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

Peter Learns a New Word

W HILE Peter Mink marched on, believing that the circus parade was following him (when Jimmy Rabbit had actually led it away in the opposite direction), Peter kept trying to think of some trick he could play on the parade.

He decided, at last, that he would hunt around until he found the smallest hole he could possibly squeeze through, and he would squirm through it, and then have fun watching the others try to follow him.

Finally he found a log which lay upon a rocky ledge. Between the log and the rock there was a narrow opening. And when he saw that, Peter knew it was the very place he had been looking for. Without once glancing around, he thrust his head through the crack.

Then something happened. Peter Mink always claimed, afterwards, that the log settled a bit lower, or the rock rose a bit higher. Anyhow, to his astonishment, he found himself stuck fast under the log. Such a thing had never happened to him before.

"Well!" he said to himself, "there are plenty of people here to help me, anyhow." You see, he hadn't discovered that the whole parade—except him—had turned about and followed Jimmy Rabbit.

Peter Mink thought it was strange that nobody came and offered to help him. And soon he began to shout.

Still no one came. And Peter began to wish that he hadn't tried to play a trick on the paraders. For he saw that he was in something very like a trap. In fact, it was  a trap, which Johnnie Green had set. But Peter didn't know that. If he had, he would have been even more worried than he was. It was bad enough, just to imagine what would happen if old dog Spot should come along and find him.

Jimmy Rabbit had a fine time leading the parade. You may be sure he  looked around at the procession following him. And he shouted a good many orders, too, telling different ones just what they should or shouldn't do.

The parade had marched through the woods for a long time; and Jimmy was about to stop and tell everybody that the fun was over, when he saw all at once that it was really just going to begin. For right in front of him he saw his friend. Peter Mink, pinned fast beneath the log.

"You've been long enough coming to help me!" Peter Mink growled. "Get this log off me—you people—and be quick about it!"

Brownie Beaver left his place in the parade and hurried forward, because he knew more about handling logs than anybody else there. But before he could get his coat off, Jimmy Rabbit called him one side and whispered to him. And then Jimmy whispered to everybody else. And the parade disbanded. Then everybody crowded around Peter Mink.

"What is it you want?" Jimmy Rabbit asked Peter.

"Want?" Peter Mink screamed. "Are you blind? Can't you see this great log on top of me? Can't you get it off? What are you waiting for?"

"Ah!" said Jimmy Rabbit. "We are waiting for just one thing. And we haven't heard it yet."

"Heard it?" Peter Mink snarled. "Aren't your ears big enough to hear everything?"

"We're going to teach you something," said Jimmy. "And until you've learned the lesson, we're going to leave you right where you are."

You should have heard Peter Mink then—or rather, you're lucky you didn't  hear him. For the way he went on was something dreadful. But until Jimmy Rabbit heard what he was waiting for, he wouldn't let anyone roll the log off Peter.

Finally it grew so late that some of the paraders said they would have to be going home pretty soon. And then Billy Woodchuck remarked that he didn't believe Peter Mink had the least idea what they were waiting for.

"I think we ought to tell him," Billy said.

So Jimmy Rabbit told Peter what it was.

"I don't know what it means," said Peter.

"Well—say it, anyhow!" Jimmy Rabbit ordered. "And after this, whenever you want anybody to do anything for you, don't forget to say it! It wouldn't do you a bit of harm to practice saying it every day, for a while, until you get used to it."

Peter Mink looked as if he would have liked to do something to Jimmy Rabbit. And for a long time he refused to obey. But when Brownie Beaver said that he simply must  go home, because it was so late, Peter Mink said what Jimmy had been waiting for.

It was "Please!"

And no doubt you guessed it long ago.

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