The Trumpet of the Swan, p.13E. B. White
"Please don't kill it!" she sobbed. "It's unfair."
Mr. Arable stopped walking.
"Fern," he said gently, "you will have to learn to control yourself."
"Control myself?" yelled Fern. "This is a matter of life and death, and you talk about controlling myself." Tears ran down her cheeks and she took hold of the ax and tried to pull it out of her father's hand.
"Fern," said Mr. Arable, "I know more about raising a litter of pigs than you do. A weakling makes trouble. Now run along!"
"But it's unfair," cried Fern. "The pig couldn't help being born small, could it? If I had been very small at birth, would you have killed me?"
Mr. Arable smiled. "Certainly not," he said, looking down at his daughter with love. "But this is different. A little girl is one thing, a little runty pig is another."
"I see no difference," replied Fern, still hanging on to the ax. "This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of."
A queer look came over John Arable's face. He seemed almost ready to cry himself.
"All right," he said. "You go back to the house and I will bring the runt when I come in. I'll let you start it on a bottle, like a baby. Then you'll see what trouble a pig can be."
When Mr. Arable returned to the house half an hour later, he carried a carton under his arm. Fern was upstairs changing her sneakers. The kitchen table was set for breakfast, and the room smelled of coffee, bacon, damp plaster, and wood smoke from the stove.
"Put it on her chair!" said Mrs. Arable. Mr. Arable set the carton down at Fern's place. Then he walked to the sink and washed his hands and dried them on the roller towel.
Fern came slowly down the stairs. Her eyes were red from crying. As she approached her chair, the carton wobbled, and there was a scratching noise. Fern looked at her father. Then she lifted the lid of the carton. There, inside, looking up at her, was the newborn pig. It was a white one. The morning light shone through its ears, turning them pink.
"He's yours," said Mr. Arable. "Saved from an untimely death. And may the good Lord forgive me for this foolishness."
Fern couldn't take her eyes off the tiny pig. "Oh," she whispered. "Oh, look at him! He's absolutely perfect."
She closed the carton carefully. First she kissed her father, then she kissed her mother. Then she opened the lid again, lifted the pig out, and held it against her cheek. At this moment her brother Avery came into the room. Avery was ten. He was heavily armed--an air rifle in one hand, a wooden dagger in the other.
"What's that?" he demanded. "What's Fern got?"
"She's got a guest for breakfast," said Mrs. Arable. "Wash your hands and face, Avery!"
"Let's see it!" said Avery, setting his gun down. "You call that miserable thing a pig? That's a fine specimen of a pig--it's no bigger than a white rat."
"Wash up and eat your breakfast, Avery!" said his mother. "The school bus will be along in half an hour."
"Can I have a pig, too, Pop?" asked Avery.
"No, I only distribute pigs to early risers," said Mr. Arable. "Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one, to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly. Let's eat!"
But Fern couldn't eat until her pig had had a drink of milk. Mrs. Arable found a baby's nursing bottle and a rubber nipple. She poured warm milk into the bottle, fitted the nipple over the top, and handed it to Fern. "Give him his breakfast!" she said.
A minute later, Fern was seated on the floor in the corner of the kitchen with her infant between her knees, teaching it to suck from the bottle. The pig, although tiny, had a good appetite and caught on quickly.
The school bus honked from the road.
"Run!" commanded Mrs. Arable, taking the pig from Fern and slipping a doughnut into her hand. Avery grabbed his gun and another doughnut.
The children ran out to the road and climbed into the bus. Fern took no notice of the others in the bus. She just sat and stared out of the window, thinking what a blissful world it was and how lucky she was to have entire charge of a pig. By the time the bus reached school, Fern had named her pet, selecting the most beautiful name she could think of.
"Its name is Wilbur," she whispered to herself.
She was still thinking about the pig when the teacher said: "Fern, what is the capital of Pennsylvania?"
"Wilbur," replied Fern, dreamily. The pupils giggled. Fern blushed.
Excerpt from Stuart Little
Read on for an excerpt from Stuart Little
I. In the Drain
WHEN Mrs. Frederick C. Little's second son arrived, everybody noticed that he was not much bigger than a mouse. The truth of the matter was, the baby looked very much like a mouse in every way He was only about two inches high; and he had a mouse's sharp nose, a mouse's tail, a mouse's whiskers, and the pleasant, shy manner of a mouse. Before he was many days old he was not only looking like a mouse but acting like one, too--wearing a gray hat and carrying a small cane. Mr. and Mrs. Little named him Stuart, and Mr. Little made him a tiny bed out of four clothespins and a cigarette box.
