“Well, old Mr. Dreamer, have you found him yet?” asked Jimmy Skunk, stealing up behind Peter and poking him in the back.
Peter came to himself with a start. “No,” said he. “I was just listening and wishing that I could sing, too. Don’t you ever wish you could sing, Jimmy?”
“No,” replied Jimmy. “I never waste time wishing I could do things it was never meant I should do. It’s funny where Old Mr. Toad is. He said that he was coming down here to sing, and Redwing the Blackbird seemed to be expecting him. I’ve looked everywhere I can think of without finding him, but I don’t believe in giving up without another try. Stop your dreaming and come help us hunt.”
So Peter stopped his dreaming and joined in the search. Now there was one place where neither Peter nor Jimmy nor Unc’ Billy had thought of looking. That was in the Smiling Pool itself. They just took it for granted that Old Mr. Toad was somewhere on the bank. Presently Peter came to a place where the bank was very low and the water was shallow for quite a little distance out in the Smiling Pool. From out of that shallow water came the piping voice of a hyla, and Peter stopped to stare, trying to see the tiny singer.
Suddenly he jumped right up in the air with surprise. There was a familiar-looking head sticking out of the water. Peter had found Old Mr. Toad!
OLD MR. TOAD’S MUSIC BAG
Never think that you have learned
All there is to know.
That’s the surest way of all
Ignorance to show.
“I’ve found Old Mr. Toad!” cried Peter Rabbit, hurrying after Jimmy Skunk.
“Where?” demanded Jimmy.
“In the water,” declared Peter. “He’s sitting right over there where the water is shallow, and he didn’t notice me at all. Let’s get Unc’ Billy, and then creep over to the edge of the Smiling Pool and watch to see if Old Mr. Toad really does try to sing.”
So they hunted up Unc’ Billy Possum, and the three stole very softly over to the edge of the Smiling Pool, where the bank was low and the water shallow. Sure enough, there sat Old Mr. Toad with just his head out of water. And while they were watching him, something very strange happened.
“What—what’s the matter with him?” whispered Peter, his big eyes looking as if they might pop out of his head.
“If he don’t watch out, he’ll blow up and bust!” exclaimed Jimmy.
[Illustration: “If he don’t watch out, he’ll blow up and bust!” exclaimed Jimmy.]
“Listen!” whispered Unc’ Billy Possum. “Do mah ol’ ears hear right? ’Pears to me that that song is coming right from where Brer Toad is sitting.”
It certainly did appear so, and of all the songs that glad spring day there was none sweeter. Indeed there were few as sweet. The only trouble was the song was so very short. It lasted only for two or three seconds. And when it ended, Old Mr. Toad looked quite his natural self again; just as commonplace, almost ugly, as ever. Peter looked at Jimmy Skunk, Jimmy looked at Unc’ Billy Possum, and Unc’ Billy looked at Peter. And no one had a word to say. Then all three looked back at Old Mr. Toad.