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Chapter 17 Uncle

When they pulled into the Fair Grounds, they could hear music and see the Ferris wheel turning in the sky. They could smell the dust of the race track where the sprinkling cart had moistened it; and they could smell hamburgers frying and see balloons aloft. They could hear sheep blatting in their pens. An enormous voice over the loudspeaker said:"Attention, please! Will the owner of a Pontiac car, license number H-2439, please move your car away from the fireworks shed!""Can I have some money?" asked Fern.

  "Can I, too?" asked Avery.

  "I'm going to win a doll by spinning a wheel and it will stop at the right number," said Fern.

  "I'm going to steer a jet plane and make it bump into another one.""Can I have a balloon?" asked Fern.

  "Can I have a frozen custard and a cheeseburger and some raspberry soda pop?" asked Avery.

  "You children be quiet till we get the pig unloaded," said Mrs. Arable.

  "Let's let the children go off by themselves," suggested Mr. Arable. "The Fair only comes once a year." Mr. Arable gave Fern two quarters and tow dimes. He gave Avery five dimes and four nickels. "Now run along1" he said. "And remember, the money has to last all day. Don't spend it all the first few minutes. And be back here at the truck at noontime so we can all have lunch together. And don't eat a lot of stuff that's going to make you sick to your stomachs.""And if you go in those swings," said Mrs. Arable,"you hang on tight! You hang on very tight. Hear me?""And don't get lost!" said Mrs. Zuckerman.

  "And don't get dirty!""Don't get overheated!" said their mother.

  "Watch out for pickpockets!" cautioned their father.

  "And don't cross the race track when the horses are coming!" cried Mrs. Zuckerman.

  The children grabbed each other by the hand and danced off in the direction of the merry-go-round, toward the wonderful music and the wonderful adventure and the wonderful excitement, into the wonderful midway where there would be no parents to guard them and guide them, and where they could be happy and free and do as they pleased. Mrs. arable stood quietly and watched them go. Then she sighed. Then she blew her nose.

  "Do you really think it's all right?" she asked.

  "Well, they've got to grow up some time," said Mr. Arable. "And a fair is a good place to start, I guess."While Wilbur was being unloaded and taken out of his crate and into his new pigpen, crowds gathered to watch. They stared at the sign ZUCKERMAN'S FAMOUS PIG. Wilbur stared back and tried to look extra good. He was pleased with his new home. The pen was grassy, and it was shaded from the sun by a shed roof.

  Charlotte, watching her chance, scrambled out of the crate and climbed a post to the under side of the roof. Nobody noticed her.

  Templeton, not wishing to come out in broad daylight, stayed quietly under the straw at the bottom of the crate. Mr. Zuckerman poured some skim milk into Wilbur's trough, pitched clean straw into his pen, and then he and Mrs. Zuckerman and the Arables walked away toward the cattle barn to look at purebred cows and to see the sights. Mr. Zuckerman particularly wanted to look at tractors. Mrs. Zuckerman wanted to see a deep freeze. Lurvy wandered off by  himself, hoping to meet friends and have some fun on the midway.

  As soon as the people were gone, Charlotte spoke to Wilbur.

  "It's a good thing you can't see what I see," she said.

  "What do you see?" asked Wilbur.

  "There's a pig in the next pen and he's enormous. I'm afraid he............

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