Old Mr. Toad Is Puffed Up
Old Mr. Toad hopped slowly down the Lone Little Path. He usually does hop slowly, but this time he hopped slower than ever. You see, he was so puffed up that he couldn’t have hopped fast if he had wanted to, and he didn’t want to. In the first place his stomach was so full of ants that there wasn’t room for another one. No, Sir, Old Mr. Toad couldn’t have swallowed another ant if he had tried. Of course they made his stomach stick out, but it wasn’t the ants that puffed him out all over. Oh, my, no! It was pride. That’s what it was pride. You know nothing can puff any one up quite like foolish pride.
Old Mr. Toad was old enough to have known better. It is bad enough to see young and foolish creatures puffed up with pride, but it is worse to see any one as old as Old Mr. Toad that way. He held his head so high that he couldn’t see his own feet, and more than once he stubbed his toes. Presently he met his old friend, Danny Meadow Mouse. He tipped his head a little higher, puffed himself out a little more, and pretended not to see Danny.
“Hello, Mr. Toad,” said Danny.
Mr. Toad pretended not to hear. Danny looked puzzled. Then he spoke again, and this time he shouted: “Hello, Mr. Toad! I haven’t seen you for some time.”
It wouldn’t do to pretend not to hear this time. “Oh, how do you do, Danny?” said Old Mr. Toad with a very grand air, and pretending to be much surprised. “Sorry I can’t stop, but I’ve been dining with, my friend, Buster Bear, and now I must get home.” When he mentioned the name of Buster Bear, he puffed himself out a little more.
Danny grinned as he watched him hop on down the Lone Little Path. “Can’t talk with common folks any more,” he muttered. “I’ve heard that pride is very apt to turn people’s heads, but I never expected to see Old Mr. Toad proud.”
Mr. Toad kept on his way, and presently he met Peter Rabbit. Peter stopped to gossip, as is his way. But Old Mr. Toad took no notice of him at all. He kept right on with his head high, and all puffed out. Peter might have been a stick or a stone for all the notice Old Mr. Toad took of him. Peter looked puzzled. Then he hurried down to tell Danny Meadow Mouse about it.
“Oh,” said Danny, “he’s been to dine with Buster Bear, and now he has no use for his old friends.”
Pretty soon along came Johnny Chuck, and he was very much put out because he had been treated by Old Mr. Toad just as Peter Rabbit had. Striped Chipmunk told the same story. So did Unc’ Billy Possum. It was the same with all of Old Mr. Toad’s old friends and neighbors, excepting Bobby Coon, who, you know, is Buster Bear’s little cousin. To him Old Mr. Toad was very polite and talked a great deal about Buster Bear, and thought that Bobby must be very proud to be related to Buster.
At first everybody thought it a great joke to see Old Mr. Toad so puffed up with, pride, but after a little they grew tired of being snubbed by their old friend and neighbor, and began to say unpleasant things about him. Then they decided that what Old Mr. Toad needed was a lesson, so they put their heads together and planned how they would teach Old Mr. Toad how foolish it is for any one to be puffed up with pride.