The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad – Chapter 12

Old Mr. Toad Shows His Tongue

To show one’s tongue, as you well know,
Is not considered nice to do;
But if it were like Mr. Toad’s
I’d want to show it ­wouldn’t you?

I’m quite sure you would.  You see, if it were like Old Mr. Toad’s, it would be such a wonderful tongue that I suspect you would want everybody to see it.  Old Mr. Toad thinks his tongue the most satisfactory tongue in the world.  In fact, he is quite sure that without it he couldn’t get along at all, and I don’t know as he could.  And yet very few of his neighbors know anything about that tongue and how different it is from most other tongues.  Peter Rabbit didn’t until Old Mr. Toad showed him after Peter had puzzled and puzzled over the mysterious way in which bugs and flies disappeared whenever they happened to come within two inches or less of Old Mr. Toad.

What Peter couldn’t understand was what Old Mr. Toad did with a tongue that would reach two inches beyond his mouth.  He said as much.

“I’ll show you my tongue, and then you’ll wish you had one just like it,” said Old Mr. Toad, with a twinkle in his eyes.

He opened his big mouth and slowly ran his tongue out its full length.  “Why!  Why-ee!” exclaimed Peter.  “It’s fastened at the wrong end!”

“No such thing!” replied Old Mr. Toad indignantly.  “If it was fastened at the other end, how could I run it out so far?”

“But mine and all other tongues that I ever have seen are fastened way down in the throat,” protested Peter.  “Yours is fastened at the other end, way in the very front of your mouth.  I never heard of such a thing.”

“There are a great many things you have never heard of, Peter Rabbit,” replied Old Mr. Toad drily.  “Mine is the right way to have a tongue.  Because it is fastened way up in the front of my mouth that way, I can use the whole of it.  You see it goes out its full length.  Then, when I draw it in with a bug on the end of it, I just turn it over so that the end that was out goes way back in my throat and takes the bug with it to just the right place to swallow.”

Peter thought this over for a few minutes before he ventured another question.  “I begin to understand,” said he, “but how do you hold on to the bug with your tongue?”

“My tongue is sticky, of course, Mr. Stupid,” replied Old Mr. Toad, looking very much disgusted.  “Just let me touch a bug with it, and he’s mine every time.”

Peter thought this over.  Then he felt of his own tongue.  “Mine isn’t sticky,” said he very innocently.

Old Mr. Toad laughed right out.  “Perhaps if it was, you couldn’t ask so many questions,” said he.  “Now watch me catch that fly.”  His funny little tongue darted out, and the fly was gone.

12 and the fly was gone

“It certainly is very handy,” said Peter politely.  “I think we are going to have more rain, and I’d better be getting back to the dear Old Briarpatch.  Very much obliged to you, Mr. Toad.  I think you are very wonderful.”

“Not at all,” replied Old Mr. Toad.  “I’ve simply got the things I need in order to live, just as you have the things you need.  I couldn’t get along with your kind of a tongue, but no more could you get along with mine.  If you live long enough, you will learn that Old Mother Nature makes no mistakes.  She gives each of us what we need, and each one has different needs.”

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