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A Day No Pigs Would Die

Robert Newton Peck

Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 3, page 2

page 1 of 2

After being in bed for nearly a week, on Saturday morning, Robert hobbles down the stairs for breakfast. He times his healing so that he can be well enough to move on Saturday and therefore have two days of freedom without school. Though Robert does his best to hobble, Haven is not fooled, and immediately after breakfast, the two go out to mend the fence between the Tanner farm and their own.

"Fences sure are funny, aren't they, Poppa?" Robert comments as they work. The idea of fences does not make sense to Robert because he doesn't see the need for neighbors who are friends to separate themselves. Haven answers by explaining how many animals in nature stake their territory and that he and Mr. Tanner want a fence between their properties. With a fence, they can rest easy knowing that Mr. Tanner's cows would never eat Haven's corn or visa versa. In this way, Haven explains, "A fence sets men together not apart," because it shows that they care about each other's property.

As the fence conversation ends, Haven and Robert both look up to see Mr. Tanner heading in their direction with Apron behind him. Underneath Apron, trying to get hold of an udder, are two handsome twin calves. Robert is stunned that there were two cows, not just one, and by how beautiful they are. Mr. Tanner explains that he is calling them Bob and Bib, with Bob's name coming from Robert. He thanks Haven and Robert and explains how it has always been his dream to take a pair of matched oxen to the Rutland fair. Then, as if offhandedly, he thanks Robert again and says, "Here's a pig for your trouble," and produces a fuzzy ball of a piglet from under his coat. Robert is dumbfounded by the gift and, after thanking Mr. Tanner, takes hold of the pig for the first time.

Haven Peck, however, tries to decline the gift, saying, "It's not the Shaker Way to take frills for being neighborly." Mr. Tanner, probably expecting opposition from Haven, explains that the gift is a late birthday present, and when Haven still objects, he offers the pig as early payment for help in hitching up the two calves in fall. Haven accepts, and the pig officially belongs to Robert.

Looking at his new pig, Robert sees that she is more beautiful than, "any dog or cat or chicken or fish in the whole township of Learning, Vermont." The pig is, "clean white all over with just enough pink to be sweet as candy," and so Robert promptly names her Pinky. Mr. Tanner says that this is a good name, and after Haven and Robert thank him again, he leaves.

Watching Mr. Tanner walk away, Robert realizes that Pinky is the first thing of value that he has ever owned. The only other thing that he had ever wanted was a bicycle, but a bicycle was a frill in the eyes of the Shakers and also expensive, so he had never had one. Pinky, however, is definitely not a frill. Robert pictures her in a year with twelve piglets, "sucking away for glory be."

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Pinky is a girl!

by VioletFlowermeadow, August 12, 2013

I noticed that you guys made Pinky a "he", although she is a GIRL! Why else would they breed her to a boar? She was expected to be a brood sow! How can that possibly be a boy? It just looks funny to me...

Samson and Solomon

by twistleton, January 02, 2014

The ox is Solomon; Mr. Tanner's boar hog is Samson.

Apron and Daisy

by sewingmama, January 06, 2014


cow, Bib and Bob's mother
Daisy: The Peck's dairy cow

See all 5 readers' notes   →