends Vinita, Valerie and Nishi and
    told them what she had overheard.
    Nishi exploded. "Nonsense! Not our Marco
    Polo and Amundsen, our poor Captain Cook, and
    Columbus no, no we won't let them be killed
    and eaten."
    Valerie however was the thoughtful sort. "But
    how can we stop them? They have every right to
    do what they like with the geese. That's done
    every Christmas. We have no right to make anybody do anything. After all, they aren't even our
    geese!"
    Vinita was close to tears. "But we've seen them
    around for weeks. School won't be the same
    without those darlings waddling in and out of
    the classrooms. We can't let them be killed!"
    Bina had been quiet all this time, working out
    a plan. "I think we can do something about it,"
    she said finally. "In fact there is something we
    can do to stop the geese from turning up on the
    school dining table for Christmas."
    Nishi muttered disbelievingly, "If you're going

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    to suggest to Mother Superior that we should
    have a heart-to-heart talk about it, count me out.
    I quake in my boots when I see her coming."
    "Besides," said Valerie, "who are we for her to
    listen to? "
    "Listen to me," Bina interrupted. "I have a real
    good idea. The more I think about it, the better
    it appears."
    "Out with it, Beans," Vinita was impatient.
    "We'll kidnap them!" Bina exclaimed and sat
    back to watch her friends' reaction.
    "What!" burst out Nishi, "kidnap!"
    "You mean it'll work?" Vinita sounded doubtful.
    "Why not?"
    Only Valerie said slowly, "It's a possibility! We
    could keep them in my backyard. We have lots
    of space."
    The four sat together and thought. Gradually
    it struck the other three that Bina's idea was
    workable. If they could but grab the four geese
    and smuggle them somewhere far away from
    school there would be no geese for the cooks to
    fatten and slaughter for the Christmas dinner.
    The next few days, the four of them thought
    over and discussed plans in secret, till the rest of
    the class almost went crazy. They would huddle
    in a comer of the lawn or in the assembly hall
    or library. Whenever anybody wanted to find

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    out what they were discussing, they would
    innocently say like Valerie once did to an inquisitive girl "Oh we are discussing the exploits of
    Marco Polo the traveller."
    "But we learnt all about him in geography last
    year," said the stubborn girl and went off,
    mumbling to herself.
    D-day drew nearer. It was mid-December and
    getting very cold. The girls came to school clad
    in heavy blazers. The day before the plan was
    put into action the four friends met on the lawn.
    "All set?" Bina looked round and blew on her
    hands for warmth. "Everybody sure about their
    parts?"
    "Hmmm."
    "Of course."
    "Everything's fine."
    "Good."
    The next morning Bina went to school, wearing
    a large sized blue overcoat. Mother Superior
    noticed her at once, even before morning
    assembly.
    "What is this?" she asked Bina. "You know very
    well that you're not supposed to wear any coat
    except your blazer to school."
    "Yes Mother," Bina said innocently, "but on my
    way here the upstairs lady threw out some water
    which fell on me. I couldn't come to school wearing a wet blazer."

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    Mother Superior nodded. "That's all right," she
    said.
    She was however dumbfounded when three
    other girls of the same class turned up wearing
    oversized coats.
    She shook her head in disbelief as they in turn
    made some excuse for turning up in their mothers coats.
    "This is too much,'' she shouted. "Four of you!
    Is this some kind of a practical joke?"
    Nishi looked nervous. Bina patted her arm and
    said aloud, "What a coincidence. Four of us turning up like this! It's funny, isn't it?"
    There was a pause and then Mother Superior
    smiled, "Go on, go to your class. But I hope coincidences like this do not happen too often."
    The girls fled to their classroom. The others
    stared at them in surprise. The moment classes
    were over for that day, the four friends charged
    out. Their natural science teacher already tottering rather unsteadily on stilettos was thrown offbalance and fell heavily against the tall human
    skeleton in the corner of the room, as the four
    ran past her. Their classmates squealed in sympathy.
    Bina, Valerie, Nishi and Vinita had already
    disappeared down the corridor, past the library
    and assembly hall, across the courtyard and towards the kitchen. The kitchen was deserted and

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    there was nobody in sight either.
    Just then, as if on cue, the four explorers walked out from behind a bush.
    "Grab," yelled Nishi forgetting to whisper and
    lunged at Christopher Columbus.
    "Eee-yowa," howled Bina as she reached for
    Marco Polo and was left with a feather from his
    tail as he slipped away.
    Valerie ran after Amundsen, and Vinita after
    Captain Cook who was scurrying across the cabbage-patch.
    Bina caught her prey and tossed him inside her
    overcoat. But he was larger than she had thought
    and he stuck out conspicuously on her left side
    as he straggled to free himself. Bina ignored him,
    and shouted instructions to the others, "Get him
    from over there, right there.... Oh no! he's gone
    behind the bench.... you go from this side....
    got him. . . .no? Oh there he is.. . . quick
    get him... .great!'' Nishi gripped Amundsen
    tightly, Christopher Columbus having fled towards Valerie who was chasing him round and
    round a cactus bush.
    "That's enough!" a sharp authoritarian voice
    lashed out. The girls looked up with instinctive
    dread. Mother Superior stood on top of the kitchen steps, tall and unapproachable. The cook,
    Mary, peeped out from behind her.
    There was pin-drop silence for a few seconds

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    Then, as Valerie and Vinita whirled round, their
    prey fled cackling loudly to safer pastures.
    Mother Superior looked sternly at them. "Now
    what's all this in aid of?" she asked in a quiet icy
    voice. "Is this your idea of fun?" There was a
    deathly silence. From inside Bina's coat Marco
    Polo gave an indignant squawk. Bina retrieved
    him and dumped him unceremoniously on the
    ground where he shook back his ruffled feathers
    and trundled off. Nishi put Amundsen down and
    he too waddled off.
    v Mother Superior was tight lipped. "Can I ex

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    pect an explanation?"
    The four of them exchanged glances. "We did
    not really mean it, Mother Superior.... We just
    thought it was very cruel. . . .And we're so fond
    of them!"
    "It's not fair to eat them... we love them so
    much."
    "After all there are so many other animals in
    the whole world. Why eat these?"
    Mother Superior raised one hand to silence
    them, "One of you explain. Not all of you together. ..."
    Bina explained. She had a soothing voice. By
    the time she finished, Mother Superior was quite
    relaxed and trying to hide a smile.
    "Kidnap them!" she exclaimed. "Kidnap?"
    Mary, who had been quiet all this time, suddenly roared with laughter.
    "Oh! Its so funny," she burst out. They all had
    an uproarious laugh. Finally Mother Superior
    said, patting the girls on their shoulders, "Whatever gave you girls the idea we were going to eat
    these fellow's? Certainly not. We're too fond of
    them. We won't kill them for the sake of one
    meal. They're yours girls! Yours to play with and
    look after."
    "Thank you, Mother Superior," four voices
    sang in chorus. "Its wonderful to know you never
    intended killing them in the first place."

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