Peter looked more foolish than ever. But he ventured another question. It wouldn’t be Peter to let a chance for questions go by. “Have I ever heard you singing up on the meadows or in the Old Orchard?”
“No,” replied Old Mr. Toad, “I only sing in the springtime. That’s the time for singing. I just have to sing then. In the summer it is too hot, and in the winter I sleep. I always return to my old home to sing. You know I was born here. All my family gathers here in the spring to sing, so of course I come too.”
Old Mr. Toad filled out his queer music bag under his chin and began to sing again. Peter watched him. Now it just happened that Old Mr. Toad was facing him, and so Peter looked down straight into his eyes. He never had looked into Mr. Toad’s eyes before, and now he just stared and stared, for it came over him that those eyes were very beautiful, very beautiful indeed.
“Oh!” he exclaimed, “what beautiful eyes you have, Mr. Toad!”
“So I’ve been told before,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “My family always has had beautiful eyes. There is an old saying that every Toad has jewels in his head, but of course he hasn’t, not real jewels. It is just the beautiful eyes. Excuse me, Peter, but I’m needed in that chorus.” Old Mr. Toad once more swelled out his throat and began to sing.
Peter watched him a while longer, then hopped away to the dear Old Briarpatch, and he was very thoughtful.
“Never again will I call anybody homely and ugly until I know all about him,” said Peter, which was a very wise decision. Don’t you think so?
A SHADOW PASSES OVER THE SMILING POOL
Here’s what Mr. Toad says;
Heed it well, my dear:
“Time to watch for clouds is
When the sky is clear.”
He says that that is the reason that he lives to a good old age, does Old Mr. Toad. I suppose he means that when the sky is cloudy, everybody is looking for rain and is prepared for it, but when the sun is shining, most people forget that there is such a thing as a storm, so when it comes suddenly very few are prepared for it. It is the same way with danger and trouble. So Old Mr. Toad very wisely watches out when there seems to be the least need of it, and he finds it always pays.
It was a beautiful spring evening. Over back of the Purple Hills to which Old Mother West Wind had taken her children, the Merry Little Breezes, and behind which jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had gone to bed, there was still a faint, clear light. But over the Green Meadows and the Smiling Pool the shadows had drawn a curtain of soft dusk which in the Green Forest became black. The little stars looked down from the sky and twinkled just to see their reflections twinkle back at them from the Smiling Pool. And there and all around it was perfect peace. Jerry Muskrat swam back and forth, making little silver lines on the surface of the Smiling Pool and squeaking contentedly, for it was the hour which he loves best. Little Friend the Song Sparrow had tucked his head under his wing and gone to sleep among the alders along the Laughing Brook and Redwing the Blackbird had done the same thing among the bulrushes. All the feathered songsters who had made joyous the bright day had gone to bed.