P ETER MINK was pulling Jimmy Rabbit up the mountainside. You remember that Jimmy had a new sled, and that Peter had nailed Jimmy's trousers to the sled, so he wouldn't fall off when he slid down Blue Mountain. But when Jimmy had coasted down into the meadow he found he could not get off the sled. So Peter Mink had offered to help him, if Jimmy would give him the sled in return for his kindness.
"How do you like my new sled?" Peter Mink asked Jimmy Rabbit, as he stopped to rest, after climbing a steep slope.
But before Jimmy Rabbit could answer, an alarming sound rang through the clear air and startled them both. It was old dog Spot, baying as if he had found some very interesting tracks.
"Hurry!" Jimmy Rabbit cried. "We don't want Spot to catch us!"
"Get off my sled!" Peter Mink ordered. "How can I run fast, pulling a great, fat fellow like you?"
"How can I get off," Jimmy answered, "when I'm nailed fast to the sled?"
"I'll get you off," said Peter. And he took hold of Jimmy Rabbit's ears and began to pull as hard as he could. But the sled only slipped along on the snow.
Peter took hold of Jimmy Rabbit's ears.
"Grab this sapling!" Peter Mink cried, drawing Jimmy close to a small tree. "And I'll pull the sled from under you." But all his pulling did no more than to make Jimmy's arms ache. For Jimmy was nailed so fast to the sled that he stuck to it—or it stuck to him—as if they were just one, instead of two, things.
"I wish my mother hadn't made me wear such stout trousers," Jimmy Rabbit said. For once, he wished he wore old, ragged clothes, like Peter's. If he had, he thought he might have torn himself away from the sled. But now there seemed no hope for him, because old Spot's voice sounded nearer every minute.
At last Peter Mink became so angry because Jimmy didn't get off the sled that he flew at him and began to pommel him.
When Peter threw himself upon Jimmy the sled began to move. But Peter was so enraged he never noticed that, until they were coasting down the mountain so fast that he didn't dare jump off.
Once they struck something. They couldn't see what it was, because they were traveling like the wind. But Jimmy Rabbit thought he heard a frightened sort of yelp. Then they tore on again.
Before they reached the foot of Blue Mountain they struck something else. This time there was no yelp, for they ran right into a big maple tree. And Jimmy Rabbit felt himself sailing through the air, until at last he landed on top of a big drift, broke through the crust, and sank into the soft snow beneath.
He crawled quickly out of the drift. And when he saw that he and the sled had parted company he was so delighted that he never minded his torn trousers.
He looked around. And there was the sled, as good as ever, except for the nails Peter Mink had driven into it. And there was Peter Mink, lying very still beneath the maple tree. Though Jimmy listened, he could no longer hear old Spot baying.
That was because old Spot was running home as fast as his legs would carry him. He didn't know what it was that had struck him; and he was frightened.
When Jimmy Rabbit saw Peter Mink slowly open one eye he knew that it wouldn't be long before Peter was himself again. So Jimmy hurried back up the mountain, pulling the sled after him.
The next day, who should come to Jimmy's house but Peter Mink.
"I've come for my sled," he said.
"What sled?" asked Jimmy Rabbit.
"Why, the one you gave me for getting you off it," Peter answered.
"But you didn't get me off the sled," Jimmy told him. "You don't even know how I got off. So I certainly am not going to give you my sled."
And Peter Mink had to go away empty-handed. He didn't like it at all. But what could he do?