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Title: The Conceited Pig
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



THE CONCEITED PIG.


[Illustration]



  THE
  CONCEITED PIG.

  WITH SIX ILLUSTRATIONS BY HARRISON WEIR,
  ENGRAVED ON WOOD.

  LONDON:
  JOHN AND CHARLES MOZLEY,
  6, PATERNOSTER ROW.
  1868.



THE CONCEITED PIG.


One cold November evening several little pigs were lying very
comfortably in their sty, and keeping themselves warm by burying
their noses under the straw, when one who had been routing about very
uneasily for some time gave a loud grunt all at once, and seemed to be
very much frightened. His mother, the old sow, who was stretched in one
corner of the sty fast asleep, opened her little brown eyes, and asked
in a very angry voice what was the matter. Several of the little pigs
answered at once that it was only Wilful who was making such a noise
that nobody could go to sleep.

“Hush, hush, hush!” cried Wilful, as soon as his brothers were silent;
“hush! do not you hear a great cracking and noise the other side of the
yard? I am quite sure that the stables are on fire. Had not we better
all go and help to put it out directly?”

“Nonsense and stuff, you foolish little fellow!” exclaimed his
mother; “you are always fancying something or other is the matter,
and wanting to poke your nose into things that don’t concern you. I
cannot hear any noise at all, and I beg you will be quiet, and let me
go to sleep again.”

[Illustration]

The little pig did not dare answer his mother, so he lay quite still
for a minute or two, hoping that he should hear the same noise again.
And presently he did hear it, louder than before, and there could be no
doubt that more than usual was going on about the premises. He looked
round to see what his mother would say now; but she had fallen fast
asleep again, and two or three of his brothers were snoring very loud.
His little brother Fatsides was lying close to him, and Wilful thought
by the twinkling of his eyes that he was not really asleep; so he gave
him a kick, and said in a very low voice, for fear his mother should
hear him, “Fatsides, Fatsides, do you hear? there is that strange
noise come back that I heard before. Do just listen. What can it be?”

“Oh, I dare say it is nothing but the horses in the stable, or that
wretched old Hector rattling his everlasting chain,” answered Fatsides.
“You know the other night when you woke us all up it turned out to be
nothing but Buttercup rubbing her horns against the crib.”

“Ah, very likely,” interrupted Wilful; “but this is a very different
thing. There, just hear that strange popping sound; depend upon
it, either the stables are on fire, or there are a number of those
frightful great blue butchers killing and carrying off all the cows. I
am determined, at any rate, that I will go and see what is the matter.”

“Oh, pray do not go!” exclaimed little Fatsides. “How do you know that
one of the great blue butchers may not get hold of you and carry you
off?”

“I should like to see them!” said Wilful. “No, no; I have lived long
enough in the world to be wiser than that, too. The blue butchers will
never catch me, I can tell you; clever as they think themselves, they
will find that they have met with their match at last!”

“Well, I know you are very clever,” rejoined his brother, who was
getting very sleepy, “and so I suppose you must have your own way. But
I do not see how you are to get out, for you know Bob always shuts the
door the last thing.”

“Ah, very likely,” said Wilful; “but the door does not fasten tight,
and I can push it open with very little trouble whenever I like. The
other morning, before any of you were awake, I went out to desire
Cock-a-doodle not to crow so loud, because I thought it would disturb
my mother, and nobody knew anything about it; and Cock-a-doodle, by the
way, behaved so extremely ill that I have taken no notice of him ever
since. Poor fellow! I suppose I must give him a kind word to-morrow;
for my friend Miss Peck tells me that he seemed sadly out of spirits,
and she was certain he was a good deal cut up about it, for she had
seen him skulking behind the faggot pile all by himself, and though
he pretended to be picking up an insect when he saw her, she was sure
that he had really retired there to mourn over his misconduct. I wish
that Miss Peck were here now, that I might have her opinion about this
dreadful noise. It is really worse than ever. What do you think I had
better do, Fatsides?”

But Fatsides made no answer; he had fallen asleep whilst Wilful was
talking, and all the others were snoring away as happily as possible.
Wilful saw it was of no use to try to make any of them go out with
him into the yard; and to go out he was determined, come what would
of it, for he had one of those inquisitive and restless dispositions
that cannot be satisfied without prying into everything. He lay quite
still, however, for a minute or two, to make sure of his mother’s being
asleep; and then rustling carefully through the straw, he pushed hard
against the door of the sty, which opened suddenly with such a loud
creak as made the old sow give a great grunt, and half open one of her
eyes. Wilful himself nearly jumped out of his skin, but recovering
himself directly, he set off and ran as fast as he could along one side
of the yard, without thinking where he was going, till he was stopped
by coming against some great rough thing that lay in his way. The stars
were shining brightly up in the sky, and by their light Wilful could
just see that it was Jack, the old donkey, who was stretched out on the
straw close to the cart-shed, dozing away an hour or two to shorten the
night. He opened his eyes when Wilful ran up against him, and asked
rather drowsily what was the matter.

