Long ago deep in a faraway forest on a small pond called Prudence lived three young gosling brothers named Gareth, Gandolph, and Gulliver.
They were strong swimmers gifted with deep echoing honks. Their eyes were keen, their beaks were honed to a fine degree of sharpness, and their little webbed feet were learning to move fine volumes of Prudence or any other pond’s water. They did all goose boy work well.
All the birds, insects, fish, and animals who lived in the forest were especially excited by the boys’ powers of flight. Gareth, Gandolph, and Gulliver loved to fly. From dawn to dusk they lofted themselves into the sky over and over again. They climbed swiftly, searched out air flows and currents with ever-growing expertise, and soared for hours before the winds. Everyone in the forest could hear them honking elatedly as they rose, glided, and dove like three freed ebullient clouds.
The gosling brothers were fearless explorers. Every day they journeyed many miles from Prudence’s shores. They knew every pathway in the forest, every surface of the foothills and mountains, and every street, avenue, and highway the humans had built in the villages and towns that lay outside the animals’ domain.
The brothers loved their life, but their parents worried about them. They felt troubled by their sons’ unusual nature.
Every night as they settled into their nest Pa Goose chewed them out.
“What is going to become of you?” he honked. “All you do is wander and play every hour of every day. Do you help me mind the nest? No. Do you study how to guard? No. Do you even know what goose-guards do? No. All you do is churn around Prudence and fly who knows where, who knows why. How are you ever going to learn how to be like your uncles and me? How will you learn how to be a mature husband and father? How will you learn how to be a responsible leader of your own flock on your own pond?”
The boys regularly fell asleep to their Dad’s anxious but loving “how, how, how” song.
Every morning when they woke up, Ma Goose fussed at them as they paddled across Prudence searching out algae and grasses and other goose goodies. She often asked Goose God to save her wayward goslings.
“What is going to become of you,” she honked. “You fly so high, and you fly so far. What if you lose your way? What if someone catches you and eats you? What if you get lost? What if you never come back home? Not to mention your schoolwork. Oh God, oh God, please help us. Please make these crazy boys of mine stay close to home like good little goslings. Please make these crazy boys let their father and me teach them their goose lessons. Lessons! Do they ever sit still for their lessons? No. Do they ever do their homework? No. Are they studying how to ream the parasites from their feathers? Are they studying how to find savories under the mud and beneath the ice? Are they studying how to sniff danger and ward off enemies? No, no, and no again. They never study, they fear nothing, and they love everybody. Oh God, oh God, oh God, what are we going to do with these three restless lazy sons of mine?”
The boys regularly found and ate their breakfast to the rhythms of their mom’s prayerful scolding. Then they reared in the water, flapped their wings proudly, kissed their mom with their bright beaks, honked bye-bye to their dad, kicked their paws across the pond, and rose wetly into the sky. They circled Prudence, honked happy farewells to all their insect, fish, animal, and bird friends, and took off for parts unknown to all but themselves.
The frogs, wrens, bass, bees, weasels, and raccoons smiled as the boys vanished from sight. Sometimes even the sleeping bats woke up to eavesdrop on Ma Goose’s laments and watch the boys’ rousing take-offs.
As Gareth, Gandolph, and Gulliver became small white fluttering dots on the horizon, the creatures waiting below smiled, and said: “Those are the best goslings in the whole wide world.”
Ma and Pa Goose cuddled fondly on the bank and clucked: “They are very good goslings, it’s true.”
Chapter 2: A Lost Bunny
As the months passed, many creatures sought the boys’ help.
The first were Reynolds and Rayna Rabbit. They hopped frantically to Ma and Pa’s nest. They were distraught.
“It’s Raylene,” Rayna howled. “We can’t find her. She’s been gone all morning. She’s lost, lost. What if the humans caught her in a trap? What if that wretched Coyote took her? Oh, please ask your goslings to find her. Please, please, please. We beg you.”
