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.
“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.”
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.