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Authors: Darcy Pattison

Liberty

BOOK: Liberty
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Liberty
Darcy Pattison

C
opyright
© 2016 by Darcy Pattison.

A
ll rights reserved
. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

M
ims House

1309 Broadway

Little Rock, AR 72202, USA

www.mimshouse.com

P
ublisher's Note
: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author's imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

P
ublisher's Cataloging
-in-Publication data

N
ames
: Pattison, Darcy.

Title: Liberty / by Darcy Pattison.

Description: Little Rock [Arkansas]: Mim's House, 2016.

Identifiers: ISBN 978-1-62944-064-4 (Hardcover) | ISBN 978-1-62944-065-1 (pbk.) | LCCN 2016902416.

Summary: Two pigs sail around the world. Along the way they befriend a sea-serpent and make enemies of the Ice King, a massive polar bear.

Subjects: LCSH Pigs--Juvenile fiction. | Sailing ships--History--19th century--Juvenile fiction. | Fantasy fiction. | Action and adventure stories. | BISAC JUVENILE FICTION / Action & Adventure / General | JUVENILE FICTION / Fantasy & Magic | JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / United States / 19th Century.

Classification: LCC PZ7.P27816 Li 2016 | DCC 813.6—dc23

ISBN: 978-1-62944-066-8

They that go down to the sea in ships

that do business in great waters;

These see the works of the Lord,

and his wonders in the deep.

―PSALMS 107: 23-24 (KJV)

Chapter 1

The Red Wagon

T
he grand adventure
began quite simply. Just as the rooster crowed, a wagon bounced, bounced, bounced into the farmyard.

The kitchen door slammed and Farmer MacDonald stepped outside to greet the driver. Waving his arms, the farmer guided the wagon backwards, toward the pigsty.

The racket woke the piglets with a start. Predictably, the foolish things squealed. Eeee! Eeee! Eeee!

“Shush,” said the sleepy sow. “Shush.” She lay on her side and let the piglets root about for breakfast. They soon quieted.

Penelope Grace, the yearling pig, ignored the silly piglets and leaned over the sty to watch the wagon, wide-eyed and curious. Where had the wagon come from? Where did the road lead? What lay beyond her sty and the farm? None of the other farm animals cared about such things. But for Penelope, these questions were like an itch that needed scratching.

It was a red wagon with weathered gray wooden railings around the back, so Penelope couldn't see inside. Last year, her littermates had been herded into a wagon like this, and they disappeared; she didn't know where they went, or, worse, why they left her behind. Her mother's new litter of piglets had been born this spring. She worried: would the piglets be taken away now?

When the wagon was almost touching the sty, the farmer signaled the driver to stop. The farmer took the top pole off the sty. Then he paused, pushed back his straw hat, and scratched his head. “Maybe I'd better section off part of it first.”

“Yep. Good idea,” the wagon driver said.

The farmer walked around the sty, inspecting it. Finally, he pointed: “The corner might be too dry. No mud. But it'll do for now.”

It'll do for what?
Curiosity pulled Penelope a step closer.

The wagon's interior was dark, but something was moving, dark against dark. Penelope shivered.

The hound barked, probably roused by the farmer looking for something in the barn. Instinct made Penelope drop back into the sty; even a casual bark from that beast could make her knees quake. Fortunately, the hound was busy with her pups, which left her little time these days to harass pigs.

The farmer came back with three long poles. The sty was already too small for the huge family. In the largest section, the sow, her piglets and Penelope slept. A smaller section held the boar. Now, the farmer inserted the poles into the sides of the sty cutting into the boar's pen by a third to create a small triangular section.

The farmer lowered the wagon's tailgate and positioned a flat board from the tailgate to the inside of the triangle.

“All right, then,” the driver said and climbed inside the back of the wagon.

Something white flashed across the dark interior. Trembling, Penelope backed away.

A fresh smell, like the farmyard just after a rain, swept over the sty. Onto the tailgate stepped a black and white pig. A slanting ray of sunshine made his coat gleam. Against the black flashed touches of white: a white-tipped tail, a white forehead-blaze, and four white stocking feet. He hesitated, and then trotted—click, click, click, click—down the ramp into his new home.

