Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 16 of 19


Chapter 16

Old Mr. Toad Gives Peter a Scare


It was too much for Peter. Look as he would, he couldn’t see so much as a chip under which Old Mr. Toad might have hidden, excepting the old board, and Old Mr. Toad had given his word of honor that he wouldn’t hide under that. Nevertheless, Peter hopped over to it and turned it over again, because he couldn’t think of any other place to look. Of course, Old Mr. Toad wasn’t there. He had given his word that he wouldn’t hide there, and he always lives up to his word.

Old Mr. Toad had also said that he would not go three feet from the spot where he was sitting at the time, so Peter should have known better than to have raced up the Crooked Little Path as he did. And yet if Old Mr. Toad had nothing to hide under, of course he must have hopped away, reasoned Peter. He couldn’t hop far in five minutes, that was sure, and so Peter ran this way and that way a great deal farther than it would have been possible for Old Mr. Toad to have gone. It was not a successful search, and presently Peter returned and sat down on the very spot where he had last seen Old Mr. Toad. Peter felt so confused and he began to think that Old Mr. Toad must have had some strange power of making himself invisible.

Peter Rabbit

For a long time Peter sat perfectly still, trying to puzzle out how Old Mr. Toad had disappeared, and yet the more he puzzled over it, the more impossible it seemed. Plain and simple Old Mr. Toad had disappeared. Suddenly Peter gave a start and jumped higher than he ever had jumped before in all his life. The voice of Old Mr. Toad himself, had said, “Well, now are you satisfied?” And that voice had come from right under Peter! When he turned to look, there sat Old Mr. Toad right where he himself had been sitting just a moment before. Peter rubbed his eyes and stared.

“Wh-wh-where did you come from?” he stammered at last.

Old Mr. Toad grinned. “I’ll show you,” he said. And right while Peter was looking at him, he began to sink down into the ground until only the top of his head could be seen. Then that disappeared. Old Mr. Toad had gone down, and the sand had fallen right back over him. Peter just had to rub his eyes again. Then, to make sure, he began to dig away the sand where Old Mr. Toad had been sitting. In a minute he felt Old Mr. Toad, who had come out once again.

Old Mr. Toad’s beautiful eyes twinkled with delight.

Sandy area where Mr. Toad can dig in beside the tadpole pond.

“How in the world did you do it?” asked Peter with disbelief.

Old Mr. Toad held up one of his stout hind feet, and on it was a kind of spur. “There’s another just like that on the other foot,” he said, “and I use them to dig with. You go into a hole headfirst, and I go in the other way. I make my hole in soft earth and back into it at the same time, this way.” He began to work his stout hind feet, and as he kicked the earth out, he backed in at the same time. When he was deep enough, the earth just fell back over him, for you see it was very loose and not packed down at all. When he once more reappeared, Peter thanked him. Then he asked one more question.

“Is that the way you go into winter quarters?”

Old Mr. Toad nodded. “And it’s the way I escape from my predators.”

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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 15 of 19


Chapter 15

Old Mr. Toad Disappears


“You see, it was this way,” explained Peter. “I heard something under that old board, and I just naturally turned it over to find out what was there. I was so-o-o curious.”

“Humph!” grunted Old Mr. Toad.

“I didn’t have the least idea that you were there,” continued Peter. “When I found who it was, and what you were doing, I couldn’t help watching because it was so interesting. I’m sorry, Mr. Toad. Truly I am. I didn’t mean to be so impolite. I don’t suppose, Mr. Toad, that it seems at all wonderful to you that you can change your suit that way, like it does to me. I had heard that you swallowed your old suits, and yet I never half believed it. Now I know it is so and just how you do it, and I feel as if I had learned something worth knowing.”

“Humph!” grunted Old Mr. Toad again, and it was very clear that he was actually a little flattered by Peter’s interest in him and was rapidly recovering his good nature.

