Meanwhile Johnnie was kept in occupation by Mrs. Worrett, who had got the idea firmly fixed in her mind, that the chief joy of a child’s life was to chase chickens. Whenever a hen fluttered past the kitchen door, which was about once in three minutes, she would cry: “Here, Johnnie, here’s another chicken for you to chase;” and poor Johnnie would feel obliged to dash out into the sun. Being a very polite little girl.
She did not like to say to Mrs. Worrett that running in the heat was disagreeable: so by dinner-time she was thoroughly tired out, and would have been cross if she had known how; but she didn’t— Johnnie was never cross. After dinner it was even worse; for the sun was hotter, and the chickens, who didn’t mind sun, seemed to be walking all the time. “Hurry, Johnnie, here’s another,” came so constantly, that at last Elsie grew desperate, got up, and went to the kitchen with a languid appeal: “Please, Mrs. Worrett, won’t you let Johnnie stay by me, because my head aches so hard?” After that, Johnnie had a rest; for Mrs. Worrett was the kindest of women, and had no idea that she was not amusing her little guest in the most delightful manner.
A little before six, Elsie’s head felt better; and she and Johnnie put on their hats, and went for a walk in the garden. There was not much to see: beds of vegetables,—a few currant bushes,—that was all. Elsie was leaning against a paling, and trying to make out why the Worrett house had that queer tiptoe expression, when a sudden loud grunt startled her, and something touched the top of her head. She turned, and there was an enormous pig, standing on his hind legs, on the other side of the paling. He was taller than Elsie, as he stood thus, and it was his cold nose which had touched her head. Somehow, appearing in this unexpected way, he seemed to the children like some dreadful wild beast. They screamed with fright, and fled to the house, from which Elsie never ventured to stir again during their visit. John chased chickens at intervals, but it was a doubtful pleasure; and all the time she kept a wary eye on the distant pig.