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Jinx the cat, Samuel the mole, Grisli the cannibal ant, and the other talking animals of Bean Farm help Freddy the pig protect Uncle Ben's flying saucer plans from greedy foreign spies.
"Freddy's readers have called him a porcine prince . . . Walter R. Brook's gentle genius shines even brighter." --Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
"At my funeral, in lieu of flowers, I'd prefer that people give money to the Friends of Freddy fan club." --Deirdre Donahue, USA Today
"Freddy is blessed with courage, wit, agility and a Sherlock Holmes-like capacity for detective work." --Newsday
"At my funeral, in lieu of flowers, I'd prefer that people give money to the Friends of Freddy fan club." —Deirdre Donahue, USA Today
"Freddy is blessed with courage, wit, agility and a Sherlock Holmes-like capacity for detective work." —Newsday
Freddy, the pig, was sitting in a garden chair just outside the door of the First Animal Bank, of which he was president. During banking hours in the summertime he usually sat here. The banking hours were on Thursdays from two to three, the hottest part of the day; and the bank, which was just a shed at the side of the road, was like a furnace in the afternoon. But outside, under the shade of the roadside maples, it was always cool.
Freddy had on levis and boots and one of his thunder and lightning cowboy shirts; his tengallon hat was on the grass beside him, and he was strumming lightly on his guitar and singing one of the cowboy songs he had written when he first took up horseback riding.
Some folks think that I ought to settle down,
But I don't like the city and I don't like the town.
I don't like houses, I don't like walls,
I don't like bedrooms, living rooms or halls.
For a life in the open, it is gay and it's free.
There ain't any limits on the wide prairee.
And I'm goin' right back where there ain't any fences,
Where trouble don't begin because it never commences,
Where I can sing, yell and holler till I'm ready to stop,
And there ain't anybody who can go call a cop.
Cy, Freddy's western pony, was standing beside the chair. "That's a right purty song, Freddy," he said. "But for a guy that likes the wide open spaces, you sure do stick around that pig pen a lot."
"I know it, Cy," said Freddy. "We haven't been riding more than a couple of times this year. But I've been so busy—what with all the trouble the rats caused, and then before that, that flying saucer full of Martians, and the Martian baseball team we organized. And of course there's the bank here to attend to, and the Bean Home News to get out every week. I've taken on too much, Cy. I know it. It's more than one pig ought to try to handle.
"But I've made up my mind—I'm going to take a vacation. A nice long horseback trip—maybe we'll go West and have a look at a real prairie, instead of sitting here and singing about it. Just you and me and Jinx and Bill."
Bill was the goat. Jinx had had a saddle made for him and for a couple of summers had ridden a lot. But like Freddy, the cat had been so busy with other things that for a long time Bill's saddle and bridle had been gathering dust on their pegs in the stable.
"That sounds swell!" said Cy. "Maybe we could get us some prize money at some of the rodeos. Enter me as a wild horse, same as we did before, hey? When we going to start?"
"Mr. Bean says it's O.K. if we go tomorrow. Jinx and I have got it all planned. Bill wants to go, and if it's all right with you ..."
"You bet it's all right," said the pony. "This is a nice place to live, the Beans are right nice folks and so are the other animals. But sitting round in a pasture with a lot of cows isn't my idea of a rich, full life. Not that I've got anything against cows, you understand, but they aren't very exciting.—Hey, here comes Jinx now."
The cat had come out of the gate and was trotting down the road toward the bank. He had something in his mouth, and when he came up he laid it on the grass before Freddy. "Look what I found," he said. "What is it, Freddy?"
The pig leaned over and examined the little animal, which peered up at him with nearsighted eyes.
"It's a mole," he said. "Where'd you find it?"
"On the front lawn. It was—"
"I was not on the lawn—I was under it!" the mole said angrily. He had a small voice like a mouse, but huskier. He sounded like a hoarse mouse, if you can imagine that.
