“Help yourself,” said Buster Bear politely.
Old Mr. Toad didn’t wait to be told twice. He forgot all about his fright. He forgot all about Buster Bear. He forgot that he wasn’t hungry. He forgot his manners. He jumped right in among those ants, and for a little while he was the busiest Toad ever seen. Buster Bear was busy too. He swept his long tongue this way, and he swept it that way, and each time he drew it back into his mouth, it was covered with ants. At last Old Mr. Toad couldn’t hold another ant. Then he remembered Buster Bear and looked up a little fearfully. Buster was smacking his lips, and there was a twinkle in each eye.
“Good, aren’t they?” said he.
“The best I ever ate,” declared Old Mr. Toad with a sigh of satisfaction.
“Come dine with me again,” said Buster Bear, and somehow this time Old Mr. Toad didn’t mind because his voice sounded grumbly-rumbly.
“Thank you, I will,” replied Old Mr. Toad.
OLD MR. TOAD IS PUFFED UP
Old Mr. Toad hopped slowly down the Lone Little Path. He usually does hop slowly, but this time he hopped slower than ever. You see, he was so puffed up that he couldn’t have hopped fast if he had wanted to, and he didn’t want to. In the first place his stomach was so full of ants that there wasn’t room for another one. No, Sir, Old Mr. Toad couldn’t have swallowed another ant if he had tried. Of course they made his stomach stick out, but it wasn’t the ants that puffed him out all over. Oh, my, no! It was pride. That’s what it was—pride. You know nothing can puff any one up quite like foolish pride.
Old Mr. Toad was old enough to have known better. It is bad enough to see young and foolish creatures puffed up with pride, but it is worse to see any one as old as Old Mr. Toad that way. He held his head so high that he couldn’t see his own feet, and more than once he stubbed his toes. Presently he met his old friend, Danny Meadow Mouse. He tipped his head a little higher, puffed himself out a little more, and pretended not to see Danny.
“Hello, Mr. Toad,” said Danny.
Mr. Toad pretended not to hear. Danny looked puzzled. Then he spoke again, and this time he shouted: “Hello, Mr. Toad! I haven’t seen you for some time.”
It wouldn’t do to pretend not to hear this time. “Oh, how do you do, Danny?” said Old Mr. Toad with a very grand air, and pretending to be much surprised. “Sorry I can’t stop, but I’ve been dining with, my friend, Buster Bear, and now I must get home.” When he mentioned the name of Buster Bear, he puffed himself out a little more.
Danny grinned as he watched him hop on down the Lone Little Path. “Can’t talk with common folks any more,” he muttered. “I’ve heard that pride is very apt to turn people’s heads, but I never expected to see Old Mr. Toad proud.”