Our story today is called "Pigs isPigs." It was written by Ellis Parker Butler. Here is Sheper Nille withthe story. Mike Flannery, the agent of the Interurban Express Company, leanedover the desk in the company's office in Westcote and shook his fist. Mr.Morehouse, angry and red, stood on the other side of the desk shaking withfury. The argument had been long and hot. At last Mr. Morehouse had becomespeechless. The cause of the trouble lay on the desk between the two men. Itwas a box with two guinea pigs inside. "Do as you like, then!"shouted Flannery. "Pay for them and take them. Or don't pay for them andleave them here. Rules are rules, Mr. Morehouse. And Mike Flannery is not goingto break them." "But you stupid idiot!" shouted Mr. Morehouse,madly shaking a thin book beneath the agent's nose. "Can't you read ithere – in your own book of transportation rates? 'Pets, domestic, Franklin toWestcote, if correctly boxed, twenty-five cents each.'" He threw the bookon the desk. "What more do you want? Aren't they pets? Aren't they domestic?Aren't they correctly boxed? What?"
He turned and walked back and forthrapidly, with a furious look on his face. "Pets," he said."P-E-T-S! Twenty-five cents each. Two times twenty-five is fifty! Can youunderstand that? I offer you fifty cents." Flannery reached for the book.He ran his hand through the pages and stopped at page sixty-four. "I don'ttake fifty cents," he whispered in an unpleasant voice. "Here's therule for it: 'When the agent be in any doubt about which two rates should becharged on a shipment, he shall charge the larger. The person receiving theshipment may put in a claim for the overcharge.' In this case, Mr. Morehouse, Ibe in doubt. Pets them animals may be. And domestic they may be, but pigs I'msure they do be. And my rule says plain as the nose on your face, 'Pigs,Franklin to Westcote, thirty cents each.'" Mr. Morehouse shook his headsavagely. "Nonsense!" he shouted. "Confounded nonsense, I tellyou! That rule means common pigs, not guinea pigs!" "Pigs ispigs," Flannery said firmly. Mr. Morehouse bit his lip and then flung hisarms out wildly. "Very well!" he shouted. "You shall hear ofthis! Your president shall hear of this! It is an outrage! I have offered youfifty cents. You refuse it. Keep the pigs until you are ready to take the fiftycents. But, by George, sir, if one hair of those pigs' heads is harmed, I willhave the law on you!" He turned andwalked out, slamming the door. Flannery carefully lifted the box from the deskand put it in a corner.Mr.Morehouse quickly wrote a letter to the president of the transportation expresscompany. The president answered, informing Mr. Morehouse that all claims forovercharge should be sent to the Claims Department. Mr. Morehouse wrote to theClaims Department. One week later he received an answer. The Claims Departmentsaid it had discussed the matter with the agent at Westcote. The agent said Mr.Morehouse had refused to accept the two guinea pigs shipped to him. Therefore,the department said, Mr. Morehouse had no claim against the company and should writeto its Tariff Department. Mr. Morehouse wrote to the Tariff Department. Hestated his case clearly. The head of the Tariff Department read Mr. Morehouse'sletter. "Huh! Guinea pigs," he said. "Probably starved to deathby this time." He wrote to the agent asking why the shipment was held up.He also wanted to know if the guinea pigs were still in good health. Beforeanswering, agent Flannery wanted to make sure his report was up to date. So hewent to the back of the office and looked into the cage. Good Lord! There werenow eight of them! All well and eating like hippopotamuses. He went back to theoffice and explained to the head of the Tariff Department what the rules saidabout pigs. And as for the condition of the guinea pigs, said Flannery, theywere all well. But there were eight of them now, all good eaters.
The head of the Tariff Department laughedwhen he read Flannery's letter. He read it again and became serious. "ByGeorge!" he said. "Flannery is right. Pigs is pigs. I'll have to getsomething official on this." He spoke to the president of the company. Thepresident treated the matter lightly. "What is the rate on pigs and onpets?" he asked. "Pigs thirty cents, pets twenty-five," the headof the Tariff Department answered. "Then of course guinea pigs arepigs," the president said. "Yes," the head of the TariffDepartment agreed. "I look at it that way too. A thing that can come undertwo rates is naturally to be charged at the higher one. But are guinea pigs,pigs? Aren't they rabbits?" "Come to think of it," the presidentsaid, "I believe they are more like rabbits. Sort of half-way between pigand rabbit. I think the question is this – are guinea pigs of the domestic pigfamily? I'll ask Professor Gordon. He is an expert about such things." Thepresident wrote to Professor Gordon. Unfortunately, the professor was in SouthAmerica collecting zoological samples. His wife forwarded the letter to him. Theprofessor was in the High Andes Mountains. The letter took many months to reachhim. In time, the president forgot the guinea pigs. The head of the TariffDepartment forgot them. Mr. Morehouse forgot them. But agent Flannery did not.The guinea pigs had increased to thirty-two.
He asked the head of the Tariff Departmentwhat he should do with them. "Don't sell the pigs," agent Flannerywas told. "They are not your property. Take care of them until the case issettled." The guinea pigs needed more room. Flannery made a large and airyroom for them in the back of his office. Some months later he discovered he nowhad one hundred sixty of them. He was going out of his mind. Not long afterthis, the president of the express company heard from Professor Gordon. It wasa long and scholarly letter. It pointed out that the guinea pig was the caviaaparoea, while the common pig was the genus sus of the family suidae. Thepresident then told the head of the Tariff Department that guinea pigs are notpigs and must be charged only twenty-five cents as domestic pets. The TariffDepartment informed agent Flannery that he should take the one hundred sixtyguinea pigs to Mr. Morehouse and collect twenty-five cents for each of them. AgentFlannery wired back. "I've got eight hundred now. Shall I collect foreight hundred or what? How about the sixty-four dollars I paid for cabbages tofeed them?" Many letters went back and forth. Flannery was crowded into afew feet at the extreme front of the office. The guinea pigs had all the restof the room. Time kept moving on as the letters continued to go back and forth.Flannerynow had four thousand sixty-four guinea pigs. He was beginning to lose controlof himself. Then, he got a telegram from the company that said: "Error inguinea pig bill. Collect for two guinea pigs -- fifty cents." Flannery ranall the way to Mr. Morehouse's home. But Mr. Morehouse had moved. Flannerysearched for him in town but without success. He returned to the express officeand found that two hundred six guinea pigs had entered the world since he leftthe office. At last, he got an urgent telegram from the main office: "Sendthe pigs to the main office of the company at Franklin." Flannery did so.Soon, came another telegram. "Stop sending pigs. Warehouse full."But he kept sending them. Agent Flannery finally got free of the guinea pigs. "Rulesmay be rules," he said, "but so long as Flannery runs this expressoffice, pigs is pets and cows is pets and horses is pets and lions and tigersand Rocky Mountain goats is pets. And the rate on them is twenty-fivecents." Then he looked around and said cheerfully, "Well, anyhow, itis not as bad as it might have been. What if them guinea pigs had beenelephants?"