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Rick and Mama go tracking. The pig is loose.

"Rick! Go feed the pig. Move!" Mama yelled for the third time.

It wasn't Rick's favorite chore, but he slowly unwrapped his long, skinny legs from the chair legs and moved. He was reading one of the books he'd gotten from the library on Saturday. The eleven year-old stood slowly, letting his eyes follow the words, trying to finish the page before leaving.

"Okay Mama. I'm going'."

Letting the screen door close itself, he jumped from the top step, landing flat footed on the dirt ground. He saw a rock about the size of a baseball near his feet, so he naturally kicked it. He kicked it all the way out to the pig pen with first one foot, then the other.

As he came close to the fenced-in area, he looked around. Where is that pig? " Shoot-fire! The fence is down!" He looked in earnest then. He could feel trouble coming if he didn't find the durn thing, fast! Mama wasn't known for her sense of humor.

Using some of the skills he had learned from reading about Daniel Boone, he began to track the pig. The little three toed tracks led over to the small bamboo patch beside the hen house. Then they circled back toward the garage. Rick soon realized they were headed down the dirt driveway. The tracks completely disappeared at the paved county road.

He began to feel sick to his stomach. He was going to have to tell mama, and she was going to be mad; somehow it would turn out to be his fault.

Rick hurried back to the house, shouting, "It's gone, Mama! The pig is loose!"

"What?" Mama grabbed a dish towel to wipe her hands, then reached out to turn the burners off. Supper would have to wait. "Get it! Where is it?" She was already out of the door.

"I tracked it to the highway. It's gone. I looked everywhere!" Rick shouted at mamas back.

Mama turned and looked at Rick liked she suspected him of hiding it, then she ran to get the car started. Mama was going tracking.

"Come on, Rick. Help me look!"

Driving up one road, turning down another, Rick stuck his head out the window looking for tracks along the roadside. They drove for hours. They would stop and gaze out across the green fields of alfalfa and cotton, hoping against hope to see a traveling pig. Mama was boiling mad. When she became upset, her left eyebrow twitched. Rick tried to look serious whenever he looked at her, but he had a strange sense of humor and thought it was kind of funny. The eyebrow that is, not the situation.

Mama stopped at the farm houses along the way, and alerted the farmers of the run-a-way. No one had seen it, but they promised they would keep an eye out. As it was becoming dark, no more searching could be done so they went home. Mama couldn't help but be worried. That pig represented a winter's worth of meat for the family.

Rick and Daddy repaired the fence together, anticipating the pig would eventually return.

A few hours later, Mr. Souza called, saying the pig had showed up at his place, looking for a hand out. He'd lassoed it and would hold it for them.

The family climbed into the car; the kids were excited to be going out at bed-time. The pig was going to have to ride in the open trunk, tied tight so he couldn't escape. After an hour of lifting, dropping, dragging, and yelling, they finally got him loaded, tied down and secured.

The little group convinced the pig that riding was better than being pulled, but, one way or another, he was going.

"Okay, Rick, climb in and hold him tight." laughed dad. "This little piggy is going home."

Rick hung onto the pig as tight as he could, though it was securely tied. He'd also hung onto his sense of humor, and began to laugh.