Old Mr. Toad is Very Humble
When Old Mr. Toad saw Mr. Blacksnake and turned his back on Buster Bear and the fine dinner to which Buster had invited him, he had but just one idea in his head, and that was to get out of sight of Mr. Blacksnake as soon as possible. He forgot to ask Buster Bear to excuse him. He forgot that he was tired and hot. He forgot all the pride with which he had been so puffed up. He forgot everything but the need of getting out of sight of Mr. Blacksnake as soon as ever he could. So away went Old Mr. Toad, hop, hop, hipperty-hop, hop, hop, hipperty-hop! He heard Peter Rabbit and Jimmy Skunk and Johnny Chuck and others of his old friends and neighbors shouting with laughter. Yes, and he heard the deep, grumbly-rumbly laugh of Buster Bear. But he didn’t mind it. Not then, anyway. He hadn’t room for any feeling except fear of Mr. Blacksnake.
But Old Mr. Toad had to stop after a while. You see, his legs were so tired they just wouldn’t go any longer. And he was so out of breath that he wheezed. He crawled under a big piece of bark, and there he lay flat on the ground and panted and panted for breath. He would stay there until jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun went to bed behind the Purple Hills. Then Mr. Blacksnake would go to bed too, and it would be safe for him to go home. Now, lying there in the dark, for it was dark under that big piece of bark, Old Mr. Toad had time to think. Little by little he began to understand that his invitation to dine with Buster Bear had been part of a plan by his old friends and neighbors whom he had so snubbed and looked down on when he had been puffed up with pride, to teach him a lesson. At first he was angry, very angry indeed. Then he began to see how foolish and silly he had been, and shame took the place of anger. As he remembered the deep, grumbly-rumbly laughter of Buster Bear, the feeling of shame grew.
“I deserve it,” thought Old Mr. Toad. “Yes, Sir, I deserve every bit of it. The only thing that I have to be proud of is that I’m honest and work for my living. Yes, Sir, that’s all.”
When darkness came at last, and he crawled out to go home, he was feeling very humble. Peter Rabbit happened along just then. Old Mr. Toad opened his mouth to speak, but Peter suddenly threw his head up very high and strutted past as if he didn’t see Old Mr. Toad at all. Mr. Toad gulped and went on. Pretty soon he met Jimmy Skunk. Jimmy went right on about his business and actually stepped right over Old Mr. Toad as if he had been a stick or a stone. Old Mr. Toad gulped again and went on. The next day he went down to see Danny Meadow Mouse. He meant to tell Danny how ashamed he was for the way he had treated Danny and his other friends. But Danny brushed right past without even a glance at him. Old Mr. Toad gulped and started up to see Johnny Chuck. The same thing happened again. So it did when he met Striped Chipmunk.
At last Old Mr. Toad gave up and went home, where he sat under a big mullein leaf the rest of the day, feeling very miserable and lonely. He didn’t have appetite enough to snap at a single fly. Late that afternoon he heard a little noise and looked up to find all his old friends and neighbors forming a circle around him. Suddenly they began to dance and shout:
“Old Mr. Toad is a jolly good fellow!
His temper is sweet, disposition is mellow!
And now that his bubble of pride is quite busted
We know that he knows that his friends can be trusted.”
Then Old Mr. Toad knew that all was well once more, and presently he began to dance too, the funniest dance that ever was seen.
This is all for now about homely Old Mr. Toad, because I have just got to tell you about another homely fellow, Prickly Porky the Porcupine, who carries a thousand little spears. The next book will tell you all about his adventures.