Grandfather Frog, jumping along behind Danny Meadow Mouse up the Lone Little Path, was beginning to think that Danny was the most timid and easiest frightened of all the little meadow people of his acquaintance. Danny kept as much under the grass that overhung the Lone Little Path as he could. When there were perfectly bare places, Danny looked this way and looked that way anxiously and then scampered across as fast as he could make his little legs go. When he was safely across, he would wait for Grandfather Frog. If a shadow passed over the grass, Danny would duck under the nearest leaf and hold his breath.
“Foolish!” muttered Grandfather Frog. “Foolish, foolish to be so afraid! Now, I’m not afraid until I see something to be afraid of. Time enough then. What’s the good of looking for trouble all the time? Now, here I am out in the Great World, and I’m not afraid. And here’s Danny Meadow Mouse, who has lived here all his life, acting as if he expected something dreadful to happen any minute. Pooh! How very, very foolish!”
Now Grandfather Frog is old and in the Smiling Pool he is accounted very, very wise. But the wisest sometimes become foolish when they think that they know all there is to know. It was so with Grandfather Frog. It was he who was foolish and not Danny Meadow Mouse. You see Danny knew all the dangers on the Green Meadows, and how many sharp eyes were all the time watching for him. He had long ago learned that the only way to feel safe was to feel afraid. You see, then he was watching for danger every minute, and so he wasn’t likely to be surprised by his hungry enemies.
So while Grandfather Frog was looking down on Danny for being so timid, Danny was really doing the wisest thing. More than that, he was really very, very brave. He was showing Grandfather Frog the way up the Lone Little Path to see the Great World, when he himself would never, never have thought of traveling anywhere but along his own secret little paths, just because Grandfather Frog couldn’t jump anywhere excepting where the way was fairly clear, as in the Lone Little Path, and Danny was afraid that unless Grandfather Frog had some one with him to watch out for him, he would surely come to a sad end.
The farther they went with nothing happening, the more foolish Danny’s timid way of running and hiding seemed to Grandfather Frog, and he was just about to tell Danny just what he thought, when Danny dived into the long grass and warned Grandfather Frog to do the same. But Grandfather Frog didn’t.
“Chugarum!” said he, “I don’t see anything to be afraid of, and I’m not going to hide until I do.”
So he sat still right where he was, in the middle of the Lone Little Path, looking this way and that way, and seeing nothing to be afraid of. And just then around a turn in the Lone Little Path came—who do you think? Why Farmer Brown’s boy! He saw Grandfather Frog and with a whoop of joy he sprang for him. Grandfather Frog gave a frightened croak and jumped, but he was too late. Before he could jump again Farmer Brown’s boy had him by his long hind-legs.