"Well, you were making a mess of it," said the cat. "Little ridges all over the nice smooth lawn. What'll I do with him, Freddy? I don't want to eat him."
"What's your name, mole?" Freddy asked.
The mole drew himself up, and recited:
Samuel Jackson is my name, America is my nation. The Bean farm is my dwelling place And heaven's my destination.
"Ha, a poet he is!" said Cy with a snicker, and Jinx said: "Heaven's your destination, all right, if you dig any more holes in Mr. Bean's lawn."
"Aw, I didn't hurt your old lawn. Just little tunnels under the grass. Just little tunnels. All you got to do is stamp 'em down and your lawn's smooth again."
"Stamp you down and it would save a lot of work," said the cat. "Samuel Jackson, eh? The name's longer than you are."
"Well, what's the matter with that?" the mole demanded. "It's a good name, ain't it? I say, it's a good name."
"Look, mole," said Jinx, "we don't care what your name is. Just get this through your head: Mr. Bean's lawn is out of bounds for moles. If you want to walk around on top of the grass, O.K.—nobody'll bother you. But if you walk around under the grass, then you'll have me to deal with. And the next time I won't be so gentle."
"Phooey!" said Samuel contemptuously. "You'd never have caught me if I'd seen you first. Can't catch me now, I betcha. I say you can't catch me now."
Jinx crouched and prepared to pounce, but before he could move, Samuel seemed to dive into the ground, making swimming motions with his big, turned-out front paws, and then he was gone.
They could see the ridge grow in length as the mole tunneled swiftly under the grass roots toward the fence. When the movement stopped, Jinx dashed to the far end of the ridge and dug into the tunnel with his claws. But it was empty. The cat hesitated a moment, looking bewildered, and then Samuel's voice behind him said: "I told you you couldn't catch me." The mole had made his tunnel and then backed quickly out of it, and now was sitting where he had been when he had issued his challenge.
Jinx whirled. "Why, you—"
"Take it easy, Jinx," Freddy said warningly.
The cat relaxed. "Yeah," he said. "I guess you're right. O.K., Sammy, you win. I didn't—"
"Don't call me Sammy!" the mole shouted, flying into a rage. "Nothing makes me madder than that silly nickname. Sammy, Sammy, Sammy!" he exclaimed disgustedly, and each time he said it he seemed to become more furious, so that he hopped right off the ground.
Freddy thought: I've heard of people being hopping mad, but I never really saw anybody hop before. He said: "Well, my name's Frederick, but everybody has always called me Freddy. I like it."
"Well, I don't," said the mole. "If you want to talk to me, you call me Samuel. I say you call me Samuel."
"All right, Samuel," said Freddy. "Now let's start all over again. What are we going to do about you?"
"You don't have to do anything about me. Samuel Jackson can take care of himself."
"Oh, yeah?" said Jinx. "Well, he's not going to do it in the Beans' front yard. If you want to eat grass roots, there's plenty of good grass here beside the road without crawling around under a nice lawn and humping it up."
"What do you think I am, a cow?" Samuel sneered. "Moles don't eat grass, they're hunters. I say they're hunters. They pursue their prey in the dark among the grass roots, and they capture it and eat it."
"Some prey!" said the cat. He wrinkled his nose distastefully. "I suppose you mean bugs and angleworms."
"Sure he does," said Freddy. "Moles are insectivorous."
"Hey, you watch your language!" said the mole severely. He peered hard at Freddy with his nearsighted eyes. "You're a fine one to be calling names. What are you, anyway, in those fancy clothes—you out of a circus? I say, you belong to a circus?"
Freddy said: "I'm a pig. I'm president of this bank, the First Animal Bank of Centerboro."
"Pig, eh?" said Samuel. "Never had much use for pigs. So you're president of this bank. Sort of a piggy bank, hey?" He doubled up with laughter.
"You're only about the two hundred and eighty-fifth animal to make that crack," Freddy said. "But skip it. Yes, it's sort of like a piggy bank. You leave your money and valuables here for safe keeping. We look after 'em for you."
