“There are a great many things you have never heard of, Peter Rabbit,” replied Old Mr. Toad drily. “Mine is the right way to have a tongue. Because it is fastened way up in the front of my mouth 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,” said he, “but how do you hold on to the bug with your tongue?”
“My tongue is sticky, of course, Mr. Stupid,” replied Old Mr. Toad, looking very much disgusted. “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 right out. “Perhaps if it was, you couldn’t ask so many questions,” said he. “Now watch me catch that fly.” His funny little tongue darted out, and the fly was gone.
[Illustration: 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 Briarpatch. Very much obliged to you, Mr. Toad. I think you are very wonderful.”
“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, but no more could you get along with mine. If you live long enough, you will learn that Old Mother Nature makes no mistakes. She gives each of us what we need, and each one has different needs.”
PETER RABBIT IS IMPOLITE
Peter Rabbit couldn’t get Old Mr. Toad off his mind. He had discovered so many interesting things about Old Mr. Toad that he was almost on the point of believing him to be the most interesting of all his neighbors. And his respect for Old Mr. Toad had become very great indeed. Of course. Who wouldn’t respect any one with such beautiful eyes and such a sweet voice and such a wonderful tongue? Yet at the same time Peter felt very foolish whenever he remembered that all his life he had been acquainted with Old Mr. Toad without really knowing him at all. There was one comforting thought, and that was that most of his neighbors were just as ignorant regarding Old Mr. Toad as Peter had been.
“Funny,” mused Peter, “how we can live right beside people all our lives and not really know them at all. I suppose that is why we should never judge people hastily. I believe I will go hunt up Old Mr. Toad and see if I can find out anything more.”