And even as they looked, his throat began to swell and swell and swell, until it was no wonder that Jimmy Skunk had thought that he was in danger of blowing up. And then, when it stopped swelling, there came again those beautiful little notes, so sweet and tremulous that Peter actually held his breath to listen. There was no doubt that Old Mr. Toad was singing just as he had said he was going to, and it was just as true that his song was one of the sweetest if not the sweetest of all the chorus from and around the Smiling Pool. It was very hard to believe, but Peter and Jimmy and Unc’ Billy both saw and heard, and that was enough. Their respect for Old Mr. Toad grew tremendously as they listened.
“How does he do it?” whispered Peter.
“With that bag under his chin, of course,” replied Jimmy Skunk. “Don’t you see it’s only when that is swelled out that he sings? It’s a regular music bag. And I didn’t know he had any such bag there at all.”
“I wish,” said Peter Rabbit, feeling of his throat, “that I had a music bag like that in my throat.”
And then he joined in the laugh of Jimmy and Unc’ Billy, but still with something of a look of wistfulness in his eyes.
PETER DISCOVERS SOMETHING MORE
There are stranger things in the world
Than ever you dreamed could be.
There’s beauty in some of the commonest things
If only you’ve eyes to see.
Ever since Peter Rabbit was a little chap and had first ran away from home, he had known Old Mr. Toad, and never once had Peter suspected that he could sing. Also he had thought Old Mr. Toad almost ugly-looking, and he knew that most of his neighbors thought the same way. They were fond of Old Mr. Toad, for he was always good-natured and attended strictly to his own affairs; but they liked to poke fun at him, and as for there being anything beautiful about him, such a thing never entered their heads.
Now that they had discovered that he really has a very beautiful voice, they began to look on him with a great deal more respect. This was especially so with Peter. He got in the habit of going over to the Smiling Pool every day, when the way was clear, just to sit on the bank and listen to Old Mr. Toad.
“Why didn’t you ever tell us before that you could sing?” he asked one day, as Old Mr. Toad looked up at him from the Smiling Pool.
“What was the use of wasting my breath?” demanded Old Mr. Toad. “You wouldn’t have believed me if I had. You didn’t believe me when I did tell you.”
Peter knew that this was true, and he couldn’t find any answer ready. At last he ventured another question. “Why haven’t I ever heard you sing before?”
“You have,” replied Old Mr. Toad tartly. “I sang right in this very place last spring, and the spring before, and the spring before that. You’ve sat on that very bank lots of times while I was singing. The trouble with you, Peter, is that you don’t use your eyes or your ears.”