'Chester the Worldly Pig' Editor's note: Chester wanted to be more than a slab of bacon on someone's breakfast plate. No, he wanted to be something. And, eventually he got his wish.

STORY TIME

March 04, 1998|By Bill Peet

Chester was up and on his way before daylight. He was taking no chances of getting caught in the big city, for now he had made other plans. And he hurried along the deserted streets, always going in the direction which he figured would take him out into the country.

When the sun peeped over the horizon, he was trotting along a dusty road past the wheat fields; then at the first barn lot he came to, he turned in the gate to give himself up, and the farmer greeted the stray pig with open arms.

First the farmer shucked off the bonnet and dress, just in case someone might be out looking for a pig wearing baby clothes, then plunked him in a pen and filled the trough. He intended to make the most of this free little pig, which was just fine with Chester, for he had decided that if he must go the way of all pigs then he was going in a great big way. So he ate his fill every day, and like any other pig, when he wasn't eating he was sleeping.

To the farmer's delight, after a couple of years Chester ballooned into a huge blimp of a pig; and one morning the happy farmer said, "Today this little pig goes to the market."

On that very same morning a carnival van stopped at the farm, and out of the cab stepped a dignified white-whiskered man with a broad-brimmed hat and fancy frock coat. He had stopped to buy fresh eggs, but when he saw the huge pig he forgot all about the eggs.

"What will you take for your pig?" he asked. The farmer thought for a minute, then named his price, which was at least twice what he figured the pig was worth. And to the farmer's surprise, the man didn't so much as bat an eye; he counted out the money and the deal was closed.

After the pig was loaded aboard and the van drove away, the farmer had himself a good laugh. "So he thinks he's bought the world's biggest pig! Why I've seen at least a dozen bigger ones at the county fair." But if the fellow had gone to school long enough to study geography, he'd have known that Chester was much more than just plain big.

For the next day, Chester was introduced to the crowd in the carnival tent as "THE ONE AND ONLY WORLDLY PIG!"

"Now if you will please move in a little closer," said the white-whiskered man, "you will see the entire map of the world imprinted by nature upon this remarkable creature's enormous hide. On his left side, the continents of North and South America, including the land of Australia, which is down under, of course."

The crowd gasped in amazement, while Chester oinked in surprise. He was just as amazed as anyone.

"But that's only the half of it," said the man, turning the pig around on his revolving platform. "On his right side we find Europe, Africa, Asia, and, for good measure, even that tiny island of Borneo. So you see, my friends, this amazing pig is truly one of nature's wonders, untouched by inks, paints, stains or dyes; and to remove all possible doubt, we will now give our worldly wonder a good sound scrubbing."

Then Chester was treated to the first bath in all his life, and he squealed with pleasure; it felt good to be clean. Not spotlessly clean, however. When the foamy suds had been rinsed away, the map came out more plainly than ever, with the oceans glowing pig pink. Then as the admiring crowd rocked the tent with applause, the delighted pig took a few more worldly turns to show off his spectacular spots. But if he had ever heard that show-offish actors were sometimes called "hams," Chester would have surely been horrified.

From CHESTER THE WORLDLY PIG. Copyright (c) 1965 by William B. Peet. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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