The Louisa Alcott Reader - for Children
The Piggy Girl
"I won't be washed! I won't be washed!" screamed little Betty, kicking and slapping the
maid who undressed her one night.
"You'd better go and live with the pigs, dirty child," said Maria, scrubbing away at two
very grubby hands.
"I wish I could! I love to be dirty,--I will be dirty!" roared Betty, throwing the sponge out
of the window and the soap under the table.
Maria could do nothing with her; so she bundled her into bed half wiped, telling her to go
to sleep right away.
"I won't! I'll go and live with Mrs. Gleason's pigs, and have nothing to do but eat and
sleep, and roll in the dirt, and never, never be washed any more," said Betty to herself.
She lay thinking about it and blinking at the moon for a while; then she got up very
softly, and crept down the back stairs, through the garden, to the sty where two nice little
pigs were fast asleep among the straw in their small house. They only grunted when Betty
crept into a corner, laughing at the fun it would be to play piggy and live here with no
Maria to wash her and no careful mamma to keep saying,--
"Put on a clean apron, dear!"
Next morning she was waked up by hearing Mrs. Gleason pour milk into the trough. She
lay very still till the woman was gone; then she crept out and drank all she wanted, and
took the best bits of cold potato and bread for her breakfast, and the lazy pigs did not get
up till she was done. While they ate and rooted in the dirt, Betty slept as long as she liked,
with no school, no errands, no patchwork to do. She liked it, and kept hidden till night;
then she went home, and opened the little window in the store closet, and got in and took
as many good things to eat and carry away as she liked. She had a fine walk in her
nightgown, and saw the flowers asleep, heard the little birds chirp in the nest, and
watched the fireflies and moths at their pretty play. No one saw her but the cats; and they
played with her, and hopped at her toes, in the moonlight, and had great fun.
When she was tired she went to sleep with the pigs, and dozed all the next day, only
coming out to eat and drink when the milk was brought and the cold bits; for Mrs.
Gleason took good care of her pigs, and gave them clean straw often, and kept them as
nice as she could.
Betty lived in this queer way a long time, and soon looked more like a pig than a little
girl; for her nightgown got dirty, her hair was never combed, her face was never washed,
and she loved to dig in the mud till her hands looked like paws. She never talked, but
began to grunt as the pigs did, and burrowed into the straw to sleep, and squealed when
they crowded her, and quarrelled over the food, eating with her nose in the trough like a
real pig. At first she used to play about at night, and steal things to eat; and people set
traps to catch the thief in their gardens, and the cook in her own house scolded about the