Diary of a Goose Girl by Kate Douglas Wiggin
by the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm - Chapter 13



I have been studying _The Young Poultry Keeper's Friend_ of late. If
there is anything I dislike and deplore, it is the possession of
knowledge which I cannot put to practical use. Having discovered an
interesting disease called Scaly Leg in the July number, I took the
magazine out into the poultry-yard and identified the malady on three
hens and a cock. Phoebe joined me in the diagnosis and we treated the
victims with a carbolic lotion and scrubbed them with vaseline.

As Phoebe and I grow wise in medical lore the case of Cannibal Ann
assumes a different aspect. As the bibulous man quaffs more and more
flagons of beer and wine when his daily food is ham, salt fish, and
cabbage, so does the hen avenge her wrongs of diet and woes of
environment. Cannibal Ann, herself, has, so far as we know, been raised
in a Christian manner and enjoyed all the advantages of modern methods;
but her maternal parent may have lived in some heathen poultry-yard which
was asphalted or bricked or flagged, so that she was debarred from
scratching in Mother Earth and was forced to eat her own shells in self-

* * *

The Square Baby is not particularly attracted by the poultry as a whole,
save when it is boiled with bacon or roasted with bread-sauce; but he is
much interested in the "invaleeds." Whenever Phoebe and I start for the
hospital with the tobacco-pills, the tin of paraffin, and the bottle of
oil, he is very much in evidence. Perhaps he has a natural leaning
toward the medical profession; at any rate, when pain and anguish wring
the brow, he is in close attendance upon the ministering angels.

Now it is necessary for the physician to have practice as well as theory,
so the Square Baby, being left to himself this afternoon, proceeded to
perfect himself in some of the healing arts used by country

When discovered, he was seated in front of the wire-covered "run"
attached to a coop occupied by the youngest goslings. A couple of
bottles and a box stood by his side, and I should think he had
administered a cup of sweet oil, a pint of paraffin, and a quarter of a
pound of tobacco during his clinic. He had used the remedies
impartially, sometimes giving the paraffin internally and rubbing the
patient's head with tobacco or oil, sometimes the reverse.

Several goslings leaned languidly against the netting, or supported
themselves by the edge of the water-dish, while others staggered and
reeled about with eyes half closed.

It was Mrs. Heaven who caught her son red-handed, so to speak. She was
dressed in her best, and just driving off to Woodmucket to spend a day or
two with her married daughter, and soothe her nerves with the uproar
incident to a town of six hundred inhabitants. She delayed her journey a
half-hour--long enough, in fact, to change her black silk waist for a
loose sacque which would give her arms full and comfortable play. The
joy and astonishment that greeted the Square Baby on his advent, five
years ago, was forgotten for the first time in his brief life, and he was
treated precisely as any ordinary wrongdoer would have been treated under
the same circumstances, summarily and smartly; the "wepping," as Phoebe
would say, being Mrs. Heaven's hand.

All but one of the goslings lived, like thousands of others who recover
in spite of the doctors, but the Square Baby's interest in the healing
art is now perceptibly lessened.



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