The Portrait of Fritha and The Lost Princess

Let’s discuss a story which can help you write on those blank pages in your 2017 book:

There are some stories which capture you heart when you read them.  This is especially true of people who are isolated from society, but in the end, when they have left the confines of this planet traversing the cosmos, their loss is deeply felt.

Paul Gallico’s Philip Rhayader in the short story The Snow Goose is one.  The story takes place in the 1930s in the English village of Chelmbury.

Philip had purchased an old lighthouse where he found solace and solitude.  He was a painter and photographer of wildlife, especially the birds around the Great Marsh.

The villagers found him very odd, and as history has shown, oddity breads suspicion.  Philip’s physical appearance added fear since he was a hunchback.

Perhaps the literate among them had read Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Quasimodo would not be a creature to engage in conversation

Or perhaps, sadly, the devout found Philip’s deformity a curse from God. The old theory goes that God made man perfect, but sin caused deformity, and the most pronounced deformity manifested the highest degree of sin.

Into Philip’s solitary journey of loneliness he welcomed the birds, especially the geese which found a sanctuary around the lighthouse.  He was their protector and friend, which the wild-fowlers detested; Philip was a gentle soul who would never hurt a living creature, and his safe zones were off limits to hunting.

Usually this is how it is with those outcasts of society.  Beneath the layers of deformity and loneliness beats a heart of care and love.

One day a knock on his door changed Philip forever.  When he opened the door, a young girl stood there with a wounded goose in her arms—her name was Fritha; she had never met Philip, but had heard the “stories” from the villagers.

She had a great amount of fear about the strange man in the old Lighthouse, but Fritha knew as well that he was hated by the wild-fowlers for his love of birds.  The goose in her arms had been wounded by these men, and she hoped the strange man had some magic to heal the poor animal.

The goose was a Canadian Snow Goose who found its way across the North Atlantic to England.  Philip named the goose “La Princesses Perdue,” the Lost Princess since the creature was from a distant land who found the North Winds to carry it across the sea.

Over time Fritha became Philip’s only human contact.  The Lost Princess fully recovered.

However, this is not the end because this is not a fairy tale where they all lived happier ever after.  The rest of the story is about bravery, love, redemption, sacrifice and a portrait of a young girl with a goose hidden in the lighthouse.

The story is in the link below.  Just be prepared for how it ends.

G. D. Williams © 2017

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The Snow Goose

“THE Great Marsh lies on the Essex coast between the village of Chelmbury and the ancient Saxon oyster-fishing hamlet of Wickaeldroth. It is one of the last of the wild places of England, a low, far-reaching expanse of grass and reeds and half-submerged meadowlands ending in the great saltings and mud flats and tidal pools near the restless sea.

“Tidal creeks and estuaries and the crooked, meandering arms of many little rivers whose mouths lap at the edge of the ocean cut through the sodden land that seems to rise and fall and breathe with the recurrence of the daily tides. It is desolate, utterly lonely, and made lonelier by the calls and cries of the wildfowl that make their homes in the marshlands and saltings – the wild geese and the gulls, the teal and widgeon, the redshanks and curlews that pick their way through the tidal pools. Of human habitants there are none, and none are seen, with the occasional exception of a wild-fowler or native oyster fishermen, who still ply a trade already ancient when the Normans came to Hastings.”

Click to access snowgoose.pdf