Once upon a time, in a kingdom named Loudoun, there lived a wise and powerful king. Like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him, he was named York.
In those days, kings ruled with the guidance of a council of eight wise men and women. They met twice a month to say wise things while seated behind a crescent-shaped table. Hence, they were known as the Knights and Ladies of the Crescent Table.
When York IV took over the reins of power from York III, he decided that he needed a council with new ideas. He dismissed all but one – Sir Eugene, who had served three kings before York IV. He then selected seven of the wisest people he could find (who were most apt to agree with his ideas).
When King York assembled his new council for the first time, they all agreed that, while Loudoun was the most prosperous kingdom in the richest land the world had ever known, it needed one thing above all else. Eggs.
“We need eggs,” they said in one voice. “Lots of eggs, the more precious the better.”
When the time came for petitions from King York’s subjects, a gardener humbly approached the Crescent Table, asking for help growing plants for his family and neighbors to eat.
“I don’t see what this has to do with eggs,” said Lady Suzanne impatiently.
Next a castle guard came forward, saying that there were prisoners in the dungeon who were not a threat to the community. Maybe, with some supervision by the royal court, they could be released to their families.
“How does that help us get more eggs?” asked Sir Ralph.
The gardener and the castle guard dejectedly left the room.
At the next meeting of the Knights and Ladies of the Crescent Table, King York proudly announced that the kingdom had been offered the answer to its greatest need. To the sound of a fanfare from the herald trumpets, he placed a covered silver platter on the Crescent Table and, with a flourish, dramatically removed the lid.
The room fell silent as everyone stared in wonderment.
“It’s a goose,” said Lady Janet. “I’ve seen one or two in my province in the west country.”
“Not just any goose,” replied King York proudly. “It’s a goose that lays golden eggs, and it can be ours for 1,000 shekels.”
“Boondoggle!” shouted Sir Eugene, without hesitation. He then burst into song.
“The gooooooose is a booooooooooondoggle,” he crooned.
“What’s that stripe down its back?” asked Sir Matthew.
“It looks like a Silver Line,” observed Sir Shawn.
Lady Suzanne looked dubious. “How do we know the eggs are golden?” she asked. “The stripe is silver. Maybe it only lays silver eggs.”
“It lays golden eggs!” insisted York. Holding up two golden eggs, he said, “Look what it laid in the Kingdom of Fairfax!”
“Those eggs don’t have any jewels,” observed Lady Janet.
“Who needs golden eggs?” objected Sir Kenneth. “What good are eggs if you can’t eat them?”
“We don’t need more chicken eggs,” replied Sir Ralph. “That will just lead to more clogged arteries. Golden eggs are just what we need.”
“We can’t afford it,” said Sir Eugene, and he resumed his song. “Boooondoggle!”
“We could sell some eggs to cover the cost of the goose,” said Sir Shawn, moving beads on his abacus.
“No one is talking about the maintenance costs,” said Lady Janet. “How much will we have to pay to feed the goose?”
“And what about vet bills?” piped in Sir Geary.
“It isn’t worth more than 500 shekels, tops,” said Lady Suzanne.
“I don’t like duck eggs,” said Sir Kenneth. “I only like chicken eggs.”
“It doesn’t walk like a duck or quack like a duck,” observed Sir Geary. “I don’t think it’s a duck at all.”
“Dunderheads!” thundered King York. “It’s not a flippin’ duck, it’s a goose! You all agreed that we need eggs, and this goose lays golden ones!”
“We need more time to make up our minds,” said Lady Janet.
“We need more economic impact studies,” said Lady Suzanne.
“We need to ask the people in the gallery what they think we should do,” said Sir Geary.
Lady Janet was staring intently at the goose. “This goose is no good,” she said. “It leans a little to the left.”
Most of the others nodded in agreement. “A goose that leans to the right would be fine, but we don’t want one that leans to the left,” remarked Sir Geary.
Several of the wise knights and ladies began to chant: “Left bad! Right good! Left bad! Right good!”
“Boooooondoggle!” crooned Sir Eugene.
Before long, the members of the council were all shouting, singing and chanting at once. Rising above them all, King York’s voice could be heard wailing, “My father, what have I done? I need the knights and ladies of your wise council to return to the Crescent Table and take the place of these simpletons!”
But the shouts of the council just grew louder and louder, until they sounded just like a passing flock of honking geese.
They didn’t notice that the goose had hopped down from the Crescent Table and waddled over toward the gallery of onlookers, who were watching the spectacle in astonishment.
“Have you ever seen anything so ridiculous in your life?” the goose asked the assembled citizens.
“They got exactly what they asked for – on a silver platter, even – and they still couldn’t agree to accept it. And they say geese are silly!”
And then, with a parting honk of disgust, the goose flew away, never to be seen in that kingdom again.