Jimmy Skunk Consults His Friends
J IMMY SKUNK scratched his head thoughtfully as he watched Old Mr. Toad go down the Lone Little Path, hop, hop, hipperty-hop, towards the Smiling Pool. He certainly was puzzled, was Jimmy Skunk. If Old Mr. Toad had told him that he could fly, Jimmy would not have been more surprised, or found it harder to believe than that Old Mr. Toad had a beautiful voice. The truth is, Jimmy didn't believe it. He thought that Old Mr. Toad was trying to fool him.
Presently Peter Rabbit came along. He found Jimmy Skunk sitting in a brown study. He had quite forgotten to look for fat beetles, and when he forgets to do that you may make up your mind that Jimmy is doing some hard thinking.
"Hello, old Striped-coat, what have you got on your mind this fine morning?" cried Peter Rabbit.
"Him," said Jimmy simply, pointing down the Lone Little Path.
Peter looked. "Do you mean Old Mr. Toad?" he asked.
Jimmy nodded. "Do you see anything queer about him?" he asked in his turn.
Peter stared down the Lone Little Path. "No," he replied, "except that he seems in a great hurry."
"That's just it," Jimmy returned promptly. "Did you ever see him hurry unless he was frightened?"
Peter confessed that he never had.
"Well, he isn't frightened now, yet just look at him go," retorted Jimmy. "Says he has got a beautiful voice, and that he has to take part in the spring chorus at the Smiling Pool and that he is late."
Peter looked very hard at Jimmy to see if he was fooling or telling the truth. Then he began to laugh. "Old Mr. Toad sing! The very idea!" he cried. "He can sing about as much as I can, and that is not at all."
Jimmy grinned. "I think he's crazy, if you ask me," said he. "And yet he was just as earnest about it as if it were really so. I think he must have eaten something that has gone to his head. There's Unc' Billy Possum over there. Let's ask him what he thinks."
So Jimmy and Peter joined Unc' Billy, and Jimmy told the story about Old Mr. Toad all over again. Unc' Billy chuckled and laughed just as they had at the idea of Old Mr. Toad's saying he had a beautiful voice. But Unc' Billy has a shrewd little head on his shoulders. After a few minutes he stopped laughing.
"Ah done learn a right smart long time ago that Ah don' know all there is to know about mah neighbors," said he. "We-uns done think of Brer Toad as ugly-lookin' fo' so long that we-uns may have overlooked something. Ah don' reckon Brer Toad can sing, but Ah 'lows that perhaps he thinks he can. What do you-alls say to we-uns going down to the Smiling Pool and finding out what he really is up to?"
"The very thing!" cried Peter, kicking up his heels. You know Peter is always ready to go anywhere or do anything that will satisfy his curiosity.
Jimmy Skunk thought it over for a few minutes, and then he decided that as he hadn't anything in particular to do, and as he might find some fat beetles on the way, he would go too. So off they started after Old Mr. Toad, Peter Rabbit in the lead as usual, Unc' Billy Possum next, grinning as only he can grin, and in the rear Jimmy Skunk, taking his time and keeping a sharp eye out for fat beetles.