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the tale of piggling bland.
by beatrix potter.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
ONCE upon a time there was an old pig called Aunt Pettitoes. She had
eight of a family: four little girl pigs, called Cross-patch, Suck-suck,
Yock-yock and Spot;
and four little boy pigs, called Alexander, Pigling Bland, Chin-chin and
Stumpy. Stumpy had had an accident to his tail.
The eight little pigs had very fine appetites. "Yus, yus, yus! they eat
and indeed they DO eat!" said Aunt Pettitoes, looking at her family with
pride. Suddenly there were fearful squeals; Alexander had squeezed
inside the hoops of the pig trough and stuck.
Aunt Pettitoes and I dragged him out by the hind legs.
Chin-chin was already in disgrace; it was washing day, and he had eaten
a piece of soap. And presently in a basket of clean clothes, we found
another dirty little pig. "Tchut, tut, tut! whichever is this?" grunted
Now all the pig family are pink, or pink with black spots, but this pig
child was smutty black all over; when it had been popped into a tub, it
proved to be Yock-yock.
I went into the garden; there I found Cross-patch and Suck-suck rooting
up carrots. I whipped them myself and led them out by the ears.
Cross-patch tried to bite me.
"Aunt Pettitoes, Aunt Pettitoes! you are a worthy person, but your
family is not well brought up. Every one of them has been in mischief
except Spot and Pigling Bland."
"Yus, yus!" sighed Aunt Pettitoes. "And they drink bucketfuls of milk; I
shall have to get another cow! Good little Spot shall stay at home to do
the housework; but the others must go. Four little boy pigs and four
little girl pigs are too many altogether." "Yus, yus, yus," said Aunt
Pettitoes, "there will be more to eat without them."
So Chin-chin and Suck-suck went away in a wheel-barrow, and Stumpy,
Yock-yock and Cross-patch rode away in a cart.
And the other two little boy pigs, Pigling Bland and Alexander, went to
market. We brushed their coats, we curled their tails and washed their
little faces, and wished them good-bye in the yard.
Aunt Pettitoes wiped her eyes with a large pocket handkerchief, then she
wiped Pigling Bland's nose and shed tears; then she wiped Alexander's
nose and shed tears; then she passed the handkerchief to Spot. Aunt
Pettitoes sighed and grunted, and addressed those little pigs as
"Now Pigling Bland, son Pigling Bland, you must go to market. Take your
brother Alexander by the hand. Mind your Sunday clothes, and remember to
blow your nose"--
(Aunt Pettitoes passed round the handkerchief again)--"beware of traps,
hen roosts, bacon and eggs; always walk upon your hind legs." Pigling
Bland, who was a sedate little pig, looked solemnly at his mother, a
tear trickled down his cheek.
Aunt Pettitoes turned to the other--"Now son Alexander take the
hand"--"Wee, wee, wee!" giggled Alexander--"take the hand of your
brother Pigling Bland, you must go to market. Mind--" "Wee, wee, wee!"
interrupted Alexander again. "You put me out," said Aunt Pettitoes.
"Observe sign-posts and milestones; do not gobble herring bones--" "And
remember," said I impressively, "if you once cross the county boundary
you cannot come back.
Alexander, you are not attending. Here are two licences permitting two
pigs to go to market in Lancashire. Attend, Alexander. I have had no end
of trouble in getting these papers from the policeman."
Pigling Bland listened gravely; Alexander was hopelessly volatile.
I pinned the papers, for safety, inside their waistcoat pockets;
Aunt Pettitoes gave to each a little bundle, and eight conversation
peppermints with appropriate moral sentiments in screws of paper. Then
Pigling Bland and Alexander trotted along steadily for a mile; at least
Pigling Bland did. Alexander made the road half as long again by
skipping from side to side. He danced about and pinched his brother,
"This pig went to market, this pig
stayed at home,
"This pig had a bit of meat--
let's see what they have given US for dinner, Pigling?"
Pigling Bland and Alexander sat down and untied their bundles. Alexander
gobbled up his dinner in no time; he had already eaten all his own
peppermints. "Give me one of yours, please, Pigling."
"But I wish to preserve them for emergencies," said Pigling Bland
doubtfully. Alexander went into squeals of laughter. Then he pricked
Pigling with the pin that had fastened his pig paper; and when Pigling
slapped him he dropped the pin, and tried to take Pigling's pin, and the
papers got mixed up. Pigling Bland reproved Alexander.
But presently they made it up again, and trotted away together,
"Tom, Tom, the piper's son, stole a pig
and away he ran!
"But all the tune that he could play,
was 'Over the hills and far away!'"
