Longlegs snapped his great bill angrily. “What are you doing here, spoiling my fishing?” he demanded. “Haven’t you got the Big River and all the rest of the Laughing Brook to fool around in? This is my pool, and I’ll thank you to keep away!”
Billy Mink chuckled so that Longlegs heard him, and that didn’t improve his temper a bit. But before he could say anything more, Little Joe Otter spoke.
“Oh,” said he, “we beg your pardon. We just happen to know that Grandfather Frog is sound asleep, and we thought that if you hadn’t had good luck this morning, you might like to know about it. As long as you think so ill of us, we’ll just run over and tell Blackcap the Night Heron.”
Little Joe turned as if to start off in search of Blackcap at once. “Hold on a minute!” called Longlegs, and tried to make his voice sound pleasant, a difficult thing to do, because, you know, his voice is very harsh and disagreeable. “The truth is, I haven’t had a mouthful of breakfast and to be hungry is apt to make me cross. Where did you say Grandfather Frog is?”
“I didn’t say,” replied Little Joe, “but if you really want to know, he is sitting on his big green lily-pad in the Smiling Pool fast asleep right in plain sight.”
“Thank you,” said Longlegs. “I believe I have an errand up that way, now I think of it. I believe I’ll just go over and have a look at him. I have never seen him asleep.”
[Illustration: “Thank you,” said Longlegs. “I believe I have an errand up that way.” Page 10.]
LONGLEGS VISITS THE SMILING POOL
Longlegs the Blue Heron watched Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter disappear down the Laughing Brook. As long as they were in sight, he sat without moving, his head drawn down between his shoulders just as if he had nothing more important to think about than a morning nap. But if you had been near enough to have seen his keen eyes, you would never have suspected him of even thinking of a nap. Just as soon as he felt sure that the two little brown-coated scamps were out of sight, he stretched his long neck up until he was almost twice as tall as he had been a minute before. He looked this way and that way to make sure that no danger was near, spread his great wings, flapped heavily up into the air, and then, with his head once more tucked back between his shoulders and his long legs straight out behind him, he flew out over the Green Meadows, and making a big circle, headed straight for the Smiling Pool.
All this time Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter had not been so far away as Longlegs supposed. They had been hiding where they could watch him, and the instant he spread his wings, they started back up the Laughing Brook towards the Smiling Pool to see what would happen there. You see they knew perfectly well that Longlegs was flying up to the Smiling Pool in the hope that he could catch Grandfather Frog for his breakfast. They didn’t really mean that any harm should come to Grandfather Frog, but they meant that he should have a great fright. You see, they were like a great many other people, so heedless and thoughtless that they thought it fun to frighten others.