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G 147494 


Tlif Piper at t/ie Gittcs of Dawn 












Copyright, 1908. 1913. by 

Published October, 1913 










VI. MR. TOAD 139 






TEARS" 287 


- .; 


The Piper at the Gates of Dawn Frontispiece 

Facing Page 

It was the Water Rat 8 

" Come 011 ! " he said. " We shall just have to walk it " 5O 

lu panic, he began to run 64 

Through the Wild Wood and the snow 94 

Toad was a helpless prisoner in the remotest dungeon 164 

He lay prostrate in his misery 011 the floor 196 

"It's a hard life, by all accounts," murmured the Rat 24O 

Dwelling chiefly on his own cleverness, and presence 

of mind in emergencies 292 

The Badger said, " Now then, follow me ! " 326 



THE Mole had been working very hard all 
the morning, spring-cleaning his little 
home. First with brooms, then with dusters; 
then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a 
brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust 
in his throat and eyes, and splashes of white- 
wash all over his black fur, and an aching back 
and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air 
above and in the earth below and around him, 
penetrating even his dark and lowly little house 
with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. 
It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly 
flung down his brush on the floor, said, "Bother!" 
and "O blow!" and also "Hang spring-clean- 
ing!" and bolted out of the house without even 
waiting to put on his coat. Something up above 
was calling him imperiously, and he made for 
the steep little tunnel which answered in his 



case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by 
animals whose residences are nearer to the sun 
and air. So he scraped and scratched and 
scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged 
again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, 
working busily with his little paws and mutter- 
ing to himself, "Up we go! Up we go!" till at 
last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight 
and he found himself rolling in the warm grass 
of a great meadow. 

"This is fine!" he said to himself. "This 
is better than whitewashing!" The sunshine 
struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his 
heated brow, and after the seclusion of the 
cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of 
happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost 
like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at 
once, in the joy of living and the delight of 
spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way 
across the meadow till he reached the hedge on 
the further side. 

"Hold up!" said an elderly rabbit at the 
gap. "Sixpence for the privilege of passing by 
the private road!" He was bowled over in an 



instant by the impatient and contemptuous 
Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge 
chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hur- 
riedly from their holes to see what the row was 
about. "Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!" he re- 
marked jeeringly, and was gone before they could 
think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then 
they all started grumbling at each other. "How 
stupid you are! Why didn't you tell him- 
"Well, why didn't you say " "You might 
have reminded him " and so on, in the usual 
way; but, of course, it was then much too late, 
as is always the case. 

It all seemed too good to be true. Hither 
and thither through the meadows he rambled 
busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, 
finding everywhere birds building, flowers bud- 
ding, leaves thrusting everything happy, and 
progressive, and occupied. And instead of 
having an uneasy conscience pricking him and 
whispering "whitewash!" he somehow could 
only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle 
dog among all these busy citizens. After all, 
the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much 



to be resting yourself, as to see all the other 
fellows busy working. 

He thought his happiness was complete when, 
as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he 
stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never 
in his life had he seen a river before this 
sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and 
chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and 
leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on 
fresh playmates that shook themselves free, 
and were caught and held again. All was 
a-shake and a-shiver glints and gleams and 
sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. 
The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. 
By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, 
when very small, by the side of a man who 
holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and 
when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while 
the river still chattered on to him, a babbling 
procession of the best stories in the world, sent 
from the heart of the earth to be told at last 
to the insatiable sea. 

As he sat on the grass and looked across the 
river, a dark hole in the bank opposite, just 



above the water's edge, caught his eye, and 
dreamily he fell to considering what a nice, snug 
dwelling-place it would make for an animal 
with few wants and fond of a bijou riverside 
residence, above flood level and remote from 
noise and dust. As he gazed, something bright 
and small seemed to twinkle down in the heart 
of it, vanished, then twinkled once more like 
a tiny star. But it could hardly be a star in 
such an unlikely situation; and it was too 
glittering and small for a glow-worm. Then, 
as he looked, it winked at him, and so declared 
itself to be an eye ; and a small face began grad- 
ually to grow up round it, like a frame round a 

A brown little face, with whiskers. 

A grave round face, with the same twinkle in 
its eye that had first attracted his notice. 

Small neat ears and thick silky hair. 

It was the Water Rat! 

Then the two animals stood and regarded 
each other cautiously. 

"Hullo, Mole!" said the Water Rat. 

"Hullo, Rat!" said the Mole. 



'Would you like to come over?" enquired 
the Rat presently. 

"Oh, it 's all very well to talk," said the Mole 
rather pettishly, he being new to a river and 
riverside life and its ways. 

The Rat said nothing, but stooped and un- 
fastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly 
stepped into a little boat which the Mole had 
not observed. It was painted blue outside and 
white within, and was just the size for two 
animals; and the Mole's whole heart went out 
to it at once, even though he did not yet fully 
understand its uses. 

The Rat sculled smartly across and made 
fast. Then he held up his forepaw as the 
Mole stepped gingerly down. "Lean on that!" 
he said. "Now then, step lively!" and the 
Mole to his surprise and rapture found himself 
actually seated in the stern of a real boat. 

'This has been a wonderful day!" said he, 
as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls 
again. "Do you know, I've never been in a 
boat before in all my life." 

"What?" cried the Rat, open-mouthed: 


It was tin' H'tttrr lint 


" Never been in a you never well I what 
have you been doing, then?" 

"Is it so nice as all that?" asked the Mole 
shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe 
it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed 
the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the 
fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway 
lightly under him. 

"Nice? It 's the only thing," said the Water 
Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. 
"Believe me, my young friend, there is noth- 
ing absolute nothing half so much worth 
doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply 
messing," he went on dreamily: "messing 
about in boats; messing - 

"Look ahead, Rat!" cried the Mole sud- 

It was too late. The boat struck the bank 
full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, 
lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his 
heels in the air. 

" about in boats or with boats," the Rat 
went on composedly, picking himself up with 
a pleasant laugh. "In or out of 'em, it doesn't 



matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that 's 
the charm of it. Whether you get away, or 
whether you don't; whether you arrive at your 
destination or whether you reach somewhere 
else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, 
you 're always busy, and you never do anything 
in particular; and when you 've done it there 's 
always something else to do, and you can do 
it if you like, but you 'd much better not. Look 
here! If you 've really nothing else on hand 
this morning, supposing we drop down the river 
together, and have a long day of it?" 

The Mole waggled his toes from sheer happi- 
ness, spread his chest with a sigh of full con- 
tentment, and leant back blissfully into the 
soft cushions. ''What a day I 'm having!" he 
said. "Let us start at once!" 

"Hold hard a minute, then!" said the Rat. 
He looped the painter through a ring in his 
landing-stage, climbed up into his hole above, 
and after a short interval reappeared staggering 
under a fat wicker luncheon-basket. 

"Shove that under your feet," he observed to 
the Mole, as he passed it down into the boat. 



Then he untied the painter and took the sculls 

"What's inside it?" asked the Mole, wrig- 
gling with curiosity. 

"There 's cold chicken inside it," replied 
the Rat briefly: " coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeef 
pottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater " 

"O stop, stop!" cried the Mole in ecstasies. 
"This is too much!" 

"Do you really think so?" enquired the Rat 
seriously. "It's only what I always take on 
these little excursions; and the other animals 
are always telling me that I 'm a mean beast 
and cut it very fine!" 

The Mole never heard a word he was saying. 
Absorbed in the new life he was entering upon, 
intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, the 
scents and the sounds and the sunlight, he 
trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long 
waking dreams. The Water Rat, like the good 
little fellow he was, sculled steadily on and 
forbore to disturb him. 

"I like your clothes awfully, old chap," he 



remarked after some half an hour or so had 
passed. ' I 'm going to get a black velvet smok- 
ing-suit myself some day, as soon as I can 
afford it." 

"I beg your pardon," said the Mole, pulling 
himself together with an effort. 'You must 
think me very rude; but all this is so new to 
me. So this is a River ! " 

' The River," corrected the Rat. 

"And you really live by the river? What a 
jolly life!" 

"By it and with it and on it and in it," said 
the Rat. "It 's brother and sister to me, and 
aunts, and company, and food and drink, and 
(naturally) washing. It 's my world, and I don't 
want any other. What it hasn't got is not 
worth having, and what it doesn't know is 
not worth knowing. Lord! the times we 've 
had together! Whether in winter or summer, 
spring or autumn, it 's always got its fun and its 
excitements. When the floods are on in Febru- 
ary, and my cellars and basement are brimming 
with drink that 's no good to me, and the brown 
water runs by my best bedroom window; or 



again when it all drops away and shows patches 
of mud that smells like plum-cake, and the 
rushes and weed clog the channels, and I can 
potter about dry shod over most of the bed of 
it and find fresh food to eat, and things careless 
people have dropped out of boats!" 

"But isn't it a bit dull at times?" the Mole 
ventured to ask. "Just you and the river, and 
no one else to pass a word with?" 

"No one else to well, I mustn't be hard on 
you," said the Rat with forbearance. 'You 're 
new to it, and of course you don't know. The 
bank is so crowded nowadays that many peo- 
ple ere moving away altogether. O no, it 
isn't what it used to be, at all. Otters, king- 
fishers, dabchicks, moorhens, all of them about 
all day long and always wanting you to do some- 
thing as if a fellow had no business of his 
own to attend to!" 

"What lies over there?" asked the Mole, 
waving a paw towards a background of wood- 
land that darkly framed the water-meadows on 
one side of the river. 

"That? O, that 's just the Wild Wood," said 



the Rat shortly. ' We don't go there very much, 
we river-bankers." 

"Aren't they- -aren't they very nice people 
in there?" said the Mole a trifle nervously. 

"W-e-11," replied the Rat, "let me see. The 
squirrels are all right. And the rabbits - - some 
of 'em, but rabbits are a mixed lot. And then 
there 's Badger, of course. He lives right in the 
heart of it; wouldn't live anywhere else, either, 
if you paid him to do it. Dear old Badger! 
Nobody interferes with him. They 'd better 
not," he added significantly. 

"Why, who should interfere with him?" asked 
the Mole. 

"Well, of course there are others," ex- 
plained the Rat in a hesitating sort of way. 
" Weasels and stoats and foxes - - and so on. 
They 're all right in a way I 'm very good 
friends with them pass the time of day when 
we meet, and all that but they break out some- 
times, there 's no denying it, and then - - well, you 
can't really trust them, and that 's the fact." 

The Mole knew well that it is quite against 
animal-etiquette to dwell on possible trouble 



ahead, or even to allude to it; so he dropped 
the subject. 

"And beyond the Wild Wood again?" he 
asked; : ' where it's all blue and dim, and one 
sees what may be hills or perhaps they mayn't, 
and something like the smoke of towns, or is it 
only cloud-drift?" 

"Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide 
World," said the Rat. "And that 's something 
that doesn't matter, either to you or me. I 've 
never been there, and I 'm never going, nor you 
either, if you 've got any sense at all. Don't 
ever refer to it again, please. Now then ! Here 's 
our backwater at last, where we 're going to 

Leaving the main stream, they now passed 
into what seemed at first sight like a little land- 
locked lake. Green turf sloped down to either 
edge, brown snaky tree-roots gleamed below 
the surface of the quiet water, while ahead of 
them the silvery shoulder and foamy tumble of 
a weir, arm-in-arm with a restless dripping mill- 
wheel, that held up in its turn a grey-gabled 
mill-house, filled the air with a soothing mur- 



mur of sound, dull and smothery, yet with little 
clear voices speaking up cheerfully out of it at 
intervals. It was so very beautiful that the 
Mole could only hold up both forepaws and 
gasp: "O my! O my! O my!" 

The Rat brought the boat alongside the bank, 
made her fast, helped the still awkward Mole 
safely ashore, and swung out the luncheon- 
basket. The Mole begged as a favour to be 
allowed to unpack it all by himself; and the 
Rat was very pleased to indulge him, and to 
sprawl at full length on the grass and rest, while 
his excited friend shook out the table-cloth 
and spread it, took out all the mysterious pack- 
ets one by one and arranged their contents in 
due order, still gasping: "O my! my!" at 
each fresh revelation. When all was ready, the 
Rat said, "Now, pitch in, old fellow!" and the 
Mole was indeed very glad to obey, for he had 
started his spring-cleaning at a very early hour 
that morning, as people will do, and had not 
paused for bite or sup; and he had been through 
a very great deal since that distant time which 
now seemed so many days ago. 



'What are you looking at?" said the Rat 
presently, when the edge of their hunger was 
somewhat dulled, and the Mole's eyes were able 
to wander off the table-cloth a little. 

"1 am looking," said the Mole, "at a streak of 
bubbles that I see travelling along the surface 
of the water. That is a thing that strikes me 
as funny." 

"Bubbles? Oho!" said the Rat, and chir- 
ruped cheerily in an inviting sort of way. 

A broad glistening muzzle showed itself above 
the edge of the bank, and the Otter hauled him- 
self out and shook the water from his coat. 

"Greedy beggars!" he observed, making for 
the provender. "Why didn't you invite me, 

"This was an impromptu affair," explained 
the Rat. "By the way my friend Mr. Mole." 

"Proud, I'm sure," said the Otter, and the 
two animals were friends forthwith. 

"Such a rumpus everywhere!" continued the 
Otter. "All the world seems out on the river 
to-day. I came up this backwater to try and 
get a moment's peace, and then stumble upon 



you fellows! - - At least - - 1 beg pardon I 
don't exactly mean that, you know." 

There was a rustle behind them, proceeding 
from a hedge wherein last year's leaves still 
clung thick, and a stripy head, with high 
shoulders behind it, peered forth on them. 

:< Come on, old Badger!" shouted the Rat. 

The Badger trotted forward a pace or two, 
then grunted, "H'm! Company," and turned 
his back and disappeared from view. 

"That's just the sort of fellow he is!" ob- 
served the disappointed Rat. "Simply hates 
Society! Now we shan't see any more of him 
to-day. Well, tell us, who's out on the river? ' : 

"Toad 's out, for one," replied the Otter. 
"In his brand-new wager-boat; new togs, new 

The two animals looked at each other and 

"Once, it was nothing but sailing," said the 
Rat. "Then he tired of that and took to punt- 
ing. Nothing would please him but to punt all 
day and every day, and a nice mess he made of 
it. Last year it was house-boating, and we all 



had to go and stay with him in his house-boat, 
and pretend we liked it. He was going to 
spend the rest of his life in a house-boat. It 's 
all the same, whatever he takes up; he gets 
tired of it, and starts on something fresh." 

"Such a good fellow, too," remarked the Otter 
reflectively; "but no stability especially in a 

From where they sat they could get a glimpse 
of the main stream across the island that sep- 
arated them; and just then a wager-boat flashed 
into view, the rower a short, stout figure - 
splashing badly and rolling a good deal, but 
working his hardest. The Rat stood up and 
hailed him, but Toad - - for it was he - - shook 
his head and settled sternly to his work. 

"He '11 be out of the boat in a minute if he 
rolls like that," said the Rat, sitting down again. 

"Of course he will," chuckled the Otter. 
"Did I ever tell you that good story about Toad 
and the lock-keeper? It happened this way. 
Toad ..." 

An errant May-fly swerved unsteadily 
athwart the current in the intoxicated fashion 



affected by young bloods of May-flies seeing 
life. A swirl of water and a "cloop!" and the 
May-fly was visible no more. 

Neither was the Otter. 

The Mole looked down. The voice was still in 
his ears, but the turf whereon he had sprawled 
was clearly vacant. Not an Otter to be seen, 
as far as the distant horizon. 

But again there was a streak of bubbles on 
the surface of the river. 

The Rat hummed a tune, and the Mole rec- 
ollected that animal-etiquette forbade any sort 
of comment on the sudden disappearance of 
one's friends at any moment, for any reason or 
no reason whatever. 

"Well, well," said the Rat, 'I suppose we 
ought to be moving. I wonder which of us 
had better pack the luncheon-basket?" He did 
not speak as if he was frightfully eager for the 

"O, please let me," said the Mole. So, of 
course, the Rat let him. 

Packing the basket was not quite such pleas- 
ant work as unpacking the basket. It never 



is. But the Mole was bent on enjoying every- 
thing, and although just when he had got the 
basket packed and strapped up tightly he saw 
a plate staring up at him from the grass, and 
when the job had been done again the Rat 
pointed out a fork which anybody ought to 
have seen, and last of all, behold! the mustard 
pot, which he had been sitting on without 
knowing it still, somehow, the thing got fin- 
ished at last, without much loss of temper. 

The afternoon sun was getting low as the 
Rat sculled gently homewards in a dreamy 
mood, murmuring poetry-things over to him- 
self, and not paying much attention to Mole. 
But the Mole was very full of lunch, and self- 
satisfaction, and pride, and already quite at 
home in a boat (so he thought) , and was getting 
a bit restless besides: and presently he said, 
"Ratty! Please, I want to row, now!' 3 

The Rat shook his head with a smile. "Not 
yet, my young friend," he said; "wait till 
you 've had a few lessons. It 's not so easy as 
it looks." 

The Mole was quiet for a minute or two. 



But he began to feel more and more jealous of 
Rat, sculling so strongly and so easily along, 
and his pride began to whisper that he could 
do it every bit as well. He jumped up and 
seized the sculls so suddenly that the Rat, who 
was gazing out over the water and saying more 
poetry-things to himself, was taken by surprise 
and fell backwards off his seat with his legs 
in the air for the second time, while the tri- 
umphant Mole took his place and grabbed the 
sculls with entire confidence. 

"Stop it, you silly ass!" cried the Rat, from 
the bottom of the boat. 'You can't do it! 
You'll have us over!" 

The Mole flung his sculls back with a flourish, 
and made a great dig at the water. He missed 
the surface altogether, his legs flew up above 
his head, and he found himself lying on the top 
of the prostrate Rat. Greatly alarmed, he made 
a grab at the side of the boat, and the next 
moment - - Sploosh ! 

Over went the boat, and he found himself 
struggling in the river. 

O my, how cold the water was, and O, how 



very wet it felt! How it sang in his ears as he 
went down, down, down! How bright and wel- 
come the sun looked as he rose to the surface 
coughing and spluttering! How black was his 
despair when he felt himself sinking again! 
Then a firm paw gripped him by the back of 
his neck. It was the Rat, and he was evidently 
laughing the Mole could feel him laughing, 
right down his arm and through his paw, and 
so into his the Mole's neck. 

The Rat got hold of a scull and shoved it 
under the Mole's arm; then he did the same 
by the other side of him and, swimming behind, 
propelled the helpless animal to shore, hauled 
him out, and set him down on the bank, a 
squashy, pulpy lump of misery. 

When the Rat had rubbed him down a bit, 
and wrung some of the wet out of him, he said, 
"Now then, old fellow! Trot up and down the 
towing-path as hard as you can, till you 're 
warm and dry again, while I dive for the 

So the dismal Mole, wet without and ashamed 
within, trotted about till he was fairly dry, while 



the Rat plunged into the water again, recovered 
the boat, righted her and made her fast, fetched 
his floating property to shore by degrees, and 
finally dived successfully for the luncheon-basket 
and struggled to land with it. 

When all was ready for a start once more, 
the Mole, limp and dejected, took his seat in 
the stern of the boat; and as they set off, he 
said in a low voice, broken with emotion, 
"Ratty, my generous friend! I am very sorry 
indeed for my foolish and ungrateful conduct. 
My heart quite fails me when I think how I 
might have lost that beautiful luncheon-basket. 
Indeed, I have been a complete ass, and I know 
it. Will you overlook it this once and forgive 
me, and let things go on as before? ' ! 

"That's all right, bless you!'" responded the 
Rat cheerily. 'AVhat's a little wet to a AA r ater 
Rat? I'm more in the water than out of it 
most days. Don't you think any more about 
it; and look here! I really think you had 
better come and stop with me for a little time. 
It's very plain and rough, you know not like 
Toad's house at all but you haven't seen 



that yet; still, I can make you comfortable. 
And I '11 teach you to row and to swim, and 

you '11 soon be as handy on the water as any of 

? ? 

The Mole was so touched by his kind manner 
of speaking that he could find no voice to 
answer him; and he had to brush away a tear 
or two with the back of his paw. But the 
Rat kindly looked in another direction, and 
presently the Mole's spirits revived again, and 
he was even able to give some straight back- 
talk to a couple of moorhens who were snigger- 
ing to each other about his bedraggled appear- 

When they got home, the Rat made a bright 
fire in the parlour, and planted the Mole in an 
arm-chair in front of it, having fetched down a 
dressing-gown and slippers for him, and told 
him river stories till supper-time. Very thrill- 
ing stories they were, too, to an earth-dwelling 
animal like Mole. Stories about weirs, and 
sudden floods, and leaping pike, and steamers 
that flung hard bottles - - at least bottles were 
certainly flung, and from steamers, so presum- 



ably by them; and about herons, and how par- 
ticular they were whom they spoke to; and 
about adventures down drains, and night-fish- 
ings with Otter, or excursions far a-field with 
Badger. Supper \vas a most cheerful meal; but 
very shortly afterwards a terribly sleepy Mole 
had to be escorted upstairs by his considerate 
host, to the best bedroom, where he soon laid 
his head on his pillow in great peace and con- 
tentment, knowing that his new-found friend, 
the River, was lapping the sill of his window. 

This day was only the first of many similar 
ones for the emancipated Mole, each of them 
longer and full of interest as the ripening sum- 
mer moved onward. He learnt to swim and to 
row, and entered into the joy of running water; 
and with his ear to the reed-stems he caught, 
at intervals, something of what the wind went 
whispering so constantly among them. 





"OATTY," said the Mole suddenly, one 
-1^* bright summer morning, "if you please, 
I want to ask you a favour." 

The Rat was sitting on the river bank, sing- 
ing a little song. He had just composed it 
himself, so he was very taken up with it, and 
would not pay proper attention to Mole or any- 
thing else. Since early morning he had been 
swimming in the river, in company with his 
friends, the ducks. And when the ducks stood 
on their heads suddenly, as ducks will, he would 
dive down and tickle their necks, just under 
where their chins would be if ducks had chins, 
till they were forced to come to the surface 
again in a hurry, spluttering and angry and 
shaking their feathers at him, for it is impossible 
to say quite all you feel when your head is under 
water. At last they implored him to go away 



and attend to his own affairs and leave them 
to mind theirs. So the Rat went away, and 
sat on the river bank in the sun, and made up 
a song about them, which he called: 


All along the backwater, 
Through the rushes tall, 
Ducks are a-dabbling, 
Up tails all! 

Ducks' tails, drakes' tails, 
Yellow feet a-quiver, 
Yellow bills all out of sight 
Busy in the river! 

Slushy green undergrowth 
Where the roach swim 
Here we keep our larder, 
Cool and full and dim. 

Everyone for what he likes! 
We like to be 
Heads down, tails up, 
Dabbling free! 

High in the blue above 
Swifts whirl and call 
We are down a-dabbling 
Up tails all! 



"I don't know that I think so very much of 
that little song, Rat," observed the Mole cau- 
tiously. He was no poet himself and didn't 
care who knew it; and he had a candid nature. 

"Nor don't the ducks neither," replied the 
Rat cheerfully. "They say, ''Why can't fellows 
be allowed to do what they like when they like 
and as they like, instead of other fellows sitting 
on banks and watching them all the time and 
making remarks and poetry and things about 
them? What nonsense it all is!' That 's what 
the ducks say." 

"So it is, so it is," said the Mole, with great 

"No, it isn't!" cried the Rat indignantly. 

"Well then, it isn't, it isn't," replied the Mole 
soothingly. "But what I wanted to ask you 
was, won't you take me to call on Mr. Toad? 
I 've heard so much about him, and I do so 
want to make his acquaintance." 

"Why, certainly," said the good-natured Rat, 
jumping to his feet and dismissing poetry from 
his mind for the day. "Get the boat out, and 
we '11 paddle up there at once. It's never the 



wrong time to call on Toad. Early or late, he's 
always the same fellow. Always good-tempered, 
always glad to see you, always sorry \vhen you 


'He must be a very nice animal," observed 
the Mole, as he got into the boat and took the 
sculls, while the Rat settled himself comfort- 
ably in the stern. 

"He is indeed the best of animals," replied 
Rat. "So simple, so good-natured, and so affec- 
tionate. Perhaps he 's not very clever - - we 
can't all be geniuses; and it may be that he 
is both boastful and conceited. But he has got 
some great qualities, has Toady." 

Rounding a bend in the river, they came in 
sight of a handsome, dignified old house of mel- 
lowed red brick, with well-kept lawns reaching 
down to the water's edge. 

"There's Toad Hall," said the Rat; "and 
that creek on the left, where the notice-board 
says, 'Private. No landing allowed,' leads to 
his boat-house, where we '11 leave the boat. 
The stables are over there to the right. That 's 
the banqueting-hall you 're looking at now 



very old, that is. Toad is rather rich, you 
know, and this is really one of the nicest houses 
in these parts, though we never admit as much 
to Toad." 

They glided up the creek, and the Mole 
shipped his sculls as they passed into the shadow 
of a large boat-house. Here they saw many 
handsome boats, slung from the cross-beams or 
hauled up on a slip, but none in the water; and 
the place had an unused and a deserted air. 

The Rat looked around him. "I understand," 
said he. 'Boating is played out. He 's tired 
of it, and done with it. I wonder what new 
fad he has taken up now? Come along and 
let 's look him up. We shall hear all about it 
quite soon enough." 

They disembarked, and strolled across the gay 
flower-decked lawns in search of Toad, whom 
they presently happened upon resting in a wicker 
garden-chair, with a pre-occupied expression of 
face, and a large map spread out on his knees. 

" Hooray!" he cried, jumping up on seeing 
them, 'this is splendid!" He shook the paws 
of both of them warmly, never waiting for an 



introduction to the Mole. 'How kind of you!" 
he went on, dancing round them. 'I was just 
going to send a boat down the river for you, 
Ratty, with strict orders that you were to be 
fetched up here at once, whatever you were 
doing. I want you badly both of you. Now 
what will you take? Come inside and have 
something! You don't know how lucky it is, 
your turning up just now!" 

"Let 's sit quiet a bit, Toady!" said the Rat, 
throwing himself into an easy chair, while the 
Mole took another by the side of him and made 
some civil remark about Toad's "delightful resi- 

"Finest house on the whole river," cried Toad 
boisterously. "Or anywhere else, for that mat- 
ter," he could not help adding. 

Here the Rat nudged the Mole. Unfortu- 
nately the Toad saw him do it, and turned very 
red. There was a moment's painful silence. 
Then Toad burst out laughing. "All right, 
Ratty," he said. "It 's only my way, you know. 
And it 's not such a very bad house, is it? You 
know, you rather like it yourself. Now, look 



here. Let 's be sensible. You are the very 
animals I wanted. You 've got to help me. 
It's most important!" 

''It 's about your rowing, I suppose," said the 
Rat, with an innocent air. "You 're getting on 
fairly well, though you splash a good bit still. 
With a great deal of patience and any quantity 
of coaching, you may " 

"O, pooh! boating!" interrupted the Toad, 
in great disgust. "Silly boyish amusement. 
I 've given that up long ago. Sheer waste of 
time, that 's what it is. It makes me downright 
sorry to see you fellows, who ought to know 
better, spending all your energies in that aim- 
less manner. No, I 've discovered the real thing, 
the only genuine occupation for a lifetime. I 
propose to devote the remainder of mine to it, 
and can only regret the wasted years that lie 
behind me, squandered in trivialities. Come 
with me, dear Ratty, and your amiable friend 
also, if he will be so very good, just as far as 
the stable-yard, and you shall see what you 
shall see!" 

He led the way to the stable-yard accord- 



ingly, the Rat following with a most mistrustful 
expression; and there, drawn out of the coach- 
house into the open, they saw a gipsy caravan, 
shining with newness, painted a canary-yellow 
picked out with green, and red wheels. 

'There you are!" cried the Toad, straddling 
and expanding himself. 'There 's real life for 
you, embodied in that little cart. The open 
road, the dusty highway, the heath, the com- 
mon, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, 
villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off 
to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, 
interest, excitement! The whole world before 
you, and a horizon that 's always changing! And 
mind ! this is the very finest cart of its sort that 
was ever built, without any exception. Come 
inside and look at the arrangements. Planned 
'em all myself, I did!" 

The Mole was tremendously interested and 
excited, and followed him eagerly up the steps 
and into the interior of the caravan. The Rat 
only snorted and thrust his hands deep into his 
pockets, remaining where he was. 

It was indeed very compact and comfortable. 



Little sleeping bunks - - a little table that folded 
up against the wall - - a cooking-stove, lockers, 
book-shelves, a bird-cage with a bird in it; and 
pots, pans, jugs, and kettles of every size and 

"All complete!" said the Toad triumphantly, 
pulling open a locker. ' You see biscuits, 
potted lobster, sardines everything you can 
possibly want. Soda-water here baccy there 
letter-paper, bacon, jam, cards, and domi- 
noes you '11 find," he continued, as they de- 
scended the steps again, "you '11 find that noth- 
ing whatever has been forgotten, when we make 
our start this afternoon." 

'I beg your pardon," said the Rat slowly, as 
he chewed a straw, "but did I overhear you say 
something about 'we,' and 'start,' and 'this 

"Now, you dear good old Ratty," said Toad 
imploringly, "don't begin talking in that stiff 
and sniffy sort of way, because you know you 've 
got to come. I can't possibly manage without 
you, so please consider it settled, and don't 
argue it 's the one thing I can't stand. You 



surely don't mean to stick to your dull fusty 
old river all your life, and just live in a hole in 
a bank, and boat? I want to show you the 
world! I 'm going to make an animal of you, 
my boy!" 

'I don't care," said the Rat doggedly. 'I 'in 
not coming, and that 's flat. And I am going to 
stick to my old river, and live in a hole, and 
boat, as I 've always done. And what 's more, 
Mole 's going to stick to me and do as I do, 
aren't you, Mole?" 

" Of course I am," said the Mole, loyally. " I'll 
always stick to you, Rat, and what you say is to 
be - - has got to be. All the same, it sounds as 
if it might have been - - well, rather fun, you 
know!" he added wistfully. Poor Mole! The 
Life Adventurous was so new a thing to him, 
and so thrilling; and this fresh aspect of it was 
so tempting; and he had fallen in love at first 
sight with the canary-coloured cart and all its 
little fitments. 

The Rat saw what was passing in his mind, 
and wavered. He hated disappointing people, 
and he was fond of the Mole, and would do 



almost anything to oblige him. Toad was watch- 
ing both of them closely. 

"Come along in, and have some lunch," he 
said, diplomatically, "and we'll talk it over. 
We needn't decide anything in a hurry. Of 
course, / don't really care. I only want to give 
pleasure to you fellows. 'Live for others!' 
That 's my motto in life." 

During luncheon which was excellent, of 
course, as everything at Toad Hall always was 
the Toad simply let himself go. Disregard- 
ing the Rat, he proceeded to play upon the 
inexperienced Mole as on a harp. Naturally a 
voluble animal, and always mastered by his 
imagination, he painted the prospects of the 
trip and the joys of the open life and the road- 
side in such glowing colours that the Mole 
could hardly sit in his chair for excitement. 
Somehow, it soon seemed taken for granted by 
all three of them that the trip was a settled 
thing; and the Rat, though still unconvinced 
in his mind, allowed his good-nature to over- 
ride his personal objections. He could not bear 
to disappoint his two friends, who were already 



deep in schemes and anticipations, planning out 
each day's separate occupation for several weeks 

When they were quite ready, the now trium- 
phant Toad led his companions to the paddock 
and set them to capture the old grey horse, who, 
without having been consulted, and to his own 
extreme annoyance, had been told off by Toad 
for the dustiest job in this dusty expedition. 
He frankly preferred the paddock, and took a 
deal of catching. Meantime Toad packed the 
lockers still tighter with necessaries, and hung 
nose-bags, nets of onions, bundles of hay, and 
baskets from the bottom of the cart. At last 
the horse was caught and harnessed, and they 
set off, all talking at once, each animal either 
trudging by the side of the cart or sitting on 
the shaft, as the humour took him. It was a 
golden afternoon. The smell of the dust they 
kicked up was rich and satisfying; out of thick 
orchards on either side the road, birds called 
and whistled to them cheerily; good-natured 
wayfarers, passing them, gave them "Good 
day," or stopped to say nice things about their 



beautiful cart; and rabbits, sitting at their front 
doors in the hedgerows, held up their fore-paws, 
and said, "O my! O my! O my!" 