“There is one thing I don’t understand yet,” said Peter, “and that is where you go to to sleep all winter. Do you go down into the mud at the bottom of the Smiling Pool the way Grandfather Frog does?”

“Oh no,” replied Old Mr. Toad “if I had spent the winter in the Smiling Pool, do you suppose I would have left it to come way up here and then have turned right around and gone back there to sing? I’m not so fond of long journeys as all that.

Toad on the floor of the Green Forest

“Actually, if I wanted to, I could disappear right here” said Old Mr. Toad.

“You mean that you would hide under that old board just as you did before?” asked Peter.

“Nothing of the sort! I could disappear and not go near that old board, not a step nearer than I am now,” Mr. Toad said proudly.

Peter looked in all directions carefully, and yet he could not see a thing under which Old Mr. Toad could possibly hide except the old board, and he had said he wouldn’t hide under that. “I don’t like to doubt your word, Mr. Toad,” he said, “however, you’ll just have to show me before I can believe that.”

Old Mr. Toad’s eyes twinkled. “If you’ll turn your back to me and look straight down the Crooked Little Path for five minutes, I’ll disappear,” he said. “More than that, I give you my word of honor that I will not hop three feet from where I am sitting.”

“All right,” replied Peter promptly, turning his back to Old Mr. Toad. “I’ll look down the Crooked Little Path for five minutes and promise not to peek.”

The Crooked Little Path running along the edge of the Green Forest.

So Peter sat and gazed straight down the Crooked Little Path. It was a great temptation to roll his eyes back and peep behind him. Although tempted he did not peek. When he thought the five minutes were up, he turned around. Old Mr. Toad was nowhere to be seen. Peter looked hastily this way and that way, and there was not a sign of Old Mr. Toad. He had disappeared as completely as if he never had been there.


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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 14 of 19


Chapter 14

Peter Rabbit Sees a Change in Clothes


Peter Rabbit couldn’t get Old Mr. Toad off his mind. He had discovered so many interesting things about Old Mr. Toad that he believed him to be one of the most interesting of all his neighbors. Peter appreciated Old Mr. Toad’s beautiful eyes, sweet voice, and such a wonderfully odd and useful tongue.

“Funny,” mused Peter, “how we can live right beside people all our lives and not really know them at all. I believe I will go look up Old Mr. Toad and see if I can find out anything more.”

Off started Peter, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He didn’t know just where to go now that Old Mr. Toad had left the Smiling Pool. He had an idea though that he would not be far from their meeting place of the day before, when Old Mr. Toad had explained about his wonderful tongue. However, when he got there, Peter found no trace of Old Mr. Toad. You see, it had rained the day before, and that is just the kind of weather that a Toad likes best for traveling. Peter hadn’t thought of that. He looked for awhile and finally gave up and started up the Crooked Little Path with the idea of running over to call on Johnny Chuck in the Old Orchard.

Jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun was shining his brightest, and Peter soon forgot all about Old Mr. Toad. He scampered along up the Crooked Little Path, thinking of nothing in particular just how good it was to be alive, and occasionally kicking up his heels for pure joy. He had just done this when his ears caught the sound of an odd noise a little to one side of the Crooked Little Path. Instantly Peter stopped and sat up to listen. There it was again, and it seemed to come from under an old piece of board. It was just a little, rustling sound, hardly to be heard.

“There’s someone under that old board,” thought Peter, and peeped under. All he could see was that there was something moving. Instantly Peter was curious. Whoever was there was not very big. He was sure of that. Of course that meant that he had nothing to fear. So what do you think Peter did? Why, he just pulled that old board over. And when he did that, who do you think he saw? It was Old Mr. Toad!

Oh what a sight Old Mr. Toad was! Peter just stared. For a full minute he couldn’t find his voice. Old Mr. Toad was changing his clothes! He was taking off his old suit and under it was a brand new one. And such a time he was having!