"Yeah," said the mole sarcastically. "I bet!"
"Sure," said Freddy, "you bring money in, and then when you want some of it, you just come in and get it."
"Sounds nice when you say it," Samuel said. "But suppose I left some money here with you. How do I know you'd give it back to me when I wanted it? I say, how do I know you'd give it up?"
"Because we give you a receipt for whatever you bring in. And we guarantee its safety. We've got safe-deposit vaults underground, and they're guarded night and day so nobody can sneak in and steal the stuff. Why, look up there!" Freddy pointed to the sign: FIRST ANIMAL BANK, under which was printed: NO LOSS TO ANY CUSTOMER IN OVER A CENTURY.
"Phooey!" said the mole. "That bank hasn't been going for a century."
"Of course it hasn't," said Freddy. "It's been going about five years. But that motto up there is the truth just the same. If we haven't lost anything in those five years, we couldn't very well have lost anything in the ninety-five years before that, because we weren't there."
"H'm," said the mole thoughtfully. "Why didn't you say: No loss to any customer for two thousand years? That's true, too, isn't it?" He turned to Jinx. "What do you know about this bank? Is this guy on the up and up?"
"Look, mister," said the cat. "How long you been living around here?"
"All my life," said Samuel. "I say all my life."
"All your life, and you don't know who Freddy is?" Jinx demanded. "I guess you don't get around much, do you?"
"Oh, I get around," said the mole. "Yeah, I guess I've heard the guy mentioned. But us moles, we don't pay much attention to what goes on above ground. Still ..." He hesitated. "You got any money in this bank, cat? I say, you got any money in here?"
"I've got all my money in here," said the cat. "That's the way I feel about how safe it is. And any other animal on this farm will tell you the same."
Freddy grinned, for he knew that Jinx had just eight cents in the bank. The cat had had a good deal more than that at various times. But cats never can seem to save any money, and Jinx was a free spender; when he got a little money it trickled right through his claws.
Samuel looked thoughtful for a minute, then he seemed to come to a decision. "Maybe I could use your bank," he said. "I've got quite a little money saved up. Trouble is, I don't know just where it is."
"I don't get you," said Freddy.
"It's like this," said Samuel. "Us moles find a lot more valuable things than you'd think—things people have dropped. I remember my grandfather telling me how he found a gold watch once. Probably it fell out of somebody's pocket, and then he didn't know where he'd lost it, and the grass grew up over it and the rain washed dirt around it so that in a few years it sank into the ground. Grandpa said it was a couple inches underground when he ran on to it.
"Well, I've got some stuff I've found—money and an emerald ring and a gold pencil and so on. I suppose your bank could keep it safe for me?"
"Just bring it in," said Freddy. "We'll rent you one of our safe-deposit holes; there's just a nominal monthly rent—a cent a month and up, according to the size of the hole. They're perfectly safe from burglars—five feet underground and guarded day and night. Would you like to inspect the vaults?"
"Well, I've got to find the stuff first," Samuel said.
"Got to find it!" Freddy exclaimed. "I thought you'd found it once. I thought—"
"Let me tell my story, will you?" the mole interrupted. "I say, let me tell my story. I did find the things. But then I lost them again. A year or so ago I hid them under Mr. Bean's front lawn. And now I've forgotten where I hid them. That's what I've been doing under the lawn-hunting for them. I don't hunt for food under that lawn; there's hardly a beetle or an angleworm left there, on account of those robins—J. J. Pomeroy and his family—that live in the big tree inside the gate. No mole could make a living there; they've stripped the place of game. You help me find my stuff and I'll put it in your bank, and then you won't have to worry about the lawn any more. I say, you needn't worry about that lawn; there won't be any reason for me to go there any more."
"You're sure it was under that front lawn that you hid the things?" Freddy asked.