Late in the evening, tired and happy and 
miles from home, they drew up on a remote 
common far from habitations, turned the horse 
loose to graze, and ate their simple supper sit- 
ting on the grass by the side of the cart. Toad 
talked big about all he was going to do in the 
days to come, while stars grew fuller and larger 
all around them, and a yellow moon, appearing 
suddenly and silently from nowhere in partic- 
ular, came to keep them company and listen to 
their talk. At last they turned in to their little 
bunks in the cart; and Toad, kicking out his 
legs, sleepily said, ''Well, good night, you fel- 
lows! This is the real life for a gentleman! 
Talk about your old river!" 

"I dont talk about my river," replied the 
patient Rat. "You know I don't, Toad. But I 
think about it," he added pathetically, in a lower 
tone: "I think about it all the time!" 

The Mole reached out from under his blanket, 
felt for the Rat's paw in the darkness, and 



gave it a squeeze. ''I '11 do whatever you like, 
Ratty," he whispered. "Shall we run away to- 
morrow morning, quite early - - very early - 
and go back to our dear old hole on the river?" 

"No, no, we '11 see it out," whispered back the 
Rat. 'Thanks awfully, but I ought to stick by 
Toad till this trip is ended. It wouldn't be safe 
for him to be left to himself. It won't take 
very long. His fads never do. Good night!" 

The end \\SLS indeed nearer than even the 
Rat suspected. 

After so much open air and excitement the 
Toad slept very soundly, and no amount of 
shaking could rouse him out of bed next morn- 
ing. So the Mole and Rat turned to, quietly 
and manfully, and while the Rat saw to the 
horse, and lit a fire, and cleaned last night's 
cups and platters, and got things ready for 
breakfast, the Mole trudged off to the nearest 
village, a long way off, for milk and eggs and 
various necessaries the Toad had, of course, for- 
gotten to provide. The hard work had all been 
done, and the two animals were resting, thor- 
oughly exhausted, by the time Toad appeared 



on the scene, fresh and gay, remarking what a 
pleasant, easy life it was they were all leading 
now, after the cares and worries and fatigues of 
housekeeping at home. 

They had a pleasant ramble that day over 
grassy downs and along narrow by-lanes, and 
camped, as before, on a common, only this time 
the two guests took care that Toad should do his 
fair share of work. In consequence, when the 
time came for starting next morning, Toad was 
by no means so rapturous about the simplicity 
of the primitive life, and indeed attempted to 
resume his place in his bunk, whence he was 
hauled by force. Their way lay, as before, 
across country by narrow lanes, and it was not 
till the afternoon that they came out on the 
high-road, their first high-road; and there dis- 
aster, fleet and unforeseen, sprang out on them 
disaster momentous indeed to their expedi- 
tion, but simply overwhelming in its effect on 
the after career of Toad. 

They were strolling along the high-road easily, 
the Mole by the horse's head, talking to him, 
since the horse had complained that he was 



being frightfully left out of it, and nobody con- 
sidered him in the least; the Toad and the 
Water Rat walking behind the cart talking to- 
gether - - at least Toad was talking, and Rat 
was saying at intervals, 'Yes, precisely; and 
what did you say to him ?' and thinking all 
the time of something very different, when far 
behind them they heard a faint warning hum, 
like the drone of a distant bee. Glancing back, 
they saw a small cloud of dust, with a dark 
centre of energy, advancing on them at incred- 
ible speed, while from out the dust a faint 
" Poop-poop!" wailed like an uneasy animal in 
pain. Hardly regarding it, they turned to re- 
sume their conversation, when in an instant (as 
it seemed) the peaceful scene was changed, and 
with a blast of wind and a whirl of sound that 
made them jump for the nearest ditch, It was 
on them! The "Poop-poop" rang with a brazen 
shout in their ears, they had a moment's glimpse 
of an interior of glittering plate-glass and rich 
morocco, and the magnificent motor-car, im- 
mense, breath-snatching, passionate, with its 
pilot tense and hugging his wheel, possessed all 



earth and air for the fraction of a second, flung 
an enveloping cloud of dust that blinded and 
enwrapped them utterly, and then dwindled to 
a speck in the far distance, changed back into a 
droning bee once more. 

The old grey horse, dreaming, as he plodded 
along, of his quiet paddock, in a new raw situ- 
ation such as this, simply abandoned himself to 
his natural emotions. Rearing, plunging, back- 
ing steadily, in spite of all the Mole's efforts at 
his head, and all the Mole's lively language 
directed at his better feelings, he drove the cart 
backward towards the deep ditch at the side of 
the road. It wavered an instant then there 
was a heart-rending crash and the canary- 
coloured cart, their pride and their joy, lay on 
its side in the ditch, an irredeemable wreck. 

The Rat danced up and down in the road, 
simply transported with passion. 'You vil- 
lains!" he shouted, shaking both fists. 'You 
scoundrels, you highwaymen, you - - you road- 
hogs! - - 1 '11 have the law of you! I '11 report 
you! I'll take you through all the Courts!" 
His home-sickness had quite slipped away from 



him, and for the moment he was the skipper of 
the canary-coloured vessel driven on a shoal by 
the reckless jockeying of rival mariners, and he 
was trying to recollect all the fine and biting 
things he used to say to masters of steam- 
launches when their wash, as they drove too 
near the bank, used to flood his parlour-carpet 
at home. 

Toad sat straight down in the middle of the 
dusty road, his legs stretched out before him, 
and stared fixedly in the direction of the dis- 
appearing motor-car. He breathed short, his 
face wore a placid, satisfied expression, and at 
intervals he faintly murmured "Poop-poop!" 

The Mole was busy trying to quiet the horse, 
which he succeeded in doing after a time. Then 
he went to look at the cart, on its side in the 
ditch. It was indeed a sorry sight. Panels and 
windows smashed, axles hopelessly bent, one 
wheel off, sardine-tins scattered over the wide 
world, and the bird in the bird-cage sobbing 
pitifully and calling to be let out. 

The Rat came to help him, but their united 
efforts were not sufficient to right the cart. 



"Hi! Toad!" they cried. "Come and bear a 
hand, can't you!" 

The Toad never answered a word, or budged 
from his seat in the road; so they went to see 
what was the matter with him. They found 
him in a sort of a trance, a happy smile on his 
face, his eyes still fixed on the dusty wake of 
their destroyer. At intervals he was still heard 
to murmur "Poop-poop!" 

The Rat shook him by the shoulder. "Are you 
coming to help us, Toad?" he demanded sternly. 

"Glorious, stirring sight!" murmured Toad, 
never offering to move. 'The poetry of motion! 
The real way to travel ! The only way to travel ! 
Here to-day - - in next week to-morrow ! Vil- 
lages skipped, towns and cities jumped always 
somebody else's horizon! O bliss! O poop- 
poop! O my! O my!" 

"O stop being an ass, Toad!" cried the Mole 

"And to think I never knew!' went on the 
Toad in a dreamy monotone. "All those wasted 
years that lie behind me, I never knew, never 
even dreamt! But now but now that I know, 




now that I fully realise! O what a flowery track 
lies spread before me, henceforth! What dust- 
clouds shall spring up behind me as I speed on 
my reckless way! What carts I shall fling care- 
lessly into the ditch in the wake of my magnifi- 
cent onset ! Horrid little carts common carts 
canary-coloured carts ! " 

'What are we to do with him?" asked the 
Mole of the Water Rat. 

Nothing at all," replied the Rat firmly. 
Because there is really nothing to be done. 
You see, I know him from of old. He is now 
possessed. He has got a new craze, and it 
always takes him that way, in its first stage. 
He '11 continue like that for days now, like an 
animal walking in a happy dream, quite useless 
for all practical purposes. Never mind him. 
Let 's go and see what there is to be done about 
the cart." 

A careful inspection showed them that, even 
if they succeeded in righting it by themselves, 
the cart would travel no longer. The axles 
were in a hopeless state, and the missing wheel 
was shattered into pieces. 



The Rat knotted the horse's reins over his 
back and took him by the head, carrying the 
bird-cage and its hysterical occupant in the 
other hand. :< Come on!" he said grimly to the 
Mole. "It's five or six miles to the nearest 
town, and we shall just have to walk it. The 
sooner we make a start the better." 

"But what about Toad?" asked the Mole 
anxiously, as they set off together. 'We can't 
leave him here, sitting in the middle of the road 
by himself, in the distracted state he 's in! It 's 
not safe. Supposing another Thing were to 
come along?" 

"O, bother Toad," said the Rat savagely; 
"I 've done with him." 

They had not proceeded very far on their 
way, however, when there was a pattering of 
feet behind them, and Toad caught them up 
and thrust a paw inside the elbow of each of 
them; still breathing short and staring into 

Now, look here, Toad ! " said the Rat sharply : 
as soon as we get to the town, you '11 have to 
go straight to the police-station and see if they 





know anything about that motor-car and who 
it belongs to, and lodge a complaint against it. 
And then you '11 have to go to a blacksmith's 
or a wheelwright's and arrange for the cart to 
be fetched and mended and put to rights. It '11 
take time, but it 's not quite a hopeless smash. 
Meanwhile, the Mole and I will go to an inn 
and find comfortable rooms where we can stay 
till the cart 's ready, and till your nerves have 
recovered their shock." 

" Police-station ! Complaint ! " murmured Toad 
dreamily. 'Me complain of that beautiful, that 
heavenly vision that has been vouchsafed me! 
Mend the cart ! I 've done with carts for ever. 
I never want to see the cart, or to hear of it, 
again. O Ratty! You can't think how obliged 
I am to you for consenting to come on this trip ! 
I wouldn't have gone without you, and then I 
might never have seen that - - that swan, that 
sunbeam, that thunderbolt! I might never have 
heard that entrancing sound, or smelt that be- 
witching smell! I owe it all to you, my best of 

The Rat turned from him in despair. 'You 



"Come on!" he said. "We shall just 
have to walk it" 


see what it is?" he said to the Mole, addressing 
him across Toad's head: "He 's quite hopeless. 
I give it up when we get to the town we '11 go 
to the railway station, and with luck we may 
pick up a train there that '11 get us back to river 
bank to-night. And if ever you catch me going 
a-pleasuring with this provoking animal again !" 
He snorted, and during the rest of that weary 
trudge addressed his remarks exclusively to 

On reaching the town they went straight to 
the station and deposited Toad in the second- 
class waiting-room, giving a porter twopence to 
keep a strict eye on him. They then left the 
horse at an inn stable, and gave what directions 
they could about the cart and its contents. 
Eventually, a slow train having landed them at 
a station not very far from Toad Hall, they 
escorted the spellbound, sleep-walking Toad to 
his door, put him inside it, and instructed his 
housekeeper to feed him, undress him, and put 
him to bed. Then they got out their boat from 
the boat-house, sculled down the river home, 
and at a very late hour sat down to supper in 



their own cosy riverside parlour, to the Rat's 
great joy and contentment. 

The following evening the Mole, who had 
risen late and taken things very easy all day, 
was sitting on the bank fishing, when the Rat, 
who had been looking up his friends and gossip- 
ing, came strolling along to find him. 'Heard 
the news?" he said. 'There's nothing else 
being talked about, all along the river bank. 
Toad went up to Town by an early train this 
morning. And he has ordered a large and very 
expensive motor-car." 





THE Mole had long wanted to make the 
acquaintance of the Badger. He seemed, 
by all accounts, to be such an important per- 
sonage and, though rarely visible, to make his 
unseen influence felt by everybody about the 
place. But whenever the Mole mentioned his 
wish to the Water Rat, he always found him- 
self put off. "It's all right," the Rat would 
say. "Badger '11 turn up some day or other - 
he 's always turning up and then I '11 intro- 
duce you. The best of fellows! But you must 
not only take him as you find him, but when you 
find him." 

"Couldn't you ask him here dinner or 
something?" said the Mole. 

"He wouldn't come," replied the Rat simply. 
"Badger hates Society, and invitations, and 
dinner, and all that sort of thing." 



"Well, then, supposing we go and call on 
him?*' suggested the Mole. 

"O, I 'm sure he wouldn't like that at all," 
said the Rat, quite alarmed. "He's so very 
shy, he 'd be sure to be offended. I 've never 
even ventured to call on him at his own home 
myself, though I know him so well. Besides, 
we can't. It 's quite out of the question, be- 
cause he lives in the very middle of the Wild 

"Well, supposing he does," said the Mole. 
"You told me the Wild Wood was all right, you 

"O, I know, I know, so it is," replied the Rat 
evasively. "But I think we won't go there 
just now. Not just yet. It 's a long way, and 
he wouldn't be at home at this time of year 
anyhow, and he '11 be coming along some day, 
if you '11 wait quietly." 

The Mole had to be content with this. But 
the Badger never came along, and every day 
brought its amusements, and it was not till 
summer was long over, and cold and frost and 
miry ways kept them much indoors, and the 



swollen river raced past outside their windows 
with a speed that mocked at boating of any 
sort or kind, that he found his thoughts dwell- 
ing again with much persistence on the solitary 
grey Badger, who lived his own life by himself, 
in his hole in the middle of the Wild Wood. 

In the winter time the Rat slept a great deal, 
retiring early and rising late. During his short 
day he sometimes scribbled poetry or did other 
small domestic jobs about the house; and, of 
course, there were always animals dropping in 
for a chat, and consequently there was a good 
deal of story-telling and comparing notes on 
the past summer and all its doings. 

Such a rich chapter it had been, when one 
came to look back on it all! With illustrations 
so numerous and so very highly coloured ! The 
pageant of the river bank had marched steadily 
along, unfolding itself in scene-pictures that suc- 
ceeded each other in stately procession. Purple 
loosestrife arrived early, shaking luxuriant tan- 
gled locks along the edge of the mirror whence 
its own face laughed back at it. Willow-herb, 
tender and wistful, like a pink sunset cloud, was 



not slow to follow. Comfrey, the purple liand- 
in-hand with the white, crept forth to take its 
place in the line; and at last one morning the 
diffident and delaying dog-rose stepped delicately 
on the stage, and one knew, as if string-music 
had announced it in stately chords that strayed 
into a gavotte, that June at last was here. One 
member of the company was still awaited; the 
shepherd-boy for the nymphs to woo, the knight 
for whom the ladies waited at the window, 
the prince that was to kiss the sleeping summer 
back to life and love. But w r hen meadow-sweet, 
debonair and odorous in amber jerkin, moved 
graciously to his place in the group, then the 
play was ready to begin. 

And what a play it had been! Drowsy ani- 
mals, snug in their holes while wind and rain 
were battering at their doors, recalled still keen 
mornings, an hour before sunrise, when the white 
mist, as yet undispersed, clung closely along the 
surface of the water; then the shock of the 
early plunge, the scamper along the bank, and 
the radiant transformation of earth, air, and 
water, when suddenly the sun w r as with them 



again, and grey was gold and colour was born 
and sprang out of the earth once more. They 
recalled the languorous siesta of hot mid-day, 
deep in green undergrowth, the sun striking 
through in tiny golden shafts and spots; the 
boating and bathing of the afternoon, the ram- 
bles along dusty lanes and through yellow corn- 
fields; and the long, cool evening at last, when 
so many threads were gathered up, so many 
friendships rounded, and so many adventures 
planned for the morrow. There was plenty to 
talk about on those short winter days when the 
animals found themselves round the fire; still, 
the Mole had a good deal of spare time on his 
hands, and so one afternoon, when the Rat in 
his arm-chair before the blaze was alternately 
dozing and trying over rhymes that wouldn't 
fit, he formed the resolution to go out by him- 
self and explore the Wild Wood, and perhaps 
strike up an acquaintance with Mr. Badger. 

It was a cold, still afternoon with a hard, 
steely sky overhead, when he slipped out of 
the warm parlour into the open air. The coun- 
try lay bare and entirely leafless around him, 



and he thought that he had never seen so far 
and so intimately into the insides of things as 
on that winter day when Nature was deep in 
her annual slumber and seemed to have kicked 
the clothes off. Copses, dells, quarries, and all 
hidden places, which had been mysterious mines 
for exploration in leafy summer, now exposed 
themselves and their secrets pathetically, and 
seemed to ask him to overlook their shabby 
poverty for a while, till they could riot in rich 
masquerade as before, and trick and entice him 
with the old deceptions. It was pitiful in a 
way, and yet cheering - - even exhilarating. He 
was glad that he liked the country undecorated, 
hard, and stripped of its finery. He had got 
down to the bare bones of it, and they were 
fine and strong and simple. He did not \vant 
the warm clover and the play of seeding grasses; 
the screens of quickset, the billowy drapery of 
beech and elm seemed best away; and with 
great cheerfulness of spirit he pushed on to- 
wards the Wild Wood, which lay before him low 
and threatening, like a black reef in some still 

southern sea. 



There was nothing to alarm him at first 
entry. Twigs crackled under his feet, logs 
tripped him, funguses on stumps resembled car- 
icatures, and startled him for the moment by 
their likeness to something familiar and far 
away; but that was all fun, and exciting. It 
led him on, and he penetrated to where the light 
was less, and trees crouched nearer and nearer, 
and holes made ugly mouths at him on either 

Everything was very still now. The dusk 
advanced on him steadily, rapidly, gathering in 
behind and before; and the light seemed to be 
draining away like flood-water. 

Then the faces began. 

It was over his shoulder, and indistinctly, 
that he first thought he saw a face, a little, evil, 
wedge-shaped face, looking out at him from a 
hole. When he turned and confronted it, the 
thing had vanished. 

He quickened his pace, telling himself cheer- 
fully not to begin imagining things or there 
would be simply no end to it. He passed 
another hole, and another, and another; and 



then - - yes! - - no! - - yes! certainly a little, nar- 
row face, with hard eyes, had flashed up for an 
instant from a hole, and was gone. He hesitated 

- braced himself up for an effort and strode 
on. Then suddenly, and as if it had been so all 
the time, every hole, far and near, and there 
were hundreds of them, seemed to possess its 
face, coming and going rapidly, all fixing on 
him glances of malice' and hatred: all hard- 
eyed and evil and sharp. 

If he could only get away from the holes in 
the banks, he thought, there would be no more 
faces. He swung off the path and plunged into 
the untrodden rjlaces of the wood. 

Then the \vhistling began. 

Very faint and shrill it w r as, and far behind 
him, when first he heard it; but somehow it 
made him hurry forward. Then, still very faint 
and shrill, it sounded far ahead of him, and made 
him hesitate and want to go back. As he halted 
in indecision it broke out on either side, and 
seemed to be caught up and passed on through- 
out the whole length of the wood to its farthest 
limit. They were up and alert and ready, evi- 



dently , whoever they were ! And he - - he was 
alone, and unarmed, and far from any help; 
and the night was closing in. 

Then the pattering began. 

He thought it was only falling leaves at first, 
so slight and delicate was the sound of it. Then 
as it grew it took a regular rhythm, and he 
knew it for nothing else but the pat-pat-pat of 
little feet still a very long way off. Was it in 
front or behind? It seemed to be first one, and 
then the other, then both. It grew and it mul- 
tiplied, till from every quarter as he listened 
anxiously, leaning this way and that, it seemed 
to be closing in on him. As he stood still to 
hearken, a rabbit came running hard towards 
him through the trees. He waited, expecting it 
to slacken pace or to swerve from him into a 
different course. Instead, the animal almost 
brushed him as it dashed past, his face set and 
hard, his eyes staring. "Get out of this, you 
fool, get out!" the Mole heard him mutter as 
he swung round a stump and disappeared down 
a friendly burrow. 

The pattering increased till it sounded like 



sudden hail on the dry leaf -carpet spread around 
him. The whole wood seemed running now, 
running hard, hunting, chasing, closing in round 
something or somebody? In panic, he began 
to run too, aimlessly, he knew not whither. He 
ran up against things, he fell over things and 
into things, he darted under things and dodged 
round things. At last he took refuge in the deep, 
dark hollow of an old beech tree, which offered 
shelter, concealment - - perhaps even safety, but 
who could tell? Anyhow, he was too tired to 
run any further, and could only snuggle down 
into the dry leaves which had drifted into the 
hollow and hope he was safe for a time. And as 
he lay there panting and trembling, and listened 
to the whistlings and the patterings outside, he 
knew it at last, in all its fulness, that dread 
thing which other little dwellers in field and 
hedgerow had encountered here, and known as 
their darkest moment - - that thing w r hich the 
Rat had vainly tried to shield him from the 
Terror of the Wild Wood! 

Meantime the Rat, warm and comfortable, 
dozed by his fireside. His paper of half-finished 


A^t RAPH -socv^ ^ 

- - . 

In jtonic, IK- l-ij,,n to run 


verses slipped from his knee, his head fell back, 
his mouth opened, and he wandered by the 
verdant banks of dream-rivers. Then a coal 
slipped, the fire crackled and sent up a spurt of 
flame, and he woke with a start. Remember- 
ing what he had been engaged upon, he reached 
down to the floor for his verses, pored over 
them for a minute, and then looked round for 
the Mole to ask him if he knew a good rhyme 
for something or other. 

But the Mole was not there. 

He listened for a time. The house seemed 
very quiet. 

Then he called "Moly!" several times, and, 
receiving no answer, got up and went out into 
the hall. 

The Mole's cap was missing from its accus- 
tomed peg. His goloshes, which always lay by 
the umbrella-stand, were also gone. 

The Rat left the house, and carefully exam- 
ined the muddy surface of the ground outside, 
hoping to find the Mole's tracks. There they 
were, sure enough. The goloshes were new, 
just bought for the winter, and the pimples on 



their soles were fresh and sharp. He could 
see the imprints of them in the mud, running 
along straight and purposeful, leading direct to 
the Wild Wood. 

The Rat looked very grave, and stood in 
deep thought for a minute or two. Then he 
re-entered the house, strapped a belt round his 
waist, shoved a brace of pistols into it, took up 
a stout cudgel that stood in a corner of the 
hall, and set off for the Wild Wood at a smart 

It was already getting towards dusk when he 
reached the first fringe of trees and plunged 
without hesitation into the wood, looking anx- 
iously on either side for any sign of his friend. 
Here and there wicked little faces popped out 
of holes, but vanished immediately at sight of 
the valorous animal, his pistols, and the great 
ugly cudgel in his grasp; and the whistling and 
pattering, which he had heard quite plainly on 
his first entry, died away and ceased, and all 
was very still. He made his way manfully 
through the length of the wood, to its furthest 
edge; then, forsaking all paths, he set himself 



to traverse it, laboriously working over the 
whole ground, and all the time calling out cheer- 
fully, "Moly, Moly, Moly! Where are you? 
It's me it 's old Rat!" 

He had patiently hunted through the wood 
for an hour or more, when at last to his joy he 
heard a little answering cry. Guiding himself 
by the sound, he made his way through the 
gathering darkness to the foot of an old beech 
tree, with a hole in it, and from out of the hole 
came a feeble voice, saying 'Ratty! Is that 
really you?" 

The Rat crept into the hollow, and there he 
found the Mole, exhausted and still trembling. 
"O Rat!" he cried, "I've been so frightened, 
you can't think!" 

"O, I quite understand," said the Rat sooth- 
ingly. 'You shouldn't really have gone and 
done it, Mole. I did my best to keep you from 
it. We river-bankers, we hardly ever come here 
by ourselves. If we have to come, we come 
in couples at least; then we 're generally all 
right. Besides, there are a hundred things one 
has to know, which we understand all about 



and you don't, as yet. I mean passwords, and 
signs, and sayings which have power and effect, 
and plants you carry in your pocket, and verses 
you repeat, and dodges and tricks you practise; 
all simple enough when you know them, but 
they 've got to be known if you 're small, or 
you '11 find yourself in trouble. Of course if 
you were Badger or Otter, it would be quite 
another matter." 

''Surely the brave Mr. Toad wouldn't mind 
coming here by himself, would he?" inquired 
the Mole. 

"Old Toad?" said the Rat, laughing heartily. 
"He wouldn't show his face here alone, not 
for a whole hatful of golden guineas, Toad 

The Mole was greatly cheered by the sound 
of the Rat's careless laughter, as well as by the 
sight of his stick and his gleaming pistols, and 
he stopped shivering and began to feel bolder 
and more himself again. 

"Now then," said the Rat presently, :< we 
really must pull ourselves together and make a 
start for home while there 's still a little light 



left. It will never do to spend the night here, 
you understand. Too cold, for one thing." 

"Dear Ratty," said the poor Mole, "I'm 
dreadfully sorry, but I 'm simply dead beat and 
that 's a solid fact. You must let me rest here 
a while longer, and get my strength back, if 
I 'm to get home at all." 

"O, all right," said the good-natured Rat, 
"rest away. It 's pretty nearly pitch dark now, 
anyhow; and there ought to be a bit of a moon 

So the Mole got well into the dry leaves and 
stretched himself out, and presently dropped off 
into sleep, though of a broken and troubled 
sort; while the Rat covered himself up, too, as 
best he might, for warmth, and lay patiently 
waiting, with a pistol in his paw. 

When at last the Mole woke up, much re- 
freshed and in his usual spirits, the Rat said, 
"Now then! I '11 just take a look outside and 
see if everything 's quiet, and then we really 
must be off." 

He went to the entrance of their retreat and 
put his head out. Then the Mole heard him 



saying quietly to himself, 'Hullo! hullo! here 
-is a go!" 

"AA 7 hat's up, Ratty?" asked the Mole. 

"Snow is up," replied the Rat briefly; "or 
rather, down. It 's snowing hard." 

The Mole came and crouched beside him, 
and, looking out, saw the wood that had been 
so dreadful to him in quite a changed aspect. 
Holes, hollows, pools, pitfalls, and other black 
menaces to the wayfarer were vanishing fast, 
and a gleaming carpet of faery was springing 
up everywhere, that looked too delicate to be 
trodden upon by rough feet. A fine powder 
filled the air and caressed the cheek with a 
tingle in its touch, and the black boles of the 
trees showed up in a light that seemed to come 
from below. 

'Well, well, it can't be helped," said the Rat, 
after pondering. 'We must make a start, and 
take our chance, I suppose. The worst of it is, I 
don't exactly know where we are. And now this 
snow makes everything look so very different." 

It did indeed. The Mole would not have 
known that it was the same wood. However, 



they set out bravely, and took the line that 
seemed most promising, holding on to each 
other and pretending with invincible cheerful- 
ness that they recognised an old friend in every 
fresh tree that grimly and silently greeted them, 
or saw openings, gaps, or paths with a familiar 
turn in them, in the monotony of white space 
and black tree-trunks that refused to vary. 

An hour or two later they had lost all 
count of time - - they pulled up, dispirited, 
weary, and hopelessly at sea, and sat down on a 
fallen tree-trunk to recover their breath and 
consider what was to be done. They were ach- 
ing with fatigue and bruised with tumbles; they 
had fallen into several holes and got wet through ; 
the snow was getting so deep that they could 
hardly drag their little legs through it, and the 
trees were thicker and more like each other 
than ever. There seemed to be no end to this 
wood, and no beginning, and no difference in it, 
and, worst of all, no way out. 

"We can't sit here very long," said the Rat. 
" We shall have to make another push for it, and 
do something or other. The cold is too awful 



for anything, and the snow will soon be too 
deep for us to wade through." He peered about 
him and considered. "Look here," he went on, 
"this is what occurs to me. There 's a sort of 
dell down here in front of us, where the ground 
seems all hilly and humpy and hummocky. 
We '11 make our way down into that, and try 
and find some sort of shelter, a cave or hole with 
a dry floor to it, out of the snow and the wind, 
and there we '11 have a good rest before we try 
again, for we 're both of us pretty dead beat. 
Besides, the snow may leave off, or something 
may turn up." 

So once more they got on their feet, and 
struggled down into the dell, where they hunted 
about for a cave or some corner that was dry 
and a protection from the keen wind and the 
whirling snow. They were investigating one of 
the hummocky bits the Rat had spoken of, 
when suddenly the Mole tripped up and fell 
forward on his face with a squeal. 

"O my leg!" he cried. "O my poor shin!" 
and he sat up on the snow and nursed his leg 
in both his front paws. 



" Poor old Mole ! " said the Rat kindly. " You 
don't seem to be having much luck to-day, do 
you? Let 's have a look at the leg. Yes," he 
went on, going down on his knees to look, 
"you 've cut your shin, sure enough. Wait till 
I get at my handkerchief, and I '11 tie it up for 


"I must have tripped over a hidden branch 
or a stump," said the Mole miserably. "O, my! 
O, my!" 

"It 's a very clean cut," said the Rat, exam- 
ining it again attentively. 'That was never 
done by a branch or a stump. Looks as if 
it was made by a sharp edge of something in 
metal. Funny!" He pondered awhile, and ex- 
amined the humps and slopes that surrounded 

"Well, never mind what done it," said the 
Mole, forgetting his grammar in his pain. "It 
hurts just the same, whatever done it." 

But the Rat, after carefully tying up the leg 
with his handkerchief, had left him and was 
busy scraping in the snow. He scratched and 
shovelled and explored, all four legs working 



busily, while the Mole waited impatiently, re- 
marking at intervals, "O, come on, Rat!" 

Suddenly the Rat cried "Hooray!" and then 
' Hooray-oo-ray-oo-ray-oo-ray ! " and fell to exe- 
cuting a feeble jig in the snow. 

'What have you found, Ratty?" asked the 
Mole, still nursing his leg. 

"Come and see!" said the delighted Rat, as 
he jigged on. 

The Mole hobbled up to the spot and had a 
good look. 

"Well," he said at last, slowly, "I see it right 
enough. Seen the same sort of thing before, 
lots of times. Familiar object, I call it. A 
door-scraper! Well, what of it? Why dance 
jigs around a door-scraper?" 

"But don't you see what it means, you you 
dull-witted animal?" cried the Rat impatiently. 

"Of course I see what it means," replied the 
Mole. 'It simply means that some very care- 
less and forgetful person has left his door- 
scraper lying about in the middle of the Wild 
Wood, just where it 's sure to trip everybody up. 
Very thoughtless of him, I call it. When I get 



home I shall go and complain about it to to 
somebody or other, see if I don't!" 

"O, dear! O, dear!" cried the Rat, in despair 
at his obtuseness. ' Here, stop arguing and come 
and scrape!" And he set to work again and 
made the snow fly in all directions around him. 

After some further toil his efforts were re- 
warded, and a very shabby door-mat lay exposed 
to view. 

"There, what did I tell you?" exclaimed the 
Rat in great triumph. 

"Absolutely nothing whatever," replied the 
Mole, with perfect truthfulness. 'Well, now," 
he went on, "you seem to have found another 
piece of domestic litter, done for and thrown 
away, and I suppose you 're perfectly happy. 
Better go ahead and dance your jig round that 
if you 've got to, and get it over, and then per- 
haps we can go on and not waste any more 
time over rubbish-heaps. Can we eat a door- 
mat? Or sleep under a door-mat? Or sit on a 
door-mat and sledge home over the snow on it, 
you exasperating rodent ?' : 

"Do - - you - - mean - - to say," cried the 



excited Rat, 'that this door-mat doesn't tell 
you anything?" 

'Really, Rat," said the Mole, quite pettishly, 
'I think we 've had enough of this folly. Who 
ever heard of a door-mat telling any one any- 
thing? They simply don't do it. They are not 
that sort at all. Door-mats know their place." 
'Now look here, you you thick-headed 
beast," replied the Rat, really angry, "this must 
stop. Not another word, but scrape scrape 
and scratch and dig and hunt round, especially 
on the sides of the hummocks, if you want to 
sleep dry and warm to-night, for it 's our last 

The Rat attacked a snow-bank beside them 
with ardour, probing with his cudgel every- 
where and then digging with fury; and the 
Mole scraped busily too, more to oblige the 
Rat than for any other reason, for his opinion 
was that his friend was getting light-headed. 

Some ten minutes' hard work, and the point 
of the Rat's cudgel struck something that 
sounded hollow. He worked till he could get 
a paw through and feel; then called the Mole 



to come and help him. Hard at it went the 
two animals, till at last the result of their 
labours stood full in view of the astonished and 
hitherto incredulous Mole. 

In the side of what had seemed to be a snow- 
bank stood a solid-looking little door, painted 
a dark green. An iron bell-pull hung by the 
side, and below it, on a small brass plate, neatly 
engraved in square capital letters, they could 
read by the aid of moonlight 


The Mole fell backwards on the snow from 
sheer surprise and delight. "Rat!" he cried in 
penitence, "y u 're a wonder! A real wonder, 
that 's what you are. I see it all now ! You 
argued it out, step by step, in that wise head of 
yours, from the very moment that I fell and 
cut my shin, and you looked at the cut, and at 
once your majestic mind said to itself, 'Door- 
scraper!' And then you turned to and found 
the very door-scraper that done it! Did you 
stop there? No. Some people would have been 
quite satisfied; but not you. Your intellect 



went on working. 'Let me only just find a 
door-mat/ says you to yourself, 'and my 
theory is proved!' And of course you found 
your door-mat. You 're so clever, I believe you 
could find anything you liked. 'Now,' says 
you, 'that door exists, as plain as if I saw it. 
There 's nothing else remains to be done but to 
find it!' Well, I've read about that sort of 
thing in books, but I 've never come across it 
before in real life. You ought to go where 
you '11 be properly appreciated. You 're simply 
wasted here, among us fellows. If I only had 
your head, Ratty- 

'But as you haven't," interrupted the Rat, 
rather unkindly, "I suppose you're going to 
sit on the snow all night and talk ? Get up 
at once and hang on to that bell-pull you see 
there, and ring hard, as hard as you can, while 
I hammer!" 

