For many weeks Eileen and Larry kept the Secret. They told no one but Dennis and Grannie Malone, and they both promised they would never, never tell.
Mr. McQueen worked hard—early and late—over his turnips and cabbages and potatoes, and Larry and Eileen helped by feeding the pig and chickens, and driving the cows along the roadsides, where they could get fresh sweet grass to eat.
One evening Mr. McQueen said to his wife. "Rent-day comes soon, and next week will be the Fair."
Larry and Eileen heard him say it. They looked at each other and then Eileen went to her Father and said, "Dada, will you take Larry and me to the Fair with you? We want to sell our pig."
"You sell your pig!" cried Mr. McQueen.
"You mean you want to sell it yourselves?"
"You can help us," Eileen answered; "but it 's our pig and we want to sell it, don't we, Larry?"
Larry nodded his head up and down very hard with his mouth tight shut. He was so afraid the Secret would jump out of it!
"Well, I never heard the likes of that!" said McQueen. He slapped his knee and laughed.
"We 've got it all planned," said Eileen. She was almost ready to cry because her Father laughed at her. "We 've fed the pig and fed her, until she 's so fat she can hardly walk, and we are going to wash her clean, and I have a ribbon to tie on her ear. Diddy will look so fine and stylish, I 'm sure some one will want to buy her!"
Mrs. McQueen was just setting away a pan of milk. She stopped with the pan in her hand.
"Leave them go," she said.
Mr. McQueen smoked awhile in silence. At last he said:—
"It 's your own pig, and I suppose you can go, but you 'll have a long day of it."
"The longer the better," said the Twins.
All that week they carried acorns, and turnip-tops, and everything they could find that was good for pigs to eat, and fed them to Diddy, and she got fatter than ever.
The day before the Fair, they took the scrubbing-pail and the broom, and some water, and scrubbed her until she was all pink and clean. Then they put her in a clean place for the night, and went to bed early so they would be ready to get up in the morning.
When the first cock crowed, before daylight the next morning, Eileen's eyes popped wide open in the dark. The cock crowed again. Cock-a-doodle-doo!
"Wake up, Larry darling," cried Eileen from her bed. "The morn is upon us, and we are not ready for the Fair."
Larry bounded out of bed, and such a scurrying around as there was to get ready! Mrs. McQueen was already blowing the fire on the hearth in the kitchen into a blaze, and the kettle was on to boil. The Twins wet their hair and their Mother parted it and then they combed it down tight on the sides of their heads. But no matter how much they wet their hair, the wind always blew it about their ears again in a very little while. They put on their best clothes, and then they were ready for breakfast.
Mr. McQueen was up long before the Twins. He had harnessed Colleen and had loaded the pig into the cart somehow, and tied her securely. This must have been hard work, for Diddy had made up her mind she wasn't going to the Fair.
Mr. McQueen had found room, too, for some crocks of butter, and several dozen eggs carefully packed in straw.
When breakfast was over, Mrs. McQueen brought a stick with notches cut in it and gave it to Mr. McQueen.
She explained what each notch meant. "There 's one notch, and a big one, for selling the pig," she said, "and mind you see that the Twins get a good price for the creature. And here 's another for selling the butter and eggs. And this is a pound of tea for Grannie Malone. She 's been out of tea this week past, and she with no one to send. And this notch is for Mrs. Maguire's side of bacon that you 're to be after bringing her with her egg money, which is wrapped in a piece of paper in your inside pocket, and by the same token don't you be losing it.
"And for myself, there 's so many things I 'm needing, that I've put all these small notches close together. There 's yarn for stockings for the Twins, and some thread for myself, to make crochet, that might turn me a penny in my odd moments, and a bit of flour, and some yellow meal. Now remember that you forget nothing of it all!"
Mr. McQueen shook his head sadly. "Faith, there 's little pleasure in going to the Fair with so many things on my mind," he said.
The sun was just peeping over the distant hills, when Colleen started up the road, pulling the cart with Diddy in it, squealing "like a dozen of herself" Mrs. McQueen said. Mr. McQueen led the donkey, and Larry and Eileen followed on foot. They had on shoes and stockings, and Eileen had on a clean apron and a bright little shawl, so they looked quite gay.
They walked miles and miles, beside bogs, and over hills, along country roads bordered by hedgerows or by stone walls. At last they saw the towers of the Castle which belonged to the Earl of Elsmore. It was on top of a high hill.
The towers stood up strong and proud against the sky. Smoke was coming out of the chimneys.
"Do you suppose the Earl himself is at home?" Eileen asked her Father.
" 'T is not unlikely," Mr. McQueen answered. "He comes home sometimes with parties of gentlemen and ladies for a bit of shooting or fishing."
"Maybe he 'll come to the Fair," Eileen said to Larry.
"Sure, he 'd never miss anything so grand as the Fair and he being in this part of the world," said Larry.
Some distance from the Castle they could see a church spire, and the roofs of the town, and nearer they saw a little village of stalls standing in the green field, like mushrooms that had sprung up overnight.
"The Fair! The Fair!" cried the Twins.