Gateway to the Classics: Fairy Stories and Fables by James Baldwin
Fairy Stories and Fables by  James Baldwin

The Three Pigs

In a fine old barnyard on the other side of the sea there once lived a good mother pig with her three children. Now in those days pigs lived just as they liked. They had a very good time, and learned many curious, cunning ways.

The name of the eldest of the three little pigs was Browny. He was not a very nice pig, for his face was always dirty, and he was never so happy as when playing in the mud. His mother tried hard to teach him to be clean and neat, but it was of no use; he would run away from her while she was talking, find the muddiest place in the yard, and roll about in it till he was the ugliest fellow you ever saw. "Ah, Browny," his mother would say, "some day you'll be sorry for your naughty ways; and then it will be too late for me to help you."

The name of the second little pig was Whitey. He was a clever fellow, and if he had not had one very bad habit he would have been as nice as any other pig. But he was greedy. He spent all of his time either in eating or in looking through the fence and wishing it was dinner time. When the dairy maid came down the lane with food for the pigs, he would stand on his hind legs and squeal; and when she poured the food into the trough, he would jostle and push his two brothers out of the way, and try his best to get every mouthful for himself. His mother often scolded him for being so greedy and selfish, and he sometimes promised to do better; but as soon as he began to think of the dairy maid, he was as bad as ever.

The name of the youngest of the three little pigs was Blacky, and he was the best and prettiest of them all. He kept his face washed and his hair combed seven days in the week; and, for a pig, he had many cunning ways. His mother was very proud of him; and the farmer was fond of petting him and telling his friends that Blacky would be sure to take the prize at the next fair.

Now, late in the fall when the nuts could be heard dropping from the trees, the mother of these little pigs began to feel very uneasy in the barnyard.

"My children," she said, "I think that I must leave you for a time and go on a long journey over the hills through the oak woods. There are so many dangers in the woods, so many savage beasts and cruel men, that I cannot think of taking you with me. But I will build a nice new house for each of you to live in while I am gone."

"Dear mother, you are very kind, and we thank you," said all the pigs at once.

"Well, Browny," said the mother, "what kind of a house shall I build for you?"

"Oh, a mud house, mother! Build me a mud house!"

"And what kind of a house do you want, Whitey?"

"A house of cabbage," mumbled Whitey, his mouth being so full that he could hardly speak.

"And you, Blacky?"

"Oh, I should like a house of brick that will be warm in winter and cool in summer, and safe all the year round," answered Blacky.

"All right," said the mother. "Each shall have the kind of house that he wants. But listen to me. When I am gone, the fox will try his best to get you. He is very sly, and he will make believe that he is your friend, so that he can get into your houses. You must be very careful and keep him out; for if he once gets hold of you, he will carry you off and eat you up."

"Oh yes, mother, we'll watch out for the fox," said they all.

Not long after that, the old pig started on her journey, and the three little pigs went to live in their new houses.

Browny was very happy, and he would lie all day in his new home, rolling about on the cool mud floor and looking up now and then at the damp mud walls around him. He was about as pretty as a mud pig in the middle of a big mud pie. But one day there came a gentle knock on the door, and some one said:—

"Dear Browny, may I come in? I want to look at your nice new house."

"Who are you?" asked Browny, in great fright; for although the voice was soft and low, he felt sure that his strange visitor was the fox.

"I am a friend of your mother's," was the answer.

"No, you're not," said Browny. "You are the wicked fox, and you want to eat me up. But you shall not come in."

"Is that the way you talk?" said the fox; and he changed his tone very quickly. "Well, we'll see about that."

Then he set to work with his paws and soon dug a hole through the soft mud wall. A minute later he leaped through into the house and seized the poor pig by the neck. It was of no use for Browny to squeal. The fox threw him over his shoulder and trotted away with him to his den in the edge of the wood.

