“My gracious!” exclaimed Peter. “What a funny sight! I thought my babies grew fast, but these beat them.”
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. But 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 Toads, tiny little Toads just like Old Mr. Toad, only so tiny that one could have sat comfortably on a ten-cent piece 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, it really seemed, as if each raindrop turned into a tiny Toad the instant it struck the ground. Of course Peter knew that that couldn’t be, but it was very puzzling. And all those little Toads 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. On the very bank whom should he meet but Old Mr. Toad. He looked rather thin, and his back was to the Smiling Pool. Yes, Sir, 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 Toads, but 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 Toads came from?”
[Illustration: “Can you tell me where all these little Toads came from?”]
“Certainly,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “They came from the Smiling Pool, of course. Where did you suppose they came from?”
“I—I didn’t know. There wasn’t one to be seen, and then it began to rain, and right away they were everywhere. It—it almost seemed as if they had rained down out of the sky.”
Old Mr. Toad chuckled. “They’ve got good sense, if I must say it about my own children,” said he. “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.”