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  • A short story for kids. By best selling author Luba Brezhnev. Read by Kristine Berg.

  • Puny and Don.

  • This is the story about a piglet named Puny who didn't like mud. All the other animals

  • laughed at him, but everything changed when Puny met his new friend Don.

  • The farmer's wife was startled when she entered the shed. Next to the sow on the straw

  • lay eight little piglets, squealing and jostling one another. They were all so pink and so

  • round, with their little tails sticking up in the air like mattress springs!

  • She admired the piglets for a moment and was about to leave, when all of a sudden she noticed

  • a ninth piglet, a little fellow sprawled motionless on the straw. He was definitely smaller than

  • the others and looked very frail. She took him into her hands and gently stroked his

  • pink back. The piglet opened his eyes and grunted softly.

  • "Great," she said. "You're alive! I'm going to take you indoors!"

  • She wrapped the newborn piglet in her apron and went back to the kitchen.

  • From that day on, the piglet lived in the house. Everyone fell in love with him at first

  • sight, and they named him Puny. He had the funniest way of stamping his hooves as he

  • ran around the house. He slept next to Doozy the dog, who took care of him as if he were

  • one of her puppies.

  • To keep the tiny piglet warm, the farmer's wife sewed him a beautiful little jacket.

  • Puny protested at first, but when he caught cold and kept sneezing loudly, he had no choice

  • but to wear the jacket.

  • As time passed, the piglet gained weight and got bigger and bigger. One morning the farmer's

  • wife decided it was time to send him to the yard to be with the rest of the animals.

  • It was sunny and clear, and the rain had just stopped. Puny's brothers and sisters were

  • lunging into an enormous puddle by the fence and squealing joyfully at their first opportunity

  • to wallow in the mud.

  • "Go on then, catch up with the rest of your family," the farmer's wife said, taking

  • Puny out into the yard and pushing him toward the big puddle.

  • The little piglet began to dig himself into the ground with all four hooves, squealing

  • and tearing himself away from her. Every time she tried to drive him toward the puddle,

  • he became hysterical and fought his way out of her grasp like a warrior on the battlefield.

  • "What is going on with him?" she wondered.

  • No one could understand why Puny refused to play in the mud with the other piglets from

  • his litter. Everyone knows pigs love mud. They like splashing about in the mud more

  • than anything else, even eating; and they always choose the muddiest, dirtiest puddle

  • available. They can't stand to live without their mud baths; they get bored and restless.

  • Imagine children without candy or a rabbit without a carrot! But no matter how hard the

  • farmer's wife tried to change Puny's mind, nothing seemed to help. Puny simply hated

  • the mud. While strolling about the yard, he did his best to avoid risky areas and swerved

  • sharply away from any puddles that came into view.

  • So the veterinarian was called in. He examined Puny, listened to his lungs and heart, shook

  • his head and said: "A perfectly healthy little pig. I don't know why he doesn't

  • like mud. In all my years taking care of pigs, I've never seen a thing like it."

  • Acting on the vet's advice, the farmer's wife decided to gradually introduce Puny to

  • the pleasures of a pig's life. She poured muddy water into a tub and tried to place

  • the piglet inside, but he raised a ruckus. In his desperate attempts to escape, he knocked

  • the tub over. Looking at the muddy water that had spilled out over the kitchen floor, he

  • ran in horror to the bedroom and disappeared under the bed. Puny was a pig -- but not

  • at all like any other pig the world had ever seen!

  • As the weeks passed, Puny spent more time cautiously exploring the farm. Knowing how

  • different from other pigs he was, the animals in the yard never missed a chance to make

  • fun of him.

  • The geese would squawk: "Mind you don't get dirty! Ha, ha, ha..."

  • The chickens joined the chorus: "Cluck, cluck, cluck..."

  • They laughed so hard that some fell over backwards and waved their feet. The pompous turkeys

  • refused to greet him, showing their contempt. The cow tried her best to spear him with her

  • horns. The other piglets began to chuckle loudly when they saw him.

  • Puny walked about the yard, secretly swallowing tears as he maneuvered his way around the

  • mud puddles.

  • One day, to leave the cruel laughter behind, Puny went all the way to the far end of the

  • yard. There, in a large corral, the beautiful, limber-legged horses frolicked, enjoying the

  • sunshine and the smell of fresh grass.

  • Suddenly Puny saw a shed in one corner of the yard, alongside the fence. He approached

  • and listened closely. Someone lived there! The piglet walked around and saw an entrance.

  • Without thinking twice, he rushed through the door into the shed. He stood motionless

  • for a few seconds, watching a strange animal chewing on some oats from a trough, paying

  • no attention to him. The animal resembled the horses running about in the big pasture,

  • but was smaller.

  • "Are you a horse, or what?" asked Puny, coming closer.

  • The animal stopped chewing his oats, turned his head toward Puny and looked at him curiously.

  • "No," said the animal, surprised by the question. "I'm not a horse, I'm a donkey."

  • "Ah," said the piglet. He paused to give himself time to think. He knew the many animals

  • that lived in the yard, but had never seen a donkey.

