What was that infernal din? Catching up her shawl, Julia dashed down the stairs and then out through the front door. Winding her shawl around her, she rounded the house and almost slammed into an unfamiliar gig.
The vehicle blocked her view of the goose pen, from which the honking emanated. But no one was there—her pet goose had run off. She ran around the conveyance and stopped dead.
Her pet had returned! Flapping, honking and biting, the flying goose—He could fly? She had never before seen him do so—attacked a large, stylishly dressed gentleman.
The man, his arms high to protect his head, flailed at the goose. His back was to her, his upended hat lay in the dirt and white feathers covered his black greatcoat. He swore. Loudly.
Julia’s ears burned. “Do not hurt my goose, sir!”
The man batted at the goose again and turned toward her.
Julia gasped. He was the man on the road a few days ago. His dark eyes blazed, his brown hair was mussed, and his sharp cheekbones had flushed from the effort of warding off the goose.
Her pulse raced. He had looked handsome at a distance. Up close, he was magnificent. Tingles raced over her skin.
“This spawn of Satan is your property, madam?” He jerked his head back from the goose’s open bill as the bird dove in for a bite.
“He is, sir, and you will not harm him!” She jumped between the man and the goose.
The goose, breathing heavily, plopped to the ground. Eyes afire, he angled his head around her. He hissed at the man.
“Gracious, what is the matter?” She stroked the goose’s head.
The bird went limp, as if he had been pumped full of air and all the gas suddenly escaped.
She tipped her head back to glare up at the man. Good gracious, he was tall. “He has never acted this way before. What have you done to him?”
The man’s jaw dropped. “I? This feathered blackguard has tried to bite me ever since I saw him. And just now he attacked me.” He scowled at the goose. “If he is your property, you are welcome to him.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!