[Illustration: “Can’t talk with common folks any more,” he muttered.]
Mr. Toad kept on his way, and presently he met Peter Rabbit. Peter stopped to gossip, as is his way. But Old Mr. Toad took no notice of him at all. He kept right on with his head high, and all puffed out. Peter might have been a stick or a stone for all the notice Old Mr. Toad took of him. Peter looked puzzled. Then he hurried down to tell Danny Meadow Mouse about it.
“Oh,” said Danny, “he’s been to dine with Buster Bear, and now he has no use for his old friends.”
Pretty soon along came Johnny Chuck, and he was very much put out because he had been treated by Old Mr. Toad just as Peter Rabbit had. Striped Chipmunk told the same story. So did Unc’ Billy Possum. It was the same with all of Old Mr. Toad’s old friends and neighbors, excepting Bobby Coon, who, you know, is Buster Bear’s little cousin. To him Old Mr. Toad was very polite and talked a great deal about Buster Bear, and thought that Bobby must be very proud to be related to Buster.
At first everybody thought it a great joke to see Old Mr. Toad so puffed up with, pride, but after a little they grew tired of being snubbed by their old friend and neighbor, and began to say unpleasant things about him. Then they decided that what Old Mr. Toad needed was a lesson, so they put their heads together and planned how they would teach Old Mr. Toad how foolish it is for any one to be puffed up with pride.
OLD MR. TOAD RECEIVES ANOTHER INVITATION
The friends and neighbors of Old Mr. Toad decided that he needed to be taught a lesson. At first, you know, every one had laughed at him, because he had grown too proud to speak to them, but after a little they grew tired of being treated so, and some of them put their heads together to think of some plan to teach Old Mr. Toad a lesson and what a very, very foolish thing false pride is. The very next day Jimmy Skunk went into the Green Forest to look for Buster Bear. You know Jimmy isn’t afraid of Buster. He didn’t have to look long, and when he had found him, the very first thing he did was to ask Buster if he had seen any fat beetles that morning. You know Jimmy is very fond of fat beetles, and the first thing he asks any one he may happen to meet is if they have seen any.
Buster Bear grinned and said he thought he knew where there might be a few, and he would be pleased to have Jimmy go with him to see. Sure enough, under an old log he found five fat beetles, and these Jimmy gobbled up without even asking Buster if he would have one. Jimmy is usually very polite, but this time he quite forgot politeness. I am afraid he is rather apt to when fat beetles are concerned. But Buster didn’t seem to mind. When the last beetle had disappeared Jimmy smacked his lips, and then he told Buster Bear what he had come for. Of course, at first Buster had thought it was for the fat beetles. But it wasn’t. No, Sir, it wasn’t for the fat beetles at all. It was to get Buster Bear’s help in a plan to teach Old Mr. Toad a lesson.