While the Rat attacked the door with his 
stick, the Mole sprang up at the bell-pull, 
clutched it and swung there, both feet well off 
the ground, and from quite a long way off they 
could faintly hear a deep-toned bell respond. 




THEY waited patiently for what seemed a 
very long time, stamping in the snow to 
keep their feet warm. At last they heard the 
sound of slow shuffling footsteps approaching 
the door from the inside. It seemed, as the 
Mole remarked to the Rat, like some one walk- 
ing in carpet slippers that were too large for 
him and down at heel; which was intelligent 
of Mole, because that was exactly what it was. 

There was the noise of a bolt shot back, and 
the door opened a few inches, enough to show 
a long snout and a pair of sleepy blinking eyes. 

"Now, the very next time this happens," said 
a gruff and suspicious voice, "I shall be exceed- 
ingly angry. Who is it this time, disturbing 
people on such a night? Speak up!" 

"Oh, Badger," cried the Rat, "let us in, 



please. It 's me, Rat, and my friend Mole, and 
we 've lost our way in the snow." 

'What, Ratty, my dear little man!" ex- 
claimed the Badger, in quite a different voice. 
"Come along in, both of you, at once. Why, 
you must be perished. Well, I never! Lost in 
the snow! And in the Wild Wood, too, and at 
this time of night! But come in with you." 

The two animals tumbled over each other in 
their eagerness to get inside, and heard the door 
shut behind them with great joy and relief. 

The Badger, who wore a long dressing-gown, 
and whose slippers were indeed very down at 
heel, carried a flat candlestick in his paw and 
had probably been on his way to bed when 
their summons sounded. He looked kindly 
down on them and patted both their heads. 
"This is not the sort of night for small animals 
to be out," he said paternally. "I 'm afraid 
you Ve been up to some of your pranks again, 
Ratty. But come along; come into the kitchen. 
There 's a first-rate fire there, and supper and 

He shuffled on in front of them, carrying 



the light, and they followed him, nudging each 
other in an anticipating sort of way, down a 
long, gloomy, and, to tell the truth, decidedly 
shabby passage, into a sort of a central hall, 
out of which they could dimly see other long 
tunnel-like passages branching, passages mys- 
terious and without apparent end. But there 
were doors in the hall as well stout oaken, 
comfortable-looking doors. One of these the 
Badger flung open, and at once they found 
themselves in all the glow and warmth of a 
large fire-lit kitchen. 

The floor was well-worn red brick, and on 
the wide hearth burnt a fire of logs, between 
two attractive chimney-corners tucked away in 
the wall, well out of any suspicion of draught. 
A couple of high-backed settles, facing each 
other on either side of the fire, gave further 
sitting accommodations for the sociably dis- 
posed. In the middle of the room stood a long 
table of plain boards placed on trestles, with 
benches down each side. At one end of it, where 
an arm-chair stood pushed back, \vere spread 
the remains of the Badger's plain but ample 



supper. Rows of spotless plates winked from 
the shelves of the dresser at the far end of the 
room, and from the rafters overhead hung 
hams, bundles of dried herbs, nets of onions, 
and baskets of eggs. It seemed a place where 
heroes could fitly feast after victory, where 
weary harvesters could line up in scores along 
the table and keep their Harvest Home with 
mirth and song, or where two or three friends 
of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased 
and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and 
contentment. The ruddy brick floor smiled up 
at the smoky ceiling; the oaken settles, shiny 
with long wear, exchanged cheerful glances with 
each other; plates on the dresser grinned at 
pots on the shelf, and the merry firelight flick- 
ered and played over everything without dis- 

The kindly Badger thrust them dow r n on a 
settle to toast themselves at the fire, and bade 
them remove their wet coats and boots. Then 
he fetched them dressing-gowns and slippers, 
and himself bathed the Mole's shin with warm 
water and mended the cut with sticking-plaster, 



till the whole thing was just as good as new, if 
not better. In the embracing light and warmth, 
warm and dry at last, with weary legs propped 
up in front of them, and a suggestive clink of 
plates being arranged on the table behind, it 
seemed to the storm-driven animals, now in 
safe anchorage, that the cold and trackless Wild 
Wood just left outside was miles and miles 
away, and all that they had suffered in it a 
half-forgotten dream. 

When at last they were thoroughly toasted, 
the Badger summoned them to the table, where 
he had been busy laying a repast. They had 
felt pretty hungry before, but when they actu- 
ally saw at last the supper that was spread for 
them, really it seemed only a question of what 
they should attack first where all was so attrac- 
tive, and whether the other things would oblig- 
ingly wait for them till they had time to give 
them attention. Conversation was impossible 
for a long time; and when it was slowly resumed, 
it was that regrettable sort of conversation that 
results from talking with your mouth full. The 
Badger did not mind that sort of thing at all, 



nor did he take any notice of elbows on the table, 
or everybody speaking at once. As he did not 
go into Society himself, he had got an idea that 
these things belonged to the things that didn't 
really matter. (We know of course that he was 
wrong, and took too narrow a view; because they 
do matter very much, though it would take too 
long to explain why.) He sat in his arm-chair 
at the head of the table, and nodded gravely at 
intervals as the animals told their story; and he 
did not seem surprised or shocked at anything, 
and he never said, 'I told you so," or, "Just 
what I always said," or remarked that they 
ought to have done so-and-so, or ought not to 
have done something else. The Mole began to 
feel very friendly towards him. 

When supper was really finished at last, and 
each animal felt that his skin was now as tight 
as was decently safe, and that by this time he 
didn't care a hang for anybody or anything, 
they gathered round the glowing embers of the 
great wood fire, and thought how jolly it was 
to be sitting up so late, and so independent, and 
so full; and after they had chatted for a time 



about things in general, the Badger said heart- 
ily, "Now then! tell us the news from your 
part of the world. How 's old Toad going on?" 

"Oh, from bad to worse," said the Rat 
gravely, while the Mole, cocked up on a settle 
and basking in the firelight, his heels higher than 
his head, tried to look properly mournful. "An- 
other smash-up only last week, and a bad one. 
You see, he will insist on driving himself, and 
he 's hopelessly incapable. If he 'd only employ 
a decent, steady, well-trained animal, pay him 
good wages, and leave everything to him, he 'd 
get on all right. But no; he 's convinced he 's a 
heaven-born driver, and nobody can teach him 
anything; and all the rest follows." 

"How many has he had?" inquired the 
Badger gloomily. 

"Smashes, or machines?" asked the Rat. 
"Oh, well, after all, it 's the same thing with 
Toad. This is the seventh. As for the others 
you know that coach-house of his? Well, 
it 's piled up literally piled up to the roof 
with fragments of motor-cars, none of them 
bigger than your hat! That accounts for the 



other six - - so far as they can be accounted 

"He's been in hospital three times," put in 
the Mole; "and as for the fines he's had to 
pay, it 's simply awful to think of." 

"Yes, and that 's part of the trouble," con- 
tinued the Rat. "Toad 's rich, we all know; 
but he 's not a millionaire. And he 's a hope- 
lessly bad driver, and quite regardless of law and 
order. Killed or ruined - - it 's got to be one of 
the two things, sooner or later. Badger! we 're 
his friends oughtn't we to do something?' 5 

The Badger went through a bit of hard 
thinking. "Now look here!" he said at last, 
rather severely; "of course you know I can't 
do anything now?' 

His two friends assented, quite understanding 
his point. No animal, according to the rules of 
animal etiquette, is ever expected to do any- 
thing strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately 
active during the off-season of winter. All are 
sleepy some actually asleep. All are weather- 
bound, more or less; and all are resting from 
arduous days and nights, during which every 



muscle in them has been severely tested, and 
every energy kept at full stretch. 

'Very well then!" continued the Badger. 
"But, when once the year has really turned, 
and the nights are shorter, and half-way through 
them one rouses and feels fidgety and wanting 
to be up and doing by sunrise, if not before 
you know! ' : 

Both animals nodded gravely. They knew! 

'Well, then," went on the Badger, : 'we 
that is, you and me and our friend the Mole 
here we '11 take Toad seriously in hand. We '11 
stand no nonsense whatever. We '11 bring him 
back to reason, by force if need be. We '11 make 
him be a sensible Toad. We '11 you 're asleep, 

"Not me!" said the Rat, waking up with a 

"He 's been asleep two or three times since 
supper," said the Mole, laughing. He himself 
was feeling quite wakeful and even lively, 
though he didn't know why. The reason was, 
of course, that he being naturally an under- 
ground animal by birth and breeding, the situa- 



tion of Badger's house exactly suited him and 
made him feel at home; while the Rat, who 
slept every night in a bedroom the windows of 
which opened on a breezy river, naturally felt 
the atmosphere still and oppressive. 

'Well, it 's time we were all in bed," said the 
Badger, getting up and fetching flat candle- 
sticks. : 'Come along, you two, and I '11 show 
you your quarters. And take your time to- 
morrow morning - - breakfast at any hour you 

He conducted the two animals to a long room 
that seemed half bedchamber and half loft. 
The Badger's winter stores, which indeed were 
visible everywhere, took up half the room 
piles of apples, turnips, and potatoes, baskets 
full of nuts, and jars of honey; but the two 
little white beds on the remainder of the floor 
looked soft and inviting, and the linen on them, 
though coarse, was clean and smelt beautifully 
of lavender; and the Mole and the Water Rat, 
shaking off their garments in some thirty sec- 
onds, tumbled in between the sheets in great joy 

and contentment. 



In accordance with the kindly Badger's in- 
junctions, the two tired animals came down to 
breakfast very late next morning, and found a 
bright fire burning in the kitchen, and two 
young hedgehogs sitting on a bench at the 
table, eating oatmeal porridge out of wooden 
bowls. The hedgehogs dropped their spoons, 
rose to their feet, and ducked their heads re- 
spectfully as the two entered. 

'There, sit down, sit down," said the Rat 
pleasantly, "and go on with your porridge. 
Where have you youngsters come from? Lost 
your way in the snow, I suppose?" 

'Yes, please, sir," said the elder of the two 
hedgehogs respectfully. "Me and little Billy 
here, we was trying to find our way to school 
mother would have us go, was the weather ever 
so and of course we lost ourselves, sir, and 
Billy he got frightened and took and cried, 
being young and faint-hearted. And at last we 
happened up against Mr. Badger's back door, 
and made so bold as to knock, sir, for Mr. 
Badger he 's a kind-hearted gentleman, as every 
one knows " 



'I understand," said the Rat, cutting himself 
some rashers from a side of bacon, while the 
Mole dropped some eggs into a saucepan. " And 
what 's the weather like outside? You needn't 
'sir' me quite so much," he added. 

"O, terrible bad, sir, terrible deep the snow 
is," said the hedgehog. "No getting out for the 
likes of you gentlemen to-day." 

"Where's Mr. Badger?" inquired the Mole 
as he warmed the coffee-pot before the fire. 

'The master 's gone into his study, sir," re- 
pled the hedgehog, "and he said as how he was 
going to be particular busy this morning, and 
on no account was he to be disturbed." 

This explanation, of course, was thoroughly 
understood by every one present. The fact is, 
as already set forth, when you live a life of 
intense activity for six months in the year, and 
of comparative or actual somnolence for the 
other six, during the latter period you cannot 
be continually pleading sleepiness when there 
are people about or things to be done. The ex- 
cuse gets monotonous. The animals well knew 
that Badger, having eaten a hearty breakfast, 



had retired to his study and settled himself in 
an arm-chair with his legs up on another and a 
red cotton handkerchief over his face, and was 
being "busy" in the usual way at this time of 
the year. 

The front-door bell clanged loudly, and the 
Rat, who was very greasy with buttered toast, 
sent Billy, the smaller hedgehog, to see who it 
might be. There was a sound of much stamp- 
ing in the hall, and presently Billy returned in 
front of the Otter, who threw himself on the 
Rat with an embrace and a shout of affection- 
ate greeting. 

"Get off!" spluttered the Rat, with his mouth 

"Thought I should find you here all right," 
said the Otter cheerfully. 'They were all in a 
great state of alarm along River Bank when I ar- 
rived this morning. Rat never been home all 
night nor Mole either something dreadful 
must have happened, they said; and the snow 
had covered up all your tracks, of course. But 
I knew that when people were in any fix they 
mostly went to Badger, or else Badger got to 



know of it somehow, so I came straight off here, 
through the Wild Wood and the snow! My! 
it was fine, coming through the snow as the red 
sun was rising and showing against the black 
tree-trunks! As you went along in the stillness, 
every now and then masses of snow slid off the 
branches suddenly with a flop! making you 
jump and run for cover. Snow-castles and 
snow-caverns had sprung up out of nowhere in 
the night and snow bridges, terraces, ram- 
parts I could have stayed and played with 
them for hours. Here and there great branches 
had been torn away by the sheer weight of the 
snow, and robins perched and hopped on them 
in their perky conceited way, just as if they had 
done it themselves. A ragged string of wild 
geese passed overhead, high on the grey sky, 
and a few rooks whirled over the trees, inspected, 
and flapped off homewards with a disgusted ex- 
pression; but I met no sensible being to ask the 
news of. About halfway across I came on a rab- 
bit sitting on a stump, cleaning his silly face 
with his paws. He was a pretty scared animal 
when I crept up behind him and placed a heavy 


Through tin- Wild Wood ami the snoii- 


fore-paw on his shoulder. I had to cuff his head 
once or twice to get any sense out of it at all. 
At last I managed to extract from him that 
Mole had been seen in the Wild Wood last 
night by one of them. It was the talk of the 
burrows, he said, how Mole, Mr. Rat's par- 
ticular friend, was in a bad fix; how he had lost 
his way, and 'They' were up and out hunting, 
and were chivvying him round and round. 
'Then why didn't any of you do something?' I 
asked. 'You mayn't be blessed with brains, 
but there are hundreds and hundreds of you, 
big, stout fellows, as fat as butter, and your 
burrows running in all directions, and you could 
have taken him in and made him safe and 
comfortable, or tried to, at all events.' 'What, 
us?' he merely said: 'do something? us rab- 
bits?' So I cuffed him again and left him. 
There was nothing else to be done. At any 
rate, I had learnt something; and if I had 
had the luck to meet any of 'Them' I 'd have 
learnt something more or they would." 

'Weren't you at all er nervous?" asked 
the Mole, some of yesterday's terror coming 



back to him at the mention of the Wild 

" Nervous? " The Otter showed a gleaming set 
of strong white teeth as he laughed. "I 'd give 
'em nerves if any of them tried anything on with 
me. Here, Mole, fry me some slices of ham, like 
the good little chap you are. I 'm frightfully 
hungry, and I Ve got any amount to say to 
Ratty here. Haven't seen him for an age." 

So the good-natured Mole, having cut some 
slices of ham, set the hedgehogs to fry it, and 
returned to his own breakfast, while the Otter 
and the Rat, their heads together, eagerly 
talked river-shop, which is long shop and talk 
that is endless, running on like the babbling 
river itself. 

A plate of fried ham had just been cleared 
and sent back for more, when the Badger en- 
tered, yawning and rubbing his eyes, and greeted 
them all in his quiet, simple way, with kind 
inquiries for every one. "It must be getting on 
for luncheon time," he remarked to the Otter. 
"Better stop and have it with us. You must 
be hungry, this cold morning." 



"Rather!" replied the Otter, winking at the 
Mole. 'The sight of these greedy young hedge- 
hogs stuffing themselves with fried ham makes 
me feel positively famished." 

The hedgehogs, who were just beginning to 
feel hungry again after their porridge, and after 
working so hard at their frying, looked timidly 
up at Mr. Badger, but were too shy to say 

"Here, you two youngsters, be off home to 
your mother," said the Badger kindly. "I '11 
send some one with you to show you the way. 
You won't want any dinner to-day, I '11 be 

He gave them sixpence apiece and a pat on 
the head, and they went off with much re- 
spectful swinging of caps and touching of fore- 

Presently they all sat down to luncheon to- 
gether. The Mole found himself placed next 
to Mr. Badger, and, as the other two were still 
deep in river-gossip from which nothing could 
divert them, he took the opportunity to tell 
Badger how comfortable and home-like it all 



felt to him. "Once well underground," he said, 
"you know exactly where you are. Nothing 
can happen to you, and nothing can get at you. 
You 're entirely your own master, and you don't 
have to consult anybody or mind what they 
say. Things go on all the same overhead, and 
you let 'em, and don't bother about 'em. When 
you want to, up you go, and there the things 
are, waiting for you." 

The Badger simply beamed on him. 'That 's 
exactly what I say," he replied. "There's no 
security, or peace and tranquillity, except under- 
ground. And then, if your ideas get larger and 
you want to expand why, a dig and a scrape, 
and there you are! If you feel your house is a 
bit too big, you stop up a hole or two, and 
there you are again! No builders, no trades- 
men, no remarks passed on you by fellows look- 
ing over your wall, and, above all, no weather. 
Look at Rat, now. A couple of feet of flood 
water, and he 's got to move into hired lodg- 
ings; uncomfortable, inconveniently situated, 
and horribly expensive. Take Toad. I say 
nothing against Toad Hall; quite the best house 



in these parts, as a house. But supposing a fire 
breaks out where 's Toad? Supposing tiles 
are blown off, or walls sink or crack, or win- 
dows get broken where 's Toad? Supposing 
the rooms are draughty I hate a draught myself 
where 's Toad? No, up and out of doors is 
good enough to roam about and get one's living 
in; but underground to come back to at last 
that's my idea of home!' 1 ' 

The Mole assented heartily; and the Badger 
in consequence got very friendly with him. 
'When lunch is over," he said, "I '11 take you 
all round this little place of mine. I can see 
you '11 appreciate it. You understand what 
domestic architecture ought to be, you do." 

After luncheon, accordingly, when the other 
two had settled themselves into the chimney- 
corner and had started a heated argument on 
the subject of eels, the Badger lighted a lantern 
and bade the Mole follow him. Crossing the 
hall, they passed down one of the principal 
tunnels, and the wavering light of the lantern 
gave glimpses on either side of rooms both 

rge and small, some mere cupboards, others 


nearly as broad and imposing as Toad's dining- 
hall. A narrow passage at right angles led them 
into another corridor, and here the same thing 
was repeated. The Mole was staggered at the 
size, the extent, the ramifications of it all; at 
the length of the dim passages, the solid vault- 
ings of the crammed store-chambers, the masonry 
everywhere, the pillars, the arches, the pave- 
ments. "How on earth, Badger." he said at 
last, "did you ever find time and strength to do 
all this? It's astonishing!" 

"It would be astonishing indeed," said the 
Badger simply, "if I had done it. But as a 
matter of fact I did none of it only cleaned 
out the passages and chambers, as far as I had 
need of them. There 's lots more of it, all round 
about. I see you don't understand, and I must 
explain it to you. Well, very long ago, on the 
spot where the Wild Wood waves now, before 
ever it had planted itself and grown up to what 
it now is, there was a city a city of people, 
you know. Here, where we are standing, they 
lived, and walked, and talked, and slept, and 
carried on their business. Here they stabled 



their horses and feasted, from here they rode 
out to fight or drove out to trade. They were a 
powerful people, and rich, and great builders. 
They built to last, for they thought their city 
would last for ever." 

"But what has become of them all?'" asked 
the Mole. 

"Who can tell?" said the Badger. "People 
come they stay for a while, they flourish, they 
build and they go. It is their way. But we 
remain. There were badgers here, I Ve been 
told, long before that same city ever came to 
be. And now there are badgers here again. 
We are an enduring lot, and we may move out 
for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and 
back we come. And so it will ever be." 

'Well, and when they went at last, those 
people?" said the Mole. 

'When they went," continued the Badger, 
'the strong winds and persistent rains took the 
matter in hand, patiently, ceaselessly, year after 
year. Perhaps we badgers too, in our small 
way, helped a little who knows? It was all 
down, down, down, gradually ruin and level- 



ling and disappearance. Then it was all up, up, 
up, gradually, as seeds grew to saplings, and 
saplings to forest trees, and bramble and fern 
came creeping in to help. Leaf -mould rose and 
obliterated, streams in their winter freshets 
brought sand and soil to clog and to cover, and 
in course of time our home was ready for us 
again, and we moved in. Up above us, on the 
surface, the same thing happened. Animals 
arrived, liked the look of the place, took up 
their quarters, settled down, spread, and flour- 
ished. They didn't bother themselves about 
the past- -they never do; they're too busy. 
The place was a bit humpy and hillocky, nat- 
urally, and full of holes; but that was rather an 
advantage. And they don't bother about the 
future, either - - the future when perhaps the 
people will move in again - - for a time as 
may very well be. The Wild Wood is pretty 
well populated by now; with all the usual lot, 
good, bad, and indifferent I name no names. 
It takes all sorts to make a w r orld. But I fancy 
you know something about them yourself by 

this time." 



'I do indeed," said the Mole, with a slight 

'Well, well," said the Badger, patting him on 
the shoulder, "it was your first experience of 
them, you see. They 're not so bad really; and 
we must all live and let live. But I '11 pass the 
word around to-morrow, and I think you '11 have 
no further trouble. Any friend of mine walks 
where he likes in this country, or I '11 know the 
reason why!" 

When they got back to the kitchen again, 
they found the Rat walking up and down, very 
restless. The underground atmosphere was op- 
pressing him and getting on his nerves, and he 
seemed really to be afraid that the river would 
run away if he wasn't there to look after it. 
So he had his overcoat on, and his pistols thrust 
into his belt again. "Come along, Mole," he 
said anxiously, as soon as he caught sight of 
them. 'We must get off while it's daylight. 
Don't want to spend another night in the Wild 
Wood again." 

"It '11 be all right, my fine fellow," said the 
Otter. "I 'm coming along with you, and I 



know every path blindfold ; and if there 's a 
head that needs to be punched, you can con- 
fidently rely upon me to punch it." 

You really needn't fret, Ratty," added the 
Badger placidly. "My passages run further 
than you think, and I 've bolt-holes to the edge 
of the wood in several directions, though I don't 
care for everybody to know about them. When 
you really have to go, you shall leave by one of 
my short cuts. Meantime, make yourself easy, 
and sit down again." 

The Rat was nevertheless still anxious to 
be off and attend to his river, so the Badger, 
taking up his lantern again, led the way along 
a damp and airless tunnel that wound and 
dipped, part vaulted, part hewn through solid 
rock, for a weary distance that seemed to be 
miles. At last daylight began to show itself 
confusedly through tangled growth overhang- 
ing the mouth of the passage; and the Badger, 
bidding them a hasty good-bye, pushed them 
hurriedly through the opening, made everything 
look as natural as possible again, with creepers, 
brushwood, and dead leaves, and retreated. 



They found themselves standing on the very 
edge of the Wild Wood. Rocks and brambles 
and tree-roots behind them, confusedly heaped 
and tangled; in front, a great space of quiet 
fields, hemmed by lines of hedges black on the 
snow, and, far ahead, a glint of the familiar 
old river, while the wintry sun hung red and 
low on the horizon. The Otter, as knowing all 
the paths, took charge of the party, and they 
trailed out on a bee-line for a distant stile. 
Pausing there a moment and looking back, they 
saw the whole mass of the Wild Wood, dense, 
menacing, compact, grimly set in vast white 
surroundings; simultaneously they turned and 
made swiftly for home, for firelight and the 
familiar things it played on, for the voice, 
sounding cheerily outside their window, of the 
river that they knew and trusted in all its moods, 
that never made them afraid with any amaze- 

As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the 
moment when he would be at home again 
among the things he knew and liked, the Mole 
saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field 



and hedge-row, linked to the ploughed furrow, 
the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lin- 
gerings, the cultivated garden-plot. For others 
the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the 
clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature 
in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to 
the pleasant places in which his lines were laid 
and which held adventure enough, in their way, 
to last for a lifetime. 




THE sheep ran huddling together against the 
hurdles, blowing out thin nostrils and 
stamping with delicate fore-feet, their heads 
thrown back and a light steam rising from the 
crowded sheep-pen into the frosty air, as the 
two animals hastened by in high spirits, with 
much chatter and laughter. They were return- 
ing across country after a long day's outing 
with Otter, hunting and exploring on the w r ide 
uplands, where certain streams tributary to 
their own River had their first small begin- 
nings; and the shades of the short winter day 
were closing in on them, and they had still 
some distance to go. Plodding at random across 
the plough, they had heard the sheep and had 
made for them; and now, leading from the 
sheep-pen, they found a beaten track that made 
walking a lighter business, and responded, more- 



over, to that small inquiring something which 
all animals carry inside them, saying unmis- 
takably, 'Yes, quite right; this leads home!" 

'It looks as if we were coming to a village," 
said the Mole somewhat dubiously, slackening 
his pace, as the track, that had in time become 
a path and then had developed into a lane, now 
handed them over to the charge of a well- 
metalled road. The animals did not hold with 
villages, and their own highways, thickly fre- 
quented as they were, took an independent 
course, regardless of church, post-office, or 

"Oh, never mind!'" said the Rat. "At this 
season of the year they 're all safe indoors by 
this time, sitting round the fire; men, women, 
and children, dogs and cats and all. We shall 
slip through all right, without any bother or 
unpleasantness, and we can have a look at 
them through their windows if you like, and see 
what they 're doing." 

The rapid nightfall of mid-December had 
quite beset the little village as they approached 
it on soft feet over a first thin fall of powdery 



snow. Little was visible but squares of a dusky 
orange-red on either side of the street, where 
the firelight or lamplight of each cottage over- 
flowed through the casements into the dark 
world without. Most of the low latticed win- 
dows were innocent of blinds, and to the lookers- 
in from outside, the inmates, gathered round 
the tea-table, absorbed in handiwork, or talking 
with laughter and gesture, had each that happy 
grace which is the last thing the skilled actor 
shall capture the natural grace which goes 
with perfect unconsciousness of observation. 
Moving at will from one theatre to another, 
the two spectators, so far from home themselves, 
had something of wistfulness in their eyes as 
they watched a cat being stroked, a sleepy child 
picked up and huddled off to bed, or a tired 
man stretch and knock out his pipe on the end 
of a smouldering log. 

But it was from one little window, with its 
blind drawn down, a mere blank transparency 
on the night, that the sense of home and the 
little curtained world within walls - - the larger 
stressful world of outside Nature shut out and 



forgotten - - most pulsated. Close against the 
white blind hung a bird-cage, clearly silhouetted, 
every wire, perch, and appurtenance distinct 
and recognisable, even to yesterday's dull-edged 
lump of sugar. On the middle perch the fluffy 
occupant, head tucked well into feathers, seemed 
so near to them as to be easily stroked, had they 
tried; even the delicate tips of his plumped-out 
plumage pencilled plainly on the illuminated 
screen. As they looked, the sleepy little fellow 
stirred uneasily, woke, shook himself, and raised 
his head. They could see the gape of his tiny 
beak as he yawned in a bored sort of way, 
looked round, and then settled his head into 
his back again, while the ruffled feathers gradu- 
ally subsided into perfect stillness. Then a gust 
of bitter wind took them in the back of the 
neck, a small sting of frozen sleet on the skin 
woke them as from a dream, and they knew 
their toes to be cold and their legs tired, and 
their own home distant a weary way. 

Once beyond the village, where the cottages 
ceased abruptly, on either side of the road they 
could smell through the darkness the friendly 



fields again; and they braced themselves for 
the last long stretch, the home stretch, the 
stretch that we know is bound to end, some 
time, in the rattle of the door-latch, the sudden 
firelight, and the sight of familiar things greet- 
ing us as long-absent travellers from far over- 
sea. They plodded along steadily and silently, 
each of them thinking his own thoughts. The 
Mole's ran a good deal on supper, as it was 
pitch-dark, and it was all a strange country for 
him as far as he knew, and he was following 
obediently in the wake of the Rat, leaving the 
guidance entirely to him. As for the Rat, he 
was walking a little way ahead, as his habit 
was, his shoulders humped, his eyes fixed on 
the straight grey road in front of him; so he 
did not notice poor Mole when suddenly the 
summons reached him, and took him like an 
electric shock. 

We others, who have long lost the more subtle 
of the physical senses, have not even proper 
terms to express an animal's inter-communica- 
tions with his surroundings, living or otherwise, 
and have only the word "smell," for instance, to 



include the whole range of delicate thrills which 
murmur in the nose of the animal night and 
day, summoning, warning, inciting, repelling. It 
was one of these mysterious fairy calls from out 
the void that suddenly reached Mole in the dark- 
ness, making him tingle through and through 
with its very familiar appeal, even while yet 
he could not clearly remember what it was. 
He stopped dead in his tracks, his nose search- 
ing hither and thither in its efforts to recapture 
the fine filament, the telegraphic current, that 
had so strongly moved him. A moment, and 
he had caught it again; and with it this time 
came recollection in fullest flood. 

Home! That was what they meant, those 
caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted 
through the air, those invisible little hands pull- 
ing and tugging, all one way! Why, it must 
be quite close by him at that moment, his old 
home that he had hurriedly forsaken and never 
sought again, that day when he first found the 
River! And now it was sending out its scouts 
and its messengers to capture him and bring 
him in. Since his escape on that bright morn- 



ing he had hardly given it a thought, so ab- 
sorbed had he been in his new life, in all its 
pleasures, its surprises, its fresh and captivating 
experiences. Now, with a rush of old memo- 
ries, how clearly it stood up before him, in the 
darkness ! Shabby indeed, and small and poorly 
furnished, and yet his, the home he had made 
for himself, the home he had been so happy to 
get back to after his day's work. And the 
home had been happy with him, too, evidently, 
and was missing him, and wanted him back, and 
was telling him so, through his nose, sorrow- 
fully, reproachfully, but with no bitterness or 
anger; only with plaintive reminder that it was 
there, and wanted him. 

The call was clear, the summons was plain. 
He must obey it instantly, and go. "Ratty!" 
he called, full of joyful excitement, 'hold on! 
Come back! I want you, quick!" 

"Oh, come along, Mole, do!" replied the Rat 
cheerfully, still plodding along. 

"Please stop, Ratty!" pleaded the poor Mole, 
in anguish of heart. "You don't understand! 
It's my home, my old home! I 've just come 



across the smell of it, and it 's close by here, 
really quite close. And I must go to it, I must, 
I must! Oh, come back, Ratty! Please, please 
come back ! ' 

The Rat was by this time very far ahead, too 
far to hear clearly what the Mole was calling, 
too far to catch the sharp note of painful appeal 
in his voice. And he was much taken up with 
the weather, for he too, could smell something 

- something suspiciously like approaching snow. 

"Mole, we mustn't stop now, really!" he 
called back. 'We '11 come for it to-morrow, 
whatever it is you 've found. But I daren't 
stop now it 's late, and the snow 's coming on 
again, and I 'm not sure of the way! And I 
want your nose, Mole, so come on quick, there 's 
a good fellow!" And the Rat pressed forward 
on his way without waiting for an answer. 

Poor Mole stood alone in the road, his heart 
torn asunder, and a big sob gathering, gathering? 
somewhere low down inside him, to leap up to 
the surface presently, he knew, in passionate 
escape. But even under such a test as this his 
loyalty to his friend stood firm. Never for a 



moment did he dream of abandoning him. 
Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, 
whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him 
imperiously. He dared not tarry longer within 
their magic circle. With a wrench that tore 
his very heart-strings he set his face down the 
road and followed submissively in the track of 
the Rat, while faint, thin little smells, still dog- 
ging his retreating nose, reproached him for his 
new friendship and his callous forgetfulness. 

With an effort he caught up to the unsuspect- 
ing Rat, who began chattering cheerfully about 
what they would do when they got back, and 
how jolly a fire of logs in the parlour would be, 
and what a supper he meant to eat; never 
noticing his companion's silence and distressful 
state of mind. At last, however, when they had 
gone some considerable w r ay further, and were 
passing some tree stumps at the edge of a 
copse that bordered the road, he stopped and 
said kindly, "Look here, Mole, old chap, you 
seem dead tired. No talk left in you, and your 
feet dragging like lead. We '11 sit down here 
for a minute and rest. The snow has held off 



so far, and the best part of our journey is 


The Mole subsided forlornly on a tree stump 
and tried to control himself, for he felt it surely 
coming. The sob he had fought with so long 
refused to be beaten. Up and up, it forced its 
way to the air, and then another, and another, 
and others thick and fast; till poor Mole at last 
gave up the struggle, and cried freely and help- 
lessly and openly, now that he knew it was all 
over and he had lost what he could hardly be 
said to have found. 