The next day the fox came back and knocked at the door of the cabbage house. Whitey was inside, eating the softest leaves in the walls, and peeping out through a crack so as to see the dairy maid as soon as she came with the soured milk. But when he heard the knock he was scared almost to death, for he felt sure that it was the fox.

"Who knocks?" he asked.

"A friend of your mother's," was the answer; "and I have come to have a taste of your nice cabbage."

"Oh, you must not eat the cabbage," said Whitey. "The walls of my house are made of it; and if you eat any of it, they will tumble down. Please go away." And he began to cry and wish that his house had been made of something that could not be eaten up.

But in a few minutes the fox had torn a hole through the wall, and, just as the dairy maid was seen coming over the hill, he leaped inside and seized the pig by the neck. It was of no use for the dairy maid to scream. The fox threw poor Whitey over his shoulder and ran away through brush and briar, to his den in the edge of the wood.

On the third day the fox came again. For he had made up his mind to get all three of the pigs penned up in his den, and then to invite his friends to come in and have some fun and a feast. But Blacky, in his strong brick house, was ready for him.

The fox knocked at the door: Toc, toc, toc!

"Who knocks?" asked Blacky.

"A friend of your mother's," was the answer. "I have brought you a nice basket of eggs for your dinner. Open the door, and let me in."

"No, I will not," said Blacky. "I know who you are. You are the fox that carried off my two brothers. But you will not get me."

"We'll see about that," answered the fox, trying his best to open the door.

When he saw how strong the house was built and how well all the doors and windows were fastened, he knew that it was of no use trying to break in. So, after he had looked all around, he turned about and started back to his den.

"Never mind, friend Blacky," he said, shaking his fist in the air. "I'll get you yet in spite of your brick house, and then won't I make short work of you?"

The next day Blacky went to town to buy a new dinner kettle. As he was coming home with the kettle on his back he heard a noise in the thicket behind him; and then he heard some one walking among the leaves. He knew it was the fox, and his heart beat very fast; but he did not stop.

When he got to the top of the hill, he saw his own little red house at the foot of it on the other side. How he wished he was safe in doors! But the fox could run very fast—much faster than he. Then a bright thought came into his head. He lifted the lid off the kettle and crept into it. He curled himself up snugly at the bottom. Then he pulled the lid down again and held it on very tight. When everything was ready he squirmed about in the kettle until it fell over and began to roll down the hill.


When the fox came up, all that he saw was the big kettle rolling along at a great rate straight towards the little red house in the barnyard. He wondered what had become of the pig, for he had felt sure of getting him this time. But while he was looking around, the big kettle stopped in front of the house, the lid flew up, and Blacky jumped out.

"Oho! that's your game, is it?" cried the fox; and he ran down the hill so fast that he turned heels over head two or three times before he got to the bottom.

But Blacky had carried his kettle into the house and bolted the door behind him.

The fox now began to try some other way to get the pig. If he could only climb upon the roof!

But Blacky was not afraid now. As soon as he had rested a minute he built a fine fire on the hearth and then hung the kettle, full of water, above it. As soon as the water was boiling hot he would have his supper.

While he stood watching the fire he heard a noise on the roof above him—pitter, patter, patter, patter! The fox had climbed up and was on top of the house. But what harm could he do there?

Just then the water in the big kettle began to simmer and sing and the hot bubbles danced about at a great rate. Blacky heard a noise in the chimney. He looked up, and there was the fox coming down. Who would have thought of his getting into the house in that way?

But the fox was so sure of the pig that he did not see the kettle with the hot water in it; and before he knew it he had fallen right into it. Then, quick as thought, Blacky slipped the lid upon the kettle, and the fox was scalded to death.

The next day Blacky started out to find the fox's den. If his brothers were still alive he wanted to set them free. It was no trouble to find the den; and, as for Browny and Whitey, there they were, tied fast to the root of a tree, and grunting and squealing in great fear.

"O Blacky, how glad we are that you have come!" they cried.

Blacky quickly set them free; and soon all three of them trotted back to the little brick house in the barnyard. And there they lived happily until their mother came home again.

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