"What's that, young sirs? Stole a pig? Where are your licences?" said
the policeman. They had nearly run against him round a corner. Pigling
Bland pulled out his paper; Alexander, after fumbling, handed over
"To 2 1/2 oz. conversation sweeties at three farthings"--"What's this?
This ain't a licence." Alexander's nose lengthened visibly, he had lost
it. "I had one, indeed I had, Mr. Policeman!"
"It's not likely they let you start without. I am passing the farm. You
may walk with me." "Can I come back too?" inquired Pigling Bland. "I see
no reason, young sir; your paper is all right." Pigling Bland did not
like going on alone, and it was beginning to rain. But it is unwise to
argue with the police; he gave his brother a peppermint, and watched him
out of sight.
To conclude the adventures of Alexander--the policeman sauntered up to
the house about tea time, followed by a damp subdued little pig. I
disposed of Alexander in the neighbourhood; he did fairly well when he
had settled down.
Pigling Bland went on alone dejectedly; he came to cross-roads and a
sign-post--"To Market Town, 5 miles," "Over the Hills, 4 miles," "To
Pettitoes Farm, 3 miles."
Pigling Bland was shocked, there was little hope of sleeping in Market
Town, and to-morrow was the hiring fair; it was deplorable to think how
much time had been wasted by the frivolity of Alexander.
He glanced wistfully along the road towards the hills, and then set off
walking obediently the other way, buttoning up his coat against the
rain. He had never wanted to go; and the idea of standing all by himself
in a crowded market, to be stared at, pushed, and hired by some big
strange farmer was very disagreeable--
"I wish I could have a little garden and grow potatoes," said Pigling
He put his cold hand in his pocket and felt his paper, he put his other
hand in his other pocket and felt another paper--Alexander's! Pigling
squealed; then ran back frantically, hoping to overtake Alexander and
He took a wrong turn--several wrong turns, and was quite lost.
It grew dark, the wind whistled, the trees creaked and groaned.
Pigling Bland became frightened and cried "Wee, wee, wee! I can't find
my way home!"
After an hour's wandering he got out of the wood; the moon shone through
the clouds, and Pigling Bland saw a country that was new to him.
The road crossed a moor; below was a wide valley with a river twinkling
in the moonlight, and beyond, in misty distance, lay the hills.
He saw a small wooden hut, made his way to it, and crept inside--"I am
afraid it IS a hen house, but what can I do?" said Pigling Bland, wet
and cold and quite tired out.
"Bacon and eggs, bacon and eggs!" clucked a hen on a perch.
"Trap, trap, trap! cackle, cackle, cackle!" scolded the disturbed
cockerel. "To market, to market! jiggetty jig!" clucked a broody white
hen roosting next to him. Pigling Bland, much alarmed, determined to
leave at daybreak. In the meantime, he and the hens fell asleep.
In less than an hour they were all awakened. The owner, Mr. Peter Thomas
Piperson, came with a lantern and a hamper to catch six fowls to take to
market in the morning.
He grabbed the white hen roosting next to the cock; then his eye fell
upon Pigling Bland, squeezed up in a corner. He made a singular
remark--"Hallo, here's another!"--seized Pigling by the scruff of the
neck, and dropped him into the hamper. Then he dropped in five more
dirty, kicking, cackling hens upon the top of Pigling Bland.
The hamper containing six fowls and a young pig was no light weight; it
was taken down hill, unsteadily, with jerks. Pigling, although nearly
scratched to pieces, contrived to hide the papers and peppermints inside
At last the hamper was bumped down upon a kitchen floor, the lid was
opened, and Pigling was lifted out. He looked up, blinking, and saw an
offensively ugly elderly man, grinning from ear to ear.
"This one's come of himself, whatever," said Mr. Piperson, turning
Pigling's pockets inside out. He pushed the hamper into a corner, threw
a sack over it to keep the hens quiet, put a pot on the fire, and
unlaced his boots.
Pigling Bland drew forward a coppy stool, and sat on the edge of it,
shyly warming his hands. Mr. Piperson pulled off a boot and threw it
against the wainscot at the further end of the kitchen. There was a
smothered noise--"Shut up!" said Mr. Piperson. Pigling Bland warmed his
hands, and eyed him.
Mr. Piperson pulled off the other boot and flung it after the first,
there was again a curious noise--"Be quiet, will ye?" said Mr. Piperson.
Pigling Bland sat on the very edge of the coppy stool.
