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Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farmby Betty Macdonald
Synopses & Reviews
The Not Truthful Cure
Mrs. Harroway was out in her side yard setting out zinnias. She was very happy. The zinnia plants were not only unusually large with short thick stalks and bright green leaves, but zinnia plants were mighty scarce that year. Mrs. Harroway hummed to herself as she dug holes for the fine young plants. How lucky she had been to get the last flat Mr. Wisner had. How lovely the zinnias were going to look against the freshly painted white house. She filled a hole with water, put in a little fertilizer, set in a plant, pushed earth around it and tamped it down firmly with her trowel. By three-thirty she had planted them all. Standing up and stretching to get the crick out of her back, she called to her neighbor, Mrs. Wintergreen, who was setting out asters in her yard across the hedge, "Oh, Caroline, do come and see my zinnias! They are the finest plants I have ever had."
"Oh, they are beauties," said Caroline Wintergreen coming through the hedge gate. "I can see from here. Where in the world did you get them?"
"From Mr. Wisner," said Mrs. Harroway. "They were the last ones he had."
"Oh, darn," said Mrs. Wintergreen.
"Never mind," said Mrs. Harroway, "I'll bring you over armloads of zinnias every morning when they are in bloom."
Just then the front gate crashed open and Fetlock Harroway, aged nine, came bellowing into the yard. "Mama," he bawled, "the kids won't play with me."
"And why not?" asked Mrs. Harroway taking a handkerchief out of her sweater pocket and swabbing away his tears.
"I don't know," wailed Fetlock. "They just don't like me. I guess it's because I'm so delicate and wear glasses. Children don't like invalids."
"Nonsense,"said Mrs. Wintergreen. "Wembley Rustad wears glasses and has braces on both legs and the children all like him. In fact he's the most popular boy in his cub scout troop. I'm his den mother and I know."
"That's true, Fetlock, darling," Mrs. Harroway said. "Everybody loves Wembley."
"Well, I don't," Fetlock said. "I hate, despise, abominate, loathe and detest him. He called me a liar."
"Oh, no," said Mrs. Harroway in a shocked voice. "Are you sure?"
"You bet I'm sure," Fetlock said. "He just finished right outside our gate."
"That's dreadful," said Mrs. Harroway. "And I don't blame you for being angry but perhaps he'll apologize."
"Why did he call you a liar?" asked Mrs. Wintergreen.
"I don't know," said Fetlock hanging his head and digging a hole in the grass with the toe of his shoe.
"Of course you know," said Mrs. Wintergreen. "Now tell me."
"'I won't," said Fetlock. "It's none of your business and I won't tell you."
"Why, Fetlock, darling," said Mrs. Harroway. "Mother doesn't want her boy to be rude. Apologize to Mrs. Wintergreen, son, and then run upstairs and lie down on my chaise longue. You look so tired! "
Fetlock said nothing but continued to dig in the grass until he had a hole big enough for a gopher.
Mrs. Harroway said, "Speak up, sweetheart, tell Mrs. Wintergreen how sorry you are. And hurry, you do look so peaked."
Fetlock said nothing. The hole grew big enough for a badger. Looking down at Fetlock as if he were a beetle, Mrs. Wintergreen said, "Well, Helen, I must get on home if I want to finish setting out those asters before dinner."
Mrs. Harroway said, "Please excuse Fetlock, Caroline, he's just a bundle of nerves." Mrs. Wintergreen bangedthe hedge gate behind her.
Taking Fetlock's grubby, rather sticky hand in hers, Mrs. Harroway led him up to her room, laid him out, muddy play shoes and all, on her white velvet chaise longue, covered him with her white satin quilt and said, "Now rest, lambie pie."
Closing his eyes behind his spectacles, Fetlock said, "Before I rest, Mumsie, dear, may I have something to eat?"
"Oh, sweetheart, of course," said his mother. "What would you like, some broth?"
"No," said Fetlock. "I was thinking more of a chocolate malted milk, a big piece of chocolate cake, some strawberry pop and two or three Giant Size Tutti Frutti Nut Chocolate Bars."
"All that?" asked Mrs. Harroway.
"Yes," sighed Fetlock, "I don't really want it but I must try and keep up my strength."
"What a dear brave little boy you are," said Mrs. Harroway hurrying out of the room.
As soon as he could hear his mother's footsteps on the stairs, Fetlock jumped off the chaise longue, ran over to the bedside table, opened the drawer and took out a box of chocolates. He stuffed four in his mouth and six in his pocket, then went to the window and yelled out at Mrs. Wintergreen who was on her knees by her perennial bed, "Hiya, old busybodyl"
Fortunately, his mouth was so full of chocolates it sounded like, "Blug, blug, oh, bluggy."
Mrs. Wintergreen didn't even turn around.
When Mrs. Harroway came staggering in a few minutes later with Fetlock's little snack, he was lying on the chaise longue again, his eyes closed. Mrs. Harroway thought he looked so beautiful she almost cried. Making her voice as gentle as a dove coo, she said, "Did you call, sweetheart?"
"No," said Fetlock, "I was asleep."
"I was sure I heardsomeone calling," said his mother propping him up with lace pillows and arranging the tray on his bony little knees.
"Perhaps I called out in my sleep," Fetlock said grabbing the chocolate cake and taking a huge bite of the frosting. "I'm very restless, you know."
"You poor child," said Mrs. Harroway. "Would you like Mother to read to you?"
Before Fetlock could answer the telephone rang. Mrs. Harroway hurried out in the hall to answer it on the upstairs extension. She said, "Oh, yes, Mrs. Mallett, yes, yes, yes, are you sure? Are you positive? Fetlock? I'll speak to him. I'm terribly sorry. I can't understand it, are you positive? Yes, I'll speak to him right away."
Ms. Piggle-Wiggle's left her upside-down town house and has moved to a farm in the country. With the help of her cows and pigs and horses, she's still curing girls and boys of their bad habits. So whatever the problem-from pet forgetter-itis to fraidycat-ness-the parents all exclaim, "Better call Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle!"
About the Author
When Betty MacDonald married and moved to a small farm on the Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. No running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, with barely a moment to put one's feet up. And this was before the children arrived. But the MacDonalds managed to keep their sense of humor, and this account of their adventures with the house and with neighbors is an endearing frontier classic.
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