The Rat, astonished and dismayed at the 
violence of Mole's paroxysm of grief, did not 
dare to speak for a while. At last he said, very 
quietly and sympathetically, 'What is it, old 
fellow? Whatever can be the matter? Tell us 
your trouble, and let me see what I can do." 

Poor Mole found it difficult to get any words 
out between the upheavals of his chest that 
followed one upon another so quickly and held 
back speech and choked it as it came. "I know 
it 's a - - shabby, dingy little place," he sobbed 
forth at last brokenly: "not like- -your cosy 



quarters or Toad's beautiful hall or Bad- 
ger's great house but it was my own little 
home and I was fond of it and I went away 
and forgot all about it and then I smelt it 
suddenly on the road, when I called and you 
wouldn't listen, Rat and everything came 
back to me with a rush and I wanted it ! 
O dear, O dear ! and when you wouldn't turn 
back, Ratty and I had to leave it, though I 
was smelling it all the time I thought my 
heart would break. We might have just gone 
and had one look at it, Ratty only one look 
it was close by but you wouldn't turn 
back, Ratty, you wouldn't turn back! O dear, 
O dear!" 

Recollection brought fresh waves of sorrow, 
and sobs again took full charge of him, pre- 
venting further speech. 

The Rat stared straight in front of him, 
saying nothing, only patting Mole gently on 
the shoulder. After a time he muttered gloom- 
ily, "I see it all now! What a pig I have been! 
A pig that 's me! Just a pig a plain pig!" 

He waited till Mole's sobs became gradually 



less stormy and more rhythmical; he waited 
till at last sniffs were frequent and sobs only 
intermittent. Then he rose from his seat, and, 
remarking carelessly, ' Well, now we 'd really 
better be getting on, old chap!" set off up the 
road again over the toilsome way they had come. 

"Wherever are you (hie) going to (hie), 
Ratty?" cried the tearful Mole, looking up in 

"We 're going to find that home of yours, 
old fellow," replied the Rat pleasantly; "so 
you had better come along, for it will take some 
finding, and we shall want your nose." 

"Oh, come back, Ratty, do!" cried the Mole, 
getting up and hurrying after him. "It's no 
good, I tell you! It's too late, and too dark, 
and the place is too far off, and the snow 's 
coming ! And and I never meant to let you 
know I was feeling that way about it it was 
all an accident and a mistake! And think of 
River Bank, and your supper!" 

"Hang River Bank, and supper, too!" said 
the Rat heartily. : 'I tell you, I 'm going to 
find this place now, if I stay out all night. So 



cheer up, old chap, and take my arm, and we '11 
very soon be back there again." 

Still snuffling, pleading, and reluctant, Mole 
suffered himself to be dragged back along the 
road by his imperious companion, who by a 
flow of cheerful talk and anecdote endeavoured 
to beguile his spirits back and make the weary 
way seem shorter. When at last it seemed to 
the Rat that they must be nearing that part 
of the road where the Mole had been "held up," 
he said, " Now, no more talking. Business! Use 
your nose, and give your mind to it." 

They moved on in silence for some little way, 
when suddenly the Rat was conscious, through 
his arm that was linked in Mole's, of a faint 
sort of electric thrill that was passing down that 
animal's body. Instantly he disengaged himself, 
fell back a pace, and waited, all attention. 

The signals were coming through! 

Mole stood a moment rigid, while his uplifted 
nose, quivering slightly, felt the air. 

Then a short, quick run forward - - a fault 
a check a try back; and then a slow, steady, 

confident advance. 



The Rat, much excited, kept close to his heels 
as the Mole, with something of the air of a 
sleep-walker, crossed a dry ditch, scrambled 
through a hedge, and nosed his way over a 
field open and trackless and bare in the faint 

Suddenly, without giving warning, he dived; 
but the Rat was on the alert, and promptly 
followed him down the tunnel to which his un- 
erring nose had faithfully led him. 

It was close and airless, and the earthy smell 
w r as strong, and it seemed a long time to Rat 
ere the passage ended and he could stand erect 
and stretch and shake himself. The Mole 
struck a match, and by its light the Rat saw 
that they were standing in an open space, 
neatly swept and sanded underfoot, and directly 
facing them was Mole's little front door, with 
'Mole End" painted, in Gothic lettering, over 
the bell-pull at the side. 

Mole reached down a lantern from a nail on 
the wall and lit it, and the Rat, looking round 
him, saw that they were in a sort of fore-court. 
A garden-seat stood on one side of the door, 



and on the other a roller; for the Mole, who 
was a tidy animal when at home, could not 
stand having his ground kicked up by other 
animals into little runs that ended in earth- 
heaps. On the walls hung wire baskets with 
ferns in them, alternating with brackets carry- 
ing plaster statuary - - Garibaldi, and the infant 
Samuel, and Queen Victoria, and other heroes 
of modern Italy. Down an one side of the fore- 
court ran a skittle-alley, with benches along it 
and little wooden tables marked with rings that 
hinted at beer-mugs. In the middle was a 
small round pond containing gold-fish and sur- 
rounded by a cockle-shell border. Out of the 
centre of the pond rose a fanciful erection 
clothed in more cockle-shells and topped by a 
large silvered glass ball that reflected every- 
thing all wrong and had a very pleasing effect. 
Mole's face beamed at the sight of all these 
objects so dear to him, and he hurried Rat 
through the door, lit a lamp in the hall, and took 
one glance round his old home. He saw the 
dust lying thick on everything, saw the cheer- 
less, deserted look of the long-neglected house, 



and its narrow, meagre dimensions, its worn 
and shabby contents - - and collapsed again on 
a hall-chair, his nose to his paws. "O Ratty!" 
he cried dismally, "why ever did I do it? Why 
did I bring you to this poor, cold little place, on 
a night like this, when you might have been at 
River Bank by this time, toasting your toes 
before a blazing fire, with all your own nice 
things about you!" 

The Rat paid no heed to his doleful self- 
reproaches. He was running here and there, 
opening doors, inspecting rooms and cupboards, 
and lighting lamps and candles and sticking 
them up everywhere. 'What a capital little 
house this is!" he called out cheerily. "So 
compact! So well planned! Everything here 
and everything in its place! We '11 make a jolly 
night of it. The first thing we want is a good 
fire; I '11 see to that I always know where to 
find things. So this is the parlour? Splendid! 
Your own idea, those little sleeping-bunks in 
the wall? Capital! Now, I '11 fetch the wood 
and the coals, and you get a duster, Mole 
you '11 find one in the drawer of the kitchen 



table and try and smarten things up a bit. 
Bustle about, old chap!" 

Encouraged by his inspiriting companion, the 
Mole roused himself and dusted and polished 
with energy and heartiness, while the Rat, 
running to and fro with armfuls of fuel, soon 
had a cheerful blaze roaring up the chimney. 
He hailed the Mole to come and warm him- 
self; but Mole promptly had another fit of the 
blues, dropping down on a couch in dark despair 
and burying his face in his duster. : 'Rat," he 
moaned, "how about your supper, you poor, 
cold, hungry, weary animal? I 've nothing to 
give you nothing not a crumb!" 

"What a fellow you are for giving in!" said 
the Rat reproachfully. 'Why, only just now I 
saw a sardine-opener on the kitchen dresser, 
quite distinctly; and everybody knows that 
means there are sardines about somewhere in 
the neighbourhood. Rouse yourself! pull your- 
self together, and come with me and forage." 

They went and foraged accordingly, hunting 
through every cupboard and turning out every 
drawer. The result was not so very depressing 



after all, though of course it might have been 
better; a tin of sardines - - a box of captain's 
biscuits, nearly full - - and a German sausage 
encased in silver paper. 

'There's a banquet for you!" observed the 
Rat, as he arranged the table. ''I know some 
animals who would give their ears to be sitting 
down to supper with us to-night!" 

"No bread!" groaned the Mole dolorously; 
"no butter, no- 

:< No pate de foie gras, no champagne!" con- 
tinued the Rat, grinning. "And that reminds 
me - - what 's that little door at the end of the 
passage? Your cellar, of course! Every luxury 
in this house! Just you wait a minute." 

He made for the cellar-door, and presently 
reappeared, somewhat dusty, with a bottle of 
beer in each paw and another under each arm, 
"Self-indulgent beggar you seem to be, Mole," 
he observed. "Deny yourself nothing. This 
is really the jolliest little place I ever was in. 
Now, wherever did you pick up those prints? 
Make the place look so home-like, they do. No 
wonder you 're so fond of it, Mole. Tell us 



all about it, and how you came to make it 
what it is." 

Then, while the Rat busied himself fetching 
plates, and knives and forks, and mustard which 
he mixed in an egg-cup, the Mole, his bosom 
still heaving with the stress of his recent emo- 
tion, related somewhat shyly at first, but 
with more freedom as he warmed to his subject 
how this was planned, and how that was 
thought out, and how this was got through a 
windfall from an aunt, and that was a wonder- 
ful find and a bargain, and this other thing 
was bought out of laborious savings and a cer- 
tain amount of "going without." His spirits 
finally quite restored, he must needs go and 
caress his possessions, and take a lamp and 
show off their points to his visitor and expa- 
tiate on them, quite forgetful of the supper they 
both so much needed; Rat, who was desperately 
hungry but strove to conceal it, nodding se- 
riously, examining with a puckered brow, and 
saying, "wonderful," and "most remarkable," 
at intervals, when the chance for an observation 
was given him. 



At last the Rat succeeded in decoying him 
to the table, and had just got seriously to work 
with the sardine-opener when sounds were heard 
from the fore-court without - - sounds like the 
scuffling of small feet in the gravel and a con- 
fused murmur of tiny voices, while broken sen- 
tences reached them- "Now, all in a line - 
hold the lantern up a bit, Tommy clear your 
throats first no coughing after I say one, two, 
three. - - Where 's young Bill? Here, come on, 
do, we 're all a-waiting - 

"What's up?" inquired the Rat, pausing in 
his labours. 

"I think it must be the field-mice," replied 
the Mole, with a touch of pride in his manner. 
'They go round carol-singing regularly at this 
time of the year. They 're quite an institution 
in these parts. And they never pass me over - 
they come to Mole End last of all; and I used 
to give them hot drinks, and supper too some- 
times, when I could afford it. It will be like old 
times to hear them again." 

"Let 's have a look at them!" cried the Rat, 
jumping up and running to the door. 



It was a pretty sight, and a seasonable one, 
that met their eyes when they flung the door 
open. In the fore-court, lit by the dim rays of 
a horn lantern, some eight or ten little field- 
mice stood in a semicircle, red worsted com- 
forters round their throats, their fore-paws 
thrust deep into their pockets, their feet jigging 
for warmth. With bright beady eyes they 
glanced shyly at each other, sniggering a little, 
sniffing and applying coat-sleeves a good deal. 
As the door opened, one of the elder ones that 
carried the lantern was just saying, "Now then, 
one, two, three!" and forthwith their shrill lit- 
tle voices uprose on the air, singing one of the 
old-time carols that their forefathers composed 
in fields that were fallow and held by frost, 
or when snow-bound in chimney corners, and 
handed down to be sung in the miry street to 
lamp-lit windows at Yule-time. 


Villagers all, this frosty tide, 
Let your doors swing open wide, 
Though wind may follow, and snow beside, 


Yet draw us in by your fire to bide; 
Joy shall be yours in the morning I 

Here we stand in the cold and the sleet, 
Blowing fingers and stamping feet, 
Come from far away you to greet 
You by the fire and we in the street 
Bidding you joy in the morning ! 

For ere one half of the night was gone, 
Sudden a star has led us on, 
Raining bliss and benison 
Bliss to-morrow and more anon, 
Joy for every morning ! 

Goodman Joseph toiled through the snow 
Saw the star o'er a stable low; 
Mary she might not further go 
Welcome thatch, and litter below I 
Joy was hers in the morning ! 

And then they heard the angels tell 
"Who were the first to cry Nowell? 
Animals all, as it befell, 
In the stable where they did dwell I 

Joy shall be theirs in the morning /" 

The voices ceased, the singers, bashful but 
smiling, exchanged sidelong glances, and silence 

succeeded but for a moment only. Then, 



from up above and far away, down the tunnel 
they had so lately travelled was borne to their 
ears in a faint musical hum the sound of distant 
bells ringing a joyful and clangorous peal. 

"Very well sung, boys!" cried the Rat heart- 
ily. "And now come along in, all of you, and 
warm yourselves by the fire, and have some- 
thing hot!" 

"Yes, come along, field-mice," cried the Mole 
eagerly. "This is quite like old times! Shut 
the door after you. Pull up that settle to the 
fire. Now, you just wait a minute, while we 
O, Ratty!" he cried in despair, plumping down 
on a seat, with tears impending. 'Whatever 
are we doing? We 've nothing to give them!" 

"You leave all that to me," said the master- 
ful Rat. "Here, you with the lantern! Come 
over this way. I want to talk to you. Now, 
tell me, are there any shops open at this hour 
of the night?" 

"Why, certainly, sir," replied the field-mouse 
respectfully. "At this time of the year our 
shops keep open to all sorts of hours." 

"Then look here!" said the Rat. "You go 



off at once, you and your lantern, and you get 


Here much muttered conversation ensued, 
and the Mole only heard bits of it, such as - 
' Fresh, mind ! - - no, a pound of that will do - 
see you get Buggins's, for I won't have any 
other - - no, only the best if you can't get it 
there, try somewhere else - - yes, of course, home- 
made, no tinned stuff well then, do the best 
you can!" Finally, there was a chink of coin 
passing from paw to paw, the field-mouse was 
provided with an ample basket for his purchases, 
and off he hurried, he and his lantern. 

The rest of the field-mice, perched in a row 
on the settle, their small legs swinging, gave 
themselves up to enjoyment of the fire, and 
toasted their chilblains till they tingled; while 
the Mole, failing to draw them into easy conver- 
sation, plunged into family history and made 
each of them recite the names of his numerous 
brothers, who were too young, it appeared, to 
be allowed to go out a-carolling this year, but 
looked forward very shortly to winning the 
parental consent. 



The Rat, meanwhile, was busy examining the 
label on one of the beer-bottles. "I perceive 
this to be Old Burton," he remarked approv- 
ingly. ''Sensible Mole! The very thing! Now 
we shall be able to mull some ale! Get the 
things ready, Mole, while I draw the corks." 

It did not take long to prepare the brew and 
thrust the tin heater well into the red heart 
of the fire; and soon every field-mouse was 
sipping and coughing and choking (for a little 
mulled ale goes a long way) and wiping his eyes 
and laughing and forgetting he had ever been 
cold in all his life. 

"They act plays, too, these fellows," the Mole 
explained to the Rat. ''Make them up all by 
themselves, and act them afterwards. And very 
well they do it, too! They gave us a capital 
one last year, about a field-mouse who was cap- 
tured at sea by a Barbary corsair, and made to 
row in a galley; and when he escaped and got 
home again, his lady-love had gone into a con- 
vent. Here, you ! You were in it, I remember. 
Get up and recite a bit." 

The field-mouse addressed got up on his legs, 



giggled shyly, looked round the room, and re- 
mained absolutely tongue-tied. His comrades 
cheered him on, Mole coaxed and encouraged 
him, and the Rat went so far as to take him by 
the shoulders and shake him; but nothing could 
overcome his stage-fright. They were all busily 
engaged on him like watermen applying the 
Royal Humane Society's regulations to a case 
of long submersion, when the latch clicked, the 
door opened, and the field-mouse with the lan- 
tern reappeared, staggering under the weight of 
his basket. 

There was no more talk of play-acting once 
the very real and solid contents of the basket 
had been tumbled out on the table. Under the 
generalship of Rat, everybody was set to do 
something or to fetch something. In a very few 
minutes supper was ready, and Mole, as he took 
the head of the table in a sort of a dream, saw 
a lately barren board set thick with savoury 
comforts; saw his little friends' faces brighten 
and beam as they fell to without delay; and 
then let himself loose for he was famished 
indeed on the provender so magically pro- 



vided, thinking what a happy home-coming this 
had turned out, after all. As they ate, they 
talked of old times, and the field-mice gave him 
the local gossip up to date, and answered as well 
as they could the hundred questions he had to 
ask them. The Rat said little or nothing, only 
taking care that each guest had what he wanted, 
and plenty of it, and that Mole had no trouble 
or anxiety about anything. 

They clattered off at last, very grateful and 
showering wishes of the season, with their jacket 
pockets stuffed with remembrances for the small 
brothers and sisters at home. When the door 
had closed on the last of them and the chink 
of the lanterns had died away, Mole and Rat 
kicked the fire up, drew their chairs in, brewed 
themselves a last nightcap of mulled ale, and 
discussed the events of the long day. At last 
the Rat, with a tremendous yawn, said, "Mole, 
old chap, I 'm ready to drop. Sleepy is simply 
not the word. That your own bunk over on 
that side? Very well, then, I '11 take this. 
What a ripping little house this is! Everything 

so handy!" 



He clambered into his bunk and rolled him- 
self well up in the blankets, and slumber gath- 
ered him forthwith, as a swathe of barley is 
folded into the arms of the reaping machine. 

The weary Mole also was glad to turn in 
without delay, and soon had his head on his 
pillow, in great joy and contentment. But ere 
he closed his eyes he let them wander round his 
old room, mellow in the glow of the firelight 
that played or rested on familiar and friendly 
things which had long been unconsciously a 
part of him, and now smilingly received him 
back, without rancour. He was now in just 
the frame of mind that the tactful Rat had 
quietly worked to bring about in him. He saw 
clearly how plain and simple how narrow, 
even it all was; but clearly, too, how much 
it all meant to him, and the special value of 
some such anchorage in one's existence. He did 
not at all want to abandon the new life and its 
splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air 
and all they offered him and creep home and 
stay there; the upper world was all too strong, 
it called to him still, even down there, and he 



knew he must return to the larger stage. But 
it was good to think he had this to come back 
to, this place which was all his own, these things 
which were so glad to see him again and could 
always be counted upon for the same simple 




IT was a bright morning in the early part of 
summer; the river had resumed its wonted 
banks and its accustomed pace, and a hot sun 
seemed to be pulling everything green and 
bushy and spiky up out of the earth towards 
him, as if by strings. The Mole and the Water 
Rat had been up since dawn, very busy on 
matters connected with boats and the opening 
of the boating season; painting and varnishing, 
mending paddles, repairing cushions, hunting 
for missing boat-hooks, and so on; and were 
finishing breakfast in their little parlour and 
eagerly discussing their plans for the day, when 
a heavy knock sounded at the door. 

"Bother!" said the Rat, all over egg. "See 
who it is, Mole, like a good chap, since you 've 



The Mole went to attend the summons, and 
the Rat heard him utter a cry of surprise. 
Then he flung the parlour door open, and an- 
nounced with much importance, "Mr. Badger!" 

This was a wonderful thing, indeed, that the 
Badger should pay a formal call on them, or 
indeed on anybody. He generally had to be 
caught, if you wanted him badly, as he slipped 
quietly along a hedgerow of an early morning 
or a late evening, or else hunted up in his own 
house in the middle of the Wood, which was a 
serious undertaking. 

The Badger strode heavily into the room, 
and stood looking at the two animals with an 
expression full of seriousness. The Rat let his 
egg-spoon fall on the table-cloth, and sat open- 

'The hour has come!" said the Badger at 
last with great solemnity. 

'What hour?" asked the Rat uneasily, glanc- 
ing at the clock on the mantelpiece. 

'Whose hour, you should rather say," replied 
the Badger. "Why, Toad's hour! The hour 
of Toad! I said I would take him in hand as 



soon as the winter was well over, and I 'm going 
to take him in hand to-day!" 

'Toad's hour, of course!" cried the Mole de- 
lightedly. "Hooray! I remember now! We'll 
teach him to be a sensible Toad!" 

'This very morning," continued the Badger, 
taking an arm-chair, "as I learnt last night 
from a trustworthy source, another new and 
exceptionally powerful motor-car will arrive at 
Toad Hall on approval or return. At this very 
moment, perhaps, Toad is busy arraying him- 
self in those singularly hideous habiliments so 
dear to him, which transform him from a (com- 
paratively) good-looking Toad into an Object 
which throws any decent-minded animal that 
comes across it into a violent fit. We must be 
up and doing, ere it is too late. You two ani- 
mals will accompany me instantly to Toad Hall, 
and the work of rescue shall be accomplished." 

"Right you are!" cried the Rat, starting up. 

' We '11 rescue the poor unhappy animal ! We '11 

convert him! He '11 be the most converted 

Toad that ever was before we 've done with 




They set off up the road on their mission of 
mercy, Badger leading the way. Animals when 
in company walk in a proper and sensible 
manner, in single file, instead of sprawling all 
across the road and being of no use or support 
to each other in case of sudden trouble or 

They reached the carriage-drive of Toad Hall 
to find, as Badger had anticipated, a shiny new 
motor-car, of great size, painted a bright red 
(Toad's favourite colour), standing in front of 
the house. As they neared the door it was 
flung open, and Mr. Toad, arrayed in goggles, 
cap, gaiters, and enormous overcoat, came swag- 
gering down the steps, drawing on his gaunt- 
leted gloves. 

'Hullo! come on, you fellows!" he cried 
cheerfully on catching sight of them. 'You 're 
just in time to come with me for a jolly to 
come for a jolly- -for a er jolly " 

His hearty accents faltered and fell away as 
he noticed the stern unbending look on the 
countenances of his silent friends, and his invi- 
tation remained unfinished. 



The Badger strode up the steps. 'Take him 
inside," he said sternly to his companions. 
Then, as Toad was hustled through the door, 
struggling and protesting, he turned to the 
chauffeur in charge of the new motor-car. 

"I 'm afraid you won't be wanted to-day," he 
said. "Mr. Toad has changed his mind. He 
will not require the car. Please understand 
that this is final. You needn't wait. " Then he 
followed the others inside and shut the door. 

"Now then!" he said to the Toad, when the 
four of them stood together in the Hall, "first 
of all, take those ridiculous things off!" 

"Shan't!' replied Toad, with great spirit. 
"What is the meaning of this gross outrage? 
I demand an instant explanation." 

"Take them off him, then, you two," ordered 
the Badger briefly. 

They had to lay Toad out on the floor, kick- 
ing and calling all sorts of names, before they 
could get to work properly. Then the Rat sat 
on him, and the Mole got his motor-clothes off 
him bit by bit, and they stood him up on his 
legs again. A good deal of his blustering spirit 



seemed to have evaporated with the removal of 
his fine panoply. Now that he was merely 
Toad, and no longer the Terror of the Highway, 
he giggled feebly and looked from one to the 
other appealingly, seeming quite to understand 
the situation. 

'You knew it must come to this, sooner or 
later, Toad," the Badger explained severely. 
You 've disregarded all the warnings we 've 
given you, you 've gone on squandering the 
money your father left you, and you 're getting 
us animals a bad name in the district by your 
furious driving and your smashes and your rows 
with the police. Independence is all very well, 
but we animals never allow our friends to make 
fools of themselves beyond a certain limit; and 
that limit you 've reached. Now, you 're a good 
fellow in many respects, and I don't want to be 
too hard on you. I '11 make one more effort to 
bring you to reason. You will come with me 
into the smoking-room, and there you will hear 
some facts about yourself; and we '11 see whether 
you come out of that room the same Toad that 
you went in." 



He took Toad firmly by the arm, led him 
into the smoking-room, and closed the door be- 
hind them. 

'That 's no good!" said the Rat contemptu- 
ously. ' Talking to Toad '11 never cure him. 
He '11 say anything." 

They made themselves comfortable in arm- 
chairs and waited patiently. Through the closed 
door they could just hear the long continuous 
drone of the Badger's voice, rising and falling 
in waves of oratory; and presently they noticed 
that the sermon began to be punctuated at 
intervals by long-drawn sobs, evidently pro- 
ceeding from the bosom of Toad, who was a 
soft-hearted and affectionate fellow, very easily 
converted for the time being to any point 
of view. 

After some three-quarters of an hour the 
door opened, and the Badger reappeared, sol- 
emnly leading by the paw a very limp and de- 
jected Toad. His skin hung baggily about him, 
his legs wobbled, and his cheeks were furrowed 
by the tears so plentifully called forth by the 
Badger's moving discourse. 



<< i 

: Sit down there, Toad," said the Badger 
kindly, pointing to a chair. : 'My friends," he 
went on, 'I am pleased to inform you that 
Toad has at last seen the error of his ways. He 
is truly sorry for his misguided conduct in the 
past, and he has undertaken to give up motor- 
cars entirely and for ever. I have his solemn 
promise to that effect." 

'That is very good news," said the Mole 

'Very good news indeed," observed the Rat 
dubiously, "if only if only - 

He was looking very hard at Toad as he said 
this, and could not help thinking he perceived 
something vaguely resembling a twinkle in that 
animal's still sorrowful eye. 

'There 's only one thing more to be done," 
continued the gratified Badger. 'Toad, I want 
you solemnly to repeat, before your friends here, 
what you fully admitted to me in the smoking- 
room just now. First, you are sorry for what 
you 've done, and you see the folly of it all?" 

There was a long, long pause. Toad looked 
desperately this way and that, while the other 



animals waited in grave silence. At last he 

"No!" he said, a little sullenly, but stoutly; 
"I 'm not sorry. And it wasn't folly at all! It 
was simply glorious!" 

"What?" cried the Badger, greatly scandal- 
ised. 'You backsliding animal, didn't you tell 
me just now, in there " 

"Oh, yes, yes, in there" said Toad impa- 
tiently. "I'd have said anything in there. 
You 're so eloquent, dear Badger, and so mov- 
ing, and so convincing, and put all your points 
so frightfully well you can do what you like 
with me in there, and you know it. But I 've 
been searching my mind since, and going over 
things in it, and I find that I 'm not a bit sorry 
or repentant really, so it 's no earthly good 
saying I am; now, is it?" 

"Then you don't promise," said the Badger, 
"never to touch a motor-car again?" 

"Certainly not!" replied Toad emphatically. 
"On the contrary, I faithfully promise that the 
very first motor-car I see, poop-poop! off I go 
in it!" 



"Told you so, didn't I?" observed the Rat to 
the Mole. 

"Very well, then," said the Badger firmly, 
rising to his feet. "Since you won't yield to 
persuasion, we '11 try what force can do. I 
feared it would come to this all along. You 've 
often asked us three to come and stay with you, 
Toad, in this handsome house of yours; well, 
now we 're going to. When we 've converted 
you to a proper point of view we may quit, but 
not before. Take him upstairs, you two, and 
lock him up in his bedroom, while we arrange 
matters between ourselves." 

"It 's for your own good, Toady, you know," 
said the Rat kindly, as Toad, kicking and 
struggling, was hauled up the stairs by his two 
faithful friends. 'Think what fun we shall all 
have together, just as we used to, when you Ve 
quite got over this this painful attack of 

'We '11 take great care of everything for you 
till you 're well, Toad," said the Mole; "and 
we '11 see your money isn't wasted, as it has 




"No more of those regrettable incidents with 
the police, Toad," said the Rat, as they thrust 
him into his bedroom. 

"And no more weeks in hospital, being or- 
dered about by female nurses, Toad," added the 
Mole, turning the key on him. 

They descended the stair, Toad shouting 
abuse at them through the keyhole; and the 
three friends then met in conference on the 

"It 's going to be a tedious business," said the 
Badger, sighing. "I 've never seen Toad so 
determined. However, we will see it out. He 
must never be left an instant unguarded. We 
shall have to take it in turns to be with him, 
till the poison has worked itself out of his 

They arranged watches accordingly. Each 
animal took it in turns to sleep in Toad's room 
at night, and they divided the day up between 
them. At first Toad was undoubtedly very 
trying to his careful guardians. When his vio- 
lent paroxysms possessed him he would arrange 
bedroom chairs in rude resemblance of a motor- 



car and would crouch on the foremost of them, 
bent forward and staring fixedly ahead, making 
uncouth and ghastly noises, till the climax was 
reached, when, turning a complete somersault, 
he would lie prostrate amidst the ruins of the 
chairs, apparently completely satisfied for the 
moment. As time passed, however, these pain- 
ful seizures grew gradually less frequent, and 
his friends strove to divert his mind into fresh 
channels. But his interest in other matters did 
not seem to revive, and he grew apparently 
languid and depressed. 

One fine morning the Rat, whose turn it was 
to go on duty, went upstairs to relieve Badger, 
whom he found fidgeting to be off and stretch 
his legs in a long ramble round his wood and 
dow r n his earths and burro ws. 'Toad 's still in 
bed," he told the Rat, outside the door. :< Can't 
get much out of him, except, '0 leave him 
alone, he wants nothing, perhaps he '11 be better 
presently, it may pass off in time, don't be 
unduly anxious,' and so on. Now, you look 
out, Rat! When Toad 's quiet and submissive, 
and playing at being the hero of a Sunday- 



school prize, then he 's at his artfullest. There 's 
sure to be something up. I know him. Well, 
now, I must be off." 

"How are you to-day, old chap?" inquired 
the Rat cheerfully, as he approached Toad 's 

He had to wait some minutes for an answer. 
At last a feeble voice replied, 'Thank you so 
much, dear Ratty ! So good of you to inquire ! 
But first tell me how you are yourself, and the 
excellent Mole?" 

" O, we 're all right," replied the Rat. "Mole," 
he added incautiously, "is going out for a run 
round with Badger. They '11 be out till luncheon 
time, so you and I will spend a pleasant morn- 
ing together, and I '11 do my best to amuse you. 
Now jump up, there 's a good fellow, and don't 
lie moping there on a fine morning like this!" 

"Dear, kind Rat," murmured Toad, "how 
little you realise my condition, and how very 
far I am from 'jumping up' now- -if ever! 
But do not trouble about me. I hate being a 
burden to my friends, and I do not expect to be 
one much longer. Indeed, I almost hope not." 



"Well, I hope not, too," said the Rat heartily. 
"You 've been a fine bother to us all this time, 
and I 'm glad to hear it 's going to stop. And 
in weather like this, and the boating season 
just beginning! It's too bad of you, Toad! 
It isn't the trouble we mind, but you 're making 
us miss such an awful lot." 

'I 'm afraid it is the trouble you mind, 
though," replied the Toad languidly. 'I can 
quite understand it. It 's natural enough. 
You 're tired of bothering about me. I mustn't 
ask you to do anything further. I 'm a nui- 
sance, I know." 

'You are, indeed," said the Rat. "But I 
tell you, I 'd take any trouble on earth for you, 
if only you 'd be a sensible animal." 

"If I thought that, Ratty," murmured Toad, 
more feebly than ever, "then I would beg you 
- for the last time, probably - - to step round 
to the village as quickly as possible even now 
it may be too late - - and fetch the doctor. But 
don't you bother. It 's only a trouble, and per- 
haps we may as well let things take their course." 

'Why, what do you want a doctor for?" 



inquired the Rat, coming closer and examining 
him. He certainly lay very still and flat, and his 
voice was weaker and his manner much changed. 

"Surely you have noticed of late ' mur- 
mured Toad. 'But, no why should you? 
Noticing things is only a trouble. To-morrow, 
indeed, you may be saying to yourself, 'O, if 
only I had noticed sooner! If only I had done 
something!' But no; it's a trouble. Never 
mind - - forget that I asked." 

"Look here, old man," said the Rat, begin- 
ning to get rather alarmed, "of course I '11 fetch 
a doctor to you, if you really think you want 
him. But you can hardly be bad enough for 
that yet. Let 's talk about something else." 

"I fear, dear friend," said Toad, with a 
sad smile, 'that 'talk' can do little in a case 
like this or doctors either, for that matter; 
still, one must grasp at the slightest straw. And, 
by the way while you are about it I hate 
to give you additional trouble, but I happen to 
remember that you will pass the door would 
you mind at the same time asking the lawyer 
to step up? It would be a convenience to me, 



and there are moments - - perhaps I should say 
there is a moment - - when one must face dis- 
agreeable tasks, at whatever cost to exhausted 

"A lawyer! O, he must be really bad!" the 
affrighted Rat said to himself, as he hurried 
from the room, not forgetting, however, to lock 
the door carefully behind him. 

Outside, he stopped to consider. The other 
two were far away, and he had no one to consult. 
'It 's best to be on the safe side," he said, on 
reflection. "I 've known Toad fancy himself 
frightfully bad before, without the slightest rea- 
son; but I 've never heard him ask for a lawyer! 
If there 's nothing really the matter, the doctor 
will tell him he 's an old ass, and cheer him up; 
and that will be something gained. I 'd better 
humour him and go; it won't take very long." So 
he ran off to the village on his errand of mercy. 