With a clatter, the farmer removed the ramp and closed the tailgate. The red wagon bounced away down the road. Farmer MacDonald stretched, yawned, and walked to his house. “Breakfast ready?” he called. The kitchen door slammed and silence fell on the farmyard.

All Penelope could do was stare in fascination. Penelope, herself, was a black and white pig. Like the rest of the Hampshire pigs on the farm, she had a white band wrapped around her body just at her front legs. White front legs sandwiched between black hind legs and black face.

This new pig looked to be a yearling like her, but his markings were all wrong. That white-tipped tail especially, well, it looked wrong. That's all.

Her father rose heavily and shook himself. A head taller than the yearling, the white whiskers on his triple chin quavered with each step. With a confident air, he took his time ambling over to inspect the young boar. He grumbled, “What's this? He's not a Hampshire.”

“No, sir. My name is Santiago Talbert.” The yearling boar lifted his nose and stood straighter. “And I'm a Berkshire.”

The old boar shook himself, deliberately splattering mud onto Santiago's gleaming coat. “Don't know what Farmer MacDonald wants with you.”

“I don't know either, sir.” Santiago rubbed his front leg against the pole, trying to wipe off the mud. “But don't worry. I'm not staying that long. I plan to sail the Seven Seas.”

“Sail?” guffawed the old boar. “Pigs don't sail.”

Santiago lifted his chin in defiance. “This pig will.”

Penelope caught her breath. She had grown up listening to Mrs. MacDonald recite poetry. Mrs. MacDonald read aloud from new poetry books while milking Consuela, the nanny goat. She recited poetry while gathering the biddy-hens' eggs. She memorized lines of poetry—by repeating them endlessly—while mucking out the barn and sty. Penelope's favorite poems were about the high seas. But pigs don't sail.

Or do they?

Penelope's world suddenly expanded. “Sail? Will you take me with you?”

Santiago turned and met Penelope's gaze, the first time their eyes actually met. And Love-at-First-Sight struck them both.

Chapter 2

Choices

S
antiago pressed
against the poles separating him from Penelope. “What's your name?”

“Penelope Grace.”

“Ah. It suits you. Penelope Grace.”

When he said her name, it sounded smooth, and she liked that. “What kind of pig are you?”

“We're a royal breed.” He spoke with obvious pride. “Queen Victoria, herself—Queen of England—bred the first Berkshire. She named him Ace of Spades. Since then, we've spread around the world. I'm surprised I'm the first you've seen.”

“Stuck up, pig,” murmured the sow. Mud squelched faintly as she rolled over. In the summer heat, she loved a good mud bath to stay cool. “Penelope, get away from him.”

Obediently, Penelope moved far away from Santiago's small pen to the opposite side of the sty. But the sow's comment stirred up the boar, too. Though he was past his prime and his muscles were melting into fat, he was still strong. He charged at the poles that separated him from Santiago.

Bam! The fence held.

The old boar paced stiff-legged, his head high, in a show of aggression meant to show that he was boss. But the cool mud called, and soon he returned to his mud hole to sleep after all the morning's excitement. His grunty snores filled the farmyard.

Santiago didn't strike Penelope as a foolhardy pig; he stayed as far away from the old boar as possible. But Santiago didn't stand down completely, either. He held his head up and repeated the Berkshire story to every farm animal and sparrow that asked.

Obediently, Penelope stayed away from Santiago that morning, though her eyes never left him. She could be patient and wait for her mother to sleep. Then she would talk to Santiago.

At noon, the farmer's grandchildren trooped out of the house lugging buckets of slops. The smell reached the sty first, and the boar stumbled to his food trough half-asleep. Squealing, the piglets tried to reach the trough in their pen. The jumbled smells caught Penelope, and she pushed aside piglets so she could eat. She took a bite, closed her eyes, and chewed.

From behind her, though, came a high-pitched squealing that wouldn't stop. Eee! Eee! Eee! Almost without thinking, she shoved sideways, pushing the piglets down the trough. Runt squeezed into the space she had created.

Meanwhile, the children had put down a separate bucket for Santiago. They stayed to poke and prod him.

“He's pretty. For a pig,” said the tallest child.

At this, they all giggled.

Santiago whirled to snap at a stick that poked his back.

