About the Author
Kurt Wiese (1887-1974) illustrated over 300 children’s books and wrote and illustrated another 20 books. He received two Newbury Awards and two Caldecott Honor Book Awards.
Walter R. Brooks (1886-1958) is the beloved author of 26 books about Freddy the Pig. He edited for magazines, including The New Yorker. In addition to the Freddy books, Brooks created the character Mr. Ed the Talking Horse.
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Freddy and the Dragon
By Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese
The Overlook PressCopyright © 1958 Walter R. Brooks
All rights reserved.
Freddy, the pig, and Jinx, the black cat, in their cowboy clothes, were riding down through Main Street in Centerboro toward their home, on the Bean farm. Freddy was astride Cy, his western pony and Jinx rode Bill, the goat. Holding to the pommel of Freddy's saddle rode their friend, Samuel Jackson, the mole.
They had been on a riding trip through New England. They had seen the sights of Boston, had climbed Bunker Hill, and had visited Plymouth Rock and the House of Seven Gables and many other historic monuments. They had had a wonderful month, but now they were glad to be getting back into familiar territory. They were tired of towns where the streets were full of strangers; it was good to recognize the faces of friends in the crowds on the sidewalks. They waved at Mr. Metacarpus and Judge Willey and Mr. Howell, manager of Beller & Rohr's music store, and took off their hats to Mrs. Winfield Church and Miss Peebles.
Even Samuel lifted his hat, although he didn't know any of the townspeople. He hadn't had a hat when they started out, but he had wanted one, so they bought a red hat that they saw on a doll in a toyshop in Boston. It didn't fit very well, because a mole's head is a straight line from the tip of his nose to his shoulderblades, but they fastened it on with a rubber band. When he lifted it, it snapped back and hurt his nose. But he didn't mind. He wasn't going to be outdone in politeness by pigs and cats.
But, though he waved at the people he knew, Freddy wasn't very well satisfied with their response. Those that waved back did not seem to do so very enthusiastically, and a number of old acquaintances just stared and frowned and then turned away.
"What's the matter with everybody?" Freddy said. "I didn't expect them to dance and sing and strew rose petals in our path, but I did think they'd be glad to see us."
"That's gratitude for you," said Jinx. "We saved 'em from slavery, and this is the thanks we get." He was referring to the state-wide revolt of animals two years earlier, when an attempt had been made under the leadership of the rat, Simon, to take over the management of all the farms, and even of the government, from the humans. Owing to the work of Freddy and his friends, the revolt had been broken. Simon and his family had been exiled, and their human advisor, Mr. Herbert Garble, an old enemy of the Bean animals, sent to jail.
"I don't understand it," said Freddy. "I'll come back to town tomorrow and try to find out if there's anything wrong."
Once through Centerboro, they galloped swiftly on, and presently turned in at the Bean gate. Charles, the rooster, saw them first, and he hopped up on the fence and gave three loud excited crows. Usually he just crowed in the morning, to get everybody up and the farm work started, so when the three cows, and the dogs, and Hank, the old white horse, and the other animals heard him they dashed out into the barnyard to see what was going on. They gave a cheer, and rushed up to surround the returning travelers, and there was a lot of laughing and shouting and shaking of paws and claws and hoofs—and even of hands, when Mr. and Mrs. Bean came out to greet them. And then Mr. Benjamin Bean, Mr. Bean's uncle, came running down the stairs from the loft in the barn where he was secretly building his flying-saucer engine. He was more glad to see Freddy than any of the others, because it was Freddy who had defeated the foreign spies who had wanted to steal the plans for the engine. He pulled Freddy off his horse and hugged him and waltzed him around, and seemed speechless with gladness. There was nothing unusual about this, of course. Uncle Ben was practically speechless most of the time anyway; he almost never said a sentence more than two words long.
So then Mrs. Bean said: "Now come, animals; let Freddy get his breath. He and his friends have had a long ride today, and they're hot and dusty and tired. Suppose we break it up for now and let them clean up and get rested. Then tonight we can all meet in the barn, and they can tell us about their trip. And I'll bake a cake."
