Down the long dirt path the little pig sped, almost to the front gate, then he veered left up through the fruit trees and around toward the dam. The urgent beating in his chest turned to one of exhilaration as the wind rushed against his face, the ground raced beneath his frantic little legs, and his beloved swimming hole came into sight. He sped up to make his dive into the murky water when a great roar sounded overhead, and a flash lit up the sky. Henry shuddered and skidded to a halt before the water’s edge. A hundred thousand silver blips began darting down as torrent of rain descended. “The kittens,” he gasped. He looked about him this way and that, to the fruit trees and the chicken yard and the farmhouse and the hill and the big macadamia tree and the forest beyond the farm. “Where do kittens hide?” he asked himself. He spun around twice, his trotters tapping the mud unceasingly. The sky gave a long, low growl and Henry looked up at the churning darkness. The rain poured down so hard the raindrops seemed to merge into a great endless gush of water. Out of habit he turned to look for the willow tree in the south paddock, but the hill up to the chicken yard hid it from view. Henry turned and squinted, scanning along the side of the farmhouse, down the slope and then up the hill at the north end of the farm. He saw an animal moving halfway up the hill, but his eyesight was too poor to make out what it was. He ran.
Around the dam and the big mass of reeds, across the thick green grass and then up the rugged hill he went. The water flowed down from the fence at the top of the hill, rushing like rapids over the all the rocks and bumps, until it gained enough force to sweep Henry off his feet. He stumbled and slipped and scrambled back onto all fours, unable to ascend any higher. Through the haze of rainfall, he peered and saw a grey animal perched far up the hill on a jutting stone. The animal was too big to be a kitten. Amid the constant whooshing, Henry heard a bleat. It was the nanny goat. “Have you seen the kittens?” called Henry. A surge of rain descended, and the goat seemed to disappear.
Henry turned and ran a few steps before he slipped and slid on his rump, then his side, then his back, all the way to the bottom of the hill. He would have enjoyed the ride had his mind not been unusually focused elsewhere. At the bottom of the hill, he splashed into a puddle, flipped himself upright and then ran toward the farmhouse. A rushing and quickly expanding stream had formed in his path, so he waded into the water. His trotters pushed him along, and then his tiptoes, until the water lifted him, and he had to swim a short way before his feet touched the ground again. He ran up the slope to the front of the house. Beneath the patio, the roar of rain pelting the roof was deafening. He ran over and checked the big cardboard box; the kittens had not come back. Neither had the cat. Henry looked down by the stables, where he had left her. Rushing water now covered the ground, almost up to the first rail of the fence. He watched for a moment, and then ran around behind the house. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed. The kittens were not around back. In fact, nothing was. All the tools and boots and Mrs McGinley’s potted roses were gone, for she had brought them inside. Henry kept trotting along, looking about for any sign of the lost kittens, when he came to where the tractor was parked. He crept near and looked up at it in awe. Of everything that moved on the farm, the tractor was the biggest. Even the great bull looked small next to the tractor. Henry wondered at the immense tyres, and then walked around to face the headlights, which always seemed to him like eyes, even though the Clydesdale had told him they were not. Henry looked around; he was alone. He stepped forward and gazed up at the mighty machine. “Hello,” he said. The tractor did not answer. With a grunt, Henry turned and resumed his search.
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