The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad – Chapter 6

Peter Discovers Something More

There are stranger things in the world to-day
Than ever you dreamed could be.
There’s beauty in some of the commonest things
If only you’ve eyes to see.

Ever since Peter Rabbit was a little chap and had first ran away from home, he had known Old Mr. Toad, and never once had Peter suspected that he could sing.  Also he had thought Old Mr. Toad almost ugly-looking, and he knew that most of his neighbors thought the same way.  They were fond of Old Mr. Toad, for he was always good-natured and attended strictly to his own affairs; but they liked to poke fun at him, and as for there being anything beautiful about him, such a thing never entered their heads.

Now that they had discovered that he really has a very beautiful voice, they began to look on him with a great deal more respect.  This was especially so with Peter.  He got in the habit of going over to the Smiling Pool every day, when the way was clear, just to sit on the bank and listen to Old Mr. Toad.

“Why didn’t you ever tell us before that you could sing?” he asked one day, as Old Mr. Toad looked up at him from the Smiling Pool.

“What was the use of wasting my breath?” demanded Old Mr. Toad.  “You wouldn’t have believed me if I had.  You didn’t believe me when I did tell you.”

Peter knew that this was true, and he couldn’t find any answer ready.  At last he ventured another question.  “Why haven’t I ever heard you sing before?”

“You have,” replied Old Mr. Toad tartly.  “I sang right in this very place last spring, and the spring before, and the spring before that.  You’ve sat on that very bank lots of times while I was singing.  The trouble with you, Peter, is that you don’t use your eyes or your ears.”

Peter looked more foolish than ever.  But he ventured another question.  It wouldn’t be Peter to let a chance for questions go by.  “Have I ever heard you singing up on the meadows or in the Old Orchard?”

“No,” replied Old Mr. Toad, “I only sing in the springtime.  That’s the time for singing.  I just have to sing then.  In the summer it is too hot, and in the winter I sleep.  I always return to my old home to sing.  You know I was born here.  All my family gathers here in the spring to sing, so of course I come too.”

Old Mr. Toad filled out his queer music bag under his chin and began to sing again.  Peter watched him.  Now it just happened that Old Mr. Toad was facing him, and so Peter looked down straight into his eyes.  He never had looked into Mr. Toad’s eyes before, and now he just stared and stared, for it came over him that those eyes were very beautiful, very beautiful indeed.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, “what beautiful eyes you have, Mr. Toad!”

“So I’ve been told before,” replied Old Mr. Toad.  “My family always has had beautiful eyes.  There is an old saying that every Toad has jewels in his head, but of course he hasn’t, not real jewels.  It is just the beautiful eyes.  Excuse me, Peter, but I’m needed in that chorus.”  Old Mr. Toad once more swelled out his throat and began to sing.

Peter watched him a while longer, then hopped away to the dear Old Briarpatch, and he was very thoughtful.

“Never again will I call anybody homely and ugly until I know all about him,” said Peter, which was a very wise decision.  Don’t you think so?

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