  • "So are you different?" he asked timidly, afraid he might hurt the stranger's feelings.

  • "Of course, I'm different. Horses and donkeys are distant relatives, but they don't

  • admit it. Horses are so proud of their handsome looks and their elegant stature."

  • "You're very handsome too," said Puny.

  • "Thank you," said the little donkey, nodding his head. "So what is your name?"

  • "Puny," he answered.

  • "What an odd name," said the donkey.

  • "I got that name because I was small and weak."

  • "I'm small too, but I have a different name."

  • "So what is it?"

  • "Don. It's because I'm a donkey."

  • "That's a great name."

  • "Thanks," said the donkey, flattered.

  • "So, do you like mud?" asked the piglet, looking hopefully at Don.

  • "Not much. So is there any one that likes mud?" the donkey asked curiously.

  • "There are some," sighed Puny. "My brothers and sisters... But I don't like the mud

  • at all. So everyone laughs at me."

  • "Strange," said Don. "I always thought that people who are dirty all the time get

  • made fun of."

  • "I thought so too, but I'm a misfit."

  • "Why? You're a very nice-looking piglet."

  • "The farmer's wife said that every family has at least one misfit. So I had to be the

  • one."

  • "Well, she was just speaking off the top of her head," Don said in a reassuring voice.

  • "Do you want to chew on some oats or some grass?"

  • "No thanks. I prefer bread crusts."

  • "Today I have no bread crusts," sighed Don. "The farmer's wife got upset with

  • me because I stepped on her foot. She thinks I did it on purpose."

  • "Say, why don't we take a little walk together? The weather's nice," said Puny.

  • "Sure, let's go," Don answered.

  • The new friends walked all around the farm. They stood for a while by the big corral,

  • enjoying the sight of the frolicking horses.

  • "That's what I wish I were doing," said Don softly. "I'd like to be leaping in

  • circles and letting my mane fly in the breeze."

  • "So what's stopping you?" asked Puny. "Go ahead and leap to your heart's content."

  • Don's feelings were hurt and he answered: "Have you ever seen my mane? Does it ever

  • fly in the wind? Even in a storm, it stays glued to my head!"

  • "Sorry," said Puny, embarrassed. "I didn't know you had such a short mane."

  • "If it were only the mane," sighed the little donkey. "There's also my short

  • stature and my short legs. If I move my legs at all, I look like an old lady running to

  • the market."

  • "Who ever told you that?" exclaimed Puny.

  • "The farmer's wife," the little donkey answered, his head drooping sadly. "And

  • she said it to some guests who had come to look at me."

  • "She was joking," Puny said, trying to comfort the little donkey. "I think your

  • gait is just fine. Just look at me, with my pug nose and my curly tail. I tried to straighten

  • it out; I smoothed it down, I put my whole body weight on top of it. I suffered like

  • that for a few days, but there was no gain with all that pain."

  • "You are so right," said Don. "Neither of us has any luck, I guess."

  • "Well, so what, we may not be handsome, but we're nice and we don't hurt anyone.

  • And we don't make fun of anyone. Is it nice to make fun of others?"

  • "No it's not nice. I don't think so."

  • "It really, really hurts when the chickens laugh at me," the piglet complained to his

  • new friend. "They're so dim-witted, they spend their entire day knee-deep in manure,

  • and they fight over every single kernel of grain. And the turkeys don't notice me at

  • all, it's like I'm invisible. Anyway, they can't even talk right. The way they

  • cackle, no one can understand them. And my brothers and sisters! All it takes to make

  • them happy is a roll in the mud. Do they realize what they look like afterwards? Standing next

  • to them makes me sick. How could anyone ever play with them? The farmer grumbles at me,

  • 'I have to wash you every night, like a human child. Who did you ever take after?'

  • Well, I don't like dirt and mud, I just can't stand it!"

  • Puny and Don traded sad stories as they headed toward the livestock yard. When they got there,

  • the place went wild with laughter... The chickens laughed as they sprawled and rolled on the

  • ground, their legs jerking every which way. The geese guffawed so loudly that folks at

  • nearby farms could hear. The piglets let out with squeals of glee. The turkeys continued

  • to parade solemnly, without so much as sneaking a glance at the donkey and the piglet.

  • "They make a great pair, those two," the chickens gloated.

  • "Brother, where did you dig up such an ugly horse?" squealed the piglets.

  • Not even Puny's mother could hold back her laughter. The entire yard was echoing with

  • laughter, clucking, and squeals as its denizens mocked the two little friends.

  • Puny raised his pug nose proudly and twirled his tail to make it even more curly, while

  • the donkey flung his head upward and banged his hooves ever more loudly.

  • They walked around the yard trying to appear dignified and proud, after which they returned

  • to Don's little corner.

  • "I almost died from fright," Puny admitted.

  • "Yeah, it wasn't exactly fun," said Don in agreement.

  • They said goodbye till the following day.

  • The next morning, Puny once again visited his new friend. Don was standing by his little

  • shed with something on his mind.

  • "How did you sleep last night?" Puny asked.

