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Nine Pigs
by Sam Morris

As Farmer Jones made his way back from tending the fields, he counted his sheep, as was his habit, and found them all present and correct. A few minutes later he did the same for the pigs, before moving on to the chickens – but stopped in his tracks before he reached the coop. Walking back to the pigsty he took a second look and, sure enough, there were only eight pigs. One fewer than there should have been. He counted a third time to be sure, but there was definitely a pig missing.

He turned around to look towards the farm next door.

“One guess who’s been meddlin’ wi’ me pigs.”

He trudged down the dirt track to old Murphy’s farm, and rounded the barn to Murphy’s pigsty. It took no more than a second to see that there were six pigs there, where he knew full well there should have been five.

Now with anger in his stride, he stomped over to the farmhouse and banged on the door.

“Open up, you old baaastard!”

No reply was forthcoming however, and when he tried the handle he found the door unlocked. Proceeding inside he shouted further expletives, again to no response. Evidently Murphy was out, probably at the local inn drinking too much whiskey. Having a nosy round the house, Farmer Jones found a score of crates full of ripe tomatoes in the little storage room next to the porch.

“Thieve me pigs from right under me nose would ‘ee”, he muttered as he took the first crate from the top of the pile. His right boot was more than enough to squash all the tomatoes in the crate. After that one was done he set to work on the second, and then the third. By the time he was finished there were only three crates left intact. He then decided he might as well finish the job, and did those ones too.

Walking back to his own farm, pig in tow, he smirked to himself at the thought of Murphy returning to find the ruined tomatoes. Passing the sty Jones deposited his ninth pig back where it belonged  before continuing on to the chicken coop, and when he counted them he found, for the second time that day, a different number than he was expecting. This time there were thirteen when there should have been twelve. Puzzled now, he walked into his own farmhouse and found his wife peeling potatoes in the kitchen.

“Whence came that extra chicken?”, he asked, jerking his thumb over his shoulder.

 “Ha!”, said she. “Murphy came round this morning, sayin’ he needed another pig urgently, so I swindled the old drunkard. Gave him one o’ our old ones in return for one o’ his chickens and ten crates of his tomatoes! He’s bringin’ ‘em round tomorrow.”