Mr. Piperson fetched meal from a chest and made porridge. It seemed to
Pigling that something at the further end of the kitchen was taking a
suppressed interest in the cooking, but he was too hungry to be troubled
Mr. Piperson poured out three platefuls: for himself, for Pigling, and a
third--after glaring at Pigling--he put away with much scuffling, and
locked up. Pigling Bland ate his supper discreetly.
After supper Mr. Piperson consulted an almanac, and felt Pigling's ribs;
it was too late in the season for curing bacon, and he grudged his meal.
Besides, the hens had seen this pig.
He looked at the small remains of a flitch, and then looked undecidedly
at Pigling. "You may sleep on the rug," said Mr. Peter Thomas Piperson.
Pigling Bland slept like a top. In the morning Mr. Piperson made more
porridge; the weather was warmer. He looked to see how much meal was
left in the chest, and seemed dissatisfied--"You'll likely be moving on
again?" said he to Pigling Bland.
Before Pigling could reply, a neighbour, who was giving Mr. Piperson and
the hens a lift, whistled from the gate. Mr. Piperson hurried out with
the hamper, enjoining Pigling to shut the door behind him and not meddle
with nought; or "I'll come back and skin ye!" said Mr. Piperson.
It crossed Pigling's mind that if HE had asked for a lift, too, he might
still have been in time for market.
But he distrusted Peter Thomas.
After finishing breakfast at his leisure, Pigling had a look round the
cottage; everything was locked up. He found some potato peelings in a
bucket in the back kitchen. Pigling ate the peel, and washed up the
porridge plates in the bucket. He sang while he worked--
"Tom with his pipe made such a noise,
He called up all the girls and boys--
"And they all ran to hear him play
"'Over the hills and far away!'"
Suddenly a little smothered voice chimed in--
"Over the hills and a great way off,
The wind shall blow my top knot off!"
Pigling Bland put down a plate which he was wiping, and listened.
After a long pause, Pigling went on tip-toe and peeped round the door
into the front kitchen. There was nobody there.
After another pause, Pigling approached the door of the locked cupboard,
and snuffed at the key-hole. It was quite quiet.
After another long pause, Pigling pushed a peppermint under the door. It
was sucked in immediately.
In the course of the day Pigling pushed in all the remaining six
When Mr. Piperson returned, he found Pigling sitting before the fire; he
had brushed up the hearth and put on the pot to boil; the meal was not
Mr. Piperson was very affable; he slapped Pigling on the back, made lots
of porridge and forgot to lock the meal chest. He did lock the cupboard
door; but without properly shutting it. He went to bed early, and told
Pigling upon no account to disturb him next day before twelve o'clock.
Pigling Bland sat by the fire, eating his supper.
All at once at his elbow, a little voice spoke--"My name is Pig-wig.
Make me more porridge, please!" Pigling Bland jumped, and looked round.
A perfectly lovely little black Berkshire pig stood smiling beside him.
She had twinkly little screwed up eyes, a double chin, and a short
turned up nose.
She pointed at Pigling's plate; he hastily gave it to her, and fled to
the meal chest. "How did you come here?" asked Pigling Bland.
"Stolen," replied Pig-wig, with her mouth full. Pigling helped himself
to meal without scruple. "What for?" "Bacon, hams," replied Pig-wig
cheerfully. "Why on earth don't you run away?" exclaimed the horrified
"I shall after supper," said Pig-wig decidedly.
Pigling Bland made more porridge and watched her shyly.
She finished a second plate, got up, and looked about her, as though she
were going to start.
"You can't go in the dark," said Pigling Bland.
Pig-wig looked anxious.
"Do you know your way by daylight?"
"I know we can see this little white house from the hills across the
river. Which way are YOU going, Mr. Pig?"
"To market--I have two pig papers. I might take you to the bridge; if
you have no objection," said Pigling much confused and sitting on the
edge of his coppy stool. Pig-wig's gratitude was such and she asked so
many questions that it became embarrassing to Pigling Bland.
He was obliged to shut his eyes and pretend to sleep. She became quiet,
and there was a smell of peppermint.
"I thought you had eaten them," said Pigling, waking suddenly.
"Only the corners," replied Pig-wig, studying the sentiments with much
interest by the firelight.
"I wish you wouldn't; he might smell them through the ceiling," said the
Pig-wig put back the sticky peppermints into her pocket; "Sing
something," she demanded.
"I am sorry ... I have tooth-ache," said Pigling much dismayed.
"Then I will sing," replied Pig-wig. "You will not mind if I say iddy
tidditty? I have forgotten some of the words."
Pigling Bland made no objection; he sat with his eyes half shut, and
She wagged her head and rocked about, clapping time and singing in a
sweet little grunty voice--
"A funny old mother pig lived in a
stye, and three little piggies had she;
"(Ti idditty idditty) umph, umph,
umph! and the little pigs said, wee, wee!"
