But this did not mean that the glad spring chorus was silent. Oh, my, no! No indeed! The Green Meadows were silent, and the Green Forest was silent, but as if to make up for this, the sweet singers of the Smiling Pool, the hylas and the frogs and Old Mr. Toad, were pouring out their gladness as if they had not been singing most of the departed day. You see it was the hour they love best of all, the hour which seems to them just made for singing, and they were doing their best to tell Old Mother Nature how they love her, and how glad they were that she had brought back sweet Mistress Spring to waken them from their long sleep.
It was so peaceful and beautiful there that it didn’t seem possible that danger of any kind could be lurking near. But Old Mr. Toad, swelling out that queer music bag in his throat and singing with all his might, never once forgot that wise saying of his, and so he was the first to see what looked like nothing so much as a little detached bit of the blackness of the Green Forest floating out towards the Smiling Pool. Instantly he stopped singing. Now that was a signal. When he stopped singing, his nearest neighbor stopped singing, then the next one and the next, and in a minute there wasn’t a sound from the Smiling Pool save the squeak of Jerry Muskrat hidden among the bulrushes. That great chorus stopped as abruptly as the electric lights go out when you press a button.
Back and forth over the Smiling Pool, this way and that way, floated the shadow, but there was no sign of any living thing in the Smiling Pool. After awhile the shadow floated away over the Green Meadows without a sound.
“Hooty the Owl didn’t get one of us that time,” said Old Mr. Toad to his nearest neighbor with a chuckle of satisfaction. Then he swelled out his music bag and began to sing again. And at once, as abruptly as it had stopped, the great chorus began again as joyous as before, for nothing had happened to bring sadness as might have but for the watchfulness of Old Mr. Toad.
OLD MR. TOAD’S BABIES
The Smiling Pool’s a nursery
Where all the sunny day
A thousand funny babies
Are taught while at their play.
Really the Smiling Pool is a sort of kindergarten, one of the most interesting kindergartens in the world. Little Joe Otter’s children learn to swim there. So do Jerry Muskrat’s babies and those of Billy Mink, the Trout and Minnow babies, and a lot more. And there you will find the children and grandchildren of Grandfather Frog and Old Mr. Toad.
Peter Rabbit had known for a long time about the Frog babies, but though he knew that Old Mr. Toad was own cousin to Grandfather Frog, he hadn’t known anything about Toad babies, except that at a certain time in the year he was forever running across tiny Toads, especially on rainy days, and each little Toad was just like Old Mr. Toad, except for his size. Peter had heard it said that Toads rain down from the sky, and sometimes it seems as if this must be so. Of course he knew it couldn’t be, but it puzzled him a great deal. There wouldn’t be a Toad in sight. Then it would begin to rain, and right away there would be so many tiny Toads that it was hard work to jump without stepping on some.