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  The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad Thornton W. Burgess

Jimmy Skunk Is Surprised

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Jimmy Skunk ambled along the Crooked Little Path down the hill. He didn't hurry because Jimmy doesn't believe in hurrying. The only time he ever hurries is when he sees a fat beetle trying to get out of sight. Then Jimmy hurry. But just now he didn't see any fat beetles, although he was looking for them. So he just ambled along as if he had all the time in the world, as indeed he had. He was feeling very good-natured, was Jimmy Skunk. And why shouldn't he? There was everything to make him feel good-natured. Summer had arrived to stay. On every side he heard glad voices. Bumble the Bee was humming a song. Best of all, Jimmy had found three beetles that very morning, and he knew that there were more if he could find them. So why shouldn't he feel good?

Jimmy had laughed at Peter Rabbit for being so anxious for Summer to arrive, but he was just as glad as Peter that she had come, although he wouldn't have said so for the world. His sharp little eyes twinkled as he ambled along, and there wasn't much that they missed. As he walked he talked, quite to himself of course, because there was nobody near to hear, and this is what he was saying:

    "Beetle, beetle, smooth and smug,
    You are nothing but a bug.
    Bugs were made for Skunks to eat,
    So come out from your retreat.

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"Hello! There's a nice big piece of bark over there that looks as if it ought to have a dozen fat beetles under it. It's great fun to pull over pieces of bark and see fat beetles run all ways at once. I'll just have to see what is under that piece."

Jimmy tiptoed softly over to the big piece of bark, and then as he made ready to turn it over, he began again that foolish little verse.

    "Beetle, beetle, smooth and smug,
    You are nothing but a bug."

As he said the last word, he suddenly pulled the piece of bark over.

"Who's a bug?" asked a funny voice, and it sounded rather cross. Jimmy Skunk nearly tumbled over backward in surprise, and for a minute he couldn't find his tongue. There, instead of the fat beetles he had been so sure of, sat Old Mr. Toad, and he didn't look at all pleased.

"Who's a bug?" he repeated.

Instead of answering, Jimmy Skunk began to laugh. "Who's a bug?" demanded Old Mr. Toad, more crossly than before.

"There isn't any bug, Mr. Toad, and I beg your pardon," replied Jimmy, remembering his politeness. "I just thought there was. You see, I didn't know you were under that piece of bark. I hope you will excuse me, Mr. Toad. Have you seen any fat beetles this morning?"

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The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad
Thornton W. Burgess

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