The four little pigs

There are stories on the internet about "the fourth little pig", but before I ever saw those, a decade ago I made up my own story called The four little pigs as a bedtime story for my toddler. I've always liked the perspective I put on the original tale.


Once upon a time...

...there were four little pigs: Curley, Hurley, Turley, and Xerxes, all brothers. These four pigs knew they had to build a home to protect themselves from the weather, and also from a wolf who roamed the area and who, it was said, had a particular fondness for eating pigs, especially tender young pigs such as themselves. From the wolf's point of view, he simply wanted to feed himself and his family, and if he could nab a tender young piggy, so much the better.

The four pigs were all quite intelligent and each one had his own idea of the best approach to building shelter. Unfortunately, they couldn't agree on anything about their new home. They disagreed about where to build the house, what the floor plan should be, or even what materials they should use.

Finally they agreed to disagree, and go their separate ways, each pig building his own house as he saw fit.

Now Curley was the most thrifty pig of the four. He believed in spending the minimum of money and effort to get his desired outcome. From Curley's point of view, a straw house offered the best possible home for the least amount of money and time invested. Straw could be bundled up to be reasonably strong to withstand the weather. Straw was plentiful, cheap, and easy to work with. Being an intelligent chap, Curley knew that his house couldn't be 100% straw, however. It would have a glass window, and a wooden door and door frame with metal hinges. His cooking hearth would be in the middle of the building, to keep fire away from the walls, and the smoke would exit a hole in the roof.

So Curley built his home the way he wanted it, and he finished before his brothers.

By and by, as Curley relaxed in his chair to gaze out his window, he saw the wolf walking toward his door.

The wolf knocked politely and said "little pig, little pig, let me come in!"

Curley called back "not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!"

The wolf laughed. "Ha! Then I'll just huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!"

The wolf was rightfully proud of how well he could blow. He had blown a tree down in his younger days. Surely a straw house was no match for him! So with one big huff and one big puff, he blew down Curley's straw house.

Curley squealed with fright and started running toward his brother Hurley's home as fast as his little legs could carry him.

"Yum! Looks like I'll have a pork dinner tonight!" cried the wolf, taking off after the squealing pig.

Now Hurley was the most practical pig of the four. He believed in getting the maximum value for his cost and time. From Hurley's point of view, a wooden house offered the best possible value in a home, for the amount of money and time invested. Although wood was more expensive than straw and required tools and skill to work with it, it was such a strong material that it was well worth the investment in time and money. That is why most houses are made of wood all over the world. Being an intelligent chap, Hurley knew that his house couldn't be 100% wood, however. It would have some glass windows and a stone fireplace, and metal hinges on the door.

So Hurley built his home the way he wanted it, and finished second.

By and by, as Hurley settled down into a chair to gaze out his front window, he saw his brother Curley in the distance, running fast toward him, screaming "Help! Help! The big bad wolf is after me!"

Hurley saw no wolf, but opened his door and called out "Quick, come inside my house and we'll be safe!" and Curley rushed inside. Hurley bolted the door. "We should be safe here. What happened to your house?"

"That wolf blew it down with one breath! I never knew he could make such a wind!" panted Curley. "Straw is a good building material for the weather we have here, but it was never meant to withstand a gale like that!"

"Well, wood is strong and can stand up to really bad weather. Surely the wolf can't blow down this house," said Hurley confidently.

The wolf had paused on the path to catch his breath. He spent some time hunting for a rat to eat, to regain his energy. By and by, he walked toward the front door of Hurley's new wooden house, knocked politely, and said "little pigs, little pigs, let me come in!"

The two pigs called back "not by the hairs of our chinny-chin-chins!"

The wolf laughed. "Ha! Then I'll just huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!"

The wolf, remember, was proud of how well he could blow. If he could blow a tree down in his younger days, surely a wooden house couldn't be much harder! So with one big huff and one big puff, and then with another big huff and another big puff, he managed to blow down Hurley's house.

Hurley and Curley squealed with fright and started running toward their brother Turley's home as fast as their little legs could carry them.

"Yum! Looks like I'll have pork dinners for two nights!" cried the wolf, taking off after the squealing pigs.

