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

The Circus Parade

I F it hadn't been for the circus posters on Farmer Green's barn, the idea of having a circus parade would never have occurred to Jimmy Rabbit.

You see, all those wonderful pictures set him thinking. And he lost no time in inviting everybody to help. He even invited Peter Mink, though he was sorry, afterwards, that he had.

For a day or two everybody in the neighborhood of Blue Mountain was as busy as he could be, getting ready for the parade. Cuffy Bear had promised to be the elephant, because he was so big. Frisky Squirrel was to be a wolf, on account of his being so gray. And Jimmy had invited Peter Mink to march as a giraffe, for the reason that he had such a long neck. And as for Jimmy Rabbit himself, he said that he expected to be a little pitcher, because he had heard that they had big ears.

"I've heard that, too," remarked Billy Woodchuck. "But I never knew that a pitcher was an animal."

"Well, you see you have a good deal to learn," Jimmy Rabbit said.

Then Tommy Fox murmured something about having heard that little pitchers had big mouths, too, and that they always talked a good deal. But Jimmy Rabbit made believe he didn't hear him.

Everything would have been pleasant, on the day of the parade, if it hadn't been for Peter Mink. He insisted that he must lead the procession; and that made trouble at once, because Jimmy Rabbit had expected to do that.

Peter finally settled the dispute.

"A parade," he said, "has two ends. Of course, one person can't march at both ends at the same time. So while I march at the front end, Jimmy Rabbit can march at the other. And that's perfectly fair."

At first Jimmy Rabbit looked quite glum. But pretty soon he seemed to feel more cheerful; and he said, "All right!"

Then there was a great bustle, and much talking, as the parade prepared to start.

"Remember!" Peter Mink warned everybody, "you must follow everywhere I go, because I'm the leader."

At that, Cuffy Bear seemed somewhat worried. He knew that Peter Mink was fond of squeezing through narrow places; and he didn't see how he could follow him.

But after a while Cuffy began to smile again—right after Jimmy Rabbit had come and whispered something in his ear. You see, Jimmy went to everybody in the parade and whispered. And last of all he went to Peter Mink and whispered in his ear, too.

"Everybody must look straight ahead," Jimmy told Peter, "because that's the way they always do in a circus parade."

"Don't you suppose I know that, just as well as you do?" snapped Peter Mink. "You'd better hurry back to the other end of the parade, because I'm going to start in exactly two or three minutes—I'm not sure which."

So Jimmy Rabbit hurried back as fast as he could. He might have run faster, if he hadn't stopped to wink at every person in the line. But he just managed to reach his place when the parade started.

Then a queer thing happened. When everybody had taken ten steps, the whole parade turned about in its tracks and started marching in the opposite direction. And now Jimmy Rabbit led the procession, instead of Peter Mink.

I said the whole  parade turned around; but what I meant to say was everybody but Peter Mink.  You see, Jimmy Rabbit had told Peter not to look back, but to march straight ahead, with his eyes to the front. And naturally, Peter Mink supposed that that was what Jimmy had whispered to everyone else.

So away Peter Mink marched, trying to look as much like a giraffe as he could, and feeling very proud, too—because he thought the parade was following him.

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