The Exquisite Corpse Adventure
Hear it (MP3) 5:35
Dig That Pig
By Susan Cooper
It was a pig. A very large, lean, elegant black pig with a white patch around one eye. He looked exceedingly dangerous. “I’ll take it now,” he said, and he held out his front hoof.
Down on his right hind hoof there was a small red arrow, just like the birthmark that the twins had on their right little toes, but they didn’t notice that. After all, they were facing a large, threatening pig. And it was dark.
Joe still had Boppo’s rubber rat in his hand. Quick as a wink, he thrust it at the outstretched hoof, called telepathically to his twin, and bravely dived off the bridge into the gorge. Nancy dived after him, even more bravely (don’t you agree? I mean, she’d had an extra moment to think about it.). The river was a long way down, but they had both been making excellent swallow dives from the high trapeze since they were five years old.
Fortunately, the freezing water had been made pleasantly warm by the explosion of Boppo’s bomb. The twins had a short but refreshing swim. They clambered ashore, and as they shook themselves dry, they heard a loud splash in the river behind them. Then another. What was happening, out there in the dark water?
“Run!” said Joe.
They ran through the trees, with vampire bats swooping frustrated above their heads, and they came to a clearing. Given the circumstances, you might expect them to have come upon a gingerbread house and a witch. Instead, they saw in the moonlit clearing a full-size boxing ring, in which an athletic-looking baby was twirling in rapid circles. He wore tiny roller skates, a diaper, and a baseball cap with MAX written on it, and he was laughing.
Outside the ring, a small man was jumping up and down, cracking a bullwhip. They could tell from his shock of mad white hair that he was Albert Einstein. Or maybe not. But he was certainly mad.
“Faster! Faster!” shouted Albert Einstein.
“Leave that baby alone!” Nancy called, full of moral fervor. Once in a while her moral fervor got the better of her.
She ran up and seized Albert Einstein’s bullwhip, cracking it expertly so that its long leather lash snaked around him and pinned his arms to his sides.
The baby went on roller-skating round the boxing ring, laughing merrily.
“No!” shouted Albert Einstein, struggling to move his pinioned arms. “It’s my greatest experiment – we’re solving the secret of perpetual motion! E equals MC squared plus . . . something else. We’re nearly there!”
Then he stared at Nancy and Joe. “It’s you!” he cried. “Artoo and Deetoo! The Corpse twins, on the trail to piece together my Secret Robot! Have you got your passport?”
Joe had the birthday card clenched tightly in one hand; he opened it. “You mean this?” He elbowed his sister. “Nancy – lighten up –”
Reluctantly Nancy gave the bullwhip a twitch, so that Albert Einstein spun like a top and was free.
The baby was roller-skating faster and faster now, singing – quite creditably – the theme from Star Wars.
Albert Einstein beamed as he saw the card. “There it is – just in time! You are a credit to your parents, my dears. Max is your clue to the next step on your trail, and you must get there before the sun rises! It’s that way!”
He pointed beyond the boxing ring, into the shadows.
But there was a clopping and a rustling sound behind them, and into the clearing came Boppo, riding on the pig.
Audio recordings provided by National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and the Butler Center for Children's Literature at Dominican University have developed a companion educational resource center (external link) to support “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.”