  • "Not bad, but I had some weird dreams. Now here I am, trying to remember, but my memory

  • doesn't seem to be working right."

  • "I don't remember my own dreams either. It's really a shame. While I'm asleep,

  • I remember everything, but when I wake up there's nothing left in my head, not a thing!"

  • "Really," Don said. "I thought I was the only one with that problem."

  • "What are you talking about?" said Puny to console him. "I'm up to my neck in

  • problems!"

  • "Well, that can't be too bad, considering how close your neck is to the ground!" said

  • Don mischievously, looking his friend over.

  • "Well, the bigger you are, the bigger your problems get..."

  • "Oh, I almost forgot," said Don, suddenly remembering something. "I brought you a

  • surprise."

  • "Really?" asked Puny, turning pinker than usual with embarrassment. 'No one ever gave

  • me a surprise before."

  • "So this will be your first time," said Don. He wanted to stretch out the suspense.

  • "Walk over a bit closer to the feeding trough, and you'll find it there."

  • The piglet slowly walked over to the trough and peered inside. At the very bottom lay

  • a large crust of bread.

  • "Oh, is all of that for me?" exclaimed Puny, turning bright pink all over.

  • "Of course!" said Don surprised. "There's no one else here."

  • The piglet took hold of the bread, looked at it for a long time, and said: "Let's

  • divide it evenly. Then it will be a double surprise."

  • "Fine," Don said. "Let's share it."

  • The friends eagerly sunk their teeth into the bread and set off on a stroll.

  • On that day, the owner of the farm was out walking the horses. Today was a big family

  • celebration, and the horses had been carefully groomed to play their part. Some wore shiny

  • ribbons that had been woven into their manes; some sported bright-colored stockings on their

  • knees; some were festooned with colorful horse-blankets.

  • It was a bright and sunny day, and the celebration gave every sign of being a success. A few

  • horses ran at a leisurely pace around the training yard, their slender legs gracefully

  • rising and falling. Suddenly the two little friends saw the owner's favorite horse.

  • Farmers from all the nearby farms had come by to gaze at this stallion, and no wonder.

  • He was snow-white with brown eyes, and today he was particularly stunning. The finest blanket

  • had been arranged carefully on his back. It was white with blue and gold embroidery and

  • was a perfect fit. Everyone could see the blanket was custom-made. From its edges hung

  • little silver bells. At the slightest movement, they sang like little angels in heaven.

  • Puny and Don stood still, enchanted, their gaze glued on the white stallion as he leisurely

  • pranced about in his fine blanket, preparing for the arrival of the guests.

  • "If only I had a blanket like that to wear on my back..." said Don moodily. "I would

  • be just as handsome."

  • "But what about your mane?" asked Puny, remembering Don's complaint.

  • "Who would be looking at my mane if I were wearing a blanket like that?"

  • "That's true," said Puny in assent. After a moment's thought he added, "You

  • wouldn't have anything against me giving you my jacket? What's the difference between

  • a blanket and a jacket?"

  • "Thanks, but how can you compare a jacket and a blanket? Plus, just take a look at you

  • and me. Your jacket wouldn't even fit over my head."

  • "That's true," sighed Puny. "But I wanted..."

  • "I know," Don said, nodding his head. "You meant the best, like a true friend."

  • The piglet turned so pink with pleasure that even the horses looked at him in amazement.

  • How often does one get a chance to see a bright-pink piglet wearing a double-breasted jacket!

  • In the meantime, the owner's favorite stallion was running faster and faster, waving his

  • snow-white mane and jangling his silver bells. The other horses caught up with him. How beautiful

  • they all were in their festive attire! The black mare, the sweetheart of all the stallions,

  • walked into the middle of the corral, showing off and admiring herself. Her mane had red

  • ribbons woven into it, and the knees of her slender, elegant legs were adorned with stockings

  • of the same color... There was plenty for the eye to feast on that day.

  • When the black mare appeared, Don began to tap his hooves nervously and shake his head

  • back and forth for no good reason.

  • "Are you in love with her?" asked the piglet.

  • "Are you kidding?" said Don, and then brayed for no good reason.

  • The beautiful mare sized them up with a withering glance and averted her gaze.

  • "Wow, we have a real princess on our hands," said Puny, trying to pacify his friend. "Let's

  • get out of here. I'm getting a bit bored with this place. Horses rule here."

  • "You don't understand the first thing about beauty," sighed Don, but he left quietly

  • along with Puny.

  • "So I don't understand anything? More than some. She's as hefty as the farmer's

  • pickup truck, her eyes bulge out, her legs are long and skinny; and she races around

  • the pasture, accomplishing nothing. To top it off, she has those silly ribbons woven

  • into her hair..."

  • "You understand nothing about feminine beauty!"

  • "I do too understand. I just have different tastes. I prefer round little females, small

  • and pink with white eyelashes and pug noses..."

  • "Everyone has different tastes. It would make more sense for us to go take a walk down

  • the road, because these silly chickens don't appeal to me. There's a nearby hole in the

  • fence where we can get through."