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Adults, children, and reviewers are falling in love again with Walter Brooks's talking pig and his barnyard friends who live on Bean Farm in upstate New York. The Freddy the Pig books have long been considered classics of American children's literature and with each reissue by The Overlook Press, this wonderful pig is charming his way into the hearts of more and more readers. Freddy's Bean Farm is a frolicking place and Freddy-whether he's a pilot, cowboy, explorer, politician, or detective-will always save the ...
Adults, children, and reviewers are falling in love again with Walter Brooks's talking pig and his barnyard friends who live on Bean Farm in upstate New York. The Freddy the Pig books have long been considered classics of American children's literature and with each reissue by The Overlook Press, this wonderful pig is charming his way into the hearts of more and more readers. Freddy's Bean Farm is a frolicking place and Freddy-whether he's a pilot, cowboy, explorer, politician, or detective-will always save the day and be sure to have fun doing it.
In Freddy Rides Again, Freddy-the porcine idol of people everywhere who love to laugh-gets it all started when he mixes it up with Mr. Elihu P. Margarine, a wealthy foxhunter who does not care a fig for the damaged vegetables he and his hunters leave in their wake. In the background, Henrietta the rooster chastises her husband Charles, "A fine mess you've got yourself into! You know where you'll end up, don't you? On a platter with a lot of dumplings, that's where!" With the help of Cy, the steed who taught Freddy to ride, Freddy rids the countryside of several menaces, including a rattlesnake and Elihu Margarine-making even Henrietta happy. It all makes for a stirring saga of a remarkably colorful pig and his steadfast barnyard compatriots.
Jinx, the cat, was curled up in Mrs. Bean's rocking chair on the back porch of the farmhouse. Hanging over the arm of the chair was his gun belt, and over the other arm was a cowboy hat, cat size. For since the early summer when Freddy, the pig, had learned to ride horseback, the cowboy craze had hit the Bean farm in a big way. Even the mice who lived in the cigar box under the stove went about the house with little gun belts strapped about their middles. Mrs. Bean had made the belts for them out of bits of material from her sewing basket and Mr. Bean had whittled out little wooden pistols. Any hiker, cutting across the Bean farm pastures, was likely to be stopped a dozen times by a shout of "Stick 'em up, stranger!" and the sudden appearance of a squirrel or a rabbit, armed, apparently, to the teeth.
Though Jinx was asleep, his whiskers twitched irritably every time the argument, which was going on around the corner of the house, got louder. Finally, he opened his eyes. "Oh, gosh!" he exclaimed, and then he jumped down, buckled on his belt, and went around to where Georgie, the little brown dog, and Bill, the goat, and Mrs. Wiggins, the cow, were sitting under the maple tree.
"Look," he said, "Why do you have to ruin a nice peaceful summer afternoon with all this hullabaloo? Why can't you do your hollering somewhere else?"
"Why can't you do your sleeping somewhere else?" Georgie asked, and Bill said, "Yeah, or else put up a little sign: 'Silence! Cat asleep!' How would we be supposed to know that your lordship was enjoying his noble slumbers? We'd have been as quiet as mice."
"Oh, sure," said Jinx, "That shows how much you know if you think mice are quiet. You just try sleeping in the kitchen some night, with those four under the stove in their cigar box. Eeny snores and Cousin Augustus has nightmares, and Eek walks in his sleep. Walked over to where I was sleeping the other night and bit me in the ear. Said he dreamt it was a piece of cheese."
Georgie giggled, and Bill said, "Ha! Piece of cheese, hey? So Eek thinks our Jinx is a big piece of cheese! And I suppose you still believe he was really asleep?"
"What!" said Jinx. "You mean you think—Why, that little—"
"Oh, good land, cat," said Mrs. Wiggins, "can't you ever take a joke?"
"Not when I'm asleep, I can't. Not in the middle of the night. Oh, well ..." He yawned and began washing his face. "What were you arguing about?" he asked.
"I thought we'd get around to that pretty soon," said Bill with a grin. "You're so afraid you're going to miss something, Jinx. Curiosity—"
"Yeah, I know, I know," Jinx interrupted with a weary sigh. "Curiosity killed the cat. I wonder how many million times I've heard that! As if cats were any more curious than other animals. I bet if all the goats curiosity has killed were laid end to end they'd reach from here to San Francisco."
