He remembered this as he went to pay his daily call on Old Mr. Toad in the Smiling Pool and listen to his sweet song. He hadn’t seen any little Toads this year, but he remembered his experiences with them in other years, and he meant to ask about them.
Old Mr. Toad was sitting in his usual place, but 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, but he saw nothing but a lot of wriggling tadpoles.
“What are you staring at so, 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?” said he.
Peter stared harder than ever, but he couldn’t see anything that looked like a baby Toad.
“Where are they?” asked he. “I don’t see any babies but those of Grandfather Frog, and if you ask me, I always did think tadpoles about the homeliest things in th’ world.”
Old Mr. Toad grew indignant. “Those are not Grandfather Frog’s children; they’re mine!” he sputtered. “And I’ll have you know that they are the most beautiful babies in th’ world!”
Peter drew a hand across his mouth to hide a smile. “I beg your pardon, Mr. Toad,” said he. “I—I thought all tadpoles were Frog babies. They all look alike to me.”
“Well, they’re not,” declared Old Mr. Toad. “How any one can mistake my babies for their cousins I cannot understand. Now mine are beautiful, while—”
“Chug-arum!” interrupted the great deep voice of Grandfather Frog. “What are you talking about? Why, your babies are no more to be compared with my babies for real beauty than nothing at all! I’ll leave it to Peter if they are.”
But Peter wisely held his tongue. To tell the truth, he couldn’t see beauty in any of them. To him they were all just 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, but he had no intention of being drawn into the dispute now waxing furious between Grandfather Frog and Old Mr. Toad.
THE SMILING POOL KINDERGARTEN
Play a little, learn a little, grow a
That’s what every pollywoggy tries his best to do.
Of course. That’s what a kindergarten is for. And you may be sure that the babies of Grandfather Frog and Old Mr. Toad and Stickytoes the Tree Toad did all of these things in the kindergarten of the Smiling Pool. They looked considerably alike, did these little cousins, for they were all pollywogs to begin with. Peter Rabbit came over every day to watch them. Always he had thought pollywogs just homely, wriggling things, not the least bit interesting, but since he had discovered how proud of them were Grandfather Frog and Old Mr. Toad, he had begun to wonder about them and then to watch them.