The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico is another Short Story everyone should read. Apparently it wasn’t immediately accepted as it involved a love story between a young girl and an ostricized man. But as effemeral as it may seem, a love story it is. The snow goose is what brings them together in time.
For who can love
in the shortness
deny the reverie.
“The Snow Goose is a simple, short written parable on the regenerative power of friendship and love, set against a backdrop of the horror of war. It documents the growth of a friendship between Philip Rhayader, an artist living a solitary life in an abandoned lighthouse in the marshlands, of Essex because of his disabilities, and a young local girl, Fritha. The Snow Goose, symbolic of both Rhayader (Gallico) and the world itself, wounded by gunshot and many miles from home, is found by Fritha and, as the human friendship blossoms, the bird is nursed back to flight, and revisits the lighthouse in its migration for several years. As Fritha grows up, Rhayader and his small sailboat eventually are lost in the Dunkirk evacuation, having saved several hundred men. The bird, which was with Rhayader, returns briefly to the grown Fritha on the marshes. She interprets this as Rhayader’s soul taking farewell of her (and realizes she had come to love him). Afterwards, a German pilot destroys Rhayader’s lighthouse and all of his work, except for one portrait Fritha saves after his death: a painting of her as Rhayader first saw her—a child, with the wounded snow goose in her arms.” WIKIPEDIA
Paul William Gallico (July 26, 1897 – July 15, 1976) was an American novelist, short story and sports writer. Many of his works were adapted for motion pictures. He is perhaps best remembered for The Snow Goose, his only real critical success, and for the novel The Poseidon Adventure, primarily through the 1972 film adaptation.
A depiction of the snow goose hovering over Rhayader as he recues the soldiers from the beach
“It was supposed to have appeared at intervals the last days between Dunkirk and La Panne. If you saw it, you were eventually saved. That sort of thing. “
“H’m’m’m,” said Brill-Oudener. “a wild goose. I saw a tamed one. Dashed strange experience. Tragic, in a way, too.
“Toward six o’clock we sighted a derelict small boat. Seemed to be a chap or body in her. And a bird perched on the rail.”
“We changed our course when we got nearer, and went over for a look-see. By Gad, it was a chap or had been, poor fellow. Machine gunned, you know. Badly. Face down in the water. Bird was a goose, a tame one.”
“We drifted close, but when one of our chaps reached over, the bird hissed at him and near struck at him with her wings. Couldn’t drive it off. “
“When we turned our attention to the derelict again, she was gone. Sunk. Concussion, you know. Chap with her. He must have been lashed to her. The bird got up and was circling. Three times, like a plane saluting. Dashed queer feeling. Then she flew off to the west. Lucky thing for us we went over to have a look, eh? Odd that you should mention a goose.”