This story is based on a true event.
Evalina was a very young pig but a pig nevertheless. She lived with her mother and siblings in a pen in the Malley’s backyard on Martha’s Vineyard. So far as Evalina knew, the pen was a very interesting place with bugs to look at and worms to watch. There was water for splashing and a mud puddle for squirming, but she often looked out on the other side of the fence. One morning, Mr. Malley did not quite latch the gate after he had fed them their morning breakfast. Well, typical!
* * *
A family was having a picnic in a little park on the edge of Edgartown. One of the children almost choked and told his parents to look at the little pig running down the road. A man who was wiping his windshield stopped to stare at her as she ran past the gas station. Farther on, people standing in front of the movie theater watched with disbelief as Evalina continued down the street. A woman leaned over a balcony to watch her go past while another opened a window and leaned out to get a better look. Evalina trotted on until she came to the end of the street at the water’s edge. She looked down into the water and stared at her reflection. She turned her head and watched the other pig turn its head. She raised one foot and watched the other pig raise its foot.
“That’s the funniest thing I ever saw,” commented a woman nearby.
* * *
When Mrs. Malley went out to check on her pigs, she noticed that the gate was ajar and that Evalina was gone. She ran to the house. “Edgar! Evalina is gone!”
Mr. Malley ran out of the house and looked. “I’m sure I closed that gate.”
His wife looked at him.
“I’m going to call the neighbors,” he said. “Maybe they have seen her.”
But they had not.
“I’m going to call the police,” said Mrs. Malley. “Maybe they can help us find her.”
“Well, ma’am, we haven’t heard anything about a pig on the loose,” the officer on the telephone said, “but we’ll send out a call.”
The word went out over the police radio network for patrolmen to be on the lookout for a runaway pig.
* * *
Downtown, Evalina continued to stare into the water. Just then a seagull flew overhead and saw Evalina who was part way in and part way out of the water. The gull flew down and sat on Evalina’s head. She put her head up, but the gull just sat there. She put her head down and got her face full of sea water. The gull still sat there.
“Now that’s the funniest thing I ever saw,” a man said.
Evalina shook her head. The gull stayed put. Evalina let out an “Oink!” The gull squawked and flew away. Evalina raised her head, sniffed, then turned around and walked into the middle of an outdoor café. Everyone at the tables began to laugh. A waiter came out and began to wave a tablecloth at her. She sat down and looked at him. He waved and waved. Evalina did not move. People laughed until they cried and wiped their eyes. Another man came out and waved another tablecloth. Finally Evalina got up and trotted away.
* * *
The telephone on the kitchen wall rang twice. “Mrs. Malley? This is Officer McKenzie. We’ve had a report that a pig has been seen in downtown Edgartown this morning. Apparently some waiters in the outdoor café chased her away.”
“Oh! The poor little thing! She was probably hungry and smelled the food,” said Mrs. Malley. “Do you know which way she went?”
“Well, she was last seen turning south on Water Street. We’ll send a patrol car to the area,” said Officer McKenzie.
* * *
Evalina continued along on Water Street then stopped. She sniffed a small pink creature lying in a low cart with wheels. She jumped up into the cart. A woman screamed.
“My baby! My baby! Help!”
Evalina jumped out of the baby stroller. A man tried to catch her but she was too quick. She scooted down the street and wriggled through an opening in a fence.
* * *
The telephone on the kitchen wall rang again.
“Mrs. Malley? This is Officer McKenzie again. Your pig has been reported attacking a baby on South Water Street. Evidently it jumped right into the baby’s stroller. The mother is hysterical. I don’t think the pig was trying to do any harm, you understand, but the woman is bonkers. You’ve got to get downtown and get that pig under control.”
“Where is she now?” asked Mrs. Malley.
“Don’t know. She ran away before anyone could catch her. She sure is causing a lot of excitement. Well, we’ll keep trying to find her.”
“Thank you,” said Mrs. Malley, somewhat embarrassed. She looked at her husband. “Edgar, we’ve got to go downtown and try to find her.”
“I knew you were going to say that, but you may be right. She might stop if she sees us.”
They got into their car and drove into Edgartown. Every once and a while they stopped to ask people if they had seen a little pig. Some people nodded “yes” and pointed in the direction of the harbor. They drove all the way downtown but there was no sign of Evalina. They parked and got out of the car. A policeman was standing on the corner of Water Street. Mrs. Malley walked over to him. “We are looking for our little pig who ran away this morning,” she said.
“Oh, yes. She was here a little while ago. Cute little thing. I’ll call the station to see what is new on that.” He took a cell phone out of his pocket, but there was no news. An hour before, dozens of people had seen Evalina. Now she was nowhere in sight.
“Oh, I do hope nothing has happened to her,” Mrs. Malley sighed sadly. “Thank you, anyway. We’ll just look around a little more.”
* * *
“Bowowowalowf! Bowalowf! Bowalowf!” A big black Labrador bounded across the yard.
“Gus! Stop it! What’s wrong with you?” cried a woman dashing out of a house. Gus was running around in circles and barking. Evalina hid behind a bush. Gus started digging at the bush. Dirt flew in all directions. The dog bounced up and down and wagged its tail.
“Gus! Stop it!” The woman disappeared into the house and reappeared with a broom. She ran after the dog and tried to swat it across the rump. Gus wheeled around. Evalina scooted out from behind the bush, underneath Gus, darted between the woman’s legs, and scurried across the yard in a bee-line back toward the hole in the fence. The woman saw only a little pink canon ball scoot between her legs. Gus spied Evalina, leaped, and sent her mistress sprawling. Evalina squeezed through the hole, just in time to keep from being bitten on the tail. Gus screeched to a stop at the fence.
* * *
“Maybe we should go home,” said Mr. Malley gently patting his wife’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, dear.”
Mrs. Malley sighed. They drove home without saying a word. They turned into the driveway. Mr. Malley turned off the car engine. “Now, now,” he said, “She may turn up…if not today then tomorrow. Come along inside. Let’s get a sandwich. Maybe the police have left a message.”
Mrs. Malley got out of the car and walked slowly toward the house. She glanced at the pig pen. Suddenly she stopped. “Edgar! Look!”
He looked. Sure enough, there nuzzling beside her mother and her siblings was Evalina at the food trough.
“The poor thing,” said Mrs. Malley. “She must be starved.”
They smiled at each other. Evalina grunted happily.
“Sightseeing is fine, but she knows that home is the place to be if you are hungry,” Mrs. Malley said.
Now, the truth of the matter is that Mr. Malley occasionally left the gate to the pen open for Evalina but she never went any farther than the edge of the road where she watched the world go by.