He was opening and shutting his big mouth, and drawing his hind legs under him, and rubbing them against his body. Then Peter saw a strange thing. He saw that Old Mr. Toad’s old suit had split in several places, and he was getting it off by sucking it into his mouth!

In a few minutes his hind legs were free of the old suit, and little by little it began to be pulled free from his body. All the time Old Mr. Toad was working very hard to suck it at the corners of his big mouth. He simply glared at Peter as he could say nothing because his mouth was too full. Peter just kept sitting and staring in disbelief.

When Old Mr. Toad had his hands free by pulling the sleeves of his old coat off inside out, he used his hands to pull the last of it over his head. Then he gulped very hard two or three times to swallow his old suit, and when the last of it had disappeared, he found his voice.

“Well Peter, what do you have to say for yourself?” asked Old Mr. Toad in his new suit.


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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 13 of 19


Chapter 13

Old Mr. Toad Shows His Tongue


To show one’s tongue, as you well know,
Is not considered nice to do;
However, if it were like Mr. Toad’s
I’d want to show it–wouldn’t you?

Old Mr. Toad thinks his tongue the most satisfactory tongue in the world. In fact, he is quite sure that without it he couldn’t get along at all, and I don’t know as he could. And yet very few of his neighbors know anything about that tongue and how different it is from most other tongues. Peter had puzzled and puzzled over the mysterious way in which bugs and flies disappeared whenever they happened to come within two inches or less of Old Mr. Toad.

What Peter couldn’t understand was what Old Mr. Toad did with a tongue that would reach two inches beyond his mouth.

“I’ll show you my tongue, and then you’ll wish you had one just like it,” said Old Mr. Toad, with a twinkle in his eyes.

He opened his big mouth and slowly ran his tongue out its full length. “Why! Oh my!” exclaimed Peter. “It’s fastened at the wrong end!”

“No such thing!” replied Old Mr. Toad. “If it was fastened at the other end, how could I run it out so far?”

“Oh, it is just that my tongue and all other tongues that I ever have seen are fastened way down in the throat,” protested Peter. “Yours is fastened at the other end, way in the very front of your mouth. I have never heard of such a thing.”

“There are a great many things you have never heard of, Peter Rabbit,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “Mine is the right way for me to have a tongue. It is fastened way up in the front of my mouth and that way I can use the whole of it. You see it goes out its full length. Then, when I draw it in with a bug on the end of it, I just turn it over so that the end that was out goes way back in my throat and takes the bug with it to just the right place to swallow.”

Peter thought this over for a few minutes before he ventured another question. “I begin to understand,” he said, “tell me, how do you hold on to the bug with your tongue?”

“My tongue is sticky,” replied Old Mr. Toad, “just let me touch a bug with it, and he’s mine every time.”

Peter thought this over. Then he felt of his own tongue. “Mine isn’t sticky,” said he very innocently.

Old Mr. Toad laughed and said “Perhaps if it was, you couldn’t ask so many questions. Now watch me catch that fly.” His funny little tongue darted out, and the fly was gone.

“It certainly is very handy,” said Peter politely. “I think we are going to have more rain, and I’d better be getting back to the dear Old Briar-patch. Very much obliged to you, Mr. Toad. Thank you for answering my questions.”

“Not at all,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “I’ve simply got the things I need in order to live, just as you have the things you need. I couldn’t get along with your kind of a tongue, no more than you could get along with mine. If you live long enough, you will learn that Mother Nature makes no mistakes. She gives each of us what we need, and each of us has different needs.”

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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 12 of 19


Chapter 12

Old Mr. Toad’s Odd Tongue


Peter and Old Mr. Toad sat in the rain watching the tiny Toadlets, who were Mr. Toad’s children, leaving their playground in the Smiling Pool and starting out to see the Great World. When the last little Toadlet had passed them, Old Mr. Toad suddenly remembered that he was hungry, very hungry indeed.

