Here to return to
ONE rainy night Peter Mink stopped at Black Creek; and calling loudly to Timothy Turtle he asked for a place to sleep.
"You remember," he said, when Timothy drew himself upon the bank, "you told me that you would do something handsome for me some time. And now that I'm wet and tired I hope you can offer me a snug, dry spot in which to spend the night."
"What can you do to pay me?" asked Timothy Turtle. He never did anything for anybody without pay. "Can you saw wood?"
Now, Peter Mink would rather stay out in the rain forever than saw a single stick of wood. So he said:
"No, I can't!" just like that.
"Well, it's about time you learned," said Timothy Turtle.
Peter Mink was about to leave in disgust; and he was wondering what name he would call Timothy Turtle, when he was a little further away, when he noticed that Timothy had a thin book in his hand. "What's that?" Peter asked.
"It's the Farmer's Almanac," said Timothy Turtle. "I've been looking through it; but my eyes are bad and I can't read."
Now that was quite true; for Timothy's eyes were bad – and he had never learned to read.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," Peter Mink announced. "If you'll give me a place to spend the night I'll read the Farmer's Almanac to you."
"Come right in!" Timothy Turtle cried, leading the way to a cozy nook beneath a big rock which was not far from the water. And Peter Mink was very glad to creep inside that comfortable shelter. He took the Almanac from Timothy Turtle and they both sat down.
Peter opened the book.
"I see," he said, "that it says the weather was fair to-day, but look out for a heavy rain to-night!"
Now, Timothy Turtle had not felt quite sure that Peter Mink knew how to read. But when he heard that he quickly changed his mind.
"That's exactly what's happened!" he exclaimed. And he was greatly pleased. But the next moment he noticed that Peter Mink was holding the book upside down. Timothy could tell that because the picture of the man ploughing, on the cover, was upside down.
"You can't read!" he cried angrily. "You don't even know how to hold a book. You've got it bottom side up!"
But Peter Mink only smiled pleasantly at him.
"You don't understand," he said. "That's the way I was taught to read. Then, if you want to read when standing on your head, you don't need to turn the book over.... It's the latest method," he explained.
"Oh!" said Timothy Turtle. "That's different!"
"Yes – quite different!" said Peter Mink.
"What does the Almanac say about next week?" Timothy inquired.
"Timer to plant corn!" Peter told him.
"That's so!" said Timothy Turtle. "Mr. Crow was telling me this very day that Farmer Green was ploughing his cornfield; but of course that doesn't interest me much. . . . What else does the book say?" Timothy continued.
"Well, here's some general advice," Peter Mink remarked, as he looked at the Almanac again. "It says: 'If anybody comes to you and asks for a place to sleep, give him a bed – but first of all, give him a good supper.'"
"I don't believe I want to hear any more to-night," said Timothy Turtle hastily. "It's late; so we'd better go to bed right away."
Peter Mink was somewhat disappointed. He had hoped to get a fish or two to eat. But there was nothing he could say, though he did wish Timothy Turtle could take a hint.
"In the morning you can read to me again," Timothy told him.
So they went to bed.
But in the morning the Almanac was nowhere to be found. Timothy Turtle hunted for it in every place he could think of – except Peter Mink's pocket.
After Peter had gone, Timothy continued his search. And at last he found the Almanac beneath the heap of dry leaves which Peter Mink had used for a bed.
"That's queer!" Timothy Turtle said. "I'm almost sure I looked there before Peter Mink went away.... My eyes must be growing worse."
The more he thought of the matter, the gladder he was that he hadn't found the book before. For there was no knowing but that Peter Mink might have found some advice about giving a good breakfast to a guest who stayed over night. Then Timothy Turtle went into Black Creek and caught a fine fish, for he was hungry. And he enjoyed his meal mightily, because he had it all to himself.
While he was eating he kept thinking what a disagreeable fellow Peter Mink was. No doubt he would have been surprised had he known that Peter Mink was thinking the same thing about him, at exactly the same moment.Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.