For the unit of currency, see Gosling (coin).
Gosling Corvinius Arbour
Status Alive
Age Early teens
Origin Boschenberg
Affiliations Madam Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls (former)
Corvinius Arbour family (former)
Occupations Convict
Foundling (former)
Relatives Corvinius Arbour family
Series debut Foundling

Gosling Corvinius Arbour is a convicted criminal and former foundling from Madam Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls, where he was Rossamünd Bookchild's deadliest antagonist. Despite running away before he had obtained a proper apprenticeship, Gosling's actions had a significant impact on the foundlingery after he left. He was born into but was rejected by the prestigious Corvinius Arbour family.


Gosling is described as being sour-faced and lank-haired, with blank, black eyes that conveyed his heartlessness.


Unable to rise above the circumstances in which he found himself, Gosling was characterized by an overweening superiority and callousness towards others, reinforced by the knowledge that he had come from the prestigious Corvinius Arbour family and was higher born than everyone else. The sole reason for his existence at the foundlingery was to make everyone else's life as miserable as possible. He developed a fearsome reputation among his fellow foundlings for the cruel pranks he would play on them, which included gluing shut the eyes of sleeping boys, cutting the hair of sleeping girls, putting dead things and earwigs into empty beds and shoes, and blabbing any secret he discovered. Punishments, even severe ones, had no effect whatsoever on him as he did not care. Gosling harboured a deep resentment and hatred of Madam Opera's and had vowed to burn it down one day. After he was rejected by his family when he tried to return to them, he succeeded with his plan but was severely burned himself and eventually caught and convicted. Even when Verline tried to see him three times he rejected her and would not speak to her.


Gosling had singled out Rossamünd Bookchild as his favourite target and the two had an animosity that ran for years. His malicious behaviour and tormenting of the other children ensured that he did not have any friends or get close to anyone while he was at the foundlingery. After he rejected by his family a second time he was left utterly alone.


Despite being a member of the Corvinius Arbour family, Gosling was abandoned at the foundlingery, supposedly so that his parents could afford to keep a pair of racehorses. He eventually came to blame Madam Opera's for the situation he found himself in despite having been taken in and cared for. During his time there, Gosling determinedly set upon Rossamünd as his principal victim, in part due to his feminine name, and constantly mocked and tried to torment him.



In the autumn of HIR 1601 during a harundo practice bout with Rossamünd, Gosling, anxious to pay his opponent back for the torments he had escaped from during the week, was especially vicious. When he was unexpectedly hit with a counterthrust, he attacked Rossamünd in a blind rage with his fists and was able to pummel him before being hauled off and punished. Two weeks later he confronted Rossamünd in the library, boasting that his family would eventually come to take him away, a common boast of his. Rossamünd spoke up when Gosling insulted Fransitart, the dormitory master, which led his adversary to threaten to even burn the foundlingery down.

Despite being two of the oldest children at Madam Opera's, both Gosling and Rossamünd had yet to be chosen by representatives of the Boschenberg navy and the other agencies that had visited during the hiring season to select candidates. When Lirium came around, Lamplighter’s Agent Sebastipole visited the foundlingery but selected Rossamünd to make his offer to. This was accepted and Gosling watched his foe leave the following day. Following this what happened to him was reported to Rossamünd in Verline's letters. On 21 Lirium he ran away from Madam Opera's.[1]


Two months later Gosling was spotted loitering across the street and spying on the foundlingery. Although he had been gone for only a month, his fearsome reputation remained, making even the youngest children anxious. It was heard that he had tried to reunite with his family, but they did not want him back, leaving him to fend for himself.[2] Nevertheless Fransitart and Barthomæus followed up on leads of him watching the building many times, but could discover nothing. On the night of 5 Pulvis Gosling was suspected to have set fire to the foundlingery, killing Opera Gelderwine and many children. He then fled Boschenberg.[3]


Carp and Barthomæus engaged the services of a snugman to track Gosling down. He was found in a subscription infirmary in Proud Sulking with severe burns and would not say how he had received his injuries. Gosling was taken back to Boschenberg and convicted of "arsony occasioning death". Because of his young age he was sentenced to labour in the colonial quarries of Euclasia. Verline tried to visit him while he was imprisoned three times. The first time he screamed at her and tried to reach her through the holes in the door. The second time he was quiet but only stared at the wall. The final time he refused to see her. When he learned the news Rossamünd relished the prospect of a new and better foundlingery under Verline's leadership more than Gosling's demise,[4] and Fransitart later stated that he regretted not being able to reform the boy.[5]


A gosling is a young goose.


  1. Foundling, Chapter 16
  2. Lamplighter, Chapter 5
  3. Lamplighter, Chapter 20
  4. Factotum, Chapter 22
  5. Factotum, Chapter 23

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