Ma comforted the hysterical rabbits. Pa waddled across the bank, leapt onto the pond, kicked across the surface, and mounted mightily into the air. Everyone could see where the three goslings had inherited their uncommon skills.
He searched the skies with his bright eyes and bellowed honk after honk toward the mountain peaks. Gandolph heard his cries. They boys flew toward their Dad. They met in mid-air, and Pa Goose explained the problem. The goslings gasped, and with all possible speed they flew with their father back to Prudence.
The boys and their dad plopped powerfully onto the pond and swam like crazy to the nest. Gandolph asked the despairing rabbits where they last had seen their daughter, and in which direction she’d been hopping. Gulliver stroked poor Rayna with his wing as she replied. He comforted her. “Don’t worry,” he honked. We’ll find her, Mrs. Rabbit. We’ll guard her. We’ll bring her home to you.”
And so they did. They flew north, then east. They searched the forest with their brilliant eyes. They tuned out the rush of air and the flap of wings to listen for gentle bunny cries. At last Gareth spotted her. Little Raylene wasn’t crying. She was calmly grazing a meadow far, far from her home.
Raylene wriggled her nose lovingly when the boys landed. She loved the goslings. She felt horrified that she’d frightened her parents. “Oh dear,” she warbled. “I had no idea they were afraid. But why are they afraid? I know exactly where I am. I know exactly how to get home. Let’s go straightaway.”
When Raylene rose on her rear paws and tried to spot the right path, she felt confounded. Such a broad meadow. Such tall grasses and flowers. “Oh dear,” she chirped. “I’m not so sure of the way after all. Oh dear, what should we do? Will Coyote get us?”
Gulliver hugged her, and said: “Don’t worry. We know the way. We’ll get you home.”
Gareth led the way. Gulliver and Gandolph waddled on either side of Raylene. They hissed, and they looked as ferocious as they could to guard her from Coyote and all the other predators.
All the way home, Raylene blushed and murmured: “thanks, guys.”
What a celebratory reunion Reynolds, Rayna, and Raylene shared. They hopped with glee. They tumbled in the grass. They couldn’t stop thanking the geese and their goslings for saving their family.
That night at bedtime, Pa Goose whispered: “I’m proud of you, boys. You guarded well.” Ma Goose kissed them until they blushed beneath their plumage. “I’m proud of you, too. There’s no need for you to do your homework tonight.”
The next morning the whole pond echoed with praises. The goslings had done well.
Chapter 3: Many Other Lost Children, & One Lost Brooch
Throughout the summer, many other animal parents sought the boys’ help.
Summer is a risky season in the animal world. Food abounds. Young ones chomp and chew delightedly, lose track of time and forget the course of their footsteps. Or, if they are flyers, the course of their wing flaps. Off they go, happy as can be, without a care and without a map or a compass.
Time passes. Their parents wonder: “Where has my child wandered?” Their parents feel overwhelmed with fear. They panic. “What if Coyote comes? What if the humans … oh, I can’t bear to say it. I can’t bear to think it.”
Then the parents dash, race, sprint to the goose nest hidden in the banks of Prudence and implore Ma and Pa Goose to put their goslings on the case.
The boys always succeeded in finding the wayward animal children, guiding them unerringly home, guarding them fiercely from Coyote and all other predators.
They saved Dontrelle Deer and Pontius Porcupine. They saved Scintella Sparrow and Selma Skunk. They saved Francine Frog and Charleston Chipmunk. They saved Oren Opossum, too (whom they found snoozing on a limb poised dangerously above a whitewater waterfall).
They saved multiple foxes, otters, and bats. They saved innumerable butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. They saved several bewildered fish. One evening they even saved Brutus, the black bears’ beautiful but dumb young cub. They saved many beings, and restored many families to safety and peace.
The more creatures the goslings found, guarded successfully, and led home the more their fame grew.
Their fame never made them vain, though. Gareth, Gandolph, and Gulliver loved helping their fellow creatures. They loved holding families together. And they loved it that their parents grew so proud of them. Even though Ma and Pa Goose still gave them plenty of advice about how they should be studying, staying close to home, and learning how to be better geese.