Unlike most babies, Stuart could walk as soon as he was born. When he was a week old he could climb lamps by shinnying up the cord. Mrs. Little saw right away that the infant clothes she had provided were unsuitable, and she set to work and made him a fine little blue worsted suit with patch pockets in which he could keep his handkerchief, his money, and his keys. Every morning, before Stuart dressed, Mrs. Little went into his room and weighed him on a small scale which was really meant for weighing letters. At birth Stuart could have been sent by first class mail for three cents, but his parents preferred to keep him rather than send him away; and when, at the age of a month, he had gained only a third of an ounce, his mother was so worried she sent for the doctor.
The doctor was delighted with Stuart and said that it was very unusual for an American family to have a mouse. He took Stuart's temperature and found that it was 98.6, which is normal for a mouse. He also examined Stuart's chest and heart and looked into his ears solemnly with a flashlight. (Not every doctor can look into a mouse's ear without laughing.) Everything seemed to be all right, and Mrs. Little was pleased to get such a good report.
"Feed him up!" said the doctor cheerfully, as he left.
The home of the Little family was a pleasant place near a park in New York City. In the mornings the sun streamed in through the east windows, and all the Littles were up early as a general rule. Stuart was a great help to his parents, and to his older brother George, because of his small size and because he could do things that a mouse can do and was agreeable about doing them. One day when Mrs. Little was washing out the bathtub after Mr. Little had taken a bath, she lost a ring off her finger and was horrified to discover that it had fallen down the drain.
"What had I better do?" she cried, trying to keep the tears back.
"If I were you," said George, "I should bend a hairpin in the shape of a fishhook and tie it onto a piece of string and try to fish the ring out with it." So Mrs. Little found a piece of string and a hairpin, and for about a half-hour she fished for the ring; but it was dark down the drain and the hook always seemed to catch on something before she could get it down to where the ring was.
"What luck?" inquired Mr. Little, coming into the bathroom.
"No luck at all," said Mrs. Little. "The ring is so far down I can't fish it up."
"Why don't we send Stuart down after it?" suggested Mr. Little. "How about it, Stuart, would you like to try?"
"Yes, I would," Stuart replied, "but I think I'd better get into my old pants. I imagine it's wet down there."
"It's all of that," said George, who was a trifle annoyed that his hook idea hadn't worked. So Stuart slipped into his old pants and prepared to go down the drain after the ring. He decided to carry the string along with him, leaving one end in charge of his father. "When I jerk three times on the string, pull me up," he said. And while M
"Oh, my brave little son," said Mrs. Little proudly, as she kissed Stuart and thanked him.
"How was it down there?" asked Mr. Little, who was always curious to know about places he had never been to.
"It was all right," said Stuart.
But the truth was the drain had made him very slimy, and it was necessary for him to take a bath and sprinkle himself with a bit of his mother's violet water before he felt himself again. Everybody in the family thought he had been awfully good about the whole thing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND ARTIST
E. B. WHITE was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and graduated from Cornell University. He was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1970 for both Charlotte's Web, a Newbery Honor Book, and Stuart Little. The Trumpet of the Swan was named an ALA Notable Children's Book. Mr. White, who wrote seventeen books of prose and poetry, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1973.
FRED MARCELLINO's picture books include Puss in Boots, a Caldecott Honor Book; The Steadfast Tin Soldier, an ALA Booklist Children's Editors' Choice; and The Pelican Chorus, one of School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year. His most recent books, The Story of Little Babaji and Ouch!, are both ALA Notable Children's Books, and I, Crocodile was named as one of The New York Times' Best Illustrated Books of 1999.
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BOOKS BY E. B. WHITE
THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN
ESSAYS OF E. B. WHITE
LETTERS OF E. B. WHITE, REVISED EDITION
WRITINGS FROM THE NEW YORKER 1925-1976
Cover art (c) 2000 by Fred Marcellino
THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN. Text (c) 1970 by E. B. White. Illustrations (c) 2000 by Fred Marcellino. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
White, E. B. (Elwyn Brooks), 1899—
The trumpet of the swan / by E. B. White ; pictures by Fred Marcellino.
Summary: Louis, a voiceless Trumpeter swan, finds himself far from his wilderness home when he determines to communicate by learning to play a stolen trumpet.
ISBN 0-06-028935-X --ISBN 0-06-028936-8 (lib. bdg.)
ISBN 0-06-441084-3 (pbk.)
EPub Edition (c) February 2015 ISBN 9780062406804
[1. Trumpeter swan--Fiction. 2. Swans--Fiction.]
I. Marcellino, Fred, ill. II. Title.
PZ7.W582655Tr 2000 99-44250
[Fic]--dc21 CIP AC
11 12 13 14 SCP 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12
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E. B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan
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