The crowd dispersed, and the travelers rode on up to the pig pen, where they took the saddles and bridles off Cy and Bill, who lay down in the shade and went to sleep. Samuel dove into the ground and disappeared, and Jinx and Freddy went inside. They took off their hats and their boots and their gun belts, and Freddy threw himself down on the bed and was asleep before Jinx had made up his mind where to lie down.
The cat looked at the foot of the bed. There was plenty of room, but when Freddy was tired his snores sounded like a four-engined plane taking off. The armchair wasn't good either. It looked comfortable, but Jinx remembered that there were a couple of broken springs which poked up through the seat and jabbed you just when you were getting settled. He finally curled up on the desk among the heaps of dusty papers.
Jinx had been asleep about half an hour when there was a light tap at the door. He lifted his head from his paws. He could hear whispering and giggling outside, and the tap came again. Freddy was still soundly—and rather noisily—asleep. Jinx jumped down and went over and shook him by the shoulder. "Freddy! Wake up! You've got company!"
Freddy sat up. "Who? Wha-what? Oh, it's you, Jinx. Well, but I don't consider you as company; you're just sort of part of the family. I don't—"
"At the door, you dope!" said the cat. "Someone knocking. You'd better see who it is."
Freddy got up, yawning, and opened the door.
There was a group of animals facing the door. They were huddled around a boy with a bicycle and trying to look at an envelope which he held in his hand. It was Charles who had tapped on the door with his beak, and with him were his wife, Henrietta, Georgie, the little brown dog, Hank, the old white horse, and the three cows: Mrs. Wiggins, Mrs. Wurzburger, and Mrs. Wogus. Also there were some assorted small animals, rabbits and squirrels and a skunk or two. They were all trying hard not to giggle.
Freddy knew the boy. His name was Jimmy Wiggs, and he lived in South Pharisee, which is between Clamville and Upper Cattawampus, below Centerboro. Once, when he had been there with Mr. Boomschmidt's circus, Freddy had helped Jimmy out. The boy had been putting on a circus of his own in his back yard, with a lot of his friends' pets, dogs and cats and rabbits, in coops. Jimmy's older brother, Jack, and some of his friends had come and made fun of the show and tried to raid it and break it up. But Freddy had borrowed a lion and some elephants and leopards from Mr. Boomschmidt and prepared a little surprise for Jack's gang. When the raiders had yanked open the doors of the coops and been confronted with real wild animals, roaring and snarling ferociously, instead of the fox terriers and kittens they had expected to chase away, they fled screaming. And the show had been a great success.
"Hello, Freddy," Jimmy said. "I've got a letter for you." He held up a white envelope.
Freddy couldn't reach it over the heads of all the animals crowded up around the door. Charles hopped up on the handlebars of Jimmy's bicycle and took the letter in his claw. But instead of passing it along to Freddy, he squinted at the address, first with one eye and then with the other. Then he burst into a crow of laughter. "That's right, Jimmy; that's what you said. That's the way it's addressed: 'Frederick Bean is queer.'" And all the smaller animals giggled.
Freddy had reached out a fore trotter for the letter, but now he drew it back. "If this is a gag," he said crossly, "it's a pretty feeble one. So if you'll excuse me, I'll go back and finish my nap."
But as he started to close the door, Jimmy said: "It isn't a gag, Freddy, honest. I was in Centerboro today, and I met Mrs. Peppercorn, and I told her I was coming out to see you about something. So she asked me if I'd take along this note to you."
Freddy still didn't reach for it. "Mrs. Peppercorn would never send me a note with 'Frederick Bean is queer' written on it," he said.
"Well—it looks like that," said Jimmy apologetically.
Jinx had come to the door beside the pig. "Look at it, you dope," he said impatiently. "Look at it." And he reached out and took the envelope.