"Well, what's so wrong about being curious anyway?" Mrs. Wiggins said. "I'm perfectly free to say I'm curious as all get-out. My land, all the great inventions were discovered by curious people. What's curiosity anyway but trying to find out something you don't know? That's what schools and colleges are for—to satisfy people's curiosity about things they don't know about. Gracious, that's all our argument was—trying to decide what kind of a dog Georgie is."
"I keep telling you—I'm part wolfhound," said Georgie.
"It must be an awful small part, then," said Jinx. He looked critically at Georgie. The dog was small, and everything about him was just sort of halfway—neither curly nor straight-haired, neither brown nor grey, with legs and ears neither long nor short. It is almost impossible to describe him; he was just a dog. But he had a very pleasant and friendly expression.
"I'm part wolfhound," Georgie repeated, "and part police dog, with just a little Siberian boarhound mixed in."
Jinx laughed. "Look, you dope," he said, "those are all big dogs. And you aren't much bigger than a rabbit. How could you be descended from them?"
"Lots of big people have little children," said Georgie. "Anyway, I'm not through growing yet."
"Well, one thing I'm sure of," said Mrs. Wiggins, "is that you're part beagle. It's the expression on your face. All beagles have it, kind of eager and anxious to please."
"Kind of sweet and foolish," said Jinx. "That's what I heard Mrs. Bean say about him once—Ouch!" he yelled. "You quit that, Georgie, or I'll claw you good." For the dog had turned and nipped him sharply in the leg.
"It's the wolfhound in me," said Georgie with a satisfied smile. Then he jumped up quickly. "Hey, look up in the pasture there."
They all looked. "For Pete's sake," said Bill. "That's the silliest performance I ever saw. What's he think he is—a kitten? Let's go see."
Jinx grinned. "See what I mean?" he said. "Curiosity killed the goat." But he followed the others across the barnyard.
Freddy, the pig, was apparently chasing something. He would crouch and pounce, then leap up and swat the air with his fore trotters—exactly like a kitten trying to catch a butterfly. Only of course a pig's performance was not nearly as graceful to watch as a kitten's, and the four animals, after looking on for a minute or two began to giggle and then to laugh outright.
When he heard them, Freddy stopped and came over to the fence, looking rather sheepish. "Cy says I'm too heavy, so I've gone on a diet," he said. "Grasshoppers. They say they make you thin." Cy was a pony. Freddy had bought him to keep him from being beaten by his former owner. In return, the pony had taught him to ride, and now it was a familiar sight to see Freddy, in cowboy clothes with holstered pistols at his thighs, cantering about the countryside.
"Yeah, I've heard of that diet," said Bill. "But you can't eat 'em if you can't catch 'em. So what good does all this toe-dancing do? You haven't caught one yet."
"I expect it's the exercise trying to catch them that makes you thin," said Mrs. Wiggins. "Not the grasshoppers."
"I did catch one," said Freddy. "But when it came to eating him ... well, you know he looked up at me with such a pathetic expression on his little face—well, I couldn't. Those big mournful eyes—"
"Stop, stop!" said Jinx. "You're breaking my heart. You remind me of my Uncle Herbie. He used to cry so when he caught a mouse he could hardly swallow him. He—"
"That reminds me, Jinx," Mrs. Wiggins interrupted; "there was a tortoise-shell cat came to call here yesterday when you were out riding. His name's Arthur, and he belong to those folks that bought the farm west of here. City folks named Margarine. They just moved in. But he wants to quit 'em. Wanted to know if he could come live with us."
"Well, he's got a nerve," said the cat. "I hope you told him where he got off."
"I said Mr. Bean had a cat and I didn't think he wanted another. But I said you'd probably return his call. He was a real nice quiet-spoken cat."
"Well, I might drop in on him," said Jinx. "Just to make sure he doesn't get any big ideas, and understands who runs things around here."
"And just to satisfy your curiosity about this Magarine outfit, hey, Jinx?" said Bill.
