Bedtime-Story, for Busy Business-Parents
Whimsical Bedtime Stories for Children of All Ages
A TALE OF COURAGE AND ENDEAVOUR
Behind the barn at the back of young Helens house there lived a large pig.
It had never been given a name, in fact, nobody even seemed
to know how or when it had got there. So Helens family just called it
Pig, and fed it
leftover custard tart and shepherds pie.
|Pig was so fat that he no longer fitted inside his pen, and each attempt caused his rotund pink and brown belly to catch painfully on the splintering wood. Admitting defeat, Pig would grunt and move awkwardly back into his hay-covered yard, where he continued his daily ritual of splashing in the mud and lazing in the sun.|
|On this particular day, however, there was no sun. Huge, dark clouds loomed ominously over the barn, and threatened to wash the warm, comfortable dirt away from Pigs ample rear.|
Pig turned his small, misty eyes to the sky, and squinted into the half-light as the first few drops of rain began to drum on the metal roof of the barn.
He paused to consider his options. He could try to fit through the tiny, jagged doorway that led to the pen he had not been able to enter for years. He dismissed this idea right away. Wet and clean was one thing; wet, clean and full of splinters was quite another.
He could try to shelter behind one of the tall bales of hay
that formed the
walls of his yard. Hmm, that was better. With an effort, he moved his head
away from the wet ground, and lifted himself up onto his front legs. With an
even bigger effort, he straightened his back legs and elevated himself into
a standing position.
|Slowly, Pig lumbered across his
yard and made for the
corner that appeared the driest. When he reached it he hesitated, experimentally, but he could still feel the rain washing the precious mud away from his body.
By now Pig was tired, and he had run out of ideas.
He considered lying down anyway, but the floor of the enclosure
was slick with water and looked wholly uninviting. He longed to jump over the
hay and shelter in the warm barn, but when he saw how high he would have to
climb he hung his head in shame at his bulk. In desperation, he stumbled to
his pen and prodded feebly at the wall with his trotter, trying to widen the
entrance, but to no avail.
One small, salty tear formed at the corner of his eye. It mingled with the rainwater, and was washed into the hay. As Pig lay despondently at the doorway of his pen, he thought he heard a sound that was not the rain.
He closed his eyes and strained his ears to separate the noise from the swoosh of the water running down the roof of the barn.
|Yes, there it was. It was coming from the other side of the barn, where the stream ran and the ducks screamed obscenities from spring until fall. The ducks.|
Pig opened his eyes again, slightly disappointed. But no, this noise was not coming from ducks or the geese.
It sounded more like a cat, or a child. Pigs ears pricked
up again as the whimpering noise grew louder, amplified by the water that ran
close to his yard. He grew excited, and when he picked himself up from the floor
it was with less exertion than usual.
|Pig stood stock still, and concentrated all his efforts on listening to the sound. It was beginning to fade away again, as if whatever was making it had grown bored, or tired, or was unable to make it any more.|
Trembling, Pig placed his two front trotters on the wall of
hay by which
he was imprisoned. He walked forward on his hind legs until his clean and
dripping underbelly was touching the hay. Pausing to scratch where the hay
itched his skin, he stood as tall as he could, swaying dangerously from side
Even at his full height and with his nose high in the air,
still several inches short of being able to see over the impenetrable straw
As the faint sound reached his ears once more, Pig shook with
frustration at his hopeless attempts to view its source. He shook so hard,
in fact, that one of his hind trotters began to slide on the wet ground.
Pig wobbled precariously until his feet slithered from underneath him, and the force of his enormous belly pushed the wall to the ground. Pig lay on the ground, quite still, for several minutes, until he realized that what he was laying on was not earth, as usual, but grass; long, wet grass.
He raised his large, heavy head, and was surprised to see that he was no longer surrounded by straw. Where were the walls? He looked down to find that he was lying on top of one of them.
In front of him was a large field with a stream running through it, and all of a sudden Pig remembered why he had been leaning on the wall in the first place.
The sound was even louder now that there was no wall to keep it away, and, in a movement which was most unlike him, Pig gracefully jumped to his feet and trotted towards the gurgling water.
By the time he reached the stream, the noise seemed to have
completely. He glanced from side to side, but all he could see was a lone
white duck and the water that rushed onwards, swollen by the rain.
The noise of the stream reminded him how uncomfortably wet he was, and he began the process of turning round, over towards the comfort and warmth of the big barn.
|As he took one last glimpse of the brook, however, he noticed a flash of red shining amongst the gray of the water and the greenness of the grass. He stopped mid-turn, and tried to focus his aging eyes.|
What it was he was not sure, but he knew that red was a color that certainly did not belong out here in the cold, wet field. The whimpering sound began again and Pig, more through curiosity than anything else, started his slow move towards the red patch.
|As he grew closer, the whimpering became louder
and louder, and Pig began to move faster. As the whimper burst into a sob,
Pig realized that the red was, in fact, a jumper, and inside the jumper
was a very cold, very wet, Helen.
Helens sobs stopped abruptly when she saw that she was no longer alone, but when she saw that Pig was her unexpected company she began again, louder than ever.
Pig was faintly offended at this, but he was still curious, so he decided not to leave straight away. He lumbered round to the other side of Helen, his dangling belly rubbing unpleasantly on the tall, damp grass.
Then he noticed the cause of Helens tears. The large
rock to her left, shiny with rain and lichen, had slipped from its resting-place,
trapping her tiny ankle and preventing her from moving. The stream, flowing
more quickly than usual because of the rain, was gushing inches from her head.
Her hair was soaking wet and her face looked very white next to the deep redness
of her saturated jumper. The sobbing had stopped completely now, and Helens
eyes were closed in pain and defeat.
|Pigs heart started to beat very fast. He looked around. There was nobody in sight. He swiveled his head to the right and strained his eyes to see the lights of the farmhouse warning off the approaching dusk.|
He thought of how long it would take his pathetic little legs to transport his hulk of a body that distance, and sank to the floor in shame and anger. He felt as if he would never be able to lift himself from the ground again.
But just at that moment, in the last remnants of light before
the evening took over, he caught sight of Helens face. It was pale and
still, framed by the dark
water that splashed around her shoulders.
Pig heaved himself to his feet and approached the large, shiny rock. He nudged it with his nose. Nothing happened. He turned around, and nudged it with his rear. The rock could not fail to respond to that, and gave a slight tremble. Encouraged, Pig walked forwards, stopped, and with a great effort he flung himself backwards, hitting the stone with quite some force. This time there was some definite movement.
Helen sensed it too, and her sobs restarted again in earnest.
Pig was excited now, and without pausing ran about twenty feet into the field.
This was further than Pig had run in a very long time, and he had to stop
for just a moment to catch his breath. Rested, he braced himself against the
cold and started his journey backwards, picking up speed as his formidable
back end closed in on the offending rock. As the two made contact, the rock
hesitated for only a split second before rolling slowly from its ledge and
plopping satisfactorily into the water.
The splash of water caused by the rock hit Helen squarely in the face,
and brought her sharply around from her weeping. She looked first at her
leg, then at Pig, astonished to realize that she was no longer trapped.
Slowly, she began to raise herself on her arms, oblivious to the water that
was rushing all around her. She sat upright in the stream, then shakily
started to get to her feet. Once she nearly fell down, and was only
prevented from doing so by letting her hand catch on Pigs enormous back.
Finally, she was upright, and by leaning on Pig managed to hop out of the
stream and land on the bank which, although not dry by any means, was
infinitely preferable to the foot of water in which she had previously been
Pig, ever the gentleman, tripped ahead and positioned himself so
that he was standing directly in front of Helen. He moved backwards, nudging her gently in the knees.
Helen looked at him, confused, so Pig nudged her a bit harder, causing her to fall forwards and land on Pigs back again.
|Suddenly, she realized what it
was that Pig was trying to do. She pulled herself back, regained her composure,
then limped round to Pigs right hand side. With difficulty she turned
around to face the stream again, then allowed herself to fall backwards
so she was sitting on Pig like a Victorian
lady would sit on a horse.
Pig waited until she was still, then set off on the slow walk
towards the house.
Pigs excess fat always made movement slower than it is for most creatures, but with the added weight of a twelve-year old girl the end result was almost ridiculous.
Pig would take one tentative step, then stop, wondering if he was able to take another. When he decided that yes, he was, he would move again.
|It took a very long time to get to the farmhouse, and by the time its lights were just a few delicious yards ahead, both Helen and Pig were as cold and wet as they had ever been before in their lives. Pig stumbled up the path, spurred on by the proximity of warmth and comfort.|
When they reached the door, Helen extended one shivering hand and knocked feebly on the glass.
They waited what seemed to be an age, but eventually the light
that shone through the clear panel was obscured by a figure. The figure got
larger and larger as it approached, until the door opened abruptly.
|A large man, who Pig presumed was Helens
father, stood in the
doorway, openmouthed. He was unsure what to say to his daughter, who was bleeding from the ankle, and whose hair was soaking wet and plastered to her face.
He was also unsure what to say to the pig, which his daughter
Th, th, than, th he stuttered. Th, than, thank you.
Pig looked at him.
Youre welcome, he said.
About the Author: Laura Sumpner was 22 years old when she wrote Pig. Although living in Baltimore, she is actually English. Laura finished her MA in Contemporary Literary Studies at the University of Lancaster in September of 2000. She originally wrote Pig, a farmyard tale about overcoming adversity, as a present for her fiance, Brian. You may write to Laura Sumpner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interim Illustrations Courtesy of Bedtime-Story, with the help of talented Bedtime-Story Illustrators Dennis Cox, and Jeff Meyers.