Peter Rabbit Is Impolite
Peter Rabbit couldn’t get Old Mr. Toad off his mind. He had discovered so many interesting things about Old Mr. Toad that he was almost on the point of believing him to be the most interesting of all his neighbors. And his respect for Old Mr. Toad had become very great indeed. Of course. Who wouldn’t respect any one with such beautiful eyes and such a sweet voice and such a wonderful tongue? Yet at the same time Peter felt very foolish whenever he remembered that all his life he had been acquainted with Old Mr. Toad without really knowing him at all. There was one comforting thought, and that was that most of his neighbors were just as ignorant regarding Old Mr. Toad as Peter had been.
“Funny,” mused Peter, “how we can live right beside people all our lives and not really know them at all. I suppose that is why we should never judge people hastily. I believe I will go hunt up Old Mr. Toad and see if I can find out anything more.”
Off started Peter, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He didn’t know just where to go, now that Old Mr. Toad had left the Smiling Pool, but he had an idea that he would not be far from their meeting place of the day before, when Old Mr. Toad had explained about his wonderful tongue. But when he got there, Peter found no trace of Old Mr. Toad. You see, it had rained the day before, and that is just the kind of weather that a Toad likes best for traveling. Peter ought to have thought of that, but he didn’t. He hunted for awhile and finally gave it up and started up the Crooked Little Path with the idea of running over for a call on Johnny Chuck in the Old Orchard.
Jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun was shining his brightest, and Peter soon forgot all about Old Mr. Toad. He scampered along up the Crooked Little Path, thinking of nothing in particular but how good it was to be alive, and occasionally kicking up his heels for pure joy. He had just done this when his ears caught the sound of a queer noise a little to one side of the Crooked Little Path. Instantly Peter stopped and sat up to listen. There it was again, and it seemed to come from under an old piece of board. It was just a little, rustling sound, hardly to be heard.
“There’s some one under that old board,” thought Peter, and peeped under. All he could see was that there was something moving. Instantly Peter was all curiosity. Whoever was there was not very big. He was sure of that. Of course that meant that he had nothing to fear. So what do you think Peter did? Why, he just pulled that old board over. And when he did that, he saw, whom do you think? Why, Old Mr. Toad, to be sure.
But such a sight as Old Mr. Toad was! Peter just stared. For a full minute he couldn’t find his voice. Old Mr. Toad was changing his clothes! Yes, Sir, that is just what Old Mr. Toad was doing. He was taking off his old suit, and under it was a brand new one. But such a time as he was having! He was opening and shutting his big mouth, and drawing his hind legs under him, and rubbing them against his body. Then Peter saw a strange thing. He saw that Old Mr. Toad’s old suit had split in several places, and he was getting it off by sucking it into his mouth!
In a few minutes his hind legs were free of the old suit, and little by little it began to be pulled free from his body. All the time Old Mr. Toad was working very hard to suck it at the corners of his big mouth. He glared angrily at Peter, but he couldn’t say anything because his mouth was too full. He looked so funny that Peter just threw himself on the ground and rolled over and over with laughter. This made Old Mr. Toad glare more angrily than ever, but he couldn’t say anything, not a word.
When he had got his hands free by pulling the sleeves of his old coat off inside out, he used his hands to pull the last of it over his head. Then he gulped very hard two or three times to swallow his old suit, and when the last of it had disappeared, he found his voice.
“Don’t you know that it is the most impolite thing in the world to look at people when they are changing their clothes?” he sputtered.