Peter didn’t know what to think, and he said so. He left Bobby to eat his corn and spent the rest of the night telling every one he met what Boomer the Nighthawk had said, but of course no one believed it, and every one laughed at him, for hadn’t they heard Sammy Jay screaming that very night?
So now Peter sat in the Old Briar-patch thinking and thinking, when he should have been asleep. Finally he yawned and stretched and then started along one of his private little paths.
“I’ll just run up to the Green Forest and try to find Sammy Jay,” he said.
So Peter hunted and hunted all through the Green Forest for Sammy Jay, and asked everybody he met if they had seen Sammy. But no one had, though every one took pains to tell Peter that they had heard Sammy in the night. At last Peter found Sticky-toes the Tree Toad. He was muttering and grumbling to himself, and he didn’t see Peter. Peter stopped to listen, which was, of course, a very wrong thing to do, and what he heard gave Peter an idea.
STICKY-TOES THE TREE TOAD POURS OUT HIS TROUBLES
Sticky-toes was quite upset. There was no doubt about it. Either he had gotten out of the wrong side of his bed that morning, or his breakfast had disagreed with him, or something had happened to make him lose his temper completely.
“Don’t know what it means! Don’t know what it means! Don’t know what it means!” croaked Sticky-toes the Tree Toad, over and over again. “Heard it last night and the night before that and before that and before that and before that, and I don’t know what it means!”
“Don’t know what what means?” asked Peter Rabbit, whose curiosity would not let him keep still.
“Hello, Long-ears! I don’t know that it’s any of your business!” said Sticky-toes.
Peter allowed that it wasn’t, but that as he had so much on his own mind he couldn’t help being interested when he found that Sticky-toes had troubles too. Then he told Sticky-toes all about how Boomer the Nighthawk had said that he had seen Sammy Jay going to bed up in the far-away Old Pasture, and how that very night Sammy Jay’s voice had been heard screaming down in the alders beside the Laughing Brook. Sticky-toes nodded his head.
“I heard it,” said he.
“But how could Sammy Jay be down here if he went to bed way off there in the Old Pasture? Tell me that, Sticky-toes?” said Peter Rabbit.
Sticky-toes shook his head. “Don’t ask me! Don’t ask me! Just tell me how it is that I hear my own voice when I don’t speak a word,” said Sticky-toes the Tree Toad.
“What’s that?” exclaimed Peter Rabbit.
Then Sticky-toes poured out all his troubles to Peter Rabbit. They were very much like the troubles of Sammy Jay. Every night Sticky-toes would hear what sounded like his own voice coming from a tree in which he was not sitting at all, and at a time when he was keeping his mouth shut as tight as he knew how. In fact, he had been so worried that for several nights he hadn’t said a word, yet his neighbors had complained that he had been very noisy. He was getting so worried that he couldn’t eat.