Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 19 of 19


Chapter 19

Jimmy Skunk Is Just in Time


Jimmy Skunk ambled slowly along, chuckling as he thought of what a hurry Mr. Toad had been in, when he had heard that Mr. Hognose the snake had asked after him. It had been funny, very funny indeed, to see Mr. Toad try to hurry.

Suddenly Jimmy stopped chuckling. Then he stopped ambling along the Crooked Little Path. He turned around and looked back, and as he did so he scratched his head thoughtfully. He had just happened to think that Old Mr. Toad had gone up the Crooked Little Path, and it was up the Crooked Little Path that Mr. Hognose had shown himself that morning.

“If he’s still up there,” thought Jimmy, “Old Mr. Toad is hopping right straight into the very worst kind of trouble. How silly of him not to have asked me where Mr. Hognose was! Well, it’s none of my business. I guess I’ll go on.”

And yet he had just gone down the Crooked Little Path only a few steps when he stopped again. You see, Jimmy is really a very kind-hearted little fellow, and somehow he didn’t like to think of what might happen to Old Mr. Toad.

Skunk by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“I don’t like to retrace my steps to go way back there,” he grumbled. “Still, the Green Meadows wouldn’t be quite the same without Old Mr. Toad. I should miss him if anything happened to him. I suppose it would be partly my fault, too, for if I hadn’t pulled over that piece of bark he probably would have stayed there the rest of the day and been safe.”

“Maybe he won’t meet Mr. Hognose,” said a little voice inside of Jimmy.

“And maybe he will,” said Jimmy right out loud. And with that, he started back up the Crooked Little Path, and funny and yet true Jimmy hurried.

He had just reached a turn in the Crooked Little Path when who should run right into him – Old Mr. Toad! He gave a frightened squeal and fell right over on his back, and kicked frightfully as he tried to get on his feet again. He was all out of breath, and so frightened and tired that all he could do was to kick and kick. He hadn’t seen Jimmy at all, for he had been looking behind him, and he didn’t even know who it was he had run into.

Right behind him came Mr. Hognose the snake. Of course he saw Jimmy, and he stopped short and hissed angrily.

“What were you going to do to Mr. Toad?” demanded Jimmy.

“None of your business!” hissed Mr. Hognose. “Get out of my way, or you’ll be sorry.”

Mr. Hognose the black snake

Jimmy Skunk stepped in front of Old Mr. Toad. Mr. Hognose coiled himself up in the path and darted his tongue out at Jimmy trying to look very fierce. Then he jumped straight at Jimmy Skunk with his mouth wide open, although he took great care not to jump quite far enough to reach Jimmy. You see, he was just trying to scare Jimmy

Jimmy didn’t scare though. He knows all about Mr. Hognose and that he really likes to bluff. So he suddenly gritted his teeth in a way not at all pleasant to hear and started for Mr. Hognose. Mr. Hognose didn’t wait. He suddenly turned and glided back up the Crooked Little Path, hissing angrily. Jimmy followed him a little way, and then he went back to Old Mr. Toad.

“Oh my,” panted Mr. Toad, “you came just in time! I couldn’t have hopped another hop.”

“I guess I did,” replied Jimmy. “Now you get your breath and come along with me.” And Old Mr. Toad did just that.

They both made their way together, with Jimmy Skunk escorting Old Mr. Toad, back down the Crooked Little Path and connecting to the Lone Little Path that they had met on just a few days earlier.

Then Old Mr. Toad spent his day resting after all the excitement and as jolly, round, Mr. Sun went to bed behind the Purple Hills he gave thanks for the good fortune of his friend with such good timing.

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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 18 of 19


Chapter 18

Old Mr. Toad’s Mistake


“If” is a very little word to look at, and the biggest word you have ever seen doesn’t begin to have so much meaning as the little “if”. If Jimmy Skunk hadn’t ambled down the Crooked Little Path just when he did; if he hadn’t been looking for fat beetles; if he hadn’t seen that big piece of bark at one side and decided to pull it over; if it hadn’t been for all these “ifs,” why Old Mr. Toad wouldn’t have made the mistake he did, and you wouldn’t have had this story. However, Jimmy Skunk did amble down the Crooked Little Path, he did look for beetles, and he did pull over that big piece of bark. And when he had pulled it over, he found Old Mr. Toad there.

Old Mr. Toad had crept under that piece of bark because he wanted to take a nap. And when Jimmy Skunk told him that he had seen Mr. Hognose the snake that very morning, and that Mr. Hognose had asked after Old Mr. Toad, the very last bit of sleepiness left Old Mr. Toad. He was instantly wide awake. You see, he knew right away why Mr. Hognose the snake had asked after him. He knew that Mr. Hognose has a fondness for Toads. He turned quite pale when he heard that Mr. Hognose had asked after him, and right then he made his mistake. He was in such a hurry to get away from that neighborhood that he forgot to ask Jimmy Skunk just where he had seen Mr. Hognose. He hardly waited long enough to say goodbye to Jimmy Skunk, and he started off as fast as he could go.

Now it just happened that Old Mr. Toad started up the Crooked Little Path, and it just happened that Mr. Hognose the snake was coming down the Crooked Little Path. Now when people are very much afraid, they almost always seem to think that danger is behind instead of in front of them. It was so with Old Mr. Toad. Instead of watching out in front as he hopped along, he kept watching over his shoulder, and that was his second mistake.

He was so sure that Mr. Hognose was somewhere behind him that he didn’t look to see where he was going.

Black Snake like Mr. Hognose

Old Mr. Toad went hopping up the Crooked Little Path as fast as he could, which wasn’t very fast, because he never can hop very fast. And all the time he kept looking behind for Mr. Hognose the snake.

Presently he came to a turn in the Crooked Little Path, and as he hurried around it, he almost ran into Mr. Hognose himself. It was simply a question of which of them was more surprised. For just a wee second they stared at each other. Then Mr. Hognose’s eyes began to sparkle.

“Good morning, Mr. Toad. Isn’t this a beautiful morning? I was just thinking about you,” he said.

Poor Old Mr. Toad couldn’t say good morning. He didn’t say anything. He couldn’t, because he was too scared. He just gave a frightened little squeal, turned around, and started down the Crooked Little Path twice as fast as he had come up. Mr. Hognose the snake grinned and started after him, not very fast though because he knew that he wouldn’t have to glide very fast to catch Old Mr. Toad, and he thought the exercise would do him good.

And this is how it happened that summer morning that jolly, bright Mr. Sun, looking down from the blue, blue sky and smiling to see how happy everybody seemed, suddenly discovered that there was one of the little meadow people who wasn’t happy, and was instead terribly, terribly unhappy. It was Old Mr. Toad hopping down the Crooked Little Path for his life, while after him, and getting nearer and nearer, glided Mr. Hognose.

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