[For Cicily and Charlie, a Tale of the Christmas Pig]
Once upon a time there was an old pig called Aunt Pettitoes. She had eight of a family: four little girl pigs, called Cross-patch, Suck-suck, Yock-yock and Spot; and four little boy pigs, called Alexander, Pigling Bland, Chin-Chin and Stumpy. Stumpy had had an accident to his tail.
The eight little pigs had very fine appetites–“Yus, yus, yus! they eat and indeed they DO eat!” said Aunt Pettitoes, looking at her family with pride. Suddenly there were fearful squeals; Alexander had squeezed inside the hoops of the pig trough and stuck.
Aunt Pettitoes and I dragged him out by the hind legs.
Chin-chin was already in disgrace; it was washing day, and he had eaten a piece of soap. And presently in a basket of clean clothes, we found another dirty little pig–“Tchut, tut, tut! whichever is this?” grunted Aunt Pettitoes. Now all the pig family are pink, or pink with black spots, but this pig child was smutty black all over; when it had been popped into a tub, it proved to be Yock-yock.
I went into the garden; there I found Cross-patch and Suck-suck rooting up carrots. I whipped them myself and led them out by the ears. Cross-patch tried to bite me.
“Aunt Pettitoes, Aunt Pettitoes! you are a worthy person, but your family is not well brought up. Every one of them has been in mischief except Spot and Pigling Bland.”
“Yus, yus!” sighed Aunt Pettitoes. “And they drink bucketfuls of milk; I shall have to get another cow! Good little Spot shall stay at home to do the housework; but the others must go. Four little boy pigs and four little girl pigs are too many altogether.” “Yus, yus, yus,” said Aunt Pettitoes, “there will be more to eat without them.”
So Chin-chin and Suck-suck went away in a wheel-barrow, and Stumpy, Yock-yock and Cross- patch rode away in a cart.
And the other two little boy pigs, Pigling Bland and Alexander went to market. We brushed their coats, we curled their tails and washed their little faces, and wished them good bye in the yard.
Aunt Pettitoes wiped her eyes with a large pocket handkerchief, then she wiped Pigling Bland’s nose and shed tears; then she wiped Alexander’s nose and shed tears; then she passed the handkerchief to Spot. Aunt Pettitoes sighed and grunted, and addressed those little pigs as follows–
“Now Pigling Bland, son Pigling Bland, you must go to market. Take your brother Alexander by the hand. Mind your Sunday clothes, and remember to blow your nose” –(Aunt Pettitoes passed round the handkerchief again)–“beware of traps, hen roosts, bacon and eggs; always walk upon your hind legs.” Pigling Bland who was a sedate little pig, looked solemnly at his mother, a tear trickled down his cheek.
Aunt Pettitoes turned to the other–“Now son Alexander take the hand”–“Wee, wee, wee!” giggled Alexander–“take the hand of your brother Pigling Bland, you must go to market. Mind–” “Wee, wee, wee!” interrupted Alexander again. “You put me out,” said Aunt Pettitoes–“Observe signposts and milestones; do not gobble herring bones–” “And remember,” said I impressively, “if you once cross the county boundary you cannot come back. Alexander, you are not attending. Here are two licenses permitting two pigs to go to market in Lancashire. Attend Alexander. I have had no end of trouble in getting these papers from the policeman.” Pigling Bland listened gravely; Alexander was hopelessly volatile.
I pinned the papers, for safety, inside their waistcoat pockets; Aunt Pettitoes gave to each a little bundle, and eight conversation peppermints with appropriate moral sentiments in screws of paper. Then they started.
Pigling Bland and Alexander trotted along steadily for a mile; at least Pigling Bland did. Alexander made the road half as long again by skipping from side to side. He danced about and pinched his brother, singing–