Old Mr. Toad Learns a Lesson
Pride is like a great big bubble;
You’ll find there’s nothing in it.
Prick it and for all your trouble
It has vanished in a minute.
Old Mr. Toad was so puffed out with pride as he started for the Green Forest to dine with Buster Bear that those who saw him wondered if he wouldn’t burst before he *got there. Everybody knew where he was going, and this made Old Mr. Toad feel more important and proud than ever. He might not have felt quite so puffed up if he had known just how it had come about that he received this second invitation to dine with Buster Bear. When Jimmy Skunk brought it to him, Jimmy didn’t tell him that Buster had been asked to send the invitation, and that it was all part of a plan on the part of some of Old Mr. Toad’s old friends and neighbors to teach him a lesson. No, indeed, Jimmy didn’t say anything at all about that!
So Old Mr. Toad went hopping along and stumbling over his own feet, because his head was held so high and he was so puffed out that he couldn’t see where he was going. He could think of nothing but how important Buster Bear must consider him to invite him to dinner a second time, and of the delicious ants he was sure he would have to eat.
“What very good taste Buster Bear has,” thought he, “and how very fortunate it is that he found out that I also am fond of ants.”
He was so busy with these pleasant thoughts and of the good dinner that he expected to have that he took no notice of what was going on about him. He didn’t see his old friends and neighbors peeping out at him and laughing because he looked so foolish and silly. He was dressed in his very best, which was nothing at all to be proud of, for you know Old Mr. Toad has no fine clothes. And being puffed up so, he was homelier than ever, which is saying a great deal, for at best Mr. Toad is anything but handsome.
He was beginning to get pretty tired by the time he reached the Green Forest and came in sight of the rotted old chestnut stump where he was to meet Buster Bear.
Buster was waiting for him. “How do you do this fine day? You look a little tired and rather warm, Mr. Toad,” said he.
“I am a little warm,” replied Mr. Toad in his most polite manner, although he couldn’t help panting for breath as he said it. “I hope you are feeling as well as you are looking, Mr. Bear.”
Buster Bear laughed a great, grumbly-rumbly laugh. “I always feel fine when there is a dinner of fat ants ready for me,” said he. “It is fine of you to honor me by coming to dine.”
Here Mr. Toad put one hand on his stomach and tried to make a very grand bow. Peter Rabbit, hiding behind a near-by tree, almost giggled aloud, he looked so funny.
“I have ventured to invite another to enjoy the dinner with us,” continued Buster Bear. Mr. Toad’s face fell. You see he was selfish. He wanted to be the only one to have the honor of dining with Buster Bear. “He’s a little late,” went on Buster, “but I think he will be here soon, and I hope you will be glad to meet him. Ah, there he comes now!”
Old Mr. Toad looked in the direction in which Buster Bear was looking. He gave a little gasp and turned quite pale. All his puffiness disappeared. He didn’t look like the same Toad at all. The newcomer was Mr. Blacksnake. “Oh!” cried Old Mr. Toad, and then, without even asking to be excused, he turned his back on Buster Bear and started back the way he had come, with long, frightened hops.
“Ha, ha, ha!” shouted Peter Rabbit, jumping out from behind a tree.
“Ho, ho, ho!” shouted Jimmy Skunk from behind another.
“Hee, hee, hee!” shouted Johnny Chuck from behind a third.
Then Old Mr. Toad knew that his old friends and neighbors had planned this to teach him a lesson.