"I can see that," replied Wilbur. He gave a jump in the air, twirled, ran a few steps, stopped, looked all around, sniffed1 the smells of afternoon, and then set off walking down through the orchard2. Pausing in the shade of an apple tree, he put his strong snout into the ground and began pushing, digging, and rooting. He felt very happy. He had plowed3 up quite a piece of ground before anyone noticed him. Mrs. Zuckerman was the first to see him. She saw him from the kitchen window, and she immediately shouted for the men.
"Ho-mer!" she cried. "Pig's out! Lurvy! Pig's out! Homer! Lurvy! Pig's out. He's down there under that apple tree."
"Now the trouble starts," thought Wilbur. "Now I'll catch it."
The goose heard the racket and she, too, started hollering. "Run-run-run downhill, make for the woods, the woods!" she shouted to Wilbur. "They'll never-never-never catch you in the woods."
The cocker spaniel heard the commotion4 and he ran out from the barn to join the chase. Mr. Zuckerman heard, and he came out of the machine shed where he was mending a tool. Lurvy, the hired man, heard the noise and came up from the asparagus patch where he was pulling weeds. Everybody walked toward Wilbur and Wilbur didn't know what to do. The woods seemed a long way off, and anyway, he had never been down there in the woods and wasn't sure he would like it.
"Get around behind him, Lurvy," said Mr. Zuckerman, "and drive him toward the barn! And take it easy-don't rush him! I'll go and get a bucket of slops."
The news of Wilbur's escape spread rapidly among the animals on the place. Whenever any creature broke loose on Zuckerman's farm, the event was of great interest to the others. The goose shouted to the nearest cow that Wilbur was free, and soon all the cows knew. Then one of the cows told one of the sheep, and soon all the sheep knew. The lambs learned about it from their mothers. The horses, in their stalls in the barn, pricked6 up their ears when they heard the goose hollering; and soon the horses had caught on to what was happening. "Wilbur's out," they said. Every animal stirred and lifted its head and became excited to know that one of his friends had got free and was no longer penned up or tied fast.
Wilbur didn't know what to do or which way to run. It seemed as through everybody was after him. "If this is what it's like to be free," he thought, "I believe I'd rather be penned up in my own yard." The cocker spaniel was sneaking7 up on him from one side. Lurvy the hired man was sneaking up on him from the other side. Mrs. Zuckerman stood ready to head him off if he started for the garden, and now Mr. Zuckerman was coming down toward him carrying a pail." This is really awful," thought Wilbur. "Why doesn't Fern come?" He began to cry.
The goose took command and began to give orders.
"Don't just stand there, Wilbur! Dodge8 about, dodge about!" cried the goose." Skip around, run toward me, slip in and out, in and out, in and out! Make for the woods! Twist and turn!"
The cocker spaniel sprang for Wilbur's hind5 leg. Wilbur jumped and ran. Lurvy reached out and grabbed. Mrs. Zuckerman screamed at Lurvy. The goose cheered for Wilbur. Wilbur dodged9 between Lurvy's legs. Lurvy missed Wilbur and grabbed the spaniel instead. "Nicely done, nicely done!" cried the goose. "Try it again, try it again!"
"Run downhill!" suggested the cows.
"Run toward me!" yelled the gander.
"Run uphill!" cried the sheep.
"Jump and dance!" said the rooster.
"Look out for Lurvy!" called the cows.
"Look out for Zuckerman!" yelled the gander.
"Watch out for the dog!" cried the sheep.
"Listen to me, listen to me!" screamed the goose.
Poor Wilbur was dazed and frightened by this hullabaloo. He didn't like being the center of all this fuss. He tried to follow the instructions his friends were giving him, but he couldn't run downhill and uphill at the same time, and he couldn't turn and twist when he was jumping and dancing, and he was crying so hard he could barely see anything that was happening. After all, Wilbur was a very young pig-not much more than a baby, really. He wished Fern were there to take him in his arms and comfort him. When he looked up and saw Mr. Zuckerman standing11 quite close to him, holding a pail of warm slops, he felt relieved. He lifted his nose and sniffed. The smell was delicious-warm milk, potato skins, wheat middlings, Kellogg's Corn Flakes12, and a popover left from the Zuckermans' breakfast.#p#分页标题#e#
"Come, pig!" said Mr. Zuckerman, tapping the pail. "Come pig!" Wilbur took a step toward the pail.
"No-no-no!" said the goose. "It's the old pail trick, Wilbur. Don't fall for it, don't fall for it! He's trying to lure13 you back into captivity-ivity. He's appealing to your stomach."
Wilbur didn't care. The food smelled appetizing. He took another step toward the pail.
"Pig, pig!" said Mr. Zuckerman in a kind voice, and began walking slowly toward the barnyard, looking all about him innocently, as if he didn't know that a little white pig was following along behind him.
"You'll be sorry-sorry-sorry," called the goose.
Wilbur didn't care. He kept walking toward the pail of slops.
"You'll miss your freedom," honked the goose. "An hour of freedom is worth a barrel of slops."
Wilbur didn't care.
When Mr. Zuckerman reached the pigpen, he climbed over the fence and poured the slops into the trough. Then he pulled the loose board away from the fence, so that there was a wide hole for Wilbur to walk through.
"Reconsider, reconsider!" cried the goose.
Wilbur paid no attention. He stepped through the fence into his yard. He walked to the trough and took a long drink of slops, sucking in the milk hungrily and chewing the popover. It was good to be home again.
While Wilbur ate, Lurvy fetched a hammer and some 8-penny nails and nailed the board in place. Then he and Mr. Zuckerman leaned lazily on the fence and Mr. Zuckerman scratched Wilbur's back with a stick.
"He's quite a pig," said Lurvy.
"Yes, he'll make a good pig," said Mr. Zuckerman.
Wilbur heard the words of praise. He felt the warm milk inside his stomach. He felt the pleasant rubbing of the stick along his itchy back. He felt peaceful and happy and sleepy. This had been a tiring afternoon. It was still only about four o'clock but Wilbur was ready for bed.
"I'm really too young to go out into the world alone," he thought as he lay down.
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