Now Turley was the most industrious pig of the four. He believed in spending as much money, time, and effort needed to get the best possible outcome. "Do it right the first time" was his motto. From Turley's point of view, a brick house was the strongest possible house, able to withstand almost anything, and as an added benefit it wouldn't burn down. It didn't matter to Turley that bricks and mortar were more expensive than wood and required more work, if the end result was a strong house. Being an intelligent chap, Turley knew that his house couldn't be 100% bricks, however. It would have glass windows with solid wooden frames, a good stout wooden door with steel hinges, and slate-stone roof shingles.

So Turley built his home the way he wanted it, and finished third.

By and by, as Turley settled down into a chair to gaze out his front window, he saw two of his brothers, Curley and Hurley, in the distance, running fast toward him, screaming "Help! Help! The big bad wolf is after us!"

Turley saw no wolf, but opened his door and called out "Quick, come inside my house and we'll be safe!" and his two terrified brothers rushed inside. Turley bolted the door. We should be safe here. What happened to your houses?"

"That wolf blew my straw house down in one breath!" panted Curley.

"He blew my wooden house down in two breaths!" panted Hurley. "Wood is a great building material, but it's hard to build a wooden structure against tornado-strength winds!"

"Well, a brick house can stand up to nearly anything. Even if the wolf is as strong as you say, he won't blow down my brick house," said Turley confidently. "I built it big enough for all of us to live in. Come inside!"

The three little pigs went inside. Turley lit a fire in the fireplace and put a large cauldron of water to make some soup for everyone for dinner. "We'll make enough for all four of us. I'm sure our brother Xerxes will be along eventually."

The wolf had paused some distance back to catch his breath. He spent some time hunting for a rabbit to eat, to regain his energy. By and by, he walked toward the front door of Turley's brick house, knocked politely, and said "little pigs, little pigs, let me come in!"

The three pigs called back "not by the hairs of our chinny-chin-chins!"

The wolf laughed. "Ha! Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in, just like I did with the others!"

The wolf, you recall, was quite proud of how well he could blow. If he could blow a tree down as a young pup, and then a wooden house as an adult, he was ready for the challenge of a brick house!

So the wolf gave one big huff and one big puff. And another big huff and another big puff. And another, again and again, but the brick house still stood firm.

The three pigs inside were delighted. "Loser!" they heckled. "You'll never get us!" And they started to sing:

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? The big bad wolf? The big bad wolf?
We don't fear the big bad wolf! Tra-la-la-la-la!

The wolf became angry, but stopped to think for several minutes. He wasn't stupid. He looked carefully at the brick house, and noticed two things: First, that the roof was low enough for him to jump on, and second, that the chimney was big enough for him to slide down the inside. "Aha! I can get into the house that way, the pigs have locked themselves in to a strong house, and I can have a pork dinner for several days!" So he climbed up onto the roof, got inside the chimney, and slid down.

Unfortunately for the wolf, Turley's cauldron of water was boiling briskly in the fireplace as the wolf descended the chimney, landing butt-first with a splash.

"YOWWW!" cried the wolf, jumping out of the pot and running around the room yelping. As Curley and Hurley cheered, Turley opened the front door and the wolf ran out as fast as he could go, heading straight toward the ocean to cool off.

The ocean was where the fourth brother pig Xerxes was finishing his own construction project.

Now Xerxes was the most intelligent pig of the four. He believed in using reason and logic to solve problems. From Xerxes' point of view, the big problem was that he and his brothers lived in an area inhabited by a big bad wolf who had a reputation for eating pigs. Xerxes thought that was pretty stupid. He reasoned that the best possible solution was to live someplace else. So he decided to build a boat to find a land where he could settle down and live in peace.

Xerxes saw the wolf, howling in pain, rush to the water to cool off. "It seems my brothers will be able to take care of themselves," he thought as he cast off.

Eventually, Xerxes landed upon a lovely tropical island with no wolves, and lived out his days in peace and happiness.

As for the wolf and the other pigs, they managed to form a truce of sorts, develop a degree of mutual respect for one another, and survived.

The End

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