The Toad, who had hopped lightly out of 
bed as soon as he heard the key turned in the 
lock, watched him eagerly from the window till 
he disappeared down the carriage-drive. Then, 
laughing heartily, he dressed as quickly as pos- 



sible in the smartest suit he could lay hands on 
at the moment, filled his pockets with cash 
which he took from a small drawer in the 
dressing-table, and next, knotting the sheets 
from his bed together and tying one end of the 
improvised rope round the central mullion of 
the handsome Tudor window which formed such 
a feature of his bedroom, he scrambled out, slid 
lightly to the ground, and, taking the oppo- 
site direction to the Rat, marched off light- 
heartedly, whistling a merry tune. 

It was a gloomy luncheon for Rat when the 
Badger and the Mole at length returned, and 
he had to face them at table with his pitiful and 
unconvincing story. The Badger's caustic, not 
to say brutal, remarks may be imagined, and 
therefore passed over; but it was painful to 
the Rat that even the Mole, though he took his 
friend's side as far as possible, could not help 
saying, ' You ' ve been a bit of a duffer this 
time, Ratty! Toad, too, of all animals!" 

"He did it awfully well," said the crestfallen 

"He did you awfully well!" rejoined the 



Badger hotly. 'However, talking won't mend 
matters. He 's got clear away for the time, 
that 's certain; and the worst of it is, he '11 be 
so conceited with what he '11 think is his clever- 
ness that he may commit any folly. One com- 
fort is, we 're free now, and needn't waste any 
more of our precious time doing sentry-go. But 
we 'd better continue to sleep at Toad Hall for 
a while longer. Toad may be brought back at 
any moment on a stretcher, or between two 

So spoke the Badger, not knowing what the 
future held in store, or how much water, and 
of how turbid a character, was to run under 
bridges before Toad should sit at ease again in 
his ancestral Hall. 

Meanwhile, Toad, gay and irresponsible, was 
walking briskly along the high road, some miles 
from home. At first he had taken by-paths, 
and crossed many fields, and changed his course 
several times, in case of pursuit; but now, feel- 
ing by this time safe from recapture, and the 
sun smiling brightly on him, and all Nature 



joining in a chorus of approval to the song of 
self-praise that his own heart was singing to 
him, he almost danced along the road in his 
satisfaction and conceit. 

"Smart piece of work that!" he remarked to 
himself chuckling. : ' Brain against brute force 
and brain came out on the top as it 's 
bound to do. Poor old Ratty! My! won't he 
catch it when the Badger gets back! A worthy 
fellow, Ratty, with many good qualities, but 
very little intelligence and absolutely no educa- 
tion. I must take him in hand some day, and 
see if I can make something of him." 

Filled full of conceited thoughts such as these 
he strode along, his head in the air, till he 
reached a little town, where the sign of 'The 
Red Lion," swinging across the road half-way 
down the main street, reminded him that he 
had not breakfasted that day, and that he was 
exceedingly hungry after his long walk. He 
marched into the Inn, ordered the best lunch- 
eon that could be provided at so short a notice, 
and sat down to eat it in the coffee-room. 

He was about half-way through his meal when 



an only too familiar sound, approaching down 
the street, made him start and fall a-trembling 
all over. The poop-poop! drew nearer and 
nearer, the car could be heard to turn into the 
inn-yard and come to a stop, and Toad had to 
hold on to the leg of the table to conceal his 
over-mastering emotion. Presently the party 
entered the coffee-room, hungry, talkative, and 
gay, voluble on their experiences of the morning 
and the merits of the chariot that had brought 
them along so well. Toad listened eagerly, all 
ears, for a time; at last he could stand it no 
longer. He slipped out of the room quietly, 
paid his bill at the bar, and as soon as he got 
outside sauntered round quietly to the inn-yard. 
'There cannot be any harm," he said to him- 
self, "in my only just looking at it!" 

The car stood in the middle of the yard, 
quite unattended, the stable-helps and other 
hangers-on being all at their dinner. Toad 
walked slowly round it, inspecting, criticising, 
musing deeply. 

"I wonder," he said to himself presently, "I 
wonder if this sort of car starts easily?" 



Next moment, hardly knowing how it came 
about, he found he had hold of the handle and 
was turning it. As the familiar sound broke 
forth, the old passion seized on Toad and com- 
pletely mastered him, body and soul. As if in 
a dream he found himself, somehow, seated in 
the driver's seat; as if in a dream, he pulled the 
lever and swung the car round the yard and 
out through the archway; and, as if in a dream, 
all sense of right and wrong, all fear of obvious 
consequences, seemed temporarily suspended. 
He increased his pace, and as the car devoured 
the street and leapt forth on the high road 
through the open country, he was only con- 
scious that he was Toad once more, Toad at 
his best and highest, Toad the terror, the traffic- 
queller, the Lord of the lone trail, before whom 
all must give way or be smitten into nothingness 
and everlasting night. He chanted as he flew, 
and the car responded with sonorous drone; the 
miles were eaten up under him as he sped he 
knew not whither, fulfilling his instincts, living 
his hour, reckless of what might come to him. 



'To my mind," observed the Chairman of 
the Bench of Magistrates cheerfully, "the only 
difficulty that presents itself in this otherwise 
very clear case is, how we can possibly make 
it sufficiently hot for the incorrigible rogue and 
hardened ruffian whom we see cowering in the 
dock before us. Let me see: he has been found 
guilty, on the clearest evidence, first, of stealing 
a valuable motor-car; secondly, of driving to 
the public danger; and, thirdly, of gross imper- 
tinence to the rural police. Mr. Clerk, will you 
tell us, please, what is the very stiffest penalty 
we can impose for each of these offences? With- 
out, of course, giving the prisoner the benefit of 
any doubt, because there isn't any." 

The Clerk scratched his nose with his pen. 
"Some people would consider," he observed, 
'that stealing the motor-car was the worst 
offence; and so it is. But cheeking the police 
undoubtedly carries the severest penalty; and 
so it ought. Supposing you were to say twelve 
months for the theft, which is mild; and three 
years for the furious driving, which is lenient; 
and fifteen years for the cheek, which was pretty 



bad sort of cheek, judging by what we Ve 
heard from the witness-box, even if you only 
believe one-tenth part of what you heard, and 
I never believe more myself those figures, 
if added together correctly, tot up to nineteen 
years " 

"First-rate!" said the Chairman. 

" So you had better make it a round 
twenty years and be on the safe side," concluded 
the Clerk. 

"An excellent suggestion!" said the Chair- 
man approvingly. "Prisoner! Pull yourself to- 
gether and try and stand up straight. It 's 
going to be twenty years for you this time. 
And mind, if you appear before us again, upon 
any charge whatever, we shall have to deal 
with you very seriously!" 

Then the brutal minions of the law fell upon 
the hapless Toad; loaded him with chains, and 
dragged him from the Court House, shrieking, 
praying, protesting; across the market-place, 
where the playful populace, always as severe 
upon detected crime as they are sympathetic 
and helpful when one is merely :< wanted," 



assailed him with jeers, carrots, and popular 
catch-words; past hooting school children, their 
innocent faces lit up with the pleasure they ever 
derive from the sight of a gentleman in diffi- 
culties; across the hollow-sounding drawbridge, 
below the spiky portcullis, under the frowning 
archway of the grim old castle, whose ancient 
towers soared high overhead; past guardrooms 
full of grinning soldiery off duty, past sentries 
who coughed in a horrid, sarcastic way, because 
that is as much as a sentry on his post dare do 
to show his contempt and abhorrence of crime; 
up time-worn winding stairs, past men-at-arms 
in casquet and corselet of steel, darting threat- 
ening looks through their vizards; across court- 
yards, where mastiffs strained at their leash 
and pawed the air to get at him; past ancient 
warders, their halberds leant against the wall, 
dozing over a pasty and a flagon of brown ale; 
on and on, past the rack-chamber and the 
thumbscrew-room, past the turning that led to 
the private scaffold, till they reached the door of 
the grimmest dungeon that lay in the heart of 
the innermost keep. There at last they paused, 


Tiinil irtifs <i Iirtjilcss prisoner in the 
remotest diint/con 


where an ancient gaoler sat fingering a bunch 
of mighty keys. 

" Oddsbodikins ! " said the sergeant of police, 
taking off his helmet and wiping his forehead. 
'Rouse thee, old loon, and take over from us 
this vile Toad, a criminal of deepest guilt and 
matchless artfulness and resource. Watch and 
ward him with all thy skill; and mark thee 
well, greybeard, should aught untoward befall, 
thy old head shall answer for his and a mur- 
rain on both of them!" 

The gaoler nodded grimly, laying his withered 
hand on the shoulder of the miserable Toad. 
The rusty key creaked in the lock, the great 
door clanged behind them; and Toad was a 
helpless prisoner in the remotest dungeon of the 
best-guarded keep of the stoutest castle in all 
the length and breadth of Merry England. 






THE Willow- Wren was twittering his thin 
little song, hidden himself in the dark 
selvedge of the river bank. Though it was past 
ten o'clock at night, the sky still clung to and 
retained some lingering skirts of light from the 
departed day; and the sullen heats of the torrid 
afternoon broke up and rolled away at the dis- 
persing touch of the cool fingers of the short 
midsummer night. Mole lay stretched on the 
bank, still panting from the stress of the fierce 
day that had been cloudless from dawn to late 
sunset, and waited for his friend to return. 
He had been on the river with some companions, 
leaving the Water Rat free to keep an engage- 
ment of long standing with Otter; and he had 
come back to find the house dark and deserted, 
and no sign of Rat, who was doubtless keeping 



it up late with his old comrade. It was still 
too hot to think of staying indoors, so he lay 
on some cool dock-leaves, and thought over the 
past day and its doings, and how very good 
they all had been. 

The Rat's light footfall was presently heard 
approaching over the parched grass. "0, the 
blessed coolness!" he said, and sat down, ga- 
zing thoughtfully into the river, silent and pre- 

"You stayed to supper, of course?" said the 
Mole presently. 

"Simply had to," said the Rat. "They 
wouldn't hear of my going before. You know 
how kind they always are. And they made 
things as jolly for me as ever they could, right 
up to the moment I left. But I felt a brute all 
the time, as it was clear to me they were very 
unhappy, though they tried to hide it. Mole, 
I 'm afraid they 're in trouble. Little Portly is 
missing again; and you know what a lot his 
father thinks of him, though he never says 
much about it." 

"What, that child?" said the Mole lightly, 



'Well, suppose he is; why worry about it? 
He 's always straying off and getting lost, and 
turning up again; he 's so adventurous. But 
no harm ever happens to him. Everybody here- 
abouts knows him and likes him, just as they 
do old Otter, and you may be sure some animal 
or other will come across him and bring him 
back again all right. Why, we 've found him 
ourselves, miles from home, and quite self- 
possessed and cheerful!" 

'Yes; but this time it 's more serious," said 
the Rat gravely. "He 's been missing for some 
days now, and the Otters have hunted every- 
where, high and low, without finding the slight- 
est trace. And they 've asked every animal, 
too, for miles around, and no one knows any- 
thing about him. Otter 's evidently more anx- 
ious than he '11 admit. I got out of him that 
young Portly hasn't learnt to swim very well 
yet, and I can see he 's thinking of the weir. 
There 's a lot of water coming down still, con- 
sidering the time of the year, and the place 
always had a fascination for the child. And 
then there are well, traps and things you 



know. Otter 's not the fellow to be nervous 
about any son of his before it 's time. And now 
he is nervous. When I left, he came out with 
me - - said he wanted some air, and talked about 
stretching his legs. But I could see it wasn't 
that, so I drew him out and pumped him, and 
got it all from him at last. He was going to 
spend the night watching by the ford. You 
know the place where the old ford used to be, 
in by-gone days before they built the bridge? ' ; 
"I know it well," said the Mole. "But why 
should Otter choose to watch there?" 

'Well, it seems that it was there he gave 
Portly his first swimming-lesson," continued the 
Rat. "From that shallow, gravelly spit near the 
bank. And it was there he used to teach him 
fishing, and there young Portly caught his first 
fish, of which he was so very proud. The child 
loved the spot, and Otter thinks that if he came 
wandering back from wherever he is - - if he is 
anywhere by this time, poor little chap - - he 
might make for the ford he was so fond of; or 
if he came across it he 'd remember it well, and 
stop there and play, perhaps. So Otter goes 



there every night and watches on the chance, 
you know, just on the chance!' 

They were silent for a time, both thinking 
of the same thing the lonely, heart-sore animal, 
crouched by the ford, watching and waiting, the 
long night through on the chance. 

"Well, well," said the Rat presently, "I sup- 
pose we ought to be thinking about turning in." 
But he never offered to move. 

"Rat," said the Mole, "I simply can't go and 
turn in, and go to sleep, and do nothing, even 
though there doesn't seem to be anything to be 
done. We '11 get the boat out, and paddle up- 
stream. The moon will be up in an hour or so, 
and then we will search as well as we can - 
anyhow, it will be better than going to bed and 
doing nothing" 

"Just what I was thinking myself," said the 
Rat. "It 's not the sort of night for bed any- 
how; and daybreak is not so very far off, and 
then we may pick up some news of him from 
early risers as we go along." 

They got the boat out, and the Rat took the 
sculls, paddling with caution. Out in mid- 


stream, there was a clear, narrow track that 
faintly reflected the sky; but wherever shadows 
fell on the water from bank, bush, or tree, they 
were as solid to all appearance as the banks 
themselves, and the Mole had to steer with 
judgment accordingly. Dark and deserted as 
it was, the night was full of small noises, song 
and chatter and rustling, telling of the busy 
little population who were up and about, plying 
their trades and vocations through the night till 
sunshine should fall on them at last and send 
them off to their well-earned repose. The 
water's own noises, too, were more apparent 
than by day, its gurglings and "cloops" more 
unexpected and near at hand; and constantly 
they started at what seemed a sudden clear call 
from an actual articulate voice. 

The line of the horizon was clear and hard 
against the sky, and in one particular quarter it 
showed black against a silvery climbing phos- 
phorescence that grew and grew. At last, over 
the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted 
with slow majesty till it swung clear of the 
horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and 



once more they began to see surfaces mead- 
ows wide-spread, and quiet gardens, and the 
river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, 
all washed clean of mystery and terror, all ra- 
diant again as by day, but with a difference 
that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted 
them again in other raiment, as if they had 
slipped away and put on this pure new apparel 
and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly 
waited to see if they would be recognised again 
under it. 

Fastening their boat to a willow, the friends 
landed in this silent, silver kingdom, and pa- 
tiently explored the hedges, the hollow trees, 
the runnels and their little culverts, the ditches 
and dry water-ways. Embarking again and 
crossing over, they worked their way up the 
stream in this manner, while the moon, serene 
and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she 
could, though so far off, to help them in their 
quest; till her hour came and she sank earth- 
wards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery 
once more held field and river. 

Then a change began slowly to declare itself. 



The horizon became clearer, field and tree came 
more into sight, and somehow with a different 
look; the mystery began to drop away from 
them. A bird piped suddenly, and was still; 
and a light breeze sprang up and set the reeds 
and bulrushes rustling. Rat, who was in the 
stern of the boat, while Mole sculled, sat up 
suddenly and listened with a passionate intent- 
ness. Mole, who with gentle strokes was just 
keeping the boat moving while he scanned 
the banks with care, looked at him with curi- 

"It 's gone!" sighed the Rat, sinking back in 
his seat again. "So beautiful and strange and 
new! Since it was to end so soon, I almost 
wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a 
longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems 
worth while but just to hear that sound once 
more and go on listening to it for ever. No! 
There it is again!" he cried, alert once more. 
Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spell- 

"Now it passes on and I begin to lose it," he 
said presently. "O Mole! the beauty of it! 



The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy 
call of the distant piping! Such music I never 
dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even 
than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! 
For the music and the call must be for us." 

The Mole, greatly wondering, obeyed. "I 
hear nothing myself," he said, 'but the wind 
playing in the reeds and rushes and osiers." 

The Rat never answered, if indeed he heard. 
Rapt, transported, trembling, he was possessed 
in all his senses by this new divine thing that 
caught up his helpless soul and swung and 
dandled it, a powerless but happy infant in a 
strong sustaining grasp. 

In silence Mole rowed steadily, and soon they 
came to a point where the river divided, a long 
backwater branching off to one side. With a 
slight movement of his head Rat, who had long 
dropped the rudder-lines, directed the rower to 
take the backwater. The creeping tide of light 
gained and gained, and now they could see the 
colour of the flowers that gemmed the water's 

"Clearer and nearer still," cried the Rat joy- 



ously. 'Now you must surely hear it! Ah - 
at last- -I see you do!" 

Breathless and transfixed, the Mole stopped 
rowing as the liquid run of that glad piping 
broke on him like a wave, caught him up, and 
possessed him utterly. He saw the tears on his 
comrade's cheeks, and bowed his head and 
understood. For a space they hung there, 
brushed by the purple loosestrife that fringed 
the bank; then the clear imperious summons 
that marched hand-in-hand with the intoxicating 
melody imposed its will on Mole, and mechani- 
cally he bent to his oars again. And the light 
grew steadily stronger, but no birds sang as they 
were wont to do at the approach of dawn; and 
but for the heavenly music all was marvellously 

On either side of them, as they glided onwards, 
the rich meadow-grass seemed that morning 
of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable. 
Never had they noticed the roses so vivid, the 
\villow r -herb so riotous, the meadow-sweet so 
odorous and pervading. Then the murmur of 
the approaching weir began to hold the air, and 



they felt a consciousness that they were nearing 
the end, whatever it might be, that surely 
awaited their expedition. 

A wide half-circle of foam and glinting lights 
and shining shoulders of green water, the great 
weir closed the backwater from bank to bank, 
troubled all the quiet surface with twirling 
eddies and floating foam-streaks, and deadened 
all other sounds with its solemn and soothing 
rumble. In midmost of the stream, embraced 
in the weir's shimmering arm-spread, a small 
island lay anchored, fringed close with willow 
and silver birch and alder. Reserved, shy, but 
full of significance, it hid whatever it might 
hold behind a veil, keeping it till the hour 
should come, and, with the hour, those who 
were called and chosen. 

Slowly, but with no doubt or hesitation what- 
ever, and in something of a solemn expectancy, 
the two animals passed through the broken, 
tumultuous water and moored their boat at the 
flowery margin of the island. In silence they 
landed, and pushed through the blossom and 
scented herbage and undergrowth that led up 



to the level ground, till they stood on a little 
lawn of a marvellous green, set round with 
Nature's own orchard-trees crab-apple, wild 
cherry, and sloe. 

'This is the place of my song-dream, the 
place the music played to me," whispered the 
Rat, as if in a trance. 'Here, in this holy place, 
here if anyw r here, surely we shall find Him!" 

Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall 
upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to 
water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to 
the ground. It was no panic terror - - indeed he 
felt wonderfully at peace and happy - - but it 
was an awe that smote and held him and, with- 
out seeing, he knew it could only mean that 
some august Presence was very, very near. 
With difficulty he turned to look for his friend, 
and saw him at his side, cowed, stricken, and 
trembling violently. And still there was utter 
silence in the populous bird-haunted branches 
around them; and still the light grew and grew. 

Perhaps he would never have dared to raise 
his eyes, but that, though the piping was now 
hushed, the call and the summons seemed still 



dominant and imperious. He might not refuse, 
were Death himself waiting to strike him in- 
stantly, once he had looked with mortal eye 
on things rightly kept hidden. Trembling he 
obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, 
in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, 
while Nature, flushed with fulness of incredible 
colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, 
he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and 
Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved 
horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw 
the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes 
that were looking down on them humorously, 
v/hile the bearded mouth broke into a half- 
smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles 
on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the 
long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes 
only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw 
the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs dis- 
posed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last 
of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleep- 
ing soundly in entire peace and contentment, 
the little, round, podgy, childish form of the 
baby otter. All this he saw, for one moment 



breathless and intense, vivid on the morning 
sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, 
as he lived, he wondered. 

"Rat!" he found breath to whisper, shaking. 
"Are you afraid?' 

"Afraid?" murmured the Rat, his eyes shining 
with unutterable love. "Afraid! Of Him? O, 
never, never ! And yet - - and yet - - O, Mole, 
I am afraid!" 

Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, 
bowed their heads and did worship. 

Sudden and magnificent, the sun's broad 
golden disc showed itself over the horizon facing 
them; and the first rays, shooting across the 
level water-meadows, took the animals full in 
the eyes and dazzled them. When they were 
able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, 
and the air was full of the carol of birds that 
hailed the dawn. 

As they stared blankly, in dumb misery deep- 
ening as they slowly realised all they had seen 
and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, 
dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed 
the aspens, shook the dewy roses, and blew 



lightly and caressingly in their faces; and with 
its soft touch came instant oblivion. For this 
is the last best gift that the kindly demi-god 
is careful to bestow on those to whom he has 
revealed himself in their helping: the gift of 
forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance 
should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth 
and pleasure, and the great haunting memory 
should spoil all the after-lives of little animals 
helped out of difficulties, in order that they 
should be happy and light-hearted as before. 

Mole rubbed his eyes and stared at Rat, who 
was looking about him in a puzzled sort of 
w T ay. 'I beg your pardon; what did you say, 
Rat?' : he asked. 

: 'I think I was only remarking," said Rat 
slowly, 'that this was the right sort of place, 
and that here, if anywhere, we should find him. 
And look! Why, there he is, the little fellow!" 
And with a cry of delight he ran towards the 
slumbering Portly. 

But Mole stood still a moment, held in 
thought. As one wakened suddenly from a 
beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, and 



can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the 
beauty of it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades 
away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly 
accepts the hard, cold waking and all its pen- 
alties; so Mole, after struggling with his mem- 
ory for a brief space, shook his head sadly and 
followed the Rat. 

Portly woke up with a joyous squeak, and 
wriggled with pleasure at the sight of his father's 
friends, who had played with him so often in 
past days. In a moment, however, his face 
grew blank, and he fell to hunting round in a 
circle with pleading whine. As a child that has 
fallen happily asleep in its nurse's arms, and 
wakes to find itself alone and laid in a strange 
place, and searches corners and cupboards, and 
runs from room to room, despair growing 
silently in its heart, even so Portly searched the 
island and searched, dogged and unwearying, 
till at last the black moment came for giving it 
up, and sitting down and crying bitterly. 

The Mole ran quickly to comfort the little ani- 
mal; but Rat, lingering, looked long and doubt- 
fully at certain hoof-marks deep in the sward. 



"Some great animal has been here," 
he murmured slowly and thoughtfully; and 
stood musing, musing; his mind strangely 

"Come along, Rat!" called the Mole. "Think 
of poor Otter, waiting up there by the ford!" 

Portly had soon been comforted by the prom- 
ise of a treat a jaunt on the river in Mr. 
Rat's real boat; and the two animals conducted 
him to the water's side, placed him securely 
between them in the bottom of the boat, and 
paddled off down the backwater. The sun was 
fully up by now, and hot on them, birds sang 
lustily and without restraint, and flowers smiled 
and nodded from either bank, but somehow 
so thought the animals with less of richness 
and blaze of colour than they seemed to remem- 
ber seeing quite recently somewhere they won- 
dered where. 

The main river reached again, they turned 
the boat's head upstream, towards the point 
where they knew their friend was keeping his 
lonely vigil. As they drew near the familiar 
ford, the Mole took the boat in to the bank, and 



they lifted Portly out and set him on his legs 
on the tow-path, gave him his marching orders 
and a friendly farewell pat on the back, and 
shoved out into mid-stream. They watched the 
little animal as he waddled along the path con- 
tentedly and with importance; watched him 
till they saw his muzzle suddenly lift and his 
waddle break into a clumsy amble as he quick- 
ened his pace with shrill whines and wriggles of 
recognition. Looking up the river, they could 
see Otter start up, tense and rigid, from out of 
the shallows where he crouched in dumb pa- 
tience, and could hear his amazed and joyous 
bark as he bounded up through the osiers on to 
the path. Then the Mole, with a strong pull 
on one oar, swung the boat round and let the 
full stream bear them down again whither it 
would, their quest now happily ended. 

'I feel strangely tired, Rat," said the Mole, 
leaning wearily over his oars, as the boat drifted. 
'It's being up all night, you'll say, perhaps; 
but that 's nothing. We do as much half the 
nights of the week, at this time of the year. 
No; I feel as if I had been through something 



very exciting and rather terrible, and it was just 
over; and yet nothing particular has happened." 

"Or something very surprising and splendid 
and beautiful," murmured the Rat, leaning back 
and closing his eyes. "I feel just as you do, 
Mole; simply dead tired, though not body- 
tired. It 's lucky we 've got the stream with us, 
to take us home. Isn't it jolly to feel the sun 
again, soaking into one's bones! And hark to 
the wind playing in the reeds!" 

"It 's like music far-away music," said the 
Mole, nodding drowsily. 

"So I was thinking," murmured the Rat, 
dreamful and languid. : ' Dance-music the 
lilting sort that runs on without a stop but 
with words in it, too it passes into words and 
out of them again I catch them at intervals 
then it is dance-music once more, and then 
nothing but the reeds' soft thin whispering." 

'You hear better than I," said the Mole 
sadly. "I cannot catch the words." 

"Let me try and give you them," said the 
Rat softly, his eyes still closed. "Now it is 
turning into words again faint but clear 



Lest the awe should dwell- - And turn your frolic 
to fret - - You shall look on my poiver at the help- 
ing hour - - But then you shall forget! Now the 
reeds take it up - -forget, forget, they sigh, and it 
dies away in a rustle and a whisper. Then the 
voice returns - 

"Lest limbs be reddened and rent- -I spring 
the trap that is set- - As I loose the snare you may 
glimpse me there - - For surely you shall forget ! 
Row nearer, Mole, nearer to the reeds! It is 
hard to catch, and grows each minute fainter. 

" Helper and healer, I cheer- - Small waifs in 
the woodland wet Strays I find in it, wounds I 
bind in it- -Bidding them all forget! Nearer, 
Mole, nearer! No, it is no good; the song has 
died away into reed-talk." 

"But what do the words mean?" asked the 
wondering Mole. 

"That I do not know," said the Rat simply. 
"I passed them on to you as they reached me. 
Ah! now they return again, and this time full 
and clear! This time, at last, it is the real, the 
unmistakable thing, simple - - passionate - - per- 
fect " 



"Well, let's have it, then," said the Mole, 
after he had waited patiently for a few minutes, 
half-dozing in the hot sun. 

But no answer came. He looked, and under- 
stood the silence. With a smile of much hap- 
piness on his face, and something of a listening 
look still lingering there, the weary Rat was 
fast asleep. 




WHEN Toad found himself immured in a 
dank and noisome dungeon, and knew 
that all the grim darkness of a medieval for- 
tress lay between him and the outer world of 
sunshine and well-metalled high roads where he 
had lately been so happy, disporting himself as 
if he had bought up every road in England, he 
flung himself at full length on the floor, and shed 
bitter tears, and abandoned himself to dark 
despair. 'This is the end of everything" (he 
said), "at least it is the end of the career of 
Toad, which is the same thing; the popular 
and handsome Toad, the rich and hospitable 
Toad, the Toad so free and careless and debo- 
nair! How can I hope to be ever set at large 
again" (he said), "who have been imprisoned so 
justly for stealing so handsome a motor-car in 
such an audacious manner, and for such lurid 



and imaginative cheek, bestowed upon such a 
number of fat, red-faced policemen!" (Here his 
sobs choked him.) "Stupid animal that I was" 
(he said), "now I must languish in this dungeon, 
till people who were proud to say they knew me, 
have forgotten the very name of Toad ! O wise 
old Badger!" (he said), "O clever, intelligent 
Rat and sensible Mole ! What sound judgments, 
what a knowledge of men and matters you pos- 
sess! O unhappy and forsaken Toad!" With 
lamentations such as these he passed his days 
and nights for several weeks, refusing his meals 
or intermediate light refreshments, though the 
grim and ancient gaoler, knowing that Toad's 
pockets were well lined, frequently pointed out 
that many comforts, and indeed luxuries, could 
by arrangement be sent in at a price from 

Now the gaoler had a daughter, a pleasant 
wench and good-hearted, who assisted her father 
in the lighter duties of his post. She was par- 
ticularly fond of animals, and, besides her ca- 
nary, whose cage hung on a nail in the massive 
wall of the keep by day, to the great annoyance 



of prisoners who relished an after-dinner nap, 
and was shrouded in an antimacassar on the 
parlour table at night, she kept several piebald 
mice and a restless revolving squirrel. This 
kind-hearted girl, pitying the misery of Toad, 
said to her father one day, "Father! I can't bear 
to see that poor beast so unhappy, and getting so 
thin! You let me have the managing of him. 
You know how fond of animals I am. I '11 make 
him eat from my hand, and sit up, and do all 
sorts of things." 

Her father replied that she could do what she 
liked with him. He was tired of Toad, and his 
sulks and his airs and his meanness. So that 
day she went on her errand of mercy, and 
knocked at the door of Toad's cell. 

"Now, cheer up, Toad," she said, coaxingly, 
on entering, "and sit up and dry your eyes and 
be a sensible animal. And do try and eat a bit 
of dinner. See, I 've brought you some of mine, 
hot from the oven!" 

It was bubble-and-squeak, between two plates, 
and its fragrance filled the narrow cell. The 
penetrating smell of cabbage reached the nose 



of Toad as he lay prostrate in his misery on the 
floor, and gave him the idea for a moment that 
perhaps life was not such a blank and desperate 
thing as he had imagined. But still he wailed, 
and kicked with his legs, and refused to be 
comforted. So the wise girl retired for the 
time, but, of course, a good deal of the smell 
of hot cabbage remained behind, as it will do, 
and Toad, between his sobs, sniffed and re- 
flected, and gradually began to think new and 
inspiring thoughts: of chivalry, and poetry, 
and deeds still to be done; of broad meadows, 
and cattle browsing in them, raked by sun and 
wind; of kitchen-gardens, and straight herb- 
borders, and warm snap-dragon beset by bees; 
and of the comforting clink of dishes set down 
on the table at Toad Hall, and the scrape of 
chair-legs on the floor as every one pulled him- 
self close up to his work. The air of the narrow 
cell took a rosy tinge; he began to think of his 
friends, and how they would surely be able to 
do something; of lawyers, and how they would 
have enjoyed his case, and what an ass he had 
been not to get in a few; and lastly, he thought 


Hi- Inij jii-t>nti'(itc in liiti mim'ry oil 
tlte floor 


of his own great cleverness and resource, and 
all that he was capable of if he only gave his 
great mind to it; and the cure was almost com- 

When the girl returned, some hours later, she 
carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steam- 
ing on it; and a plate piled up with very hot 
buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both 
sides, with the butter running through the holes 
in it in great golden drops, like honey from the 
honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast 
simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain 
voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts 
on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour fire- 
sides on winter evenings, when one's ramble 
was over, and slippered feet were propped on the 
fender; of the purring of contented cats, and 
the twitter of sleepy canaries. Toad sat up on 
end once more, dried his eyes, sipped his tea 
and munched his toast, and soon began talking 
freely about himself, and the house he lived in, 
and his doings there, and how important he 
was, and what a lot his friends thought of him. 

The gaoler's daughter saw that the topic was 



doing him as much good as the tea, as indeed 
it was, and encouraged him to go on. 

"Tell me about Toad Hall," said she. "It 
sounds beautiful." 

"Toad Hall," said the Toad proudly, "is an 
eligible, self-contained gentleman's residence, 
very unique; dating in part from the fourteenth 
century, but replete with every modern con- 
venience. Up-to-date sanitation. Five min- 
utes from church, post-office, and golf-links. 
Suitable for ' 

"Bless the animal," said the girl, laughing, 
"I don't want to take it. Tell me something 
real about it. But first wait till I fetch you some 
more tea and toast." 

She tripped away, and presently returned with 
a fresh trayful; and Toad, pitching into the 
toast with avidity, his spirits quite restored to 
their usual level, told her about the boat-house, 
and the fish-pond, and the old walled kitchen- 
garden; and about the pig-styes and the 
stables, and the pigeon-house and the hen- 
house; and about the dairy, and the wash- 
house, and the china-cupboards, and the linen- 



presses (she liked that bit especially) ; and about 
the banqueting-hall, and the fun they had there 
when the other animals were gathered round 
the table and Toad was at his best, singing 
songs, telling stories, carrying on generally. 
Then she wanted to know about his animal- 
friends, and was very interested in all he had to 
tell her about them and how they lived, and 
what they did to pass their time. Of course, she 
did not say she was fond of animals as pets, 
because she had the sense to see that Toad 
would be extremely offended. When she said 
good-night, having filled his water-jug and 
shaken up his straw for him, Toad was very 
much the same sanguine, self-satisfied animal 
that he had been of old. He sang a little song 
or two, of the sort he used to sing at his dinner- 
parties, curled himself up in the straw, and had 
an excellent night's rest and the pleasantest of 

They had many interesting talks together, 
after that, as the dreary days went on; and the 
gaoler's daughter grew very sorry for Toad, and 
thought it a great shame that a poor little 



animal should be locked up in prison for what 
seemed to her a very trivial offence. Toad, of 
course, in his vanity, thought that her interest 
in him proceeded from a growing tenderness; 
and he could not help half-regretting that the 
social gulf between them was so very wide, for 
she was a comely lass, and evidently admired 
him very much. 

