Old Mr. Toad’s Babies
The Smiling Pool’s a nursery
Where all the sunny day
A thousand funny babies
Are taught amidst their play.
Really the Smiling Pool is a learning center and playground all rolled into one. Little Joe Otter’s children learn to swim there. So do Jerry Muskrat’s babies and those of Billy Mink, the Trout and Minnow babies, and a lot more. And there you will also find the children and grandchildren of Grandfather Frog and Old Mr. Toad.
Peter Rabbit had known for a long time about the Frog babies, and yet though he knew that Old Mr. Toad was a cousin to Grandfather Frog, he hadn’t known anything about Toad babies, except that at a certain time in the year he was forever running across tiny Toads, especially on rainy days, and each little Toad was just like Old Mr. Toad, except for his size. Peter had heard it said that Toads rain down from the sky, and sometimes it seems as if this must be so. Of course he knew it couldn’t be, and yet it puzzled him a great deal. There wouldn’t be a Toad in sight. Then it would begin to rain, and right away there would be so many tiny Toads that it was hard work to jump without stepping on some.
Old Mr. Toad was sitting in his usual place. He wasn’t singing. He was staring at something in the water. When Peter said “Good morning,” Old Mr. Toad didn’t seem to hear him. He was too much interested in what he was watching. Peter stared down into the water to see what was interesting Old Mr. Toad so much and all he saw was a lot of wriggling tadpoles.
“What are you staring at, Mr. Sobersides?” asked Peter, speaking a little louder than before.
Old Mr. Toad turned and looked at Peter, and there was a look of great pride in his face. “I’m just watching my babies. Aren’t they lovely?” he said.
Peter stared harder than ever, and yet he couldn’t see anything that looked like a baby Toad.
“Where are they?” asked Peter. “I don’t see any babies, only those of Grandfather Frog, and if you ask me, I always did think tadpoles were a funny lot to see.”
Old Mr. Toad puffed up with pride and said “Those are not Grandfather Frog’s children; they’re mine and I think they are the most beautiful babies in the world!”
Peter sat straight up and said “I beg your pardon, Mr. Toad, I thought all tadpoles were Frog babies. They all look alike to me.”
“Well, they’re not,” declared Old Mr. Toad.
“Chug-a-rum!” interrupted the great deep voice of Grandfather Frog. “Are you talking about our babies? They are real beauties if I do say so myself!” he said as he smiled down upon them.
Peter just looked into the Smiling Pool and watched the wriggling pollywogs. They were more interesting now, because he had found out that some of them were Toads and some were Frogs, and he hadn’t known before that baby Toads begin life as tadpoles.