“Didn’t have time to eat much while I was in the Smiling Pool,” Old Mr. Toad explained. “Couldn’t eat and sing too, and while I was down there, I was supposed to sing. Now that it is time to quit singing, I begin to realize that I’ve got a stomach to look out for as well as a voice. See that bug over there on that leaf? Watch him.”

One of the last tadpoles transitioning to a toadlet at the Smiling Pool.
Tiny Toadlet leaving the wet sandy beach at the Smiling Pool.

Peter looked, and sure enough there was a fat bug crawling along on an old leaf. He was about two inches from Old Mr. Toad, and he was crawling very fast. And right while Peter was looking at him he disappeared. Peter turned to look at Old Mr. Toad. He hadn’t budged. He was sitting exactly where he had been sitting all the time, and he was smacking his lips, and there was a twinkle of satisfaction in his eyes. Peter opened his eyes very wide.

“Wha–what–” he began.

“Nice bug,” interrupted Old Mr. Toad. “Nicest bug I’ve eaten for a longtime.”

“Hey, I didn’t see you catch him!” protested Peter, looking at Old Mr. Toad as if he suspected him of joking.

“Did you open your eyes?” inquired Old Mr. Toad.

“Yes, I did,” replied Peter just a wee bit frustrated.

“Then watch me catch that fly over yonder,” said Old Mr. Toad. He hopped towards a fly which had lighted on a stick just ahead. About two inches from it he stopped, and so far as Peter could see, he sat perfectly still.

Bye-bye Mr. Fly!

And yet the fly disappeared, and it wasn’t because it flew away, either. Peter was sure of that. As he told Mrs. Peter about it afterwards, “It was there, and then it wasn’t, and that was all there was to it.”

Old Mr. Toad chuckled. “Didn’t you see that one go, Peter?” he asked.

Peter shook his head feeling more confused then ever and said “Please, would you explain?”

Now when Peter said please that way, of course Old Mr. Toad couldn’t resist sharing.

“Here comes an ant this way. Now you watch my mouth instead of the ant and see what happens,” said Old Mr. Toad.

Peter looked and saw a big black ant coming. Then he kept his eyes on Old Mr. Toad’s mouth. Suddenly there was a little flash of red from it, so tiny and so quick that Peter couldn’t be absolutely sure that he saw it. However, when he looked for the ant, it was nowhere to be seen. Peter looked at Old Mr. Toad very hard.

“Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Toad, that you’ve got a tongue long enough to reach way over to where that ant was?” he asked.

Old Mr. Toad chuckled again. With every insect swallowed he felt better natured. “You’ve guessed it, Peter,” he said. “Handy tongue, isn’t it?”

“I think it’s a very odd tongue,” replied Peter, “and I don’t understand it at all. If it’s so long as all that, where do you keep it when it isn’t in use? I should think you’d have to swallow it to get it out of the way, or else leave it hanging out of your mouth.”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!” laughed Old Mr. Toad. “My tongue is never in the way, and it’s the handiest tongue in the world. I’ll show it to you.”


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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 11 of 19


Chapter 11

The Little Toads Start Out to See the World


The world is a wonderful great big place
And in it the young must roam
To learn what their elders have long since learned–
There’s never a place like home.

It had been some time since Peter Rabbit had visited the Smiling Pool to watch the pollywogs. One cloudy morning he happened to think of them and decided that he would run over there and see how they were getting along. So off he started, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He wondered if those pollywog children of Old Mr. Toad would be much changed. The last time he saw them some of them had just begun to grow legs, although they still had long tails.

He had almost reached the Smiling Pool when great big drops of rain began to splash down. And with those first raindrops something funny happened. Anyway, it seemed funny to Peter. Right away he was surrounded by tiny little Toads. Everywhere he looked he saw Toadlets, tiny little Toads just like Old Mr. Toad, only so tiny that one could have sat comfortably on a dime and still had plenty of room.