One morning the girl was very thoughtful, 
and answered at random, and did not seem to 
Toad to be paying proper attention to his witty 
sayings and sparkling comments. 

'Toad," she said presently, "just listen, 
please. I have an aunt who is a washerwoman." 

'There, there," said Toad, graciously and af- 
fably, " never mind; think no more about it. 
I have several aunts who ought to be washer- 


"Do be quiet a minute, Toad," said the girl. 
'You talk too much, that 's your chief fault, 
and I 'm trying to think, and you hurt my head. 
As I said, I have an aunt who is a washerwoman; 
she does the washing for all the prisoners in this 
castle we try to keep any paying business of 



that sort in the family, you understand. She 
takes out the washing on Monday morning, and 
brings it in on Friday evening. This is a Thurs- 
day. Now, this is what occurs to me: you 're 
very rich at least you 're always telling 
me so and she 's very poor. A few pounds 
wouldn't make any difference to you, and it 
would mean a lot to her. Now, I think if she 
were properly approached squared, I believe 
is the word you animals use you could come 
to some arrangement by which she would let you 
have her dress and bonnet and so on, and you 
could escape from the castle as the official wash- 
erwoman. You 're very alike in many respects 
particularly about the figure." 

"We're not," said the Toad in a huff. "I 
have a very elegant figure for what I am." 

"So has my aunt," replied the girl, "for what 
she is. But have it your own way. You horrid, 
proud, ungrateful animal, when I 'm sorry for 
you, and trying to help you!" 

'Yes, yes, that 's all right; thank you very 
much indeed," said the Toad hurriedly. 'But 

look here ! you wouldn't surely have Mr. Toad, 



of Toad Hall, going about the country dis- 
guised as a washerwoman!" 

"Then you can stop here as a Toad," replied 
the girl with much spirit. 'I suppose you want 
to go off in a coach-and-four! v 

Honest Toad was always ready to admit 
himself in the wrong. 'You are a good, kind, 
clever girl," he said, "and I am indeed a proud 
and a stupid toad. Introduce me to your worthy 
aunt, if you will be so kind, and I have no doubt 
that the excellent lady and I will be able to 
arrange terms satisfactory to both parties." 

Next evening the girl ushered her aunt into 
Toad's cell, bearing his week's washing pinned 
up in a towel. The old lady had been prepared 
beforehand for the interview, and the sight of 
certain gold sovereigns that Toad had thought- 
fully placed on the table in full view practically 
completed the matter and left little further to 
discuss. In return for his cash, Toad received a 
cotton print gown, an apron, a shawl, and a 
rusty black bonnet; the only stipulation the 
old lady made being that she should be gagged 
and bound and dumped down in a corner. By 



this not very convincing artifice, she explained, 
aided by picturesque fiction which she could 
supply herself, she hoped to retain her situa- 
tion, in spite of the suspicious appearance of 

Toad was delighted with the suggestion. It 
would enable him to leave the prison in some 
style, and with his reputation for being a des- 
perate and dangerous fellow untarnished; and 
he readily helped the gaoler's daughter to make 
her aunt appear as much as possible the victim 
of circumstances over which she had no con- 

"Now it's your turn, Toad," said the girl. 
'Take off that coat and waistcoat of yours; 
you 're fat enough as it is." 

Shaking with laughter, she proceeded to 
" hook-and-eye" him into the cotton print gown, 
arranged the shawl with a professional fold, and 
tied the strings of the rusty bonnet under his 

'You 're the very image of her," she giggled, 
"only I 'm sure you never looked half so re- 
spectable in all your life before. Now, good-bye, 



Toad, and good luck. Go straight down the 
way you came up; and if any one says any- 
thing to you, as they probably will, being but 
men, you can chaff back a bit, of course, but 
remember you 're a widow woman, quite alone 
in the world, with a character to lose." 

With a quaking heart, but as firm a footstep 
as he could command, Toad set forth cautiously 
on what seemed to be a most hare-brained and 
hazardous undertaking; but he was soon agree- 
ably surprised to find how easy everything was 
made for him, and a little humbled at the 
thought that both his popularity, and the sex 
that seemed to inspire it, were really another's. 
The washerwoman's squat figure in its familiar 
cotton print seemed a passport for every barred 
door and grim gateway; even when he hesi- 
tated, uncertain as to the right turning to take, 
he found himself helped out of his difficulty by 
the warder at the next gate, anxious to be off 
to his tea, summoning him to come along sharp 
and not keep him waiting there all night. The 
chaff and the humourous sallies to which he was 
subjected, and to which, of course, he had to 



provide prompt and effective reply, formed, in- 
deed, his chief danger; for Toad was an animal 
with a strong sense of his own dignity, and the 
chaff was mostly (he thought) poor and clumsy, 
and the humour of the sallies entirely lacking. 
However, he kept his temper, though with great 
difficulty, suited his retorts to his company and 
his supposed character, and did his best not to 
overstep the limits of good taste. 

It seemed hours before he crossed the last 
courtyard, rejected the pressing invitations from 
the last guardroom, and dodged the outspread 
arms of the last warder, pleading with simulated 
passion for just one farewell embrace. But at 
last he heard the wicket-gate in the great outer 
door click behind him, felt the fresh air of the 
outer world upon his anxious brow, and knew 
that he was free! 

Dizzy with the easy success of his daring 
exploit, he walked quickly towards the lights of 
the town, not knowing in the least what he 
should do next, only quite certain of one thing, 
that he must remove himself as quickly as 
possible from the neighbourhood where the lady 



he was forced to represent was so well-known 
and so popular a character. 

As he walked along, considering, his attention 
was caught by some red and green lights a little 
way off, to one side of the town, and the sound 
of the puffing and snorting of engines and the 
banging of shunted trucks fell on his ear. 
"Aha!" he thought, 'this is a piece of luck! 
A railway station is the thing I want most in 
the whole world at this moment; and what 's 
more, I needn't go through the town to get it, 
and shan't have to support this humiliating 
character by repartees which, though thoroughly 
effective, do not assist one's sense of self- 

He made his way to the station accordingly, 
consulted a time-table, and found that a train, 
bound more or less in the direction of his home, 
was due to start in half-an-hour. : 'More luck!" 
said Toad, his spirits rising rapidly, and went 
off to the booking-office to buy his ticket. 

He gave the name of the station that he 
knew to be nearest to the village of which Toad 
Hall was the principal feature, and mechanically 



put his fingers, in search of the necessary money, 
where his waistcoat pocket should have been. 
But here the cotton gown, which had nobly 
stood by him so far, and which he had basely 
forgotten, intervened, and frustrated his efforts. 
In a sort of nightmare he struggled with the 
strange uncanny thing that seemed to hold his 
hands, turn all muscular strivings to water, 
and laugh at him all the time; while other trav- 
ellers, forming up in a line behind, waited with 
impatience, making suggestions of more or less 
value and comments of more or less stringency 
and point. At last - - somehow - - he never 
rightly understood how he burst the barriers, 
attained the goal, arrived at where all waistcoat 
pockets are eternally situated, and found - - not 
only no money, but no pocket to hold it, and no 
waistcoat to hold the pocket! 

To his horror he recollected that he had left 
both coat and waistcoat behind him in his cell, 
and with them his pocket-book, money, keys, 
watch, matches, pencil-case - - all that makes life 
worth living, all that distinguishes the many- 
pocketed animal, the lord of creation, from the 



inferior one-pocketed or no-pocketed produc- 
tions that hop or trip about permissively, un- 
equipped for the real contest. 

In his misery he made one desperate effort to 
carry the thing off, and, with a return to his fine 
old manner - - a blend of the Squire and the 
College Don - - he said, 'Look here! I find I 've 
left my purse behind. Just give me that ticket, 
will you, and I '11 send the money on to-morrow? 
I 'm well-kno\vn in these parts." 

The clerk stared at him and the rusty black 
bonnet a moment, and then laughed. : 'I should 
think you were pretty well known in these 
parts," he said, ' : 'if you 've tried this game on 
often. Here, stand away from the window, 
please, madam; you 're obstructing the other 

An old gentleman who had been prodding 
him in the back for some moments here thrust 
him away, and, what was worse, addressed him 
as his good woman, which angered Toad more 
than anything that had occurred that evening. 

Baffled and full of despair, he wandered 
blindly down the platform where the train was 



standing, and tears trickled down each side of 
his nose. It was hard, he thought, to be within 
sight of safety and almost of home, and to be 
baulked by the want of a few wretched shillings 
and by the pettifogging mistrustfulness of paid 
officials. Very soon his escape would be dis- 
covered, the hunt would be up, he would be 
caught, reviled, loaded with chains, dragged 
back again to prison and bread-and-water and 
straw; his guards and penalties would be 
doubled; and O, what sarcastic remarks the 
girl would make! What was to be done? He 
was not swift of foot; his figure was unfortu- 
nately recognisable. Could he not squeeze under 
the seat of a carriage? He had seen this method 
adopted by schoolboys, when the journey-money 
provided by thoughtful parents had been di- 
verted to other and better ends. As he pondered, 
he found himself opposite the engine, which was 
being oiled, wiped, and generally caressed by its 
affectionate driver, a burly man with an oil-can 
in one hand and a lump of cotton-waste in the 

"Hullo, mother!" said the engine-driver, 



"what's the trouble? You don't look particu- 
larly cheerful." 

"O, sir!" said Toad, crying afresh, "I am a 
poor unhappy washerwoman, and I 've lost all 
my money, and can't pay for a ticket, and I 
must get home to-night somehow, and whatever 
I am to do I don't know. O dear, O dear!" 

"That 's a bad business, indeed," said the 
engine-driver reflectively. 'Lost your money 
and can't get home and got some kids, too, 
waiting for you, I dare say?'' 

"Any amount of 'em," sobbed Toad. "And 
they '11 be hungry - - and playing with matches 

-and upsetting lamps, the little innocents !- 
and quarrelling, and going on generally. O dear, 
O dear!" 

"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do," said the 
good engine-driver. 'You 're a washerwoman 
to your trade, says you. Very well, that 's that. 
And I 'm an engine-driver, as you well may see, 
and there 's no denying it 's terribly dirty work. 
Uses up a power of shirts, it does, till my 
missus is fair tired of washing of 'em. If you '11 
wash a few shirts for me when you get home, 



and send 'em along, I '11 give you a ride on 
my engine. It 's against the Company's regula- 
tions, but we 're not so very particular in these 
out-of-the-way parts." 

The Toad's misery turned into rapture as 
he eagerly scrambled up into the cab of the 
engine. Of course, he had never washed a shirt 
in his life, and couldn't if he tried and, anyhow, 
he wasn't going to begin; but he thought: 
"When I get safely home to Toad Hall, and have 
money again, and pockets to put it in, I will 
send the engine-driver enough to pay for quite a 
quantity of washing, and that will be the same 
thing, or better." 

The guard waved his welcome flag, the engine- 
driver whistled in cheerful response, and the 
train moved out of the station. As the speed 
increased, and the Toad could see on either side 
of him real fields, and trees, and hedges, and 
cows, and horses, all flying past him, and as he 
thought how every minute was bringing him 
nearer to Toad Hall, and sympathetic friends, 
and money to chink in his pocket, and a soft 
bed to sleep in, and good things to eat, and 



praise and admiration at the recital of his 
adventures and his surpassing cleverness, he be- 
gan to skip up and down and shout and sing 
snatches of song, to the great astonishment of 
the engine-driver, who had come across washer- 
women before, at long intervals, but never one 
at all like this. 

They had covered many and many a mile, 
and Toad was already considering what he 
would have for supper as soon as he got home, 
when he noticed that the engine-driver, with 
a puzzled expression on his face, was leaning 
over the side of the engine and listening hard. 
Then he saw him climb on to the coals and gaze 
out over the top of the train; then he returned 
and said to Toad: : 'It 's very strange; we 're the 
last train running in this direction to-night, yet 
I could be sworn that I heard another following 

Toad ceased his frivolous antics at once. He 
became grave and depressed, and a dull pain in 
the lower part of his spine, communicating itself 
to his legs, made him want to sit down and try 
desperately not to think of all the possibilities. 



By this time the moon was shining brightly, 
and the engine-driver, steadying himself on the 
coal, could command a view of the line behind 
them for a long distance. 

Presently he called out, "I can see it clearly 
now! It is an engine, on our rails, coming 
along at a great pace! It looks as if we were 
being pursued!" 

The miserable Toad, crouching in the coal- 
dust, tried hard to think of something to do, 
with dismal want of success. 

'They are gaining on us fast!" cried the 
engine-driver. "And the engine is crowded 
with the queerest lot of people! Men like 
ancient warders, waving halberds; policemen 
in their helmets, waving truncheons; and shab- 
bily dressed men in pot-hats, obvious and unmis- 
takable plain-clothes detectives even at this 
distance, waving revolvers and walking-sticks; 
all waving, and all shouting the same thing 
'Stop, stop, stop!' 

Then Toad fell on his knees among the coals, 
and, raising his clasped paws in supplication, 
cried, "Save me, only save me, dear kind Mr. 



Engine-driver, and I will confess everything! I 
am not the simple washerwoman I seem to be! 
I have no children waiting for me, innocent or 
otherwise ! I am a toad - - the well-known and 
popular Mr. Toad, a landed proprietor; I have 
just escaped, by my great daring and clever- 
ness, from a loathsome dungeon into which my 
enemies had flung me; and if those fellows on 
that engine recapture me, it will be chains and 
bread-and-water and straw and misery once 
more for poor, unhappy, innocent Toad!" 

The engine-driver looked down upon him very 
sternly, and said, "Now tell the truth; what 
were you put in prison for?" 

'It was nothing very much," said poor Toad, 
colouring deeply. "I only borrowed a motor- 
car while the owners were at lunch; they had 
no need of it at the time. I didn't mean to 
steal it, really; but people especially magis- 
trates take such harsh views of thoughtless 
and high-spirited actions." 

The engine-driver looked very grave and said, 

'I fear that you have been indeed a wicked 

toad, and by rights I ought to give you up to 



offended justice. But you are evidently in sore 
trouble and distress, so I will not desert you. I 
don't hold with motor-cars, for one thing; and 
I don't hold with being ordered about by police- 
men when I 'm on niy own engine, for another. 
And the sight of an animal in tears always 
makes me feel queer and soft-hearted. So cheer 
up, Toad! I '11 do my best, and we may beat 
them yet!" 

They piled on more coals, shovelling furiously; 
the furnace roared, the sparks flew, the engine 
leapt and swung, but still their pursuers slowly 
gained. The engine-driver, with a sigh, wiped 
his brow with a handful of cotton-waste, and 
said, "I 'm afraid it 's no good, Toad. You see, 
they are running light, and they have the better 
engine. There 's just one thing left for us to 
do, and it 's your only chance, so attend very 
carefully to what I tell you. A short way ahead 
of us is a long tunnel, and on the other side of 
that the line passes through a thick wood. 
Now, I will put on all the speed I can while 
we are running through the tunnel, but the 
other fellows will slow down a bit, naturally, 



for fear of an accident. When we are through, 
I will shut off steam and put on brakes as hard 
as I can, and the moment it 's safe to do so you 
must jump and hide in the wood, before they 
get through the tunnel and see you. Then I will 
go full speed ahead again, and they can chase me 
if they like, for as long as they like, and as far 
as they like. Now mind and be ready to jump 
when I tell you!" 

They piled on more coals, and the train shot 
into the tunnel, and the engine rushed and 
roared and rattled, till at last they shot out at 
the other end into fresh air and the peaceful 
moonlight, and saw the wood lying dark and 
helpful upon either side of the line. The driver 
shut off steam and put on brakes, the Toad got 
down on the step, and as the train slowed down 
to almost a walking pace he heard the driver 
call out, "Now, jump! ' 

Toad jumped, rolled down a short embank- 
ment, picked himself up unhurt, scrambled into 
the wood and hid. 

Peeping out, he saw his train get up speed 
again and disappear at a great pace. Then 



out of the tunnel burst the pursuing engine, 
roaring and whistling, her motley crew waving 
their various weapons and shouting, "Stop! 
stop! stop!" When they were past, the Toad 
had a hearty laugh - - for the first time since he 
was thrown into prison. 

But he soon stopped laughing when he came 
to consider that it was now very late and dark 
and cold, and he was in an unknown wood, 
with no money and no chance of supper, and 
still far from friends and home; and the dead 
silence of everything, after the roar and rattle 
of the train, was something of a shock. He 
dared not leave the shelter of the trees, so he 
struck into the wood, with the idea of leaving 
the railway as far as possible behind him. 

After so many weeks within walls, he found 
the wood strange and unfriendly and inclined, 
he thought, to make fun of him. Night-jars, 
sounding their mechanical rattle, made him 
think that the wood was full of searching 
warders, closing in on him. An owl, swooping 
noiselessly towards him, brushed his shoulder 
with its wing, making him jump with the 



horrid certainty that it was a hand; then flitted 
off, moth-like, laughing its low ho! ho! ho! 
which Toad thought in very poor taste. Once 
he met a fox, who stopped, looked him up and 
down in a sarcastic sort of way, and said, 
"Hullo, washerwoman! Half a pair of socks 
and a pillow-case short this week! Mind it 
doesn't occur again!" and swaggered off, snig- 
gering. Toad looked about for a stone to throw 
at him, but could not succeed in finding one, 
which vexed him more than anything. At last, 
cold, hungry, and tired out, he sought the 
shelter of a hollow tree, where with branches 
and dead leaves he made himself as comfortable 
a bed as he could, and slept soundly till the 






THE Water Rat was restless, and he did 
not exactly know why. To all appear- 
ance the summer's pomp was still at fullest 
height, and although in the tilled acres green 
had given way to gold, though rowans were red- 
dening, and the woods were dashed here and 
there with a tawny fierceness, yet light and 
warmth and colour were still present in undi- 
minished measure, clean of any chilly premoni- 
tions of the passing year. But the constant 
chorus of the orchards and hedges had shrunk 
to a casual evensong from a few yet unwearied 
performers; the robin was beginning to assert 
himself once more; and there was a feeling in 
the air of change and departure. The cuckoo, 
of course, had long been silent; but many an- 
other feathered friend, for months a part of the 
familiar landscape and its small society, was 



missing too, and it seemed that the ranks thinned 
steadily day by day. Rat, ever observant of all 
winged movement, saw that it was taking daily 
a southing tendency; and even as he lay in bed 
at night he thought he could make out, passing 
in the darkness overhead, the beat and quiver 
of impatient pinions, obedient to the peremp- 
tory call. 

Nature's Grand Hotel has its Season, like the 
others. As the guests one by one pack, pay, 
and depart, and the seats at the table-d'hote 
shrink pitifully at each succeeding meal; as 
suites of rooms are closed, carpets taken up, 
and waiters sent away; those boarders who are 
staying on, en pension, until the next year's full 
re-opening, cannot help being somewhat af- 
fected by all these flitting^ and farewells, this 
eager discussion of plans, routes, and fresh quar- 
ters, this daily shrinkage in the stream of com- 
radeship. One gets unsettled, depressed, and 
inclined to be querulous. Why this craving for 
change? Why not stay on quietly here, like us, 
and be jolly? You don't know this hotel out 
of the season, and what fun we have among our- 



selves, we fellows who remain and see the whole 
interesting year out. All very true, no doubt, 
the others always reply ; we quite envy you 
and some other year perhaps - - but just now we 
have engagements and there 's the bus at the 
door our time is up ! So they depart, with a 
smile and a nod, and we miss them, and feel 
resentful. The Rat was a self-sufficing sort of 
animal, rooted to the land, and, whoever went, 
he stayed; still, he could not help noticing what 
was in the air, and feeling some of its influence 
in his bones. 

It was difficult to settle down to anything 
seriously, with all this flitting going on. Leav- 
ing the water-side, where rushes stood thick and 
tall in a stream that was becoming sluggish and 
low, he wandered country-wards, crossed a field 
or two of pasturage already looking dusty and 
parched, and thrust into the great sea of wheat, 
yellow, wavy, and murmurous, full of quiet 
motion and small whisperings. Here he often 
loved to wander, through the forest of stiff 
strong stalks that carried their own golden sky 
away over his head - - a sky that was always 



dancing, shimmering, softly talking; or swaying 
strongly to the passing wind and recovering it- 
self with a toss and a merry laugh. Here, too, 
he had many small friends, a society complete 
in itself, leading full and busy lives, but always 
with a spare moment to gossip, and exchange 
news with a visitor. To-day, however, though 
they were civil enough, the field-mice and har- 
vest mice seemed preoccupied. Many were 
digging and tunnelling busily; others, gathered 
together in small groups, examined plans and 
drawings of small flats, stated to be desirable 
and compact, and situated conveniently near 
the Stores. Some were hauling out dusty trunks 
and dress-baskets, others were already elbow- 
deep, packing their belongings; while every- 
where piles and bundles of wheat, oats, barley, 
beech-mast and nuts, lay about ready for trans- 

' Here's old Ratty!" they cried as soon as 
they saw him. : 'Come and bear a hand, Rat, 
and don't stand about idle!" 

'What sort of games are you up to?" said 
the Water Rat severely. "You know it isn't 



time to be thinking of winter quarters yet, by a 
long way!" 

"O yes, we know that," explained a field- 
mouse rather shamefacedly; ;< but it 's always 
as well to be in good time, isn't it? We really 
must get all the furniture and baggage and 
stores moved out of this before those horrid 
machines begin clicking round the fields; and 
then, you know, the best flats get picked up so 
quickly nowadays, and if you 're late you have 
to put up with anything; and they want such 
a lot of doing up, too, before they 're fit to 
move into. Of course, we 're early, we know 
that; but we 're only just making a start." 

"O, bother starts," said the Rat. "It's a 
splendid day. Come for a row, or a stroll 
along the hedges, or a picnic in the woods, or 

'Well, I think not to-day, thank you," replied 
the field-mouse hurriedly. "Perhaps some other 
day when we 've more time " 

The Rat, with a snort of contempt, swung 
round to go, tripped over a hat-box, and fell, 
with undignified remarks. 



"If people would be more careful," said a 
field-mouse rather stiffly, "and look where 
they 're going, people wouldn't hurt themselves 
- and forget themselves. Mind that hold-all, 
Rat! You 'd better sit down somewhere. In 
an hour or t\vo we may be more free to attend 
to you." 

'You won't be 'free' as you call it, much 
this side of Christmas, I can see that," retorted 
the Rat grumpily, as he picked his way out of 
the field. 

He returned somewhat despondently to his 
river again - - his faithful, steady-going old river, 
which never packed up, flitted, or went into 
winter quarters. 

In the osiers which fringed the bank he spied 
a swallow sitting. Presently it was joined by 
another, and then by a third; and the birds, 
fidgeting restlessly on their bough, talked to- 
gether earnestly and low. 

'What, already" said the Rat, strolling up 
to them. 'What 's the hurry? I call it simply 

0, we 're not off yet, if that 's what you 




mean," replied the first swallow. 'We 're only 
making plans and arranging things. Talking it 
over, you know what route we 're taking this 
year, and where we '11 stop, and so on. That 's 
half the fun!" 

"Fun?" said the Rat; "now that 's just what 
I don't understand. If you 've got to leave this 
pleasant place, and your friends who will miss 
you, and your snug homes that you 've just 
settled into, why, when the hour strikes I 've no 
doubt you '11 go bravely, and face all the trouble 
and discomfort and change and newness, and 
make believe that you 're not very unhappy. 
But to want to talk about it, or even think 
about it, till you really need 

"No, you don't understand, naturally," said 
the second swallow. "First, we feel it stirring 
within us, a sweet unrest; then back come the 
recollections one by one, like homing pigeons. 
They flutter through our dreams at night, they 
fly with us in our wheelings and circlings by 
day. We hunger to inquire of each other, to 
compare notes and assure ourselves that it was 
all really true, as one by one the scents and 



sounds and names of long-forgotten places come 
gradually back and beckon to us." 

"Couldn't you stop on for just this year?'' 
suggested the Water Rat, wistfully. "We '11 all 
do our best to make you feel at home. You 've 
no idea what good times we have here, while 
you are far away." 

'I tried 'stopping on' one year," said the 
third swallow. 'I had grown so fond of the 
place that when the time came I hung back and 
let the others go on without me. For a few 
weeks it was all well enough, but afterwards, O 
the weary length of the nights! The shivering, 
sunless days! The air so clammy and chill, 
and not an insect in an acre of it! No, it was 
no good; my courage broke down, and one cold, 
stormy night I took wing, flying well inland 
on account of the strong easterly gales. It was 
snowing hard as I beat through the passes of 
the great mountains, and I had a stiff fight to 
win through; but never shall I forget the bliss- 
ful feeling of the hot sun again on my back as 
I sped down to the lakes that lay so blue and 
placid below me, and the taste of my first fat 



insect! The past was like a bad dream; the 
future was all happy holiday as I moved south- 
wards week by week, easily, lazily, lingering as 
long as I dared, but always heeding the call! 
No, I had had my warning; never again did I 
think of disobedience." 

"Ah, yes, the call of the South, of the South!" 
twittered the other two dreamily. "Its songs, 
its hues, its radiant air! O, do you remember 
" and, forgetting the Rat, they slid into pas- 
sionate reminiscence, while he listened fasci- 
nated, and his heart burned within him. In 
himself, too, he knew that it was vibrating at 
last, that chord hitherto dormant and unsus- 
pected. The mere chatter of these southern- 
bound birds, their pale and second-hand reports, 
had yet power to awaken this wild new sensa- 
tion and thrill him through and through with 
it; what would one moment of the real thing 
work in him - - one passionate touch of the real 
southern sun, one waft of the authentic odour? 
With closed eyes he dared to dream a moment 
in full abandonment, and when he looked again 
the river seemed steely and chill, the green 



fields grey and lightless. Then his loyal heart 
seemed to cry out on his weaker self for its 

"Why do you ever come back, then, at all?" 
he demanded of the swallows jealously. 'What 
do you find to attract you in this poor drab 
little country?" 

"And do you think," said the first swallow, 
: 'that the other call is not for us too, in its due 
season? The call of lush meadow-grass, wet 
orchards, warm, insect-haunted ponds, of brows- 
ing cattle, of haymaking, and all the farm- 
buildings clustering round the House of the 
perfect Eaves?" 

'Do you suppose," asked the second one, 
'that you are the only living thing that craves 
with a hungry longing to hear the cuckoo's note 

: 'In due time," said the third, "we shall be 
home-sick once more for quiet water-lilies sway- 
ing on the surface of an English stream. But 
to-day all that seems pale and thin and very 
far away. Just now our blood dances to other 




They fell a-twittering among themselves once 
more, and this time their intoxicating babble 
was of violet seas, tawny sands, and lizard- 
haunted walls. 

Restlessly the Rat wandered off once more, 
climbed the slope that rose gently from the 
north bank of the river, and lay looking out 
towards the great ring of Downs that barred 
his vision further southwards his simple hori- 
zon hitherto, his Mountains of the Moon, his 
limit behind which lay nothing he had cared to 
see or to know. To-day, to him gazing South 
with a new-born need stirring in his heart, the 
clear sky over their long low outline seemed to 
pulsate with promise; to-day, the unseen was 
everything, the unknown the only real fact of 
life. On this side of the hills was now the real 
blank, on the other lay the crowded and col- 
oured panorama that his inner eye was seeing so 
clearly. What seas lay beyond, green, leaping, 
and crested! What sun-bathed coasts, along 
which the white villas glittered against the olive 
woods! What quiet harbours, thronged with 
gallant shipping bound for purple islands of 



wine and spice, islands set low in languorous 
waters ! 

He rose and descended river-wards once more; 
then changed his mind and sought the side of 
the dusty lane. There, lying half-buried in the 
thick, cool under-hedge tangle that bordered it, 
he could muse on the metalled road and all the 
wondrous world that it led to; on all the way- 
farers, too, that might have trodden it, and the 
fortunes and adventures they had gone to seek 
or found unseeking out there, beyond be- 

Footsteps fell on his ear, and the figure of 
one that walked somewhat wearily came into 
view; and he saw that it was a Rat, and a very 
dusty one. The wayfarer, as he reached him, 
saluted with a gesture of courtesy that had 
something foreign about it hesitated a mo- 
ment - - then with a pleasant smile turned from 
the track and sat down by his side in the cool 
herbage. He seemed tired, and the Rat let 
him rest unquestioned, understanding something 
of what was in his thoughts; knowing, too, the 
value all animals attach at times to mere silent 



companionship, when the weary muscles slacken 
and the mind marks time. 

The wayfarer was lean and keen-featured, 
and somewhat bowed at the shoulders; his 
paws were thin and long, his eyes much wrinkled 
at the corners, and he wore small gold ear rings 
in his neatly-set well-shaped ears. His knitted 
jersey was of a faded blue, his breeches, patched 
and stained, were based on a blue foundation, 
and his small belongings that he carried were 
tied up in a blue cotton handkerchief. 

When he had rested awhile the stranger 
sighed, snuffed the air, and looked about him. 

"That was clover, that warm whiff on the 
breeze," he remarked; "and those are cows we 
hear cropping the grass behind us and blowing 
softly between mouthfuls. There is a sound of 
distant reapers, and yonder rises a blue line of 
cottage smoke against the woodland. The river 
runs somewhere close by, for I hear the call 
of a moorhen, and I see by your build that 
you 're a freshwater mariner. Everything seems 
asleep, and yet going on all the time. It is a 
goodly life that you lead, friend; no doubt the 



best in the world, if only you are strong enough 
to lead it!" 

"Yes, it 's the life, the only life, to live," re- 
sponded the Water Rat dreamily, and without 
his usual whole-hearted conviction. 

"I did not say exactly that," replied the 
stranger cautiously; : 'but no doubt it 's the 
best. I 've tried it, and I know. And because 
I 've just tried it six months of it - - and 
know it 's the best, here am I, footsore and 
hungry, tramping away from it, tramping south- 
wards, following the old call, back to the old life, 
the life which is mine and which will not let 
me go." 

"Is this, then, yet another of them?" mused 
the Rat. "And where have you just come 
from? " he asked. He hardly dared to ask where 
he was bound for; he seemed to know the 
answer only too well. 

"Nice little farm," replied the wayfarer, 
briefly. " Upalong in that direction- he nod- 
ded northwards. ''Never mind about it. I 
had everything I could want - - everything I 
had any right to expect of life, and more; and 



here I am! Glad to be here all the same, 
though, glad to be here! So many miles further 
on the road, so many hours nearer to my heart's 

His shining eyes held fast to the horizon, 
and he seemed to be listening for some sound 
that was wanting from that inland acreage, 
vocal as it was with the cheerful music of 
pasturage and farmyard. 

"You are not one of us" said the Water Rat, 
"nor yet a farmer; nor even, I should judge, of 
this country." 

"Right," replied the stranger. "I 'm a sea- 
faring rat, I am, and the port I originally hail 
from is Constantinople, though I 'm a sort of 
a foreigner there too, in a manner of speaking. 
You will have heard of Constantinople, friend? 
A fair city and an ancient and glorious one. 
And you may have heard too, of Sigurd, King 
of Norway, and how he sailed thither with sixty 
ships, and how he and his men rode up through 
streets all canopied in their honour with purple 
and gold; and how the Emperor and Empress 
came down and banqueted with him on board 



his ship. When Sigurd returned home, many of 
his Northmen remained behind and entered the 
Emperor's body-guard, and my ancestor, a Nor- 
wegian born, stayed behind too, with the ships 
that Sigurd gave the Emperor. Seafarers we 
have ever been, and no wonder; as for me, the 
city of my birth is no more my home than any 
pleasant port between there and the London 
River. I know them all, and they know me. 
Set me down on any of their quays or foreshores, 
and I am home again." 

"I suppose you go great voyages," said the 
Water Rat w r ith growing interest. "Months 
and months out of sight of land, and provisions 
running short, and allowanced as to water, and 
your mind communing with the mighty ocean, 
and all that sort of thing?" 

"By no means," said the Sea Rat frankly. 
"Such a life as you describe would not suit 
me at all. I 'm in the coasting trade, and rarely 
out of sight of land. It 's the jolly times on 
shore that appeal to me, as much as any sea- 
faring. O, those southern seaports! The smell 
of them, the riding-lights at night, the glamour!" 



" Well, perhaps you have chosen the better 
way," said the Water Rat, but rather doubtfully. 
"Tell me something of your coasting, then, if 
you have a mind to, and what sort of harvest 
an animal of spirit might hope to bring home 
from it to warm his latter days with gallant 
memories by the fireside; for my life, I confess 
to you, feels to me to-day somewhat narrow 
and circumscribed." 

