Old Mr. Toad Gets His Stomach Full
Pray do not tip your nose in scorn
At things which others eat,
For things to you not good at all
To others are most sweet.
There are ants, for instance. You wouldn’t want to eat them even if you were dreadfully hungry. But Old Mr. Toad and Buster Bear think there is nothing much nicer. Now Buster Bear had found Old Mr. Toad catching ants, one at a time, as he kept watch beside their home, and it had pleased Buster to find some one else who liked ants. Right away he invited Old Mr. Toad to dine with him. But poor Old Mr. Toad was frightened almost to death when he heard the deep, grumbly-rumbly voice of Buster Bear, for he had been so busy watching the ants that he hadn’t seen Buster coming.
He fell right over on his back, which wasn’t at all dignified, and made Buster Bear laugh. That frightened Mr. Toad more than ever. You see he didn’t have the least doubt in the world that Buster Bear meant to eat him, and when Buster invited him to dinner, he was sure that that was just a joke on Buster’s part.
But there was no way to escape, and after a little Old Mr. Toad thought it best to be polite, because, you know, it always pays to be polite. So he said in a very faint voice that he would be pleased to dine with Buster. Then he waved his feet feebly, trying to get on his feet again. Buster Bear laughed harder than ever. It was a low, deep, grumbly-rumbly laugh, and sent cold shivers all over poor Old Mr. Toad. But when Buster reached out a great paw with great cruel-looking claws Mr. Toad quite gave up. He didn’t have strength enough left to even kick. He just closed his eyes and waited for the end.
What do you think happened? Why, he was rolled over on to his feet so gently that he just gasped with surprise. It didn’t seem possible that such a great paw could be so gentle.
“Now,” said Buster Bear in a voice which he tried to make sound pleasant, but which was grumbly-rumbly just the same, “I know where there is a fine dinner waiting for us just a little way from here. You follow me, and we’ll have it in no time.”
So Buster Bear led the way, and Old Mr. Toad followed as fast as he could, because he didn’t dare not to. Presently Buster stopped beside a big decayed old log. “If you are ready, Mr. Toad, we will dine now,” said he.
Old Mr. Toad didn’t see anything to eat. His heart sank again, and he shook all over. “I I’m not hungry,” said he in a very faint voice.
Buster Bear didn’t seem to hear. He hooked his great claws into the old log and gave a mighty pull. Over rolled the log, and there were ants and ants and ants, hurrying this way and scurrying that way, more ants than Mr. Toad had seen in all his life before!
“Help yourself,” said Buster Bear politely.
Old Mr. Toad didn’t wait to be told twice. He forgot all about his fright. He forgot all about Buster Bear. He forgot that he wasn’t hungry. He forgot his manners. He jumped right in among those ants, and for a little while he was the busiest Toad ever seen. Buster Bear was busy too. He swept his long tongue this way, and he swept it that way, and each time he drew it back into his mouth, it was covered with ants. At last Old Mr. Toad couldn’t hold another ant. Then he remembered Buster Bear and looked up a little fearfully. Buster was smacking his lips, and there was a twinkle in each eye.
“Good, aren’t they?” said he.
“The best I ever ate,” declared Old Mr. Toad with a sigh of satisfaction.
“Come dine with me again,” said Buster Bear, and somehow this time Old Mr. Toad didn’t mind because his voice sounded grumbly-rumbly.