Luckily for Santiago, Mrs. McDonald rang the lunch bell, and the grandchildren scrambled back to the house.

All the attention toward the new pig stirred up the boar again. Once or twice every hour, he paced along the poles that kept him from the yearling, stopping often to slam—bam!—into the poles. The fence held throughout the afternoon.

That evening, when the sow and the boar and the piglets were finally snoring, Penelope Grace crept to the edge of Santiago's pen. She had tried to hold her expectations in check, but she was brimming with questions. She called softly, “Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

While stars spun around the North Star, they talked, and as they talked, Penelope realized just how lonely she'd been this past year on the farm with no one who shared her crazy dreams. Yes, they talked. About the Seven Seas. About what was beyond the farm and the woods and where the road led. Santiago told her he was raised on a farm about an hour's ride away by the wagon. At that farm, there were lots of breeds of pigs: Hampshires, Berkshires, Durocs, Poland Chinas, and Whites. He didn't know much about the countryside between farms because he hadn't seen out of the red wagon.

“But the robins and crows and songbirds have told me,” Santiago said, “that beyond this countryside you can cross a river into a different world. It's a place where an intelligent creature—animal or human—can get ahead.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don't know, exactly. But I can't stay here. What kind of future do I have?”

“What does that mean?”

“Eventually, we all become bacon.”

The statement stunned Penelope. Of course. Pigs on a farm meant bacon. And when the wagon took away her brothers and sisters last year, they went. . . Penelope sank to her knees. Her brothers and sisters were bacon.

Why hadn't her mother explained? Of course. To keep her from fretting about things she couldn't change.

But Santiago had more to say: “I know why Farmer MacDonald bought me, even if your father doesn't.”

“How could you know?”

“When they loaded me into the red wagon this morning, I heard my farmer and the wagon driver talking. Look at how old the boar and the sow are.”

“So?”

“They are almost done having babies. I'm supposed to replace him and sire lots of piglets.”

“With my mother?” Penelope was outraged.

Santiago just looked at her.

“Oh.” And Penelope understood then why she was left behind when her siblings were taken away. She was supposed to replace her mother and raise piglets to be sent to become bacon. The horror of it took her breath away. She loved her mother, but babies had sapped away her mother's life. Penelope wanted babies, of course, but not a new litter each year to become bacon.

“I'll wind up like him.” Santiago nodded toward the old boar. “Living for my mud. That's no life.”

“We don't have a choice. It's what pigs do. Isn't it?”

“Not this pig.” Santiago tilted his head up toward the spangled sky.

Penelope followed his gaze. A gentle wind swept through the farmyard, bringing a strange new smell. Was it a new flower? Or a new grass? Or a creature she'd never seen before? Oh, to go new places and see new things. Maybe it was possible. It was a new thought, a new emotion, and it grew quickly. She thought:
this is what it feels like to have hope
.

She tested this new emotion, this hope. Was she going to stay here and let the farmer breed her every year, then send her babies off to become bacon?

No. There had to be other choices.

Santiago's voice was strong. “I don't know what the wider world is like, but I'm going to find out. And I know how to get there! Let me draw you a map.”

“What's a map?”

Santiago's eyes shone in the starlight. “The birds told me about maps. I love maps. They are drawings that show the world. Look.” With his right front hoof, he smoothed the dirt and then drew squares. “This is our countryside, and this squiggly line is the river we have to cross to reach the wider world. Farther on there are a few states or countries, or whatever they are called. And then, the ocean. It'll be easy to find the ocean.”

Penelope's eyes grew wide with admiration. “It's a beautiful map. Lines and squares and the ocean. You know so much about the world.”

“Not enough,” Santiago said. He studied his crude map and shook his head.

Maybe he didn't know enough, Penelope thought. To make it in the wider world, they would need to take risks. They might fail once, twice, or even thrice. They might be in danger. They might go hungry. They might have difficulties Penelope couldn't even begin to imagine. Fear of these risks made her tremble deep in her pig bones; she wanted to be safe. Yet she feared failure more. If she decided not to take the risks, she had already failed.

“Do you know enough to get us to the ocean? So we can find a sail boat?”

Santiago shrugged. “Yes.”

“Then you know enough.” Of all the things she had ever said, Penelope thought this was the bravest.

BOOK: Liberty
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ads

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