“My dear Sir,” said Wilful, “is it possible that you have been lying
quietly here whilst such dreadful things are going on about the
premises?”

“What things?” said Jack, opening his eyes rather wider.

“What things?” rejoined Wilful; “why, all this shooting, and stabbing,
and burning, and butchering, that has been carrying on here ever since
night-fall.”

“Carrying on where?” exclaimed Jack, who was completely puzzled and
amazed at Wilful’s way of talking.

Now if there was any one creature in the world that Wilful had the
least respect for, it was old Jack, who was indeed universally looked
up to, and held to be a very knowing old fellow; but this proud young
pig now quite lost his temper at what he thought Jack’s slowness and
stupidity. He answered him, I am sorry to say, in a very impertinent
manner, and ended by telling him that, though he was so much older, a
clever young fellow like himself was worth two of him; and Miss Peck
said one day, that if, she knew who, were not a donkey, he never would
have worn those frightful long ears all his life!

Old Jack half shut up his eyes again, and took no more notice of this
speech than by smiling contemptuously.

“I tell you what, old gentleman,” said Wilful, in a great rage, “I
thought it my duty to come and tell you, as an old friend, that you
will certainly be killed before to-morrow morning; but as you do not
care about it, I shall go and tell the blue butchers that you are ready
to be made nasty pork of immediately.”

Jack was very sleepy, but the idea of his becoming pork tickled his
fancy so much, that he lifted up his head and laughed aloud. The sight
of his great teeth glimmering in the starlight enraged Wilful more than
ever, and seeing that nothing he said made the least impression, he
scampered off, without another word, as fast as his legs could carry
him. What to do next he could not determine; the great noise that he
had heard seemed to have died away, and it had just crossed his mind
whether it would not be better to go home again, when there came a
tremendous cracking sound in the air above him, and something as bright
as fire fell close to his feet, hissed along the ground for a second
or two, and then disappeared.

“Goodness gracious!” exclaimed Wilful as soon as he had recovered his
breath and his senses--for he was completely scared at first; “goodness
gracious! as sure as I’m alive, the stars are all falling out of the
sky. Something must be done directly; somebody must go and tell the
Queen. Where is Miss Peck? I must speak to her first, and then I shall
set off to the Queen’s house immediately.”

[Illustration]

So saying, Wilful made the best of his way across the yard towards the
hen-house, and succeeded after some time in finding the little sliding
door, which, unfortunately, was shut. There was an open grating above,
Wilful knew, but he could not reach it, so he had nothing for it but
to scratch the door gently, and call Miss Peck as loud as he dared,
without disturbing Cock-a-doodle. Now Miss Peck, luckily for Wilful,
seldom slept well. She was subject to spasms in her left leg, which
made her restless, and was besides apt to fancy that somebody else had
got a warmer corner than she had, so that she was continually shifting
her place.

Not seldom, indeed, the families who lodged on the lower perch were
upset and terrified in the middle of the night by something coming
flapping and tumbling over them, which turned out to be Miss Peck, who
was “really very sorry to be any annoyance to them, but what with the
chills which ran over her on account of her sleeping-place being so
particularly exposed to draughts, and what with the incessant spasms in
her poor left leg, she could not support herself a moment longer, if
she died for it.” These accidents, of course, did not make Miss Peck a
popular character; and at last a general agreement was made, that the
next time Miss Peck fell off her perch, she should not be allowed to
come up again, but should be kept on the hen-house floor all the night.
Cock-a-doodle was at the bottom of this plot against the unfortunate
Peck, and it was no great wonder that he wished to oblige her to turn
over a new leaf; for whenever she fell off her sleeping-place, she
always found herself too weak to get up again without assistance,
and would never trust anyone to help her but her “dear friend
Cock-a-doodle,” who was obliged to do it for peace and quietness’ sake.

Now it happened on the very night of which we are speaking, that Miss
Peck had gone to bed in particularly ill-humour; for just as they were
all entering the hen-house that afternoon, Cock-a-doodle had chosen
to help that flaunting young creature, Miss Spangle, up the hen-house
stairs instead of herself, though she had complained of a violent spasm
just a moment before. Miss Peck therefore, being, as I have said, very
much out of sorts, sat upon her perch with one eye shut, and the other
scowling down upon Miss Spangle, who slept just beneath her; and her
sufferings from cramp and chills were so uncommonly acute, that she
could obtain no ease except by continually twitching her legs up and
down, flapping her wings, shaking herself violently, and making a very
unpleasant noise in her throat, as if she were choking. No one taking
any notice of this uncomfortable state, though the slumbers of several
of the neighbours were very much disturbed in consequence, Miss Peck
grew more and more restless and spiteful; and seeing Miss Spangle in
the full enjoyment of a delightful nap, she flung herself suddenly down
upon her with such force as to push her off the perch, and send her
rolling on the hen-house door. Miss Peck herself, though she tried hard
to keep her balance, fell over on her back, and screamed violently,
which woke Cock-a-doodle, who, of course, insisted on knowing what was
the matter.

