Jimmy Skunk Is Just in Time
Jimmy Skunk ambled slowly along, chuckling as he thought of what a hurry Mr. Toad had been in, when he had heard that Mr. Blacksnake had asked after him. It had been funny, very funny indeed, to see Mr. Toad try to hurry.
Suddenly Jimmy stopped chuckling. Then he stopped ambling along the Crooked Little Path. He turned around and looked back, and as he did so he scratched his head thoughtfully. He had just happened to think that Old Mr. Toad had gone up the Crooked Little Path, and it was up the Crooked Little Path that Mr. Blacksnake had shown himself that morning.
“If he’s still up there,” thought Jimmy, “Old Mr. Toad is hopping right straight into the very worst kind of trouble. How stupid of him not to have asked me where Mr. Blacksnake was! Well, it’s none of my business. I guess I’ll go on.”
But he had gone on down the Crooked Little Path only a few steps when he stopped again. You see, Jimmy is really a very kind-hearted little fellow, and somehow he didn’t like to think of what might happen to Old Mr. Toad.
“I hate to go way back there,” he grumbled, for you know he is naturally rather lazy. “Still, the Green Meadows wouldn’t be quite the same without Old Mr. Toad. I should miss him if anything happened to him. I suppose it would be partly my fault, too, for if I hadn’t pulled over that piece of bark, he probably would have stayed there the rest of the day and been safe.”
“Maybe he won’t meet Mr. Blacksnake,” said a little voice inside of Jimmy.
“And maybe he will,” said Jimmy right out loud. And with that, he started back up the Crooked Little Path, and strange to say Jimmy hurried.
He had just reached a turn in the Crooked Little Path when who should run right plump into him but poor Old Mr. Toad. He gave a frightened squeal and fell right over on his back, and kicked foolishly as he tried to get on his feet again. But he was all out of breath, and so frightened and tired that all he could do was to kick and kick. He hadn’t seen Jimmy at all, for he had been looking behind him, and he didn’t even know who it was he had run into.
Right behind him came Mr. Blacksnake. Of course he saw Jimmy, and he stopped short and hissed angrily.
“What were you going to do to Mr. Toad?” demanded Jimmy.
“None of your business!” hissed Mr. Blacksnake. “Get out of my way, or you’ll be sorry.”
Jimmy Skunk just laughed and stepped in front of poor Old Mr. Toad. Mr. Blacksnake coiled himself up in the path and darted his tongue out at Jimmy in the most impudent way. Then he tried to make himself look very fierce. Then he jumped straight at Jimmy Skunk with his mouth wide open, but he took great care not to jump quite far enough to reach Jimmy. You see, he was just trying to scare Jimmy. But Jimmy didn’t scare. He knows all about Mr. Blacksnake and that really he is a coward. So he suddenly gritted his teeth in a way not at all pleasant to hear and started for Mr. Blacksnake. Mr. Blacksnake didn’t wait. No, Sir, he didn’t wait. He suddenly turned and glided back up the Crooked Little Path, hissing angrily. Jimmy followed him a little way, and then he went back to Old Mr. Toad.
“Oh,” panted Mr. Toad, “you came just in time! I couldn’t have hopped another hop.”
“I guess I did,” replied Jimmy. “Now you get your breath and come along with me.” And Old Mr. Toad did