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

At the Garden‑Party

P ETER MINK was angry with Tommy Fox; for it was he who showed everybody that Peter was afraid of Fatty Coon. Peter Mink was so angry that he went about telling everyone he met how he was going to punish Tommy Fox. "When I finish with him," he said, "he'll know enough to keep his advice to himself."

"What are you going to do to him?" Jimmy Rabbit inquired.

"Well, I'm going to bite his nose," Peter explained, "because it was his nose that he stuck in my affairs." And Peter went away muttering even worse things to his cousin, who was with him. His cousin's name was Slim Mink. And he was spending the summer in Farmer Green's haystack near the duck pond.

Slim had heard somewhere that there was a place called the Reform School, where boys were sent who fought too much. And he began to be afraid that if Peter did to Tommy Fox half the things he said he was going to do, some one would come along and catch Peter and send him to the Reform School.

And the Reform School was an awful place! Why, boys who went there had to sleep in beds! They had to wash their faces every morning, and brush their hair, and have table manners! It was no wonder that Slim began to worry.

"You'd better let that young fox alone!" he told Peter. "You fight too much. If you don't look out, something dreadful will happen to you, some day. You'll get sent to the Reform School."

But Peter Mink told him to hold his tongue. "If you're not careful," Peter said, "I'll bite your nose, too."

Now, Slim was smaller than his cousin Peter. And he didn't want his nose bitten. So he kept quiet after that. But he hoped that Peter would take his advice.

"Let's go down to the brook and fish," he suggested, hoping that he could get Peter's mind off Tommy Fox.

"You can go if you want to," said Peter Mink. "And save me some fish, too, or it will be the worse for you!"

Slim decided that he wouldn't go fishing, after all. And he roamed through the woods with Peter, who was determined to find Tommy Fox.

And at last Peter found him, at a garden-party that was being given by Jimmy Rabbit, in Farmer Green's garden.

Everybody but Tommy Fox was having refreshments. But he said he didn't feel like eating anything. That was because he was polite. He never cared for lettuce, or peas, or cabbage.

Peter Mink had not been invited to the garden-party. But that made no difference to him. Before anyone knew what was happening he marched straight up to Tommy Fox and bit him on the nose.

Then there followed such an uproar as had never before been seen in Farmer Green's garden. Tommy Fox and Peter Mink rolled over and over upon the ground. And for a long time nobody could tell one from the other.

But after a while that squirming heap of tails and legs began to turn more slowly, until at last it stopped altogether.

Peter Mink was a sad sight. He had been ragged enough, before the fight. But now he looked ten times worse. And one of his eyes was closed. And he had lost his hat, and one shoe.

Everyone was glad that the trouble was over. And everyone was glad that Tommy Fox had won.

And to everybody's surprise, the gladdest of all was Slim Mink, Peter's cousin.

"Hurrah!" he cried. (The others had been too polite to say anything.)

"What makes you shout that?" Peter asked Slim as he crawled away.

"Why," his cousin answered, "Tommy Fox hurt you, instead of your hurting him. And now you won't have to go to the Reform School."

But for once Peter Mink thought there might be worse places than that. He thought that maybe a real bed would feel pretty comfortable, just then.

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