[Illustration]

“Oh, it is only Peck in her spasms,” croaked out two or three sleepy
old hens.

“No, no, it is me,” cried poor Spangle from the ground; “Miss Peck has
thrown me off my perch, and broken my head all over.”

Cock-a-doodle’s indignation on hearing this is not to be told. He
flew down instantly from the upper storey where he lodged, would not
listen to one word Miss Peck had to say, in spite of her groans and
lamentations, and examined Spangle’s head with the greatest kindness
and attention. It was found to be not at all seriously injured, so
Cock-a-doodle said he would assist her up-stairs again with the
greatest pleasure, but that Peck should remain where she was all night,
and if she attempted to disobey him he would come down and punish her
severely. Miss Peck screamed, protested, said it was all Spangle’s
fault, that Cock-a-doodle did not behave like a gentleman, that both
her legs were broken, and that she hoped he would come to be hung, as
she knew many of his family had been before him.

“Hold your tongue,” cried Cock-a-doodle at last, after she had been
going on in this way for some time; “you have hindered me so long by
your nonsense that it is just crowing-time again.” So he shouted out
cock-a-doodle-doo as loud as he could, and then putting his head under
his wing, composed himself to sleep again, as if nothing had been the
matter.

In the meantime Miss Peck stood muttering on one leg in a corner of
the hen-house, and thinking how she should be revenged, when she heard
a low rap-tap-tap at the door. She took no notice of it at first, being
too full of her own troubles to attend to anything else; but very
soon it was repeated, and on her hobbling rather nearer to the door,
and turning her head a little on one side to listen the better, she
distinctly heard her own name repeated two or three times in a very low
voice on the outside. Miss Peck, though “all of a tremble,” as she said
herself afterwards, had sufficient presence of mind just to look up,
and make sure that Cock-a-doodle and all the others were asleep, before
she answered, in as sweet a tone as possible,

“Who’s there? Who wants the unfortunate Peck?”

“It is me,” cried our friend Wilful, delighted to find that Miss Peck
was awake: “open the door immediately, my dearest Miss Peck, for I want
to speak to you on business of great importance.”

“To me, dear Mr. Wilful?” replied Peck, with great satisfaction;
“I’m sure I shall be most happy to assist you with my poor opinion or
services in any way that I can, but as to opening the door, my dear Mr.
Wilful, I could not do it if I were to try ever so much; but if you
would just try to lift it up a little yourself, my dear Mr. Wilful, I
could soon squeeze myself out, being, as you know, quite slender; and
then you know we could converse together very pleasantly, and there
would be no danger of our being interrupted by Cock-a-doodle, who is
always waking up for those foolish crows of his, which he is particular
about, as if anybody in the world cared whether he crowed or not. He
says that his family have always crowed exactly in the same way for
hundreds of years; and it was awful to see the rage he was in with
that scamp, young Strutaway, a few nights ago, because he said that
he crowed out of time; but if Strutaway never did anything worse than
that, it would not much signify, in my opinion, for I think it is very
shocking to see clever young people going on doing all the silly old
things that were done, for want of knowing better, before their time.
As for Cock-a-doodle, I look upon him as little better than a lunatic,
and a spiteful, domineering, barbarous old tyrant into the bargain.”

Here Miss Peck was interrupted by seeing a little bit of Wilful’s nose
pushed in under the door; for whilst she had been chattering he had
been scraping and scraping till he had succeeded in moving it, and
now he thought that if Miss Peck would try, she could get put of the
hen-house, for he was in a great hurry to tell her of his discovery. So
Miss Peck did try, and after a great deal of squeezing, and scrambling,
and pushing, and choking, she found herself safe on the outside, with
very rumpled feathers, but in great triumph at the thought of being
safe out of Cock-a-doodle’s clutches.

Wilful lost not a moment in telling her his wonderful news; and when
she had heard it, Miss Peck quite agreed with him that the only step
to be taken was, if possible, instantly to inform the Queen; “and if a
messenger is wanted, you know Mr. Wilful,” she added, “that I am ready
always to devote my poor services to the good of the public without
looking for any reward, which, indeed, in this wicked world, so full of
selfish Cock-a-doodles, and all kinds of malice and hatred, one would
certainly look for in vain.”