"Well, what's the harm in that?" Jinx demanded. "They're city folks ... got lots of money. They've rebuilt the house and they've got riding horses and servants and so on; I expect there'll be parties and all kinds of goings-on—sort of pep things up around here."
"My land, I hope not," said Mrs. Wiggins. "Parties! Singing and carrying on and whooping it up half the night, I suppose. It'll just spoil our nice quiet life."
"Hey! Look, coming in the gate!" said Bill. "That's one of 'em now."
They turned to look. A boy on horseback had ridden into the barnyard. He had on expensive looking riding breeches and boots, and his horse wasn't a Western pony, like Cy; he was a tall, beautifully groomed thoroughbred. Both boy and horse looked around contemptuously; evidently they didn't think much of the Bean farm.
"That's the Margarine boy," said Georgie. "Billy, his name is."
"Let's creep down and have a look at him," said Jinx.
After hesitating for a few minutes, the boy rode up to the back porch. Without dismounting, he rapped on the railing with his riding whip.
Mrs. Bean came to the door, "Good morning," she said pleasantly. "You're Mr. Margarine's boy, aren't you? Won't you come in? I've just made a batch of sugar cookies."
Billy didn't answer her. "Is this Beans'?" he asked.
Mrs. Bean was a small, plump, apple-cheeked woman with merry black eyes. But now she drew herself up, and she looked about six feet tall, and her eyes weren't merry any more. "I am Mrs. Bean," she said, "and I just invited you in. Is this the way you usually reply to an invitation?"
The boy's face got red. "An invitation?" he said. "Oh, you mean asking me to come in. Yeah. Well, I didn't want to come in; I just wanted to see the talking animals I heard you had here."
Freddy and his friends had come up close to the porch. Bill whispered in Jinx's ear: "If this guy's name is Billy, I'm going to change my name to something else."
"Guess we're going to have to teach him some manners," Jinx muttered.
Mrs. Bean waved her hand towards them. "These are some of the animals," she said. "Whether they'll talk to you or not is another matter. And now if you'll excuse me—" She put her hand on the doorknob, but stopped as the boy, who had turned to look at the animals, suddenly burst into a loud laugh. "Oh, golly!" he exclaimed, pointing to Freddy. "What is that?"
"That is Freddy, our pig," she said. "What's the matter with you, boy? Haven't you ever seen a pig before?"
Billy stopped laughing long enough to say that he had seen pictures of pigs, but never a live one before. "I didn't know what funny looking animals they really were," he said. "Oh, golly, he's funny!" And he stared at Freddy and went off into another gale of laughter.
The animals were pretty mad. They often kidded and made fun of one another, but for a stranger to laugh at one of them was something different. But they were undecided just what to do. Although as animals who could talk they were famous through all that part of the state, they had long ago decided that it was better not to talk before strangers unless there was some good reason for it. And they didn't want to give the boy the satisfaction of hearing them.
Mrs. Bean knew that they were trying to make up their minds what to do to Billy, and instead of going in, she came to the edge of the porch. "You're a very rude boy," she said. "But I don't want to see you get hurt, and so I advise you to stop that laughing and ride on about your business."
"Pooh," said the boy. "You think I'm afraid of them?" And he laughed all the harder. And Mrs. Bean shrugged her shoulders and went into the house.
I don't know what the animals would have done, but the matter was taken out of their hands. For another friend of Freddy's had been watching. He was a wasp named Jacob and he was sitting on the porch railing in the sunshine polishing his sting. Wasps are pretty quick tempered, and when the boy began laughing he buzzed angrily, and as the laughter continued, he tested the point of his sting on the wood, and then he rose in the air, circled twice, and dove with an angry whine onto the neck of Billy's horse and jabbed the sting in up to the hilt.
The horse gave a snort and went straight up in the air, and Billy slipped sideways and lost his stirrups and grabbed the mane to keep from falling. And then the horse gathered his legs under him and bolted. They went up through the barnyard and sailed over the fence, and through the pasture, and as the animals watched, they disappeared among the trees of the Bean woods.
Jacob circled down and settled on Freddy's nose. "Well, I guess we settled that pair, hey, Freddy? Gave 'em a dose of old Dr. Jacob's soothing syrup."
"Thanks, Jacob," said the pig. "Only, you stung the wrong party. The horse didn't do anything."
"Anybody comes in our yard looking around as disgusted as that horse did," said the wasp, "gets the same medicine. Anyway, if I'd just stung the boy, he'd have yelled, and you know Mrs. Bean—she'd have gone all sympathetic and come out and given him cookies and milk. As it is, we gave 'em both something to laugh at, and got rid of 'em into the bargain."
"Well, I know one thing," said Mrs. Wiggins. "If that boy is going to be a neighbor of ours, we're going to have trouble."
"I think I'll go over and have a talk with that cat, Arthur," said Jinx. "It's a good time now, while the boy's away. And maybe we can get a line on these people. Want to go along, Freddy?"CHAPTER 2
A little while ago the Margarine place had been just an old run-down farmhouse. Then Mr. Elihu Margarine had bought it, and he had brought in gangs of carpenters and masons and electricians and plumbers, and it was now as fine a mansion as you would find anywhere between Albany and Buffalo. Even the estate of their friend, Mr. Camphor, Jinx and Freddy agreed, wasn't as elegant.
The gateway alone was enough to scare off any real timid visitor. There were two huge stone gateposts, and on each was a frowning stone lion, holding in his paws the Margarine coat of arms. For the Margarines were a very old and aristocratic family. Their fortunes had first been founded by Phillippe de Margarine, who came to England (some say as a cook) in the train of William the Conqueror. The ancestor in whom Mr. Margarine took most pride was Sir Henry Margarine, who in one year, 1572, fought twenty duels, of which twelve were wins and eight draws. Mr. Margarine himself did not of course fight duels: he was a banker. But he felt sure that he could be successful at dueling if he ever found time to take it up as a hobby.
The two friends went through the tall iron gates, then ducked off into the shrubbery and worked their way around to the back of the house. There was a man washing a big car, and two other men leading horses up and down. They stayed under cover and watched. After a while a tortoise-shell cat came out of the stable. He was large and sleek and had a very kindly and benevolent expression.
"Pssst!" said Jinx, and the cat came over to them.
Jinx introduced himself and Freddy, and the cat expressed himself as highly honored by the call. "I'm sorry I can't offer you any refreshment," he said. "But the truth is that Mrs. Margarine has given orders that I'm not to have anything to eat. That's why I came to see you yesterday—I thought maybe—if I could stay at your farm while I was looking around for another situation ..."
"Why won't they feed you?" Jinx interrupted. "You been clawing the furniture or something?"
"Nothing like that," Arthur said. "No, my trouble is a tender heart. I was engaged here as a mouser, but mice are such cute little things ... and good gracious, they have fathers and mothers just like everybody else, even though smaller. How anybody can bear to kill them I simply cannot see." And the tears came to his eyes just at the thought.
Jinx looked at Freddy. "You and the grasshoppers," he said.
"Sure," said the pig. "Your Uncle Herbie, too."
"Uncle Herbie cried over 'em, but he ate 'em just the same," said Jinx. "Sometimes he sobbed so hard he couldn't swallow, and sometimes he swallowed so fast he couldn't sob. But he managed to feel noble and at the same time get three square meals a day." He turned to Arthur. "Why don't you make a deal with the mice? Have 'em keep out of sight in exchange for your letting them alone?"
"If I'd done that in the beginning it would be all right," said the cat. "But it won't work because they know now that I won't hurt them no matter what they do."
"Well," Freddy said, "your tender heart does you credit. I guess we could stake you to a meal or two. But as to staying on—that's up to Mrs. Bean. Cats are in Mrs. Bean's department. You'll have to talk to her, eh, Jinx?"
The cat agreed rather grudgingly, and then Arthur thanked them. "I'd show you around the place," he said, "but these Margarine folks aren't very friendly. They'd probably tell the servants to chase you away."
"Yeah, we met the boy a little while ago," said Jinx, and told Arthur about it.
Excerpted from Freddy Rides Again by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1951 Walter R. Brooks. Excerpted by permission of The Overlook Press.
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