Longlegs Visits the Smiling Pool by Thornton W. Burgess

It’s time for smiles at the laughing brook. Longlegs the blue heron is back for another children’s animal story.

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.

“Of course we’ll waken Grandfather Frog in time for him to get away with nothing more than a great scare,” said Little Joe Otter, as they hurried along. “It will be such fun to see his big goggly eyes pop out when he opens them and sees Longlegs just ready to gobble him up! And won’t Longlegs be hopping mad when we cheat him out of the breakfast he is so sure he is going to have!”

They reached the Smiling Pool before Longlegs, who had taken a roundabout way, and they hid among the bulrushes where they could see and not be seen.

“There’s the old fellow just as I left him, fast asleep,” whispered Billy Mink.

Sure enough, there on his big green lily-pad sat Grandfather Frog with his eyes shut. At least, they seemed to be shut. And over on top of his big house sat Jerry Muskrat. Jerry seemed to be too busy opening a fresh-water clam to notice anything else; but the truth is he was watching all that was going on. You see, he had suspected that Billy Mink was going to play some trick on Grandfather Frog, so he had warned him. When he had seen Longlegs coming towards the Smiling Pool, he had given Grandfather Frog another warning, and he knew that now he was only pretending to be asleep.

Straight up to the Smiling Pool came Longlegs the Blue Heron, and on the very edge of it, among the bulrushes, he dropped his long legs and stood with his toes in the water, his long neck stretched up so that he could look all over the Smiling Pool. There, just as Little Joe Otter had said, sat Grandfather Frog on his big green lily-pad, fast asleep. At least, he seemed to be fast asleep. The eyes of Longlegs sparkled with hunger and the thought of what a splendid breakfast Grandfather Frog would make. Very slowly, putting each foot down as carefully as he knew how, Longlegs began to walk along the shore so as to get opposite the big green lily-pad where Grandfather Frog was sitting. And over in the bulrushes on the other side, Little Joe Otter and Billy Mink nudged each other and clapped their hands over their mouths to keep from laughing aloud.