Why the Donkey Never Runs (Part 4)

Samson stood up and resumed eating grass. Henry stood alongside him, stretching his head up to see how tall he stood compared to the donkey. Not even to his knee. Henry sighed. “You can’t run,” he said. “That’s okay. I can’t swim.” Samson looked down at the piglet. “I’ve never been in deep water,” said Henry. “I get scared.”

“Are you a fish, Henry?” asked Samson.

Henry laughed. “A fish? Ha! You’re silly, Samson. I’m not a fish.”

“Well then, you don’t need to swim, do you?”

Henry smiled. I don’t need to swim, he thought. The phrase stuck in his head. I don’t need to swim. He wandered about, sniffing in the dirt. Don’t need to swim. Don’t need to.
Suddenly Henry lifted his head. He turned and smiled at Samson, but Samson was watching Mr McGinley. Henry ran straight back down the paddock (taking a brief detour to chase a dragonfly), past the dam and up the hill to the farmhouse.

“Fergus! Fergus!” he shouted. The hair on the cattle dog’s neck bristled. he turned his head and pretended to sleep. Henry nudged him with his snout. Fergus remained still beneath his blanket. “Sleepy head,” said Henry. He walked back and forth in front of Fergus, stamping his feet in the hope of “accidentally” waking him. It didn’t work. Regardless, the piglet began a conversation. “I know what to do now,” he said. “You were right about Samson not running. He told me he doesn’t run. I think he’s scared, like I’m scared of swimming. But I know how to make him run—sort of. He gave me an idea. Samson told me I don’t need to swim. So I thought, what if Samson needed to run? I bet he could run if he needed to.” The cattle dog’s ears pricked up. Henry sat down with his back to Fergus. The piglet looked over toward the henhouse, deep in thought. His tail wiggled. “I just have to make Samson feel like he needs to run. When does a donkey need to run?” Fergus opened his eyes and grinned. “Maybe,” said Henry, “I could tell Samson how fun running is. No. I told him how fun it is to roll in the mud, but he wasn’t interested. Maybe donkeys don’t like fun.” Fergus quietly pulled his blanket off with his teeth and stood up. He crept up right behind Henry, who had started singing to himself:

“Fun fun fun, Running is fun.
Run run run, Mud mud mud.”

 “Henry,” said Fergus.

 The piglet leapt with a short squeal. “Oh! Fergus, you scared me. I thought you were asleep.”

 “I just woke up. And I heard what you were saying about the donkey. That’s a good idea you had. You’re a smart animal.”

 “I am?” Henry smiled and stood a little taller.

 “I think I know how you could get Samson to run,” said Fergus.

 “Really? How? He doesn’t like mud.”

 “What? No. Forget about mud. You need to make the donkey think you’re in trouble. Then he’ll need to run. He’ll run to rescue you.”

 “He will?” said Henry, wiggling his snout.

 “Of course he will,” said Fergus in a half-growl. “So all you have to do is get into some danger and then call out to Samson.”

 “Danger?”

 “Yes. Oh, don’t worry—just a little danger, until Samson rescues you.”

 “Danger,” mumbled Henry. He looked around. “I could climb on the farmhouse roof! That would be dangerous.”

 “And how would you get up on the roof?” snarled Fergus, before reigning in his temper. He added in a softer tone, “I think the roof is too high for a pig.”

 “Oh, I know!” said Henry. “The tractor! I could drive…” His voice trailed off when he saw the cattle dog shaking his head.

 “Let’s keep it simple,” said Fergus. “Jump in the dam.”

 Henry stepped back. “The dam?” He turned and looked at that ominous body of water down the hill. He shivered. “I don’t know, Fergus. I haven’t… I haven’t swum before.”

 “You don’t need to swim,” assured Fergus. “Just jump in and splash about, and then call out to Samson for help. He’ll come running.”

 Henry looked at Fergus. The little pig’s eyes gleamed. “Running?” he said.

 Fergus nodded and smiled. “Running.”

 Henry turned again to the dam; wonder flooded his innocent mind.

 

© 2020 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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