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The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad Thornton W. Burgess

Old Mr. Toad's Music Bag

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    Never think that you have learned
    All there is to know.
    That's the surest way of all
    Ignorance to show.

"I've found Old Mr. Toad!" cried Peter Rabbit, hurrying after Jimmy Skunk.

"Where?" demanded Jimmy.

"In the water," declared Peter. "He's sitting right over there where the water is shallow, and he didn't notice me at all. Let's get Unc' Billy, and then creep over to the edge of the Smiling Pool and watch to see if Old Mr. Toad really does try to sing."

So they hunted up Unc' Billy Possum, and the three stole very softly over to the edge of the Smiling Pool, where the bank was low and the water shallow. Sure enough, there sat Old Mr. Toad with just his head out of water. And while they were watching him, something very strange happened.

"What--what's the matter with him?" whispered Peter, his big eyes looking as if they might pop out of his head.

"If he don't watch out, he'll blow up and bust!" exclaimed Jimmy.

"Listen!" whispered Unc' Billy Possum. "Do mah ol' ears hear right? 'Pears to me that that song is coming right from where Brer Toad is sitting."

It certainly did appear so, and of all the songs that glad spring day there was none sweeter. Indeed there were few as sweet. The only trouble was the song was so very short. It lasted only for two or three seconds. And when it ended, Old Mr. Toad looked quite his natural self again; just as commonplace, almost ugly, as ever. Peter looked at Jimmy Skunk, Jimmy looked at Unc' Billy Possum, and Unc' Billy looked at Peter. And no one had a word to say. Then all three looked back at Old Mr. Toad.

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And even as they looked, his throat began to swell and swell and swell, until it was no wonder that Jimmy Skunk had thought that he was in danger of blowing up. And then, when it stopped swelling, there came again those beautiful little notes, so sweet and tremulous that Peter actually held his breath to listen. There was no doubt that Old Mr. Toad was singing just as he had said he was going to, and it was just as true that his song was one of the sweetest if not sweetest of all the chorus from and around the Smiling Pool. It was very hard to believe, but Peter and Jimmy and Unc' Billy both saw and heard, and that was enough. Their respect for Old Mr. Toad grew tremendously as they listened.

"How does he do it?" whispered Peter.

"With that bag under his chin, of course," replied Jimmy Skunk. "Don't you see it's only when that is swelled out that he sings? It's a regular music bag. And I didn't know he had any such bag there at all."

"I wish," said Peter Rabbit, feeling of his throat, "that I had a music bag like that in my throat."

And then he joined in the laugh of Jimmy and Unc' Billy, but still with something of a look of wistfulness in his eyes.

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The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad
Thornton W. Burgess

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