Gateway to the Classics: The Tale of Peter Mink by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Peter Mink by  Arthur Scott Bailey

The Bargain

S TUCK fast in the mud as he was, Jimmy Rabbit couldn't do a thing except shout. Or you might say there were only two things he could do—shouting being one of them, and keeping still being the other.

At first, Jimmy couldn't help calling out at the top of his lungs. But Peter Mink, you remember, didn't appear to hear him. And there seemed to be no one else near. After a time Jimmy Rabbit grew so hoarse that he stopped shouting for help and tried to think of some way in which he might escape.

It occurred to him that if he could only manage to get his left hind-foot free of the mud (that was his lucky foot, you know) perhaps he would be able to crawl out, somehow. With his lucky foot buried deep in the mud, and quite out of sight, Jimmy thought it was not at all strange that he had not been able to free himself.

So he tried to raise his left hind-foot. At first the mud actually seemed to suck it deeper, as he tried. But after a long time Jimmy succeeded in lifting that foot the least bit. And he was pleased—until he discovered that his other hind-foot had only sunk further into the mire.

At last he happened to look up. And there on the bank, gazing down at him, stood Peter Mink.

"What are you doing down there?" Peter Mink called. "Why didn't you follow me, as I told you to?"

"I fell into this mud," Jimmy Rabbit told him.


"I fell into this mud," Jimmy Rabbit told him.

"And I called and called to you. Couldn't you hear me?"

"The wind was blowing," said Peter—and anyone can see that that  was no answer at all.

"Well, if you'd looked around, you could have seen what happened to me," Jimmy Rabbit complained.

"The sun was shining in my eyes," Peter Mink told him—and I shouldn't say that this answer of Peter's was any better than the first.

"Well—you can help me out of this bog, anyhow," Jimmy Rabbit said. "So please give me your hand. I'm pretty tired of being stuck here."

But Peter Mink never stirred. "Where's your lucky left hind-foot?" he asked. "I should think that  could help you out, if anything could."

"The trouble is," said Jimmy Rabbit, "my left hind-foot is so deep in this mire that I can't pull it up where it can do me any good at all. It's the first time I've ever known it to fail me. And you can't really blame the foot, either, for it hasn't a chance. I don't suppose it even knows what a fix I'm in."

Still Peter Mink made no move.

"What are you waiting for?" Jimmy inquired. "I've been here long enough."

"Maybe you have—for you," said Peter Mink. "But you haven't been there long enough to suit me." And he pretended to start to go away.

Jimmy Rabbit called to him.

"I'll give you something, if you'll help me," he said.

Peter turned around.

"There's just one thing you can give me," he said, "that will make me willing to pull you out of the mud."

"What's that?" Jimmy asked him.

"Your left hind-foot!" Peter Mink told him. "I need a lucky foot. I'm always getting into trouble of some sort and a rabbit's left hind-foot would be a great help to me—unless I happened to get stuck in the mud," he added with a sly smile. Jimmy Rabbit knew then that Peter Mink had meant all the time to lead him into that mud. He knew that Peter had meant all the time to get his left hind-foot away from him. But he didn't let Peter Mink know that he knew.

"You can have my left hind-foot," Jimmy Rabbit said, "on two conditions. You must always carry it in your pocket, and you have to agree to take—along with the foot—all the luck and everything else that goes with it."

Peter Mink quickly agreed to that.

And Jimmy Rabbit said it was a bargain, and that something awful always happened to people that didn't stand by their bargains.

Well, after that Peter jumped down and pulled Jimmy Rabbit out of the mud.

"Now," said Peter Mink, as soon as they had climbed up the bank again, "the next thing to do is to cut off your left hind-foot." And he was much surprised when Jimmy Rabbit began to laugh. "I don't see anything funny about it," Peter Mink growled.

"Of course you don't," said Jimmy. "I didn't expect you to. And I don't expect you're going to cut my foot off, because you agreed not to."

"I never did anything of the kind!" Peter Mink shouted.

"Well, we'll go and ask Mr. Crow what he thinks about it," Jimmy Rabbit said. "We'll leave it to him."

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