“Very true, indeed, my dear Miss Peck,” interrupted Wilful, who, being
fond of talking himself, was always very impatient of Miss Peck’s
discourses; “very true, indeed; but allow me to hint that it is not
quite the thing for a young person like yourself to be travelling
about the world alone; but, as I have made up my own mind to start
immediately, without waiting till my mother and all the old people
here are awake, I was going to propose that you should accompany me;
and then, you know, I should have the pleasure of your society on the
road, and you could give the weight of your respectable authority to
the account which it is my duty to lay before her gracious majesty the
Queen.”

[Illustration]

To this Miss Peck making no objection, but on the contrary, expressing
herself to be extremely pleased with the arrangement, they set off that
instant across the yard, down the meadow, and into the lane, without
meeting with any difficulty or hinderance, only that Wilful ran so
fast, that Miss Peck had a hard matter to keep up with him, and would
have ventured to say as much if it had been anyone else; but Wilful
was such a touchy gentleman, she knew he would not bear to be found
fault with. However, in the lane they came to a standstill immediately,
from not being agreed as to which was the right way to turn, Wilful
maintaining that the way to the left led to the Queen’s house, and Miss
Peck being equally positive that they ought to go to the right.

“Really, Miss Peck,” said the former, “I do wonder at a person of your
talent being so uncommonly silly. Do not you know that all the blue
butchers live down the lane to the right; and is it likely that the
Queen’s house would be anywhere in that part of the country?”

“Oh! as for that,” replied Miss Peck, very sharply, “I do not pretend
to know in what part of the country such vulgar low creatures as blue
butchers may live, whatever you may do; but I am quite certain that her
most gracious majesty lives down the lane to the right, and therefore
to the right, begging your pardon, I shall certainly go.”

“Then you may go by yourself, and joy go with you, you conceited,
obstinate, ridiculous old goose,” said Wilful, who in his anger quite
forgot all his politeness; and without a word more, they parted, he
running off as fast as he could down the lane to the left, and Miss
Peck taking the opposite direction. What _her_ adventures were may
possibly be told some other time; _his_, I grieve to say, soon came to
a very sad end.

He had travelled but a little way before he was stopped and accosted
by someone whom he did not know, and of whom, in the uncertain light,
he could see little but the shining of two round bright eyes, which
looked somewhat fierce and dangerous. The stranger’s manner, however,
was civil; he apologized for stopping Wilful, and asked, in a voice of
extreme politeness, “where he was going?” “I am going,” said Wilful,
plucking up his spirits at the thought of his own importance, and
encouraged by the stranger’s mode of addressing him, “I am going to
tell the Queen that the stars are all falling out of the sky.”

“Indeed,” said his new acquaintance, with a gesture of strong surprise.
“If that is the case, I think I can be of service to you, for it
happens that her most gracious majesty is now on a visit to me, and if
you will do me the honour of allowing me to conduct you to my house,
which is not far off, you can tell her this extraordinary and important
news immediately.”

Wilful was but a young pig, and had very little knowledge of the world.
If he had been older and wiser, he would have distrusted the sincerity
of Mr. Brush, for that was the stranger’s name; but, as it was, he
was quite taken in by his respectful politeness, and consented to
accompany him with the greatest alacrity.

[Illustration]

Away, therefore, they went together, at a great pace, over fields and
through hedges and ditches, till they got into a great wood so thick
and tangled, that Wilful found it very unpleasant travelling, and
begged his companion to go a little slower.

“My dear Sir,” said the latter, “I have the pleasure to tell you that
we are just arrived. Here is my house; pray walk in: the Queen will be
delighted to see you.”

Poor Wilful was dumb with astonishment. He could see nothing but a
dark-looking hole, under the roots of some hazel-trees, which grew on a
little ridge of earth just above him; and how the Queen could possibly
get in there, he could not imagine. A shudder passed over him, as the
suspicion of his new friend’s treachery darted into his mind, and in an
agony of terror he crept into the hole without speaking a word.

It need scarcely be added, that the Queen never received the message,
and that the unfortunate messenger was never seen again. His afflicted
mother, when she missed him, very early the next morning, could learn
no news of him anywhere; and old Jack, whom of course she consulted in
her trouble, was but a poor comforter, for he only shook his head, and
said, in a very solemn manner, that he “always thought young Master
Wilful would come to no good.”

It is to be hoped that all such silly little people as fancy
themselves wiser than their elders and betters, may learn to correct
themselves of such a proud and evil spirit, or we may be sure that
cleverer heads than old Jack’s may safely prophesy of them that they
will come to no good.

                                                                      L.



John and Charles Mozley, Printers, Derby.



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.





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