"My last voyage," began the Sea Rat, "that 
landed me eventually in this country, bound 
with high hopes for my inland farm, will serve 
as a good example of any of them, and, indeed, 
as an epitome of my highly-coloured life. Fam- 
ily troubles, as usual, began it. The domestic 
storm-cone was hoisted, and I shipped myself 
on board a small trading vessel bound from Con- 
stantinople, by classic seas whose every wave 
throbs with a deathless memory, to the Grecian 
Islands and the Levant. Those were golden 
days and balmy nights! In and out of harbour 
all the time old friends everywhere sleep- 
ing in some cool temple or ruined cistern during 
the heat of the day - - feasting and song after 



sundown, under great stars set in a velvet sky! 
Thence we turned and coasted up the Adriatic, 
its shores swimming in an atmosphere of amber, 
rose, and aquamarine; we lay in wide land- 
locked harbours, we roamed through ancient and 
noble cities, until at last one morning, as the sun 
rose royally behind us, we rode into Venice down 
a path of gold. O, Venice is a fine city, wherein 
a rat can wander at his ease and take his pleas- 
ure! Or, when \veary of wandering, can sit at 
the edge of the Grand Canal at night, feasting 
with his friends, when the air is full of music 
and the sky full of stars, and the lights flash 
and shimmer on the polished steel prows of the 
swaying gondolas, packed so that you could 
walk across the canal on them from side to side! 
And then the food - - do you like shell-fish? 
Well, well, we won't linger over that now." 

He was silent for a time; and the Water Rat, 
silent too and enthralled, floated on dream- 
canals and heard a phantom song pealing high 
between vaporous grey wave-lapped walls. 

"Southwards we sailed again at last," con- 
tinued the Sea Rat, "coasting down the Italian 



shore, till finally we made Palermo, and there I 
quitted for a long, happy spell on shore. I 
never stick too long to one ship; one gets 
narrow-minded and prejudiced. Besides, Sicily 
is one of my happy hunting-grounds. I know 
everybody there, and their ways just suit me. 
I spent many jolly weeks in the island, staying 
with friends upcountry. When I grew restless 
again I took advantage of a ship that was trading 
to Sardinia and Corsica; and very glad I was 
to feel the fresh breeze and the sea-spray in my 
face once more." 

: 'But isn't it very hot and stuffy, down in the 
-hold, I think you call it?" asked the Water 

The seafarer looked at him with the suspicion 
of a wink. "I 'm an old hand," he remarked 
with much simplicity. 'The captain's cabin 's 
good enough for me." 

'It 's a hard life, by all accounts," murmured 
the Rat, sunk in deep thought. 

'For the crew it is," replied the seafarer 
gravely, again with the ghost of a wink. 

'From Corsica," he went on, "I made use of 



a ship that was taking wine to the mainland. 
We made Alassio in the evening, lay to, hauled 
up our wine-casks, and hove them overboard, 
tied one to the other by a long line. Then the 
crew took to the boats and rowed shorewards, 
singing as they went, and drawing after them 
the long bobbing procession of casks, like a 
mile of porpoises. On the sands they had 
horses waiting, which dragged the casks up the 
steep street of the little town with a fine rush 
and clatter and scramble. When the last cask 
was in, we went and refreshed and rested, and 
sat late into the night, drinking with our 
friends, and next morning I took to the great 
olive-woods for a spell and a rest. For now I 
had done with islands for the time, and ports 
and shipping were plentiful; so I led a lazy life 
among the peasants, lying and watching them 
work, or stretched high on the hillside \vith the 
blue Mediterranean far below me. And so at 
length, by easy stages, and partly on foot, 
partly by sea, to Marseilles, and the meeting of 
old shipmates, and the visiting of great ocean- 
bound vessels, and feasting once more. Talk 


It'.i it liiinl lij'i', lit/ nil accounts," 

i it mi nrcil tin- Jldt 


of shell-fish! Why, sometimes I dream of the 
shell-fish of Marseilles, and wake up crying!" 

"That reminds me," said the polite Water 
Rat; "you happened to mention that you were 
hungry, and I ought to have spoken earlier. 
Of course, you will stop and take your midday 
meal with me? My hole is close by; it is some 
time past noon, and you are very welcome to 
whatever there is." 

"Now I call that kind and brotherly of you," 
said the Sea Rat. "I was indeed hungry when 
I sat down, and ever since I inadvertently 
happened to mention shell-fish, my pangs have 
been extreme. But couldn't you fetch it along 
out here? I am none too fond of going under 
hatches, unless I 'm obliged to; and then, while 
we eat, I could tell you more concerning my 
voyages and the pleasant life I lead at least, 
it is very pleasant to me, and by your attention 
I judge it commends itself to you; whereas if 
we go indoors it is a hundred to one that I shall 
presently fall asleep." 

'That is indeed an excellent suggestion," said 
the \Vater Rat, and hurried off home. There 



he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a 
simple meal, in which, remembering the stran- 
ger's origin and preferences, he took care to 
include a yard of long French bread, a sausage 
out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which 
lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw- 
covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed 
and garnered on far Southern slopes. Thus 
laden, he returned with all speed, and blushed 
for pleasure at the old seaman's commendations 
of his taste and judgment, as together they 
unpacked the basket and laid out the contents 
on the grass by the roadside. 

The Sea Rat, as soon as his hunger was some- 
what assuaged, continued the history of his 
latest voyage, conducting his simple hearer from 
port to port of Spain, landing him at Lisbon, 
Oporto, and Bordeaux, introducing him to the 
pleasant harbours of Cornwall and Devon, and 
so up the Channel to that final quayside, where, 
landing after winds long contrary, storm-driven 
and weather-beaten, he had caught the first 
magical hints and heraldings of another Spring, 
and, fired by these, had sped on a long tramp 



inland, hungry for the experiment of life on 
some quiet farmstead, very far from the weary 
beating of any sea. 

Spell-bound and quivering with excitement, 
the Water Rat followed the Adventurer league 
by league, over stormy bays, through crowded 
roadsteads, across harbour .bars on a racing tide, 
up winding rivers that hid their busy little towns 
round a sudden turn; and left him with a 
regretful sigh planted at his dull inland farm, 
about which he desired to hear nothing. 

By this time their meal was over, and the Sea- 
farer, refreshed and strengthened, his voice more 
vibrant, his eye lit with a brightness that 
seemed caught from some far-away sea-beacon, 
filled his glass with the red and glowing vintage 
of the South, and, leaning towards the Water 
Rat, compelled his gaze and held him, body and 
soul, while he talked. Those eyes were of the 
changing foam-streaked grey-green of leaping 
Northern seas; in the glass shone a hot ruby 
that seemed the very heart of the South, beating 
for him who had courage to respond to its 
pulsation. The twin lights, the shifting grey 



and the steadfast red, mastered the Water Rat 
and held him bound, fascinated, powerless. The 
quiet world outside their rays receded far away 
and ceased to be. And the talk, the wonderful 
talk flo\ved on - - or was it speech entirely, or 
did it pass at times into song - - chanty of the 
sailors weighing the dripping anchor, sonorous 
hum of the shrouds in a tearing North-Easter, 
ballad of the fisherman hauling his nets at sun- 
dow r n against an apricot sky, chords of guitar 
and mandoline from gondola or caique? Did 
it change into the cry of the wind, plaintive at 
first, angrily shrill as it freshened, rising to a 
tearing whistle, sinking to a musical trickle of 
air from the leech of the bellying sail? All 
these sounds the spell-bound listener seemed to 
hear, and with them the hungry complaint of 
the gulls and the sea-mews, the soft thunder of 
the breaking wave, the cry of the protesting 
shingle. Back into speech again it passed, and 
with beating heart he was following the adven- 
tures of a dozen seaports, the fights, the es- 
capes, the rallies, the comradeships, the gallant 
undertakings; or he searched islands for treas- 



ure, fished in still lagoons and dozed day-long 
on warm v/hite sand. Of deep-sea fishings he 
heard tell, and mighty silver gatherings of the 
mile-long net; of sudden perils, noise of breakers 
on a moonless night, or the tall bows of the 
great liner taking shape overhead through the 
fog; of the merry home-coming, the headland 
rounded, the harbour lights opened out; the 
groups seen dimly on the quay, the cheery hail, 
the splash of the hawser; the trudge up the 
steep little street towards the comforting glow 
of red-curtained windows. 

Lastly, in his waking dream it seemed to him 
that the Adventurer had risen to his feet, but 
was still speaking, still holding him fast with 
his sea-grey eyes. 

"And now," he was softly saying, "I take to 
the road again, holding on southwestwards for 
many a long and dusty day; till at last I reach 
the little grey sea town I know so well, that 
clings along one steep side of the harbour. 
There through dark doorways you look down 
flights of stone steps, overhung by great pink 
tufts of valerian and ending in a patch of 



sparkling blue water. The little boats that lie 
tethered to the rings and stanchions of the old 
sea-wall are gaily painted as those I clambered 
in and out of in my own childhood; the salmon 
leap on the flood tide, schools of mackerel flash 
and play past quay-sides and foreshores, and 
by the windows the great vessels glide, night 
and day, up to their moorings or forth to the 
open sea. There, sooner or later, the ships of 
all seafaring nations arrive; and there, at its 
destined hour, the ship of my choice will let 
go its anchor. I shall take my time, I shall 
tarry and bide, till at last the right one lies 
waiting for me, warped out into midstream, 
loaded low, her bowsprit pointing down harbour. 
I shall slip on board, by boat or along hawser; 
and then one morning I shall wake to the song 
and tramp of the sailors, the clink of the cap- 
stan, and the rattle of the anchor-chain coming 
merrily in. We shall break out the jib and the 
foresail, the white houses on the harbour side 
will glide slowly past us as she gathers steering- 
way, and the voyage will have begun! As she 
forges towards the headland she will clothe her- 



self with canvas; and then, once outside, the 
sounding slap of great green seas as she heels to 
the wind, pointing South! 

"And you, you will come too, young brother; 
for the days pass, and never return, and the 
South still waits for you. Take the adventure, 
heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment 
passes! 'Tis but a banging of the door behind 
you, a blithesome step forward, and you are 
out of the old life and into the new! Then 
some day, some day long hence, jog home here 
if you will, when the cup has been drained and 
the play has been played, and sit down by your 
quiet river with a store of goodly memories for 
company. You can easily overtake me on the 
road, for you are young, and I am ageing and 
go softly. I will linger, and look back; and at 
last I will surely see you coming, eager and 
light-hearted, with all the South in your face!" 

The voice died away and ceased as an in- 
sect's tiny trumpet dwindles swiftly into silence; 
and the Water Rat, paralysed and staring, saw 
at last but a distant speck on the white surface 
of the road. 



Mechanically he rose and proceeded to re- 
pack the luncheon-basket, carefully and without 
haste. Mechanically he returned home, gath- 
ered together a few small necessaries and special 
treasures he was fond of, and put them in a 
satchel; acting with slow deliberation, moving 
about the room like a sleep-walker; listening 
ever with parted lips. He swung the satchel 
over his shoulder, carefully selected a stout stick 
for his wayfaring, and with no haste, but with 
no hesitation at all, he stepped across the 
threshold just as the Mole appeared at the door. 

"Why, where are you off to, Ratty?" asked 
the Mole in great surprise, grasping him by 
the arm. 

" Going South, with the rest of them," mur- 
mured the Rat in a dreamy monotone, never 
looking at him. "Seawards first and then on 
shipboard, and so to the shores that are calling 

He pressed resolutely forward, still without 
haste, but with dogged fixity of purpose; but 
the Mole, now thoroughly alarmed, placed him- 
self in front of him, and looking into his eyes 



saw that they were glazed and set and turned a 
streaked and shifting grey - - not his friend's 
eyes, but the eyes of some other animal ! Grap- 
pling with him strongly he dragged him inside, 
threw him down, and held him. 

The Rat struggled desperately for a few mo- 
ments, and then his strength seemed suddenly 
to leave him, and he lay still and exhausted, 
with closed eyes, trembling. Presently the Mole 
assisted him to rise and placed him in a chair, 
where he sat collapsed and shrunken into him- 
self, his body shaken by a violent shivering, 
passing in time into an hysterical fit of dry 
sobbing. Mole made the door fast, threw the 
satchel into a drawer and locked it, and sat 
down quietly on the table by his friend, waiting 
for the strange seizure to pass. Gradually the 
Rat sank into a troubled doze, broken by starts 
and confused murmurings of things strange and 
wild and foreign to the unenlightened Mole; and 
from that he passed into a deep slumber. 

Very anxious in mind, the Mole left him for 
a time and busied himself with household mat- 
ters; and it was getting dark when he returned 



to the parlour and found the Rat where he had 
left him, wide awake indeed, but listless, silent, 
and dejected. He took one hasty glance at his 
eyes; found them, to his great gratification, 
clear and dark and brown again as before; and 
then sat down and tried to cheer him up and 
help him to relate what had happened to him. 

Poor Ratty did his best, by degrees, to explain 
things; but how could he put into cold words 
what had mostly been suggestion? How recall, 
for another's benefit, the haunting sea voices 
that had sung to him, how reproduce at second- 
hand the magic of the Seafarer's hundred rem- 
iniscences? Even to himself, now the spell was 
broken and the glamour gone, he found it diffi- 
cult to account for what had seemed, some hours 
ago, the inevitable and only thing. It is not 
surprising, then, that he failed to convey to the 
Mole any clear idea of what he had been through 
that day. 

To the Mole this much was plain: the fit, or 
attack, had passed away, and had left him sane 
again, though shaken and cast down by the 
reaction. But he seemed to have lost all inter- 



est for the time in the things that went to make 
up his daily life, as well as in all pleasant fore- 
castings of the altered days and doings that the 
changing season was surely bringing. 

Casually, then, and with seeming indifference, 
the Mole turned his talk to the harvest that 
was being gathered in, the towering wagons and 
their straining teams, the growing ricks, and 
the large moon rising over bare acres dotted 
with sheaves. He talked of the reddening apples 
around, of the browning nuts, of jams and pre- 
serves and the distilling of cordials; till by easy 
stages such as these he reached midwinter, its 
hearty joys and its snug home life, and then 
he became simply lyrical. 

By degrees the Rat began to sit up and to 
join in. His dull eye brightened, and he lost 
some of his listening air. 

Presently the tactful Mole slipped away and 
returned with a pencil and a few half-sheets of 
paper, which he placed on the table at his 
friend's elbow. 

"It's quite a long time since you did any 
poetry," he remarked. "You might have a try 



at it this evening, instead of - - well, brooding 
over things so much. I 've an idea that you '11 
feel a lot better when you 've got something 
jotted down - - if it 's only just the rhymes." 
The Rat pushed the paper away from him 
wearily, but the discreet Mole took occasion to 
leave the room, and when he peeped in again 
some time later, the Rat was absorbed and deaf 
to the world; alternately scribbling and sucking 
the top of his pencil. It is true that he sucked 
a good deal more than he scribbled; but it was 
joy to the Mole to know that the cure had at 
least begun. 






THE front door of the hollow tree faced 
eastwards, so Toad was called at an early 
hour; partly by the bright sunlight streaming 
in on him, partly by the exceeding coldness of 
his toes, which made him dream that he was 
at home in bed in his own handsome room with 
the Tudor window, on a cold winter's night, 
and his bedclothes had got up, grumbling and 
protesting they couldn't stand the cold any 
longer, and had run downstairs to the kitchen 
fire to warm themselves; and he had followed, 
on bare feet, along miles and miles of icy stone- 
paved passages, arguing and beseeching them 
to be reasonable. He would probably have 
been aroused much earlier, had he not slept 
for some weeks on straw over stone flags, and 



almost forgotten the friendly feeling of thick 
blankets pulled well up round the chin. 

Sitting up, he rubbed his eyes first and his 
complaining toes next, wondered for a moment 
where he was, looking round for familiar stone 
wall and little barred window; then, with a 
leap of the heart, remembered everything - 
his escape, his flight, his pursuit; remembered, 
first and best thing of all, that he was free! 

Free ! The word and the thought alone were 
worth fifty blankets. He was warm from end 
to end as he thought of the jolly world outside, 
waiting eagerly for him to make his triumphal 
entrance, ready to serve him and play up to 
him, anxious to help him and to keep him com- 
pany, as it always had been in days of old be- 
fore misfortune fell upon him. He shook him- 
self and combed the dry leaves out of his hair 
with his fingers; and, his toilet complete, 
marched forth into the comfortable morning sun, 
cold but confident, hungry but hopeful, all ner- 
vous terrors of yesterday dispelled by rest and 
sleep and frank and heartening sunshine. 

He had the world all to himself, that early 



summer morning. The dewy woodland, as he 
threaded it, was solitary and still: the green 
fields that succeeded the trees were his own to 
do as he liked with; the road itself, when he 
reached it, in that loneliness that was every- 
where, seemed, like a stray dog, to be looking 
anxiously for company. Toad, however, was 
looking for something that could talk, and tell 
him clearly which way he ought to go. It is all 
very well, when you have a light heart, and a 
clear conscience, and money in your pocket, and 
nobody scouring the country for you to drag 
you off to prison again, to follow where the road 
beckons and points, not caring whither. The 
practical Toad cared very much indeed, and he 
could have kicked the road for its helpless 
silence when every minute was of importance 
to him. 

The reserved rustic road was presently joined 
by a shy little brother in the shape of a canal, 
which took its hand and ambled along by its 
side in perfect confidence, but with the same 
tongue-tied, uncommunicative attitude towards 
strangers. "Bother them!" said Toad to him- 



self. "But, anyhow, one thing's clear. They 
must both be coming from somewhere, and 
going to somewhere. You can't get over that, 
Toad, my boy!" So he marched on patiently by 
the water's edge. 

Round a bend in the canal came plodding a 
solitary horse, stooping forward as if in anxious 
thought. From rope traces attached to his 
collar stretched a long line, taut, but dipping 
with his stride, the further part of it dripping 
pearly drops. Toad let the horse pass, and stood 
waiting for what the fates were sending him. 

With a pleasant swirl of quiet water at its 
blunt bow the barge slid up alongside of him, 
its gaily painted gunwale level with the towing- 
path, its sole occupant a big stout woman 
wearing a linen sun-bonnet, one brawny arm 
laid along the tiller. 

"A nice morning, ma'am!" she remarked to 
Toad, as she drew up level with him. 

'I dare say it is, ma'am!" responded Toad 
politely, as he walked along the tow-path 
abreast of her. "I dare say it is a nice morning 
to them that 's not in sore trouble, like what I 



am. Here 's my married daughter, she sends off 
to me post-haste to come to her at once; so off 
I comes, not knowing what may be happening or 
going to happen, but fearing the worst, as you 
will understand, ma'am, if you 're a mother, 
too. And I Ve left my business to look after 
itself I 'm in the washing and laundering line, 
you must know, ma'am and I 've left my 
young children to look after themselves, and a 
more mischievous and troublesome set of young 
imps doesn't exist, ma'am; and I 've lost all 
my money, and lost my way, and as for what 
may be happening to my married daughter, 
why, I don't like to think of it, ma'am!" 

'Where might your married daughter be liv- 
ing, ma'am?" asked the barge-woman. 

"She lives near to the river, ma'am," replied 
Toad. ''Close to a fine house called Toad Hall, 
that 's somewheres hereabouts in these parts. 
Perhaps you may have heard of it." 

'Toad Hall? Why, I 'm going that way my- 
self," replied the barge-woman. 'This canal 
joins the river some miles further on, a little 
above Toad Hall; and then it 's an easy walk. 



You come along in the barge with me, and I '11 
give you a lift." 

She steered the barge close to the bank, and 
Toad, with many humble and grateful acknowl- 
edgments, stepped lightly on board and sat 
down with great satisfaction. 'Toad's luck 
again!" thought he. "I always come out on 

"So you 're in the washing business, ma'am?" 
said the barge-woman politely, as they glided 
along. "And a very good business you 've got 
too, I dare say, if I 'm not making too free in 
saying so." 

"Finest business in the whole country," said 
Toad airily. "All the gentry come to me 
wouldn't go to any one else if they were paid, 
they know me so well. You see, I understand 
my work thoroughly, and attend to it all myself. 
Washing, ironing, clear-starching, making up 
gents' fine shirts for evening wear everything 's 
done under my own eye ! " 

''But surely you don't do all that work your- 
self, ma'am?" asked the barge-woman respect- 



"O, I have girls," said Toad lightly: 'twenty 
girls or thereabouts, always at work. But you 
know what girls are, ma'am! Nasty little 
hussies, that's what I call 'em!" 

"So do I, too," said the barge-woman with 
great heartiness. "But I dare say you set yours 
to rights, the idle trollops! And are you very 
fond of washing?" 

"I love it," said Toad. : 'I simply dote on it. 
Never so happy as when I Ve got both arms in 
the wash-tub. But, then, it comes so easy to 
me! No trouble at all! A real pleasure, I 
assure you, ma'am!" 

'What a bit of luck, meeting you!" observed 
the barge-woman, thoughtfully. "A regular 
piece of good fortune for both of us!" 

'Why, what do you mean?" asked Toad, 

"Well, look at me, now," replied the barge- 
woman. "7 like washing, too, just the same as 
you do; and for that matter, whether I like it 
or not I have got to do all my own, naturally, 
moving about as I do. Now my husband, he 's 
such a fellow for shirking his work and leaving 



the barge to me, that never a moment do I get 
for seeing to my own affairs. By rights he 
ought to be here now, either steering or attend- 
ing to the horse, though luckily the horse has 
sense enough to attend to himself. Instead of 
which, he 's gone off with the dog, to see if they 
can't pick up a rabbit for dinner somewhere. 
Says he '11 catch me up at the next lock. Well, 
that 's as may be I don't trust him, once he 
gets off with that dog, who 's worse than he is. 
But meantime, how am I to get on with my 
washing? ' : 

"O, never mind about the washing," said 
Toad, not liking the subject. 'Try and fix your 
mind on that rabbit. A nice fat young rabbit, 
I '11 be bound. Got any onions?' 1 

: 'I can't fix my mind on anything but my 
washing," said the barge-woman, "and I wonder 
you can be talking of rabbits, with such a joyful 
prospect before you. There 's a heap of things 
of mine that you '11 find in a corner of the cabin. 
If you '11 just take one or two of the most 
necessary sort I won't venture to describe 
them to a lady like you, but you '11 recognise 



them at a glance - - and put them through the 
wash-tub as we go along, why, it '11 be a pleas- 
ure to you, as you rightly say, and a real help 
to me. You '11 find a tub handy, and soap, and 
a kettle on the stove, and a bucket to haul up 
water from the canal with. Then I shall know 
you 're enjoying yourself, instead of sitting here 
idle, looking at the scenery and yawning your 
head off." 

"Here, you let me steer!" said Toad, now 
thoroughly frightened, "and then you can get 
on with your washing your own way. I might 
spoil your things, or not do 'em as you like. 
I 'm more used to gentleman's things myself. 
It 's my special line." 

"Let you steer? '" replied the barge-woman, 
laughing. "It takes some practice to steer a 
barge properly. Besides, it 's dull work, and I 
want you to be happy. No, you shall do the 
washing you are so fond of, and I '11 stick to 
the steering that I understand. Don't try and 
deprive me of the pleasure of giving you a 

Toad was fairly cornered. He looked for 



escape this way and that, saw that he was too 
far from the bank for a flying leap, and sullenly 
resigned himself to his fate. 'If it comes to 
that," he thought in desperation, 'I suppose 
any fool can wash!' 

He fetched tub, soap, and other necessaries 
from the cabin, selected a few garments at ran- 
dom, tried to recollect what he had seen in 
casual glances through laundry windows, and 
set to. 

A long half-hour passed, and every minute of 
it saw Toad getting crosser and crosser. Noth- 
ing that he could do to the things seemed to 
please them or do them good. He tried coax- 
ing, he tried slapping, he tried punching; they 
smiled back at him out of the tub unconverted, 
happy in their original sin. Once or twice he 
looked nervously over his shoulder at the barge- 
woman, but she appeared to be gazing out in 
front of her, absorbed in her steering. His back 
ached badly, and he noticed with dismay that 
his paws were beginning to get all crinkly. Now 
Toad was very proud of his paws. He muttered 
under his breath words that should never pass 



the lips of either washerwomen or Toads; and 
lost the soap, for the fiftieth time. 

A burst of laughter made him straighten him- 
self and look round. The barge-woman was 
leaning back and laughing unrestrainedly, till 
the tears ran down her cheeks. 

"I 've been watching you all the time," she 
gasped. "I thought you must be a humbug 
all along, from the conceited way you talked. 
Pretty washerwoman you are! Never washed 
so much as a dish-clout in your life, I '11 lay!" 

Toad's temper, which had been simmering 
viciously for some time, now fairly boiled over, 
and he lost all control of himself. 

"You common, low, fat barge-woman!" he 
shouted; " don't you dare to talk to your betters 
like that! Washerwoman indeed! I would 
have you to know that I am a Toad, a very 
well-known, respected, distinguished Toad! I 
may be under a bit of a cloud at present, but 
I will not be laughed at by a barge-woman!" 

The woman moved nearer to him and peered 
under his bonnet keenly and closely. 'Why, 
so you are!" she cried. 'Well, I never! A 



horrid, nasty, crawly Toad! And in my nice 
clean barge, too! Now that is a thing that I 
will not have." 

She relinquished the tiller for a moment. One 
big, mottled arm shot out and caught Toad by 
a fore-leg, while the other gripped him fast by 
a hind-leg. Then the world turned suddenly 
upside down, the barge seemed to flit lightly 
across the sky, the wind \vhistled in his ears, 
and Toad found himself flying through the air, 
revolving rapidly as he went. 

The water, when he eventually reached it 
with a loud splash, proved quite cold enough 
for his taste, though its chill was not sufficient 
to quell his proud spirit, or slake the heat of 
his furious temper. He rose to the surface 
spluttering, and when he had wiped the duck- 
weed out of his eyes the first thing he saw was 
the fat barge-woman looking back at him over 
the stern of the retreating barge and laughing; 
and he vowed, as he coughed and choked, to be 
even with her. 

He struck out for the shore, but the cotton 
gown greatly impeded his efforts, and when at 



length he touched land he found it hard to climb 
up the steep bank unassisted. He had to take 
a minute or two's rest to recover his breath; 
then, gathering his wet skirts well over his 
arms, he started to run after the barge as fast as 
his legs would carry him, wild with indignation, 
thirsting for revenge. 

The barge-woman was still laughing when he 
drew up level with her. " Put yourself through 
your mangle, washerwoman," she called out, 
"and iron your face and crimp it, and you'll 
pass for quite a decent-looking Toad!" 

Toad never paused to reply. Solid revenge 
was what he wanted, not cheap, windy, verbal 
triumphs, though he had a thing or two in his 
mind that he would have liked to say. He saw 
what he wanted ahead of him. Running swiftly 
on he overtook the horse, unfastened the tow- 
rope and cast off, jumped lightly on the horse's 
back, and urged it to a gallop by kicking it 
vigorously in the sides. He steered for the 
open country, abandoning the tow-path, and 
swinging his steed down a rutty lane. Once he 
looked back, and saw that the barge had run 



aground on the other side of the canal, and 
the barge-woman was gesticulating wildly and 
shouting, "Stop, stop, stop!" 'I 've heard that 
song before," said Toad, laughing, as he contin- 
ued to spur his steed onward in its wild career. 

The barge-horse was not capable of any very 
sustained effort, and its gallop soon subsided 
into a trot, and its trot into an easy walk; but 
Toad was quite contented with this, knowing 
that he, at any rate, was moving, and the barge 
was not. He had quite recovered his temper, 
now that he had done something he thought 
really clever; and he was satisfied to jog along 
quietly in the sun, steering his horse along 
by-ways and bridle-paths, and trying to forget 
how very long it was since he had had a square 
meal, till the canal had been left very far behind 

He had travelled some miles, his horse and 
he, and he was feeling drowsy in the hot sun- 
shine, when the horse stopped, lowered his head, 
and began to nibble the grass; and Toad, waking 
up, just saved himself from falling off by an 
effort. He looked about him and found he was 



on a wide common, dotted with patches of 
gorse and bramble as far as he could see. Near 
him stood a dingy gipsy caravan, and beside it 
a man was sitting on a bucket turned upside 
down, very busy smoking and staring into the 
wide world. A fire of sticks was burning near 
by, and over the fire hung an iron pot, and out 
of that pot came forth bubblings and gurglings, 
and a vague suggestive steaminess. Also smells 
warm, rich, and varied smells that twined 
and twisted and wreathed themselves at last 
into one complete, voluptuous, perfect smell 
that seemed like the very soul of Nature taking 
form and appearing to her children, a true God- 
dess, a mother of solace and comfort. Toad 
now knew well that he had not been really 
hungry before. What he had felt earlier in the 
day had been a mere trifling qualm. This was 
the real thing at last, and no mistake; and it 
would have to be dealt with speedily, too, or 
there would be trouble for somebody or some- 
thing. He looked the gipsy over carefully, won- 
dering vaguely whether it would be easier to 
fight him or cajole him. So there he sat, and 



sniffed and sniffed, and looked at the gipsy; 
and the gipsy sat and smoked, and looked at 

Presently the gipsy took his pipe out of his 
mouth and remarked in a careless way, "Want 
to sell that there horse of yours ?" 

Toad was completely taken aback. He did 
not know that gipsies were very fond of horse- 
dealing, and never missed an opportunity, and 
he had not reflected that caravans were always 
on the move and took a deal of drawing. It 
had not occurred to him to turn the horse into 
cash, but the gipsy's suggestion seemed to 
smooth the way towards the two things he 
wanted so badly - - ready money, and a solid 

"What?" he said, "me sell this beautiful 
young horse of mine? O, no; it 's out of the 
question. Who 's going to take the washing 
home to my customers every week? Besides, 
I 'm too fond of him, and he simply dotes on 


. . i 

; Try and love a donkey," suggested the 
gipsy. "Some people do." 



"You don't seem to see," continued Toad, 
"that this fine horse of mine is a cut above you 
altogether. He 's a blood horse, he is, partly; 
not the part you see, of course another part. 
And he 's been a Prize Hackney, too, in his time 
- that was the time before you knew him, but 
you can still tell it on him at a glance, if you 
understand anything about horses. No, it 's 
not to be thought of for a moment. All the 
same, how much might you be disposed to offer 
me for this beautiful young horse of mine?" 

The gipsy looked the horse over, and then he 
looked Toad over with equal care, and looked 
at the horse again. "Shillin' a leg," he said 
briefly, and turned away, continuing to smoke 
and try to stare the wide world out of coun- 

"A shilling a leg?" cried Toad. "If you 
please, I must take a little time to work that 
out, and see just what it comes to." 

He climbed down off his horse, and left it to 
graze, and sat down by the gipsy, and did sums 
on his fingers, and at last he said, "A shilling a 
leg? Why, that comes to exactly four shillings, 



and no more. O, no; I could not think of 
accepting four shillings for this beautiful young 
horse of mine." 

"Well," said the gipsy, "I'll tell you what 
I will do. I '11 make it five shillings, and 
that 's three-and-sixpence more than the ani- 
mal 's worth. And that 's my last word." 

Then Toad sat and pondered long and 
deeply. For he was hungry and quite penni- 
less, and still some way he knew not how far 
from home, and enemies might still be looking 
for him. To one in such a situation, five shil- 
lings may very well appear a large sum of 
money. On the other hand, it did not seem 
very much to get for a horse. But then, again, 
the horse hadn't cost him anything; so what- 
ever he got was all clear profit. At last he said 
firmly, "Look here, gipsy! I tell you what we 
will do; and this is my last word. You shall 
hand me over six shillings and sixpence, cash 
down; and further, in addition thereto, you 
shall give me as much breakfast as I can pos- 
sibly eat, at one sitting of course, out of that 
iron pot of yours that keeps sending forth such 



delicious and exciting smells. In return, I will 
make over to you my spirited young horse, with 
all the beautiful harness and trappings that are 
on him, freely thrown in. If that 's not good 
enough for you, say so, and I '11 be getting on. 
I know a man near here who 's wanted this 
horse of mine for years." 

The gipsy grumbled frightfully, and declared 
if he did a few more deals of that sort he 'd be 
ruined. But in the end he lugged a dirty can- 
vas bag out of the depths of his trouser pocket, 
and counted out six shillings and sixpence into 
Toad's paw. Then he disappeared into the 
caravan for an instant, and returned with a 
large iron plate and a knife, fork, and spoon. 
He tilted up the pot, and a glorious stream of 
hot, rich stew gurgled into the plate. It was, 
indeed, the most beautiful stew in the world, 
being made of partridges, and pheasants, and 
chickens, and hares, and rabbits, and peahens, 
and guinea-fowls, and one or two other things. 
Toad took the plate on his lap, almost crying, 
and stuffed, and stuffed, and stuffed, and kept 
asking for more, and the gipsy never grudged 



it him. He thought that he had never eaten 
so good a breakfast in all his life. 