"Why, sure," he said. "Frederick Bean er ... h'm ... ha!" He stopped and grinned. "Well, it ain't spelled right, but it sure looks as if the old lady had your number, kid. 'Queer' it is. Boy it takes 'em a long time, but they get on to you in the end!"
"Let me look at that!" Freddy snatched the letter from the cat's claws.
Some of the rabbits were going around in a circle, a sort of war dance, giggling and chanting:
"Frederick Bean is queer!
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!
Alas, we greatly fear
That when the animals hear
That Frederick Bean is queer
They'll take him by the ear.
He'll shed a bitter tear
And shout: Oh dear, oh dear!—"
"Shut up!" Freddy yelled. "All of you. Shut up! Don't you know anything? This is addressed to Frederick Bean, Esquire! Esquire, not 'is queer.' Esquire is a courtesy title, like Mister. Instead of addressing it to 'Mr. Frederick Bean,' she addressed it to 'Frederick Bean, Esquire.' It's a little more dignified that way, that's all."
"And, boy, you could use a little more dignity right now, pig," said the cat.
Freddy sniffed. He backed into the pig pen. "Come in, Jimmy," he said, and the three went in and closed the door.
Freddy opened the letter and glanced through it. "H'm," he said. "That's odd. Listen to this." And he read:
It wasn't until you had gone through Centerboro that I heard that you were back from your vacation, and then it was too late to catch you. Will you come see me? I would ride out to the farm, but someone stole my bicycle last Friday night. This is only the latest of a series of thefts and acts of vandalism which have kept the town stirred up for the past two weeks. The state troopers have been trying to find the criminals, but without success. I think I know the reason why. The case can be solved only by a special kind of detective, and I believe you are that kind. I will explain that remark when I see you. I will also explain why I say to you: Come soon! For your own protection, come soon!
Yours truly, Mrs. A. A. Peppercorn.'"
"Now why do you suppose she said that—for my own protection?" Freddy demanded. "Have you got any idea, Jimmy?" He sat down on the bed and looked as if he might curl up and go to sleep again any minute.
The boy said: "No, I haven't. But I was only coming through Centerboro on my way to see you. I didn't talk to anybody but Mrs. Peppercorn, and I only spoke to her for a minute."
"I wonder if it has anything to do with the way people scowled at us in Centerboro this afternoon," Freddy said thoughtfully. "Have you heard anything, Jimmy—I mean about the Bean animals doing anything to make themselves unpopular or anything while we were away?"
"No. But people in South Pharisee don't take much interest in what goes on in Centerboro—they mostly gossip about their relatives or folks that live next door. Unless it's something big, like when you broke up the animal revolution."
Jinx said: "Maybe you aren't as popular as you think you are. You expected people to miss you. But maybe instead of shouting: 'Hooray! Hooray!' they just said: 'Oh, here's that darn pig back again. I'd forgotten what a dope he is.'"
Freddy paid no attention to this, and Jimmy said impatiently: "Look, Freddy, why sit around talking? If you want to know what's wrong, why don't you go down and see Mrs. Peppercorn?"
Freddy yawned. "I suppose you're right," he said reluctantly. "Come on, Jinx. And, Jimmy, ride along on your bicycle, and you can tell me what it is you want to see me about."
By this time most of the animals who had come up to the pig pen with Jimmy had gone away, but a few rabbits were still hanging around, and they began to prance in a circle, chanting: "Frederick Bean is queer," until Mrs. Wiggins, who had also remained, said: "Oh, be quiet!" and made a pass at them with her horns, which made them run off giggling.
The cow was Freddy's partner in the detective business.
"Anything wrong, Freddy?" she asked, as the pig and the cat began saddling Cy and Bill.
Freddy showed her the letter and told her about the scowls that had greeted him in Centerboro. "What do you think of it?" he asked.
"Do you think Freddy needs protection?" Jimmy asked, and Jinx said: "Do you suppose we ought to call a meeting and talk it over?"
