Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Pig and His Way of Life

A short tale this week. About a pig.

Just one word to notice: the pig takes his case to the thing. In Viking times, assemblies of free men would gather together at things (þing) to settle matters of contention. These ancient gatherings were precursors to law-making assemblies and courts of law. Even in modern times, the courts of appeal in Norway are called things; the national assembly is the Great Thing (Stortinget).

The list of things is quite extensive in northern Europe:

  • In Iceland the national assembly is called the Allþingi
  • The Faroe Islands, with self-determination under Denmark, has its Løgting
  • Shetland has Tingaholm at Tingwall, where a thing was held until it was relocated in 1570
  • Orkney has the places Tingwall and Dingieshowe, which are assumed to have been sites used for holding things
  • In Man, the parliament is called the Tynvald

However, this is all beside the point. The point is the pig is sick of it all, and wants a new life.

The Pig and His Way of Life

Once upon a time, the pig was weary of his way of life, and so he got it into his head that he should go to the thing and apply for a new way of life—he would try his luck, like anyone else, whether the judgement was to his advantage or to his disadvantage.

“What is your complaint?” asked the recorder.

“Oh, I am so fed up of my way of life, father,” said the pig. “The horse has oats, and the cow has kvass, and they lie down dry and safe in their stalls and sheds, too. And I get nothing other than swill and dirty water; during the day I wallow in mud and by night I roll in manure and wet straw. Is there righteousness and justice in this, recorder?” he asked.

No, the recorder thought he had a fair point, and so he looked in his books, and reached a decision for a different way of life: “It is unjust that your life should be more difficult,” he said. “Henceforth, you will have wheat and peas, and sleep in a silken bed.”

Well, the pig thanked him and was so happy that he did not know whether it was night or day. And the whole way home, he mumbled and grunted: “Wheat and peas and lie in a silken bed. Wheat and peas and lie in a silken bed. Wheat and peas and lie in a silken bed.”

The road went between some copses, and in one thicket lay the fox, listening. And he was out to play some of his wicked tricks, don't you know. And so he began repeating: “swill and scraps and lie in a sty.”

The pig did not pay him any attention; he continued with his: “wheat and peas and lie in a silken bed,” but it continued: “swill and scraps and lie in a sty,” and finally, it sunk into the pig, and before he knew what he was doing, he began to listen, and to imitate.

When he came home, they asked how he had fared at the thing. “Did you hear a verdict in favour of a new way of life?” they said.

“Indeed, indeed,” said the pig. “Swill and scraps and lie in a sty. Swill and scraps and lie in a sty.”

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