Chapter XXI THE ODD MR. FROG
REDDY WOODPECKER stood on the doorstep of Mr. Frog’s shop. And inside the tiny building Mr. Frog the tailor squatted cross-legged and scratched upon a flat stone. Now and then he glanced up to look closely at Reddy Woodpecker.
“Colors: red, white and yes! blue!” Mr. Frog murmured, blinking his bulging eyes at Reddy Woodpecker. “It’s a little too blackish for my taste, but it’s certainly blue. … A good suit for the Fourth of July!” he muttered. “Just the thing for a clown to wear in a parade of Horribles!”
Mr. Frog’s remarks did not please Reddy Woodpecker. In fact they made him very angry. But Mr. Frog didn’t appear to notice that. He went right on talking to himself.
“Red head and black tail!” he said, scratching upon his stone all the while. “Black head and red tail would be much better.”
“I didn’t come here to be abused!” Reddy Woodpecker spluttered.
The tailor paid no heed to Reddy’s protest.
“Too much stiffening in the tail!” Mr. Frog mumbled. “Colors too gay for everyday wear! Too loud for the best taste!”
By this time Reddy Woodpecker had become so furious that he couldn’t speak.
Meanwhile Mr. Frog continued to look him over calmly, and as his gaze fell at last upon Reddy’s feet he began to titter.
“This person’s feet are all wrong,” he chanted, scratching like mad upon his flat stone. “Never saw a bird before with toes like his. The rule for birds is: three toes in front, one toe in back. This person has two in front and two in back. I thought there was something queer about him.”
“Look here!” Reddy Woodpecker burst forth. “I won’t stay here any longer. You’re making fun of me. I don’t care if I did promise. If my clothes are so queer why do you want to copy them?”
“I don’t want to copy them,” Mr. Frog replied. “I’d hate to copy them.”
“Then why did you ask me to stand here in front of your shop while you wrote down all this nonsense?”
“You’re mistaken,” Mr. Frog told him. “I haven’t written a word. I asked you to come here because you look like a customer. It’s good business to have customers seen about my shop. I haven’t had a real customer this season,” he added somewhat sadly. “So you can’t blame me if I want people to think I have one at last now can you?”
Reddy Woodpecker had no patience with him. “I think you’re nothing but a fraud,” he declared. “I don’t believe you’re a tailor at all.”
“Dear me!” said Mr. Frog. “Maybe I’m not. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I wasn’t fooling myself.”
“You’d better stick to catching flies,” Reddy advised him. “That’s all you’re good for.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” Mr. Frog replied. He seemed quite meek and mournful. But all at once he smiled. “Anyhow,” he remarked, “it’s lucky that the flies stick to me now isn’t it?”