Once the boys even saved a brooch. It belonged to a gentle human named Sophronia whom the forest animals trusted, knew well, and loved.
Sophronia came often to the forest. She idled along the pathways, stroked tree trunks, sniffed flowers, petted mosses, and smiled at all the beings she met. Every day she stopped by a favorite tree, scattered bread crumbs and cheeses, and sat silently, stock still, as the creatures fed.
One day Selena Squirrel drifted toward Sophronia’s frock, and climbed carefully into her lap. Sophronia petted her quietly, and Selena snoozed. From that time onward, many other creatures cuddled with Sophronia.
Sophronia always was calm and gentle, kind and giving. But one morning she was upset. The animals saw her tearing at her hair as she stumbled uncharacteristically from side to side along her favorite pathway. They could hear their friend moaning and groaning because she’d mislaid a golden brooch that her parents had given her.
Hosts of creatures emerged to help her search for her lost jewel. No one could find it. Then Harold, the wisest of all hummingbirds, sang: “The goslings. They’ll find it.”
Evangeline Eaglet rose from the tree top and raced across the sky. She spotted the goslings on the far side of the mountain. How swiftly she flew. She arched around them in midair, explained the problem, and led them to Sophronia.
The goslings promised Sophronia and all the animals that they would find the treasured brooch without fail. And they succeeded. They waddled up and down the long twisting path until at last Gandolph spotted a telltale glimmer beneath a thick carpet of clover.
He plucked it from the grass, and the boys flew gleefully to their friends. They landed on the pine needles with three thick plops, waddled to Sophronia’s side, and gently lay the brooch in her outstretched hands.
She showered those geese with tears, thanked and blessed all the creatures who had come from their shelters to help her, and ran home to her family to tell them of the miracle in the forest and the brilliant goslings who had saved their cherished gift.
That night all the animals’ parents half-heartedly scolded their children for trusting and confiding in a human. Sophronia’s parents half-heartedly scolded her for trusting and feeding and touching wild feral animals. But secretly all the parents felt overjoyed that animals and humans could be friends, and help one another.
Chapter 4: Worldwide Fame
Sophronia told her parents about the goslings’ many exploits, their uncommon skills, their modesty, their kindness, and their wide circle of friends.
The humans told their friends about the miracle in the forest and the unusual powers of the three goslings. A newspaper picked up the story. Then a television station broadcast a report, and YouTube went crazy with the tale.
Many people felt enchanted to learn that all the creatures in the forest have complex, full lives. There grew to be much talk about the many beings with whom we share life and meaning. There arose especially broad and excited conversation about goose life.
In a distant valley called Silicon, two college boys who had grown bored with their studies worked hard on a bold, immense idea. Their idea had come to them while they were daydreaming and doodling.
The boys’ parents and all their teachers always had honked at them about being more serious, more studious, and more prudent. But like Gareth, Gandolph, and Gulliver the human boys needed to grow in their own way. Like the three goslings they were passionate about their instincts, and very good at what they knew.
The two boys embraced their dreams and explored their ideas. They journeyed far in their minds.
They tried and tried to make their dreams come true. One day they did. They built a way for humans to use computers to search and find, to map pathways, to discover what otherwise would be lost.
The human boys knew at once they should call their invention Goosel, because all they were doing was making a way for a machine to give humans the power that nature had given Gareth, Gandolph, and Gulliver.
Humans sometimes have a hard time with their language. Goosel was too hard for most humans to pronounce, so they changed their word to Google.
Sophronia told all her animal friends about the humans’ machine, its name, and its triumphant universal success.
All the animals laughed and laughed. Ma and Pa Goose laughed too, but they were very proud of their goslings.
Even though they now were famous throughout the world Gareth, Gulliver, and Gandolph never lost their modesty. In fact they never changed at all. They just kept on journeying, exploring, loving their lives, and helping others.