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

Peter's Bad Temper

P ETER MINK was always quarreling. And he seemed always ready to fight—to fight even people who were four times bigger than he was. And when he fought, Peter usually won. But there was one person Peter Mink was afraid of; and that was Fatty Coon. Fatty was almost too big for Peter Mink to whip. And his teeth were very sharp. And his claws were like thorns.

One day Peter and Fatty had a dispute. Fatty Coon had said that a hen made the finest meal in the world. But Peter Mink spoke up at once and said it wasn't so.

"There's nothing quite like a duck," he said.

Fatty Coon sneered.

"Ducks may be all right," he cried. "In fact, in my opinion they are far too good for any member of the Mink family to eat. But for me—give me a plump hen!" And just thinking about hens made him hungry. And being hungry made him think of green corn. "Give me a plump hen and plenty of green corn!" And he looked all around, as if he expected somebody would hurry up to him with a hen in one hand and a dozen ears of corn in the other.

But nobody came.

"You're a big glutton!" Peter Mink shouted. He was very angry. But he did not dare fight Fatty Coon.

"I guess you wish I was smaller," said Fatty Coon, "so you could fight me."

At that, Peter Mink looked very fierce. And he turned to Frisky Squirrel and Billy Woodchuck and Jimmy Rabbit and shouted:

"Take hold of me, quick, you fellows—before I hurt him! For I can't keep my hands off him a second longer!"

When they heard that, Fatty's friends were frightened. They were afraid Peter Mink would fly at him and hurt him terribly. So they all seized Peter and held him fast, while they begged Fatty to run away.

Now, Fatty Coon was not the least bit afraid of Peter. But talking of good things to eat had made him so hungry that he felt he must hurry down to Farmer Green's cornfield at once. So he said "Good-bye!" and left them.

After Fatty had disappeared, Peter Mink said it was safe to let him go again, but that it was lucky they had held him.

And Frisky Squirrel and Billy Woodchuck and Jimmy Rabbit agreed afterwards that Peter Mink was a dangerous fellow. They were glad that Fatty Coon had escaped.

The next day, almost the same thing happened again. Only this time Peter Mink remarked that there was nothing any tastier than a fine eel. Fatty Coon told him that eels might be good enough for the Mink family, but as for him, he preferred green peas.

"Somebody hold me, quick!" Peter Mink screamed. "I don't want to hurt him—but I'm losing my temper fast."

Several of Fatty Coon's friends started to seize Peter Mink, so Fatty might run away. But there was one person present who had not been there the day before. This was Tommy Fox. And he only laughed when Peter Mink said what he did.

"Don't touch him!" Tommy Fox told the others. "Let's see what he'll do. Fatty isn't afraid of him."

"Why, certainly not!" Fatty Coon said. And he smiled in such a way that he showed his sharp teeth.

"Somebody stop me, before it's too late!" Peter Mink cried.

But nobody laid a hand on him. And still Peter did not move.

"Go ahead!" Tommy Fox urged him. "You said you were losing your temper, you know."

"I'm waiting!" Fatty Coon called. And he held up both his front paws. Peter saw how strong and sharp his claws were.

"I declare," Peter Mink said, "I haven't lost my temper, after all. I felt it going—for a moment. But it came back again."

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