She sang successfully through three or four verses, only at every verse
her head nodded a little lower, and her little twinkly eyes closed up.
"Those three little piggies grew peaky
and lean, and lean they might very
"For somehow they couldn't say umph,
umph, umph! and they wouldn't
say wee, wee, wee!
"For somehow they couldn't say--
Pig-wig's head bobbed lower and lower, until she rolled over, a little
round ball, fast asleep on the hearth-rug.
Pigling Bland, on tip-toe, covered her up with an antimacassar.
He was afraid to go to sleep himself; for the rest of the night he sat
listening to the chirping of the crickets and to the snores of Mr.
Early in the morning, between dark and daylight, Pigling tied up his
little bundle and woke up Pig-wig. She was excited and half-frightened.
"But it's dark! How can we find our way?"
"The cock has crowed; we must start before the hens come out; they might
shout to Mr. Piperson."
Pig-wig sat down again, and commenced to cry.
"Come away Pig-wig; we can see when we get used to it. Come! I can hear
Pigling had never said shuh! to a hen in his life, being peaceable; also
he remembered the hamper.
He opened the house door quietly and shut it after them. There was no
garden; the neighbourhood of Mr. Piperson's was all scratched up by
fowls. They slipped away hand in hand across an untidy field to the
The sun rose while they were crossing the moor, a dazzle of light over
the tops of the hills. The sunshine crept down the slopes into the
peaceful green valleys, where little white cottages nestled in gardens
"That's Westmorland," said Pig-wig. She dropped Pigling's hand and
commenced to dance, singing--
"Tom, Tom, the piper's son, stole a pig
and away he ran!
"But all the tune that he could play,
was 'Over the hills and far away!'"
"Come, Pig-wig, we must get to the bridge before folks are stirring."
"Why do you want to go to market, Pigling?" inquired Pig-wig presently.
"I don't want; I want to grow potatoes." "Have a peppermint?" said
Pig-wig. Pigling Bland refused quite crossly. "Does your poor toothy
hurt?" inquired Pig-wig. Pigling Bland grunted.
Pig-wig ate the peppermint herself and followed the opposite side of the
road. "Pig-wig! keep under the wall, there's a man ploughing." Pig-wig
crossed over, they hurried down hill towards the county boundary.
Suddenly Pigling stopped; he heard wheels.
Slowly jogging up the road below them came a tradesman's cart. The reins
flapped on the horse's back, the grocer was reading a newspaper.
"Take that peppermint out of your mouth, Pig-wig, we may have to run.
Don't say one word. Leave it to me. And in sight of the bridge!" said
poor Pigling, nearly crying. He began to walk frightfully lame, holding
The grocer, intent upon his news-paper, might have passed them, if his
horse had not shied and snorted. He pulled the cart crossways, and held
down his whip. "Hallo! Where are YOU going to?"--Pigling Bland stared at
"Are you deaf? Are you going to market?" Pigling nodded slowly.
"I thought as much. It was yesterday. Show me your licence?"
Pigling stared at the off hind shoe of the grocer's horse which had
picked up a stone.
The grocer flicked his whip--"Papers? Pig licence?" Pigling fumbled in
all his pockets, and handed up the papers. The grocer read them, but
still seemed dissatisfied. "This here pig is a young lady; is her name
Alexander?" Pig-wig opened her mouth and shut it again; Pigling coughed
The grocer ran his finger down the advertisement column of his
newspaper--"Lost, stolen or strayed, 10s. reward." He looked
suspiciously at Pig-wig. Then he stood up in the trap, and whistled for
"You wait here while I drive on and speak to him," said the grocer,
gathering up the reins. He knew that pigs are slippery; but surely, such
a VERY lame pig could never run!
"Not yet, Pig-wig, he will look back." The grocer did so; he saw the two
pigs stock-still in the middle of the road. Then he looked over at his
horse's heels; it was lame also; the stone took some time to knock out,
after he got to the ploughman.
"Now, Pig-wig, NOW!" said Pigling Bland.
Never did any pigs run as these pigs ran! They raced and squealed and
pelted down the long white hill towards the bridge. Little fat Pig-wig's
petticoats fluttered, and her feet went pitter, patter, pitter, as she
bounded and jumped.
They ran, and they ran, and they ran down the hill, and across a short
cut on level green turf at the bottom, between pebble beds and rushes.
They came to the river, they came to the bridge--they crossed it hand in
hand--then over the hills and far away she danced with Pigling Bland!