When Toad had taken as much stew on board 
as he thought he could possibly hold, he got up 
and said good-bye to the gipsy, and took an 
affectionate farewell of the horse; and the gipsy, 
who knew the riverside well, gave him direc- 
tions which way to go, and he set forth on his 
travels again in the best possible spirits. He 
was, indeed, a very different Toad from the 
animal of an hour ago. The sun was shining 
brightly, his wet clothes were quite dry again, 
he had money in his pocket once more, he was 
nearing home and friends and safety, and, most 
and best of all, he had had a substantial meal, 
hot and nourishing, and felt big, and strong, and 
careless, and self-confident. 

As he tramped along gaily, he thought of his 
adventures and escapes, and how when things 
seemed at their worst he had always managed 
to find a w r ay out; and his pride and conceit 
began to swell within him. 'Ho, ho!" he said 
to himself, as he marched along with his chin 
in the air, "what a clever Toad I am! There 



is surely no animal equal to me for cleverness 
in the whole world! My enemies shut me up 
in prison, encircled by sentries, watched night 
and day by warders; I walk out through them 
all, by sheer ability coupled with courage. 
They pursue me with engines, and policemen, 
and revolvers; I snap my fingers at them, and 
vanish, laughing, into space. I am, unfortu- 
nately, thrown into a canal by a woman fat of 
body and very evil-minded. What of it? I 
swim ashore, I seize her horse, I ride off in 
triumph, and I sell the horse for a whole pocket- 
ful of money and an excellent breakfast! Ho, 
ho! I am The Toad, the handsome, the popu- 
lar, the successful Toad!" He got so puffed up 
with conceit that he made up a song as he 
walked in praise of himself, and sang it at the 
top of his voice, though there was no one to 
hear it but him. It was, perhaps, the most 
conceited song that any animal ever composed. 

"The world has held great Heroes, 
As history-books have showed; 
But never a name to go down to fame 
Compared with that of Toad ! 



"The clever men at Oxford 

Know all that there is to be knowed. 
But they none of them know one half as much 
As intelligent Mr. Toad! 

"The animals sat in the Ark and cried, 

Their tears in torrents flowed. 
Who was it said, 'There 's land ahead?' 
Encouraging Mr. Toad! 

"The army all saluted 

As they marched along the road. 
Was it the King? Or Kitchener? 
No. It was Mr. 'toad. 

"The Queen and her Ladies-in-waiting 

Sat at the window and sewed. 
She cried, 'Look! who 's that handsome man?' 
They answered, 'Mr. Toad.'" 

There was a great deal more of the same 
sort, but too dreadfully conceited to be written 
down. These are some of the milder verses. 

He sang as he walked, and he walked as he 
sang, and got more inflated every minute. But 
his pride was shortly to have a severe fall. 

After some miles of country lanes he reached 
the high road, and as he turned into it and 
glanced along its white length, he saw approach- 



ing him a speck that turned into a dot and then 
into a blob, and then into something very 
familiar; and a double note of warning, only 
too well known, fell on his delighted ear. 

'This is something like!" said the excited 
Toad. 'This is real life again, this is once 
more the great world from which I have been 
missed so long! I will hail them, my brothers 
of the wheel, and pitch them a yarn, of the 
sort that has been so successful hitherto; and 
they will give me a lift, of course, and then I 
will talk to them some more; and, perhaps, 
with luck, it may even end in my driving up 
to Toad Hall in a motor-car! That will be 
one in the eye for Badger!" 

He stepped confidently out into the road to 
hail the motor-car, which came along at an easy 
pace, slowing down as it neared the lane; when 
suddenly he became very pale, his heart turned 
to water, his knees shook and yielded under him, 
and he doubled up and collapsed with a sicken- 
ing pain in his interior. And well he might, the 
unhappy animal; for the approaching car was 
the very one he had stolen out of the yard of 



the Red Lion Hotel on that fatal day when all 
his troubles began! And the people in it were 
the very same people he had sat and watched 
at luncheon in the coffee-room! 

He sank down in a shabby, miserable heap 
in the road, murmuring to himself in his despair, 
; 'It's all up! It's all over now! Chains and 
policemen again ! Prison again ! Dry bread and 
water again! O, what a fool I have been! 
What did I want to go strutting about the 
country for, singing conceited songs, and hail- 
ing people in broad day on the high road, in- 
stead of hiding till nightfall and slipping home 
quietly by back ways! O hapless Toad! O 
ill-fated animal!" 

The terrible motor-car drew slowly nearer and 
nearer, till at last he heard it stop just short of 
him. Two gentlemen got out and walked round 
the trembling heap of crumpled misery lying in 
the road, and one of them said, "O dear! this 
is very sad ! Here is a poor old thing a wash- 
erwoman apparently who has fainted in the 
road! Perhaps she is overcome by the heat, 
poor creature; or possibly she has not had any 



food to-day. Let us lift her into the car and 
take her to the nearest village, where doubtless 
she has friends." 

They tenderly lifted Toad into the motor-car 
and propped him up with soft cushions, and 
proceeded on their way. 

When Toad heard them talk in so kind and 
sympathetic a way, and knew that he was not 
recognised, his courage began to revive, and he 
cautiously opened first one eye and then the 

"Look!" said one of the gentlemen, "she is 
better already. The fresh air is doing her good. 
How do you feel now, ma'am?" 

'Thank you kindly, sir," said Toad in a 
feeble voice, "I 'm feeling a great deal better!" 
"That's right," said the gentleman. "Now 
keep quite still, and, above all, don't try to 

"I won't," said Toad. "I was only thinking, 

if I might sit on the front seat there, beside 

the driver, where I could get the fresh air full 

in my face, I should soon be all right again." 

'What a very sensible woman!" said the 



gentleman. "Of course you shall." So they 
carefully helped Toad into the front seat beside 
the driver, and on they went again. 

Toad was almost himself again by now. He 
sat up, looked about him, and tried to beat 
down the tremors, the yearnings, the old cra- 
vings that rose up and beset him and took pos- 
session of him entirely. 

" It is fate ! " he said to himself. "Why strive? 
why struggle?" and he turned to the driver at 
his side. 

"Please, Sir," he said, i( I wish you would 
kindly let me try and drive the car for a little. 
I 've been watching you carefully, and it looks 
so easy and so interesting, and I should like 
to be able to tell my friends that once I had 
driven a motor-car!" 

The driver laughed at the proposal, so heartily 
that the gentleman inquired what the matter 
was. When he heard, he said, to Toad's delight, 
"Bravo, ma'am! I like your spirit. Let her 
have a try, and look after her. She won't do 
any harm." 

Toad eagerly scrambled into the seat vacated 



by the driver, took the steering-wheel in his 
hands, listened with affected humility to the 
instructions given him, and set the car in mo- 
tion, but very slowly and carefully at first, for 
he was determined to be prudent. 

The gentlemen behind clapped their hands 
and applauded, and Toad heard them saying, 
"How well she does it! Fancy a washerwoman 
driving a car as well as that, the first time!" 

Toad went a little faster; then faster still, 
and faster. 

He heard the gentlemen call out warningly, 
"Be careful, washerwoman!" And this an- 
noyed him, and he began to lose his head. 

The driver tried to interfere, but he pinned 
him down in his seat with one elbow, and put 
on full speed. The rush of air in his face, 
the hum of the engines, and the light jump of 
the car beneath him intoxicated his weak brain. 
"Washerwoman, indeed!" he shouted recklessly. 
"Ho! ho! I am the Toad, the motor-car 
snatcher, the prison-breaker, the Toad who 
always escapes! Sit still, and you shall know 
what driving really is, for you are in the hands 



of the famous, the skilful, the entirely fearless 

With a cry of horror the whole party rose 
and flung themselves on him. "Seize him!" 
they cried, "seize the Toad, the wicked ani- 
mal who stole our motor-car! Bind him, chain 
him, drag him to the nearest police station! 
Down with the desperate and dangerous 

Alas! they should have thought, they ought 
to have been more prudent, they should have 
remembered to stop the motor-car somehow 
before playing any pranks of that sort. With 
a half-turn of the wheel the Toad sent the car 
crashing through the low hedge that ran along 
the roadside. One mighty bound, a violent 
shock, and the wheels of the car were churning 
up the thick mud of a horse-pond. 

Toad found himself flying through the air 
with the strong upward rush and delicate curve 
of a swallow. He liked the motion, and was 
just beginning to wonder whether it would go 
on until he developed wings and turned into a 
Toad-bird, when he landed on his back with a 



thump, in the soft, rich grass of a meadow. 
Sitting up, he could just see the motor-car in 
the pond, nearly submerged; the gentlemen 
and the driver, encumbered by their long coats, 
were floundering helplessly in the water. 

He picked himself up rapidly, and set off 
running across country as hard as he could, 
scrambling through hedges, jumping ditches, 
pounding across fields, till he was breathless and 
weary, and had to settle down into an easy 
walk. When he had recovered his breath some- 
what, and was able to think calmly, he began to 
giggle, and from giggling he took to laughing, 
and he laughed till he had to sit down under a 
hedge. "Ho! ho!" he cried, in ecstasies of self- 
admiration. "Toad again! Toad, as usual, 
comes out on the top! Who was it got them 
to give him a lift? Who managed to get on 
the front seat for the sake of fresh air? Who 
persuaded them into letting him see if he could 
drive? Who landed them all in a horse-pond? 
Who escaped, flying gaily and unscathed through 
the air, leaving the narrow-minded, grudging, 
timid excursionists in the mud where they 



should rightly be? Why, Toad, of course; 
clever Toad, great Toad, good Toad!" 

Then he burst into song again, and chanted 
with uplifted voice - 

"The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop, 

As it raced along the road. 
Who was it steered it into a pond? 
Ingenious Mr. Toad! 

O, how clever I am! How clever, how clever, 
how very clev- 

A slight noise at a distance behind him made 
him turn his head and look. O horror! 
misery! O despair! 

About two fields off, a chauffeur in his leather 
gaiters and two large rural policemen were 
visible, running towards him as hard as they 
could go! 

Poor Toad sprang to his feet and pelted away 
again, his heart in his mouth. "O, my!" he 
gasped, as he panted along, "what an ass I am! 
What a conceited and heedless ass! Swaggering 
again! Shouting and singing songs again! Sit- 
ting still and gassing again! O my! O my! 
O my!" 



He glanced back, and saw to his dismay that 
they were gaining on him. On he ran desper- 
ately, but kept looking back, and saw that they 
still gained steadily. He did his best, but he 
was a fat animal, and his legs were short, and 
still they gained. He could hear them close 
behind him now. Ceasing to heed where he 
was going, he struggled on blindly and wildly, 
looking back over his shoulder at the now tri- 
umphant enemy, when suddenly the earth failed 
under his feet, he grasped at the air, and, 
splash! he found himself head over ears in deep 
water, rapid water, water that bore him along 
with a force he could not contend with; and he 
knew that in his blind panic he had run straight 
into the river! 

He rose to the surface and tried to grasp 
the reeds and the rushes that grew along the 
water's edge close under the bank, but the 
stream w T as so strong that it tore them out of 
his hands. "O my!" gasped poor Toad, "if 
ever I steal a motor-car again! If ever I sing 
another conceited song" then down he went, 
and came up breathless and spluttering. Pres- 



ently he saw that he was approaching a big 
dark hole in the bank, just above his head, and 
as the stream bore him past he reached up with 
a paw and caught hold of the edge and held 
on. Then slowly and with difficulty he drew 
himself up out of the water, till at last he was 
able to rest his elbows on the edge of the hole. 
There he remained for some minutes, puffing 
and panting, for he was quite exhausted. 

As he sighed and blew and stared before him 
into the dark hole, some bright small thing 
shone and twinkled in its depths, moving to- 
wards him. As it approached, a face grew up 
gradually around it, and it was a familiar face! 

Brown and small, with whiskers. 

Grave and round, with neat ears and silky 

It was the Water Rat! 






^ I^HE Rat put out a neat little brown paw, 
* gripped Toad firmly by the scruff of the 
neck, and gave a great hoist and a pull; and 
the water-logged Toad came up slowly but 
surely over the edge of the hole, till at last he 
stood safe and sound in the hall, streaked with 
mud and weed, to be sure, and with the water 
streaming off him, but happy and high-spirited 
as of old, now that he found himself once more 
in the house of a friend, and dodgings and 
evasions were over, and he could lay aside a 
disguise that was unworthy of his position and 
wanted such a lot of living up to. 

"O, Ratty!" he cried. "I've been through 
such times since I saw you last, you can't think! 
Such trials, such sufferings, and all so nobly 



borne! Then such escapes, such disguises, such 
subterfuges, and all so cleverly planned and 
carried out! Been in prison -- got out of it, 
of course ! Been thrown into a canal - - swam 
ashore ! Stole a horse - - sold him for a large 
sum of money! Humbugged everybody - - made 
'em all do exactly what I wanted! Oh, I am a 
smart Toad, and no mistake! What do you 
think my last exploit was? Just hold on till I 
tell you " 

'Toad," said the Water Rat, gravely and 
firmly, "you go off upstairs at once, and take 
off that old cotton rag that looks as if it might 
formerly have belonged to some washerwoman, 
and clean yourself thoroughly, and put on some 
of my clothes, and try and come down looking 
like a gentleman if you can; for a more shabby, 
bedraggled, disreputable-looking object than you 
are I never set eyes on in my whole life! Now, 
stop swaggering and arguing, and be off ! I '11 
have something to say to you later!" 

Toad \vas at first inclined to stop and do 
some talking back at him. He had had enough 
of being ordered about when he was in prison, 



and here was the thing being begun all over 
again, apparently; and by a Rat, too! How- 
ever, he caught sight of himself in the looking- 
glass over the hat-stand, with the rusty black 
bonnet perched rakishly over one eye, and he 
changed his mind and went very quickly and 
humbly upstairs to the Rat's dressing-room. 
There he had a thorough wash and brush-up, 
changed his clothes, and stood for a long time 
before the glass, contemplating himself with 
pride and pleasure, and thinking what utter 
idiots all the people must have been to have 
ever mistaken him for one moment for a wash- 

By the time he came down again luncheon 
was on the table, and very glad Toad was to 
see it, for he had been through some trying ex- 
periences and had taken much hard exercise 
since the excellent breakfast provided for him 
by the gipsy. While they ate Toad told the Rat 
all his adventures, dwelling chiefly on his own 
cleverness, and presence of mind in emergencies, 
and cunning in tight places; and rather making 
out that he had been having a gay and highly - 



coloured experience. But the more he talked 
and boasted, the more grave and silent the Rat 

When at last Toad had talked himself to a 
standstill, there was silence for a while; and 
then the Rat said, "Now, Toady, I don't want 
to give you pain, after all you 've been through 
already; but, seriously, don't you see what an 
awful ass you 've been making of yourself? On 
your own admission you have been hand-cuffed, 
imprisoned, starved, chased, terrified out of 
your life, insulted, jeered at, and ignominiously 
flung into the water by a woman, too! 
Where 's the amusement in that? Where does 
the fun come in? And all because you must 
needs go and steal a motor-car. You know that 
you Ve never had anything but trouble from 
motor-cars from the moment you first set eyes 
on one. But if you will be mixed up with 
them - - as you generally are, five minutes after 
you 've started why steal them? Be a crip- 
ple, if you think it 's exciting; be a bankrupt, 
for a change, if you 've set your mind on it : 
but why choose to be a convict? When are you 


ltn-i-Uinf/ cJiicflij on 7ns fiirii rJrt'i-rm-M.' 
presence uf mind in <'incfij<-iifii'n 


> ? 

going to be sensible and think of your friends, 
and try and be a credit to them? Do you 
suppose it 's any pleasure to me, for instance, 
to hear animals saying, as I go about, that 
I 'm the chap that keeps company with gaol- 

Now, it was a very comforting point in 
Toad's character that he was a thoroughly 
good-hearted animal, and never minded being 
jawed by those who were his real friends. And 
even when most set upon a thing, he was 
always able to see the other side of the ques- 
tion. So although, while the Rat was talking 
so seriously, he kept saying to himself muti- 
nously, "But it was fun, though! Awful fun!" 
and making strange suppressed noises inside 
him, k-i-ck-ck-ck, and poop-p-p, and other 
sounds resembling stifled snorts, or the opening 
of soda-water bottles, yet when the Rat had 
quite finished, he heaved a deep sigh and said, 
very nicely and humbly, "Quite right, Ratty! 
How sound you always are! Yes, I 've been a 
conceited old ass, I can quite see that; but now 
I 'm going to be a good Toad, and not do it 



any more. As for motor-cars, I 've not been at 
all so keen about them since my last ducking 
in that river of yours. The fact is, while I 
was hanging on to the edge of your hole and 
and getting my breath, I had a sudden idea - 
a really brilliant idea - - connected with motor- 
boats -- there, there! don't take on so, old 
chap, and stamp, and upset things; it was only 
an idea, and we won't talk any more about it 
now. We '11 have our coffee, and a smoke, and 
a quiet chat, and then I 'm going to stroll 
quietly down to Toad Hall, and get into clothes 
of my own, and set things going again on the 
old lines. I 've had enough of adventures. I 
shall lead a quiet, steady, respectable life, pot- 
tering about my property, and improving it, 
and doing a little landscape gardening at times. 
There will always be a bit of dinner for my 
friends when they come to see me; and I shall 
keep a pony-chaise to jog about the country in, 
just as I used to in the good old days, before 
I got restless, and wanted to do things." 

"Stroll quietly down to Toad Hall?" cried the 
Rat, greatly excited. "What are you talking 



about? Do you mean to say you haven't 

:< Heard what?" said Toad, turning rather 
pale. "Go on, Ratty! Quick! Don't spare 
me! What haven't I heard?" 

: 'Do you mean to tell me," shouted the Rat, 
thumping with his little fist upon the table, 
: 'that you 've heard nothing about the Stoats 
and Weasels?" 

"What, the Wild Wooders?" cried Toad, 
trembling in every limb. : 'No, not a word! 
What have they been doing?'' 

And how they 've been and taken Toad 
Hall?" continued the Rat. 

Toad leaned his elbows on the table, and his 
chin on his paws; and a large tear welled up in 
each of his eyes, overflowed and splashed on 
the table, plop! plop! 

: 'Go on, Ratty," he murmured presently; 
"tell me all. The worst is over. I am an ani- 
mal again. I can bear it." 

'When you got into that that troub- 
le of yours," said the Rat, slowly and impres- 
sively; : 'I mean, when you disappeared from 



society for a time, over that misunderstanding 
about a - - a machine, you know - 

Toad merely nodded. 

"Well, it was a good deal talked about down 
here, naturally," continued the Rat, "not only 
along the river-side, but even in the Wild Wood. 
Animals took sides, as always happens. The 
River-bankers stuck up for you, and said you 
had been infamously treated, and there was no 
justice to be had in the land nowadays. But 
the Wild Wood animals said hard things, and 
served you right, and it was time this sort of 
thing was stopped. And they got very cocky, 
and went about saying you were done for this 
time! You would never come back again, never, 

Toad nodded once more, keeping silence. 

'That's the sort of little beasts they are/* 
the Rat went on. 'But Mole and Badger, they 
stuck out, through thick and thin, that you 
would come back again soon, somehow. They 
didn't know exactly how, but somehow!" 

Toad began to sit up in his chair again, and 
to smirk a little. 



"They argued from history," continued the 
Rat. 'They said that no criminal laws had 
ever been known to prevail against cheek and 
plausibility such as yours, combined with the 
power of a long purse. So they arranged to 
move their things in to Toad Hall, and sleep 
there, and keep it aired, and have it all ready 
for you when you turned up. They didn't guess 
what was going to happen, of course; still, they 
had their suspicions of the Wild Wood animals. 
Now I come to the most painful and tragic part 
of my story. One dark night it was a very 
dark night, and blowing hard, too, and raining 
simply cats and dogs a band of weasels, 
armed to the teeth, crept silently up the carriage- 
drive to the front entrance. Simultaneously, a 
body of desperate ferrets, advancing through 
the kitchen-garden, possessed themselves of the 
backyard and offices; while a company of skir- 
mishing stoats who stuck at nothing occupied 
the conservatory and the billiard-room, and held 
the French windows opening on to the lawn. 

'The Mole and the Badger were sitting by 
the fire in the smoking-room, telling stories and 



suspecting nothing, for it wasn't a night for 
any animals to be out in, when those blood- 
thirsty villains broke down the doors and 
rushed in upon them from every side. They 
made the best fight they could, but what was 
the good? They were unarmed, and taken by 
surprise, and what can two animals do against 
hundreds? They took and beat them severely 
with sticks, those two poor faithful creatures, 
and turned them out into the cold and the wet, 
with many insulting and lancalled-f or remarks !' : 

Here the unfeeling Toad broke into a snigger, 
and then pulled himself together and tried to 
look particularly solemn. 

"And the Wild Wooders have been living in 
Toad Hall ever since," continued the Rat; : 'and 
going on simply anyhow! Lying in bed half 
the day, and breakfast at all hours, and the 
place in such a mess (I 'm told) it 's not fit to be 
seen! Eating your grub, and drinking your 
drink, and making bad jokes about you, and 
singing vulgar songs, about well, about pris- 
ons and magistrates, and policemen; horrid per- 
sonal songs, with no humour in them. And 



they 're telling the tradespeople and everybody 
that they 've come to stay for good." 

"O, have they!" said Toad, getting up and 
seizing a stick. : 'I '11 jolly soon see about 

"It's no good, Toad!" called the Rat after 
him. 'You 'd better come back and sit down; 
you '11 only get into trouble." 

But the Toad was off, and there was no 
holding him. He marched rapidly down the 
road, his stick over his shoulder, fuming and 
muttering to himself in his anger, till he got 
near his front gate, when suddenly there popped 
up from behind the palings a long yellow ferret 
with a gun. 

Who comes there?" said the ferret sharply. 
Stuff and nonsense ! " said Toad, very angrily. 
'What do you mean by talking like that to me? 
Come out of that at once or I '11 " 

The ferret said never a word, but he brought 
his gun up to his shoulder. Toad prudently 
dropped flat in the road, and Bang! a bullet 
whistled over his head. 

The startled Toad scrambled to his feet and 





scampered off down the road as hard as he 
could; and as he ran he heard the ferret laugh- 
ing and other horrid thin little laughs taking it 
up and carrying on the sound. 

He went back, very crestfallen, and told the 
Water Rat. 

"What did I tell you?" said the Rat. "It 's 
no good. They 've got sentries posted, and 
they are all armed. You must just wait." 

Still, Toad was not inclined to give in all at 
once. So he got out the boat, and set off 
rowing up the river to where the garden front 
of Toad Hall came down to the waterside. 

Arriving within sight of his old home, he 
rested on his oars and surveyed the land cau- 
tiously. All seemed very peaceful and deserted 
and quiet. He could see the whole front of 
Toad Hall, glowing in the evening sunshine, 
the pigeons settling by twos and threes along 
the straight line of the roof; the garden, a 
blaze of flowers; the creek that led up to the 
boat-house, the little wooden bridge that crossed 
it; all tranquil, uninhabited, apparently waiting 
for his return. He would try the boat-house 



first, he thought. Very warily he paddled up 
to the mouth of the creek, and was just passing 
under the bridge, when . . . Crash! 

A great stone, dropped from above, smashed 
through the bottom of the boat. It filled and 
sank, and Toad found himself struggling in 
deep water. Looking up, he saw two stoats 
leaning over the parapet of the bridge and 
watching him with great glee. : 'It will be 
your head next time, Toady!" they called out 
to him. The indignant Toad swam to shore, 
while the stoats laughed and laughed, support- 
ing each other, and laughed again, till they 
nearly had two fits that is, one fit each, of 

The Toad retraced his weary way on foot, 
and related his disappointing experiences to the 
Water Rat once more. 

"Well, what did I tell you?" said the Rat 
very crossly. "And, now, look here! See what 
you 've been and done! Lost me my boat that 
I was so fond of, that's what you've done! 
And simply ruined that nice suit of clothes that 
I lent you! Really, Toad, of all the trying ani- 



inals - - 1 wonder you manage to keep any 
friends at all!" 

The Toad saw at once how wrongly and 
foolishly he had acted. He admitted his errors 


and wrong-headedness and made a full apology 
to Rat for losing his boat and spoiling his 
clothes. And he wound up by saying, with 
that frank self-surrender which always dis- 
armed his friends' criticism and won them back 
to his side, "Ratty! I see that I have been a 
headstrong and a wilful Toad ! Henceforth, be- 
lieve me, I will be humble and submissive, and 
will take no action without your kind advice 
and full approval!" 

'If that is really so," said the good-natured 
Rat, already appeased, ''then my advice to you 
is, considering the lateness of the hour, to sit 
down and have your supper, which will be on 
the table in a minute, and be very patient. For 
I am convinced that we can do nothing until 
we have seen the Mole and the Badger, and 
heard their latest news, and held conference and 
taken their advice in this difficult matter." 

"Oh, ah, yes, of course, the Mole and the 



Badger," said Toad, lightly. 'What 's become 
of them, the dear fellows? I had forgotten all 
about them." 

'Well may you ask!" said the Rat reproach- 
fully. ' While you were riding about the coun- 
try in expensive motor-cars, and galloping 
proudly on blood-horses, and breakfasting on 
the fat of the land, those two poor devoted 
animals have been camping out in the open, in 
every sort of weather, living very rough by day 
and lying very hard by night; watching over 
your house, patrolling your boundaries, keeping 
a constant eye on the stoats and the weasels, 
scheming and planning and contriving how to 
get your property back for you. You don't 
deserve to have such true and loyal friends, 
Toad, you don't, really. Some day, when it 's 
too late, you' 11 be sorry you didn't value them 
more while you had them!" 

"I 'm an ungrateful beast, I know," sobbed 
Toad, shedding bitter tears. 'Let me go out 
and find them, out into the cold, dark night, 
and share their hardships, and try and prove 
by - - Hold on a bit! Surely I heard the chink 



of dishes on a tray! Supper 's here at last, 
hooray! Come on, Ratty!" 

The Rat remembered that poor Toad had 
been on prison fare for a considerable time, and 
that large allowances had therefore to be made. 
He followed him to the table accordingly, and 
hospitably encouraged him in his gallant efforts 
to make up for past privations. 

They had just finished their meal and re- 
sumed their arm-chairs, when there came a 
heavy knock at the door. 

Toad was nervous, but the Rat, nodding 
mysteriously at him, went straight up to the 
door and opened it, and in walked Mr. Badger. 

He had all the appearance of one who for 
some nights had been kept away from home 
and all its little comforts and conveniences. 
His shoes were covered with mud, and he was 
looking very rough and touzled; but then he 
had never been a very smart man, the Badger, 
at the best of times. He came solemnly up to 
Toad, shook him by the paw, and said, "Wel- 
come home, Toad! Alas! what am I saying? 
Home, indeed! This is a poor home-coming. 



Unhappy Toad!" Then he turned his back on 
him, sat down to the table, drew his chair 
up, and helped himself to a large slice of cold 

Toad was quite alarmed at this very serious 
and portentous style of greeting; but the Rat 
whispered to him, "Never mind; don't take any 
notice; and don't say anything to him just yet. 
He 's always rather low and despondent when 
he 's wanting his victuals. In half an hour's 
time he '11 be quite a different animal." 

So they waited in silence, and presently there 
came another and a lighter knock. The Rat, 
with a nod to Toad, went to the door and 
ushered in the Mole, very shabby and un- 
washed, with bits of hay and straw sticking in 
his fur. 

"Hooray! Here 's old Toad!" cried the Mole, 
his face beaming. "Fancy having you back 
again!" And he began to dance round him. 
"We never dreamt you would turn up so soon! 
Why, you must have managed to escape, you 
clever, ingenious, intelligent Toad!" 

The Rat, alarmed, pulled him by the elbow; 



but it was too late. Toad was puffing and 
swelling already. 

"Clever? O, no!" he said. "I 'm not really 
clever, according to my friends. I 've only 
broken out of the strongest prison in England, 
that 's all ! And captured a railway train and 
escaped on it, that 's all! And disguised myself 
and gone about the country humbugging every- 
body, that 's all! O, no! I 'm a stupid ass, I 
am! I '11 tell you one or two of my little ad- 
ventures, Mole, and you shall judge for your- 

'Well, well," said the Mole, moving towards 
the supper-table; "supposing you talk while I 
eat. Not a bite since breakfast! O my! O 
my!" And he sat down and helped himself 
liberally to cold beef and pickles. 

Toad straddled on the hearth-rug, thrust his 
paw into his trouser-pocket and pulled out a 
handful of silver. "Look at that!" he cried, 
displaying it. 'That 's not so bad, is it, for 
a few minutes' work? And how do you think 
I done it, Mole? Horse-dealing! That 's how I 
done it!" 


i t 


"Go on, Toad," said the Mole, immensely 

"Toad, do be quiet, please!" said the Rat. 
"And don't you egg him on, Mole, when you 
know what he is; but please tell us as soon as 
possible what the position is, and what 's best 
to be done, now that Toad is back at last." 

"The position 's about as bad as it can be," 
replied the Mole grumpily; "and as for what 's 
to be done, why, blest if I know! The Badger 
and I have been round and round the place, by 
night and by day; always the same thing. 
Sentries posted everywhere, guns poked out at 
us, stones thrown at us; always an animal on 
the look-out, and when they see us, my! how 
they do laugh! That 's what annoys me most!" 

"It 's a very difficult situation," said the Rat, 
reflecting deeply. "But I think I see now, in 
the depths of my mind, what Toad really ought 
to do. I will tell you. He ought to " 

"No, he oughtn't!" shouted the Mole, with 
his mouth full. "Nothing of the sort! You 
don't understand. What he ought to do is, he 

ought to " 



"Well, I shan't do it, anyway!" cried Toad, 
getting excited. 'I 'm not going to be ordered 
about by you fellows! It's my house we're 
talking about, and I know exactly, what to do, 
and I '11 tell you. I 'm going to - 

By this time they were all three talking at 
once, at the top of their voices, and the noise 
was simply deafening, when a thin, dry voice 
made itself heard, saying, "Be quiet at once, all 
of you!" and instantly every one was silent. 

It was the Badger, who, having finished his 
pie, had turned round in his chair and was 
looking at them severely. When he saw that 
he had secured their attention, and that they 
were evidently waiting for him to address them, 
he turned back to the table again and reached 
out for the cheese. And so great was the 
respect commanded by the solid qualities of 
that admirable animal, that not another word 
was uttered, until he had quite finished his 
repast and brushed the crumbs from his knees. 
The Toad fidgeted a good deal, but the Rat 
held him firmly down. 

When the Badger had quite done, he got up 



from his seat and stood before the fireplace, 
reflecting deeply. At last he spoke. 

"Toad," he said severely. 'You bad, trouble- 
some little animal! Aren't you ashamed of 
yourself? What do you think your father, my 
old friend, would have said if he had been here 
to-night, and had known of all your goings on?" 

Toad, who was on the sofa by this time, with 
his legs up, rolled over on his face, shaken by 
sobs of contrition. 

"There, there!" went on the Badger, more 
kindly. "Never mind. Stop crying. We're 
going to let bygones be bygones, and try and 
turn over a new leaf. But what the Mole says 
is quite true. The stoats are on guard, at every 
point, and they make the best sentinels in the 
world. It 's quite useless to think of attacking 
the place. They 're too strong for us." 

"Then it 's all over," sobbed the Toad, crying 
into the sofa cushions. "I shall go and enlist 
for a soldier, and never see my dear Toad Hall 
any more!" 

"Come, cheer up, Toady!" said the Badger. 
'There are more ways of getting back a place 



than taking it by storm. I haven't said my last 
word yet. Now I 'm going to tell you a great 

Toad sat up slowly and dried his eyes. Se- 
crets had an immense attraction for him, because 
he never could keep one, and he enjoyed the 
sort of unhallowed thrill he experienced when 
he went and told another animal, after having 
faithfully promised not to. 

"There --is - -an --underground- -passage," 
said the Badger, impressively, "that leads from 
the river-bank, quite near here, right up into 
the middle of Toad Hall." 

"0, nonsense! Badger," said Toad, rather 
airily. 'You've been listening to some of the 
yarns they spin in the public-houses about here. 
I know every inch of Toad Hall, inside and 
out. Nothing of the sort, I do assure you!" 

'My young friend," said the Badger, with 
great severity, "your father, who was a worthy 
animal - - a lot worthier than some others I 
know was a particular friend of mine, and 
told me a great deal he wouldn't have dreamt 
of telling you. He discovered that passage 



he didn't make it, of course; