For a long time Peter sat perfectly still, trying to puzzle out how Old Mr. Toad had disappeared, but the more he puzzled over it, the more impossible it seemed. And yet Old Mr. Toad had disappeared. Suddenly Peter gave a frightened scream and jumped higher than he ever had jumped before in all his life. A voice, the voice of Old Mr. Toad himself, had said, “Well, now are you satisfied?” And that voice had come from right under Peter! Do you wonder that he was frightened? When he turned to look, there sat Old Mr. Toad right where he himself had been sitting a moment before. Peter rubbed his eyes and stared very foolishly.
“Wh-wh-where did you come from?” he stammered at last.
Old Mr. Toad grinned. “I’ll show you,” said he. 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. He had to! 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 at once came out again.
Old Mr. Toad’s beautiful eyes twinkled more than ever. “I guess we are even now, Peter,” said he.
Peter nodded. “More than that, Mr. Toad. I think you have a little the best of it,” he replied. “Now won’t you tell me how you did it?”
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,” said he, “and I use them to dig with. You go into a hole headfirst, but 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 enemies.”
JIMMY SKUNK IS SURPRISED
Jimmy Skunk ambled along the Crooked Little Path down the hill. He didn’t hurry because Jimmy doesn’t believe in hurrying. The only time he ever hurries is when he sees a fat beetle trying to get out of sight. Then Jimmy does hurry. But just now he didn’t see any fat beetles, although he was looking for them. So he just ambled along as if he had all the time in the world, as indeed he had. He was feeling very good-natured, was Jimmy Skunk. And why shouldn’t he? There was everything to make him feel good-natured. Summer had arrived to stay. On every side he heard glad voices. Bumble the Bee was humming a song. Best of all, Jimmy had found three beetles that very morning, and he knew that there were more if he could find them. So why shouldn’t he feel good?