Peter’s big eyes grew round with surprise as he stared. Where had they all come from so suddenly? A minute before he hadn’t seen a single one, and now he could hardly move without stepping on one. It seemed as if each raindrop turned into a tiny Toadlet the instant it struck the ground. Of course Peter knew that that couldn’t be. It was very puzzling. And all those little Toadlets were bravely hopping along as if they were bound for some particular place.

Peter watched them for a few minutes, then he once more started for the Smiling Pool and happened to meet Old Mr. Toad sitting on the bank. He looked rather thin, and his back was to the Smiling Pool. He was hopping away from the Smiling Pool where he had been all the spring, singing in the great chorus. Peter was almost as surprised to see him as he had been to see the little Toadlets, although just then he was most interested in those little Toads.

“Good morning, Old Mr. Toad,” said Peter in his most polite manner. “Can you tell me where all these little Toadlets came from?”

Tadpole transitioning to Toadlet in the Smiling Pool

“Certainly,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “They came from the Smiling Pool, of course. Where did you suppose they came from?”

“Oh, I didn’t know. There wasn’t one to be seen, and then it began to rain, and right away they were everywhere. It almost seemed as if they had rained down out of the sky” said Peter feeling very confused.

“They’ve got good sense, if I must say it about my own children,” chuckled Old Mr. Toad. “They know that wet weather is the only weather for Toads to travel in. They left the Smiling Pool in the night while it was damp and comfortable, and then, when the sun came up, they hid, like sensible children, under anything they could find, sticks, stones, pieces of bark, grass. The minute this shower came up, they knew it was good traveling weather and out they popped.”

Tadpole almost a Toadlet with just a tail left behind

“And why, may I ask, did they leave the Smiling Pool?” Peter asked.

“To see the Great World,” replied Old Mr. Toad. ” I did the same thing myself when I was their age. Couldn’t stop me any more than I could stop them. Fine weather, isn’t it?”


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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 10 of 19


Chapter 10

The Smiling Pool Playground


Play a little, learn a little, grow a little too;
That’s what every pollywoggy tries their best to do.

The Smiling Pool had become a playground for the babies of Grandfather Frog, Old Mr. Toad, and Stickytoes the Tree Toad in which the babies spent their days learning and playing. All of these cousins looked considerably alike at first for they all began as pollywogs. Peter Rabbit came over every day to eagerly watch them wriggle about and it made him curious and wonder more about them.

Cluster of Tadpoles at the Smiling Pool

“I think there’s one thing about them, and that is they are not in danger the same way other babies are,” said Peter, talking to himself as is his way when there is no one else to talk to. Just then a funny little black pollywog wriggled into sight, and while Peter was watching him, a stout-jawed water beetle suddenly rushed from among the water grass, seized the pollywog by his tail, and dragged him down. Peter stared. Could it be that that bug was as dangerous an enemy to the baby Toad as Reddy Fox is to a baby Rabbit? He began to suspect so, and a little later he knew so, for there was that same little pollywog trying hard to swim and struggling because he had lost half of his long tail.

That set Peter to watching more closely and presently he discovered that pollywogs have to keep their eyes open quite as much as do baby Rabbits, if they are to live and grow up. There were several kinds of odd looking bugs forever darting out at the wriggling pollywogs. Hungry looking fish lay in wait for them, and Longlegs the Blue Heron seemed to have a special liking for them too. And yet the pollywogs were spry, and seemed to have learned to watch out.

Bird left track in mud after stopping to snack on tadpoles.

They seemed to Peter to spend all their time swimming and eating and growing. They grew so fast that it seemed to him that he could almost see them grow. And just imagine how surprised Peter was to discover one day that that very pollywog which he had seen lose his tail had grown a new one. That puzzled Peter more than anything he had seen in a long time.

“Why, I couldn’t do that!” he exclaimed right out loud.

“Do what?” asked Jerry Muskrat, who happened along just then.

“Why, grow a new tail like that pollywog,” replied Peter, and told Jerry all that he had seen. Jerry laughed.

“You’ll see funnier things than that if you watch those pollywogs long enough,” he said. “They are very interesting to watch if you’ve got the time for it. I haven’t. This Smiling Pool is a great playground for learning, and there’s something happening here every minute. There’s no place like it.”

“Are those great big fat pollywogs Grandfather Frog’s children, or Old Mr. Toad’s?” asked Peter.

“Grandfather Frog’s last year’s children,” replied Jerry. “They’ll grow into real Frogs this summer, if nothing happens to them.”

“Where are Old Mr. Toad’s last year’s children?” asked Peter.

“Don’t ask me,” replied Jerry. “They hopped away last summer. Never saw anything like the way those Toad youngsters grow. Those Toad pollywogs you see now will turn into real Toads, and be leaving the Smiling Pool in a few weeks. People think Old Mr. Toad is slow, and yet there is nothing slow about his children. Look at that little fellow over there; he’s begun to grow legs already.”

Peter looked, and sure enough there was a pollywog with a pair of legs sprouting out. They were his fore legs, and they certainly did make him look funny. And only a few days before there hadn’t been a sign of legs.

“My gracious!” exclaimed Peter. “Oh what a fun sight! And I thought my babies grew fast!”

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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 9 of 19


Chapter 9

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.


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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 7 of 19


Chapter 7

Peter Discovers Something More


There are stranger things in the world today
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 baby bunny and then had made his own home in the dear Old Briar Patch, he had known Old Mr. Toad, and never once had Peter suspected that he could sing.

Now that they had discovered that he really has a very beautiful singing voice, they began to have a greater appreciation for Old Mr. Toad. This was especially so for Peter. He got in the habit of going over to the Smiling Pool every day 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 would be the use?” replied Old Mr. Toad. “You probably wouldn’t have believed me if I had.”

Peter knew that this was true, and he couldn’t find any answer ready. At last he ventured another question. “And if I’ve known you for so long why haven’t I ever heard you sing before?”

“You have,” said Old Mr. Toad. “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.”

Peter was confused and still very curious so he ventured another question. “Have I ever heard you singing up on the meadows or in the Old Orchard?”

“Oh no,” replied Old Mr. Toad, “I only sing in the springtime at the Smiling Pool. 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 of the toads gather here in the spring to sing, so of course I come too.”

Old Mr. Toad then filled out his odd 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 directly 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,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “The Toad family has always had beautiful eyes. There is an old saying that every Toad has jewels in his head, of course he hasn’t, not real jewels. It is just the beautiful eyes. Excuse me, Peter, 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 and then hopped away to the dear Old Briar-patch to sit and ponder all that he had learned today about his friend Old Mr. Toad.



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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 6 of 19


Chapter 6

How Old Mr. Toad Learned to Sing


Old Mr. Toad paid no attention to Peter, not even when he was spoken to. He was so absorbed in his singing that he just didn’t hear. Peter sat there a while to listen; then he called out to Jimmy Skunk and Billy Possum, who were also listening to the music, and they were just as surprised as Peter. Then he spied Jerry Muskrat at the other end of the Smiling Pool and hurried over there. Peter was so full of the discovery he had made that he could think of nothing else and he fairly ached to share this with others.

Muskrat – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Jerry!” he cried. “Oh, Jerry Muskrat! Do you know that Old Mr. Toad can sing?”


Jerry looked surprised that Peter should ask such a question. “Of course I know it,” he said. “It would be mighty funny if I didn’t know it, seeing that he is the sweetest singer in the Smiling Pool and has sung here every spring since I can remember.”

Peter looked very much chagrined. “I didn’t know it until just now,” he confessed. “I didn’t believe him when he told me that he could sing. I wonder how he ever learned.”

He didn’t learn any more than you learned how to jump,” replied Jerry. “It just came to him naturally. His father sang, and his grandfather, and his great grandfather, way back to the beginning of things. I’m surprised you do not know about this.”

“I don’t actually. Oh, please do tell me more about it Jerry,” pleaded Peter.

“All right, I will,” replied Jerry good-naturedly. “In the first place, Old Mr. Toad belongs to a very old and honorable family, one of the very oldest. I’ve heard say that it goes way back almost to the very beginning of things when there wasn’t much land. Anyway, the first Toad, the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Old Mr. Toad and own cousin to the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Grandfather Frog, was one of the first to leave the water for dry land.

“Old Mother Nature met him hopping along and making hard work of it because, of course, it was so new. ‘What are you doing here?’ she asked. ‘Are you not content with the water where you were born?’”

“Mr. Toad bowed very low. ‘Yes,’ he said humbly. ‘I’ll go right back there if you say so. I thought there must be some things worth finding out on the land, and that I might be of some use in the Great World.’”

“His answer pleased Old Mother Nature. She was worried. She had planted all kinds of things on the land, and they were springing up everywhere, and she had discovered that bugs of many kinds liked the tender green things and were increasing so fast that they threatened to strip the land of all that she had planted. She had so many things to tend to that she hadn’t the time to take care of the bugs. ‘If you truly want to be of some use,’ she said, ‘you can tend to some of those bugs.’”

A Fly or otherwise known as a “tasty treat for a Toad”!

“Mr. Toad went right to work, and Old Mother Nature went about some of her other business. Having so many things to look after, she quite forgot about Mr. Toad, and it was several weeks before she came that way again. Right in the middle of a great bare place where the bugs had eaten everything was now a beautiful green spot, and patiently hopping from plant to plant was Mr. Toad, snapping up every bug he could see. He didn’t notice Old Mother Nature and he kept right on working. She watched him for a while as he hopped from plant to plant catching bugs as fast and he could, and then she spoke.

“’Have you stayed right here since I last saw you?’ she asked.”

“Mr. Toad gave a start of surprise. ‘Yes, I have,’ he said.”

“’I thought you wanted to see the Great World and learn things,’ she said.”

“Mr. Toad looked a little embarrassed. ‘So I did,’ he replied, ‘and I wanted to be of some use, and the bugs have kept me so busy there was not time to travel. Besides, I have learned a great deal right here. I couldn’t get around fast enough to save all the plants, I’ve just saved what I could.’”

“At that Old Mother Nature’s face lit up with one of her most beautiful smiles. ‘Mr. Toad,’ she said, ‘if you could have just one wish what would it be?’”

“Mr. Toad hesitated a few minutes and then said quietly, ‘A beautiful voice.’”

“It was Old Mother Nature’s turn to look surprised. ‘A beautiful voice!’ she exclaimed. “Why would you want a beautiful voice?’”

“So that I can express my happiness in the most beautiful way I know of, by singing,’ replied Mr. Toad.”

“’Then you shall have it,’ declared Old Mother Nature, ‘although not all the time lest you be tempted to forget your work, which , you know, when you are of service is a real source of true happiness. In the spring of each year you shall go back to your home in the water and there for a time you shall sing to your heart’s content, and there shall be no sweeter voice than yours.’”

Toad in the water in late spring

“Sure enough, when the next spring came, Mr. Toad was filled with a great longing to go home. When he got there, he found that in his throat was a little music bag; and when he swelled it out, he had one of the sweetest voices in the world. And so it has been ever since with the Toad Family. Old Mr. Toad is one of the sweetest singers in the Smiling Pool, and when it is time to go back to work he is most diligent in Mother Nature’s garden,” concluded Jerry Muskrat.

More Toad egg strands piling up and some getting covered with the “dusty” silt from the bottom of the Smiling Pool after an overnight storm stirred things up.

Discover more P.L.A.Y. TOAD nature videos and adventures!