"Of course I'm sure. I picked the lawn specially. Fields and gardens are no good: they get ploughed up. So do pastures sometimes. But that lawn has been a lawn for a hundred years, and will be for another hundred. My stuff's safe there."
"Why do you want to get it then?" Jinx asked. "Why not leave it there, unless you want to sell the ring or spend the money?"
"That's a silly question," said the mole. "I say that's a silly question. Sure it's safe, but it isn't really mine when I don't know where it is."
"I know what you mean," said Freddy. "It isn't that you want to do anything with it; it isn't even that you want to touch it and look at it. You just want to know where it is."
"You've got it," Samuel said. He went closer to Freddy's chair and squinted up at him.
"You've got an honest face," he said. Then he caught sight of the guitar, lying on the ground. He started back in alarm. "Hey, what's this thing? Got a hole in it. Ain't a trap is it? I say is it a mole trap?"
"Oh, don't be so suspicious," said the pig. "It's a musical instrument." He picked it up and twangled a few chords. Then he put it down. "Well now, Samuel, I've got an idea maybe we can find your stuff for you. We'll try it, if you'll agree to stay out of that lawn. How about it?"
"Of course I'll agree. I don't want—" He stopped, and they all raised their heads and listened. From far away down the Centerboro road there came a series of bangs and explosions. It sounded as if a giant was popping corn.
The sounds came rapidly nearer, and as Freddy and Jinx jumped up and looked, far away down the road they saw something coming toward them. It was a black speck at first, bounding like a ball as it approached. And then it grew bigger, and they saw that it was a small station wagon, coming at tremendous speed, at such speed that it every now and then left the road entirely and bounded through the air.
"Uncle Ben!" they shouted. "Hurray, here's Uncle Ben!"
And before the words were out of their mouths, the station wagon slid to a halt in a screech of tires, and the little old man who was driving leaned out. "Howdy," he said.CHAPTER 2
Mr. Benjamin Bean was Mr. Bean's uncle. He was a very fine mechanic. He spent a good deal of his time at the Beans', working in the shop which he had set up and equipped in the loft over the horse stable. It was here that he had made the parts for the space ship in which he and Mrs. Peppercorn and some of the animals had tried to reach Mars. Here too he had put together the small atomic engine which he had installed in his station wagon, making it probably the fastest and most powerful automobile ever constructed. Although because of its speed, and the kangaroo-like jumps which it made on the open highway, few people but Uncle Ben cared to ride in it.
The year after the space ship had been lost, a flying saucer containing a number of Martians had landed in Centerboro. The Martians were small, and had four arms and three eyes; but they were pleasant, friendly people, they had traveled for a while with Mr. Boomschmidt's circus, and had spent a good deal of time at the Beans'. They liked life on earth, and would probably have stayed much longer but for one thing. The saucer had attracted a good deal of attention. It could travel at almost the speed of light, and so would far outclass even the swiftest of modern bombers. Any nation that had even a small fleet of flying saucers could rule the world.
As soon as pictures of the Martians and the saucer, and some accounts of its flight speed, began to appear in the newspapers, spies and secret agents of every nation on the globe swarmed into Centerboro. The hotel was jammed, every rooming house was crowded, there wasn't a vacancy in any of the motels for fifty miles in any direction, and hundreds camped in tents on the fairgrounds, after the circus had gone. There were spies of every nationality, and many in very queer costumes—turbans and fezzes and long bright-colored robes. All day long the lounge in the hotel looked like a meeting of the United Nations.
Excerpted from Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1957 Walter R. Brooks. Excerpted by permission of The Overlook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 6, 2000
Fun and witty, just enough action to keep the small ones involved and comming back for more. I loved it when I was in the second grade and plan to read it again at thirty five!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2000
Freddy leads the Bean farm animals into another adventure, helping Uncle Ben against the bad guys! It's been 38 years since I read the Feddy series....they're timeless. Rereading them returns one to a host of childhood friends! Go get them Feddy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.