"Talk what over?" said the cow a little crossly. "Good grief, there's nothing to talk about. A couple of scowls and a letter. You know better than that, Freddy. Go get some facts. Suppose you come to me and say: 'What is two plus two?' And I say: 'Four.' I can answer that because you've given me all the facts. But suppose you say: 'What is two plus something?' And I ask you what 'something' is, and you say you don't know. Don't you see that's just what you're doing now? A couple of scowls plus a letter that you don't understand. If you'd only—"
"Yes, yes," Freddy interrupted, swinging into the saddle. "You tell me the rest tomorrow. O.K., Jinx? Jimmy?" And he started down through the barnyard.
As Cy and Bill trotted up the road to Centerboro, Jimmy pedaled along between them. "You remember, Freddy," he said, "a couple years ago when I had that circus, and Mr. Boomschmidt lent me some circus animals so we'd have a real show? Well, we've organized a baseball team this year, and we want to raise money for uniforms; and we thought maybe we could have another circus. Of course, we'll have to charge money—we thought, ten cents—this time, instead of bottle caps. And so it'll have to be a pretty good show. And we wondered if maybe Mr. Boomschmidt would lend us some of his animals."
"He would if he were here," Freddy said. "But he's out in Ohio now. He won't get to Centerboro before late September."
Jimmy said: "Oh," and they rode along for a time in silence.
"We might have a rodeo," Cy suggested. "Offer a prize for anybody that can stay on my back for a minute."
"A one-horse rodeo?" said Freddy. "It's not enough. Anyway, there might be some busted arms and legs, and that wouldn't do...."
The others made several suggestions, but none of them was any good. They reached Centerboro and pulled up in front of Mrs. Peppercorn's gate.
"Well, thanks anyway, Freddy," said Jimmy gloomily. "Guess I'll ride along home now."
"Wait a minute," said the pig. "I've got a sort of an idea...." He paused. "Let me think it over for a day or two. I'll ride over and see you when I've got something definite."
Jimmy's face brightened. "I knew you'd think of something," he said. "I'll be waiting for you." And he rode off.
"What is this bright idea of yours?" Jinx asked as they went up the front walk.
"Haven't got any," said Freddy. "But I hated to see him look so downcast."
The cat sniffed. "He'll look downcaster when he finds that out."
"Oh, I'll think of something," said the pig, and rang the bell.CHAPTER 2
When Freddy had gone into the detective business, Mrs. Peppercorn had been one of his first clients. She had lost her spectacles. She had hunted all over the house for them. When Freddy was called in, he found them at once; they were up on her forehead where she had pushed them and forgotten them.
Mrs. Peppercorn never ceased to marvel at Freddy's cleverness in finding them so quickly. She told all her friends about it, and he got a number of cases in Centerboro because of it which he wouldn't otherwise have had.
She became very friendly with the Beans and their animals. Jinx frequently came down and took her to the movies, and she was the only person in Centerboro who would ride with Uncle Ben in his atomic-powered station wagon, which, when you stepped on the accelerator, frequently took thirty-foot bounds through the air. Also, she had accompanied Uncle Ben and the animals on that first trial run in his space ship, when he had tried to reach Mars.
She greeted Freddy and Jinx warmly, and took them into the living-room. A little old lady with a very red nose was sitting in a rocking-chair, sneezing. She looked very old.
Excerpted from Freddy and the Dragon by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1958 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The book is about a pig, who is a detective on a adventure to find why he has to go to Ms.PepperWiggle house. Ms. PepperWiggle is in danger, So he thinks for a few days about a plan to help her with her problem. Then he goes with his friend, a horse named Jinx to Ms.PepperWiggle house and he knocks on the door. He waited for a few minutes and Freddy goes on top of Ms.PepperWiggle roof with a bucket and a bag to see if some thing would happen. Freddy told him to knock this time and the door opens and Freddy falls down the roof and Ms.PepperWiggle and she explains to him why he has to come to her house she told him he need to find the answer to another mystery of a dragon.
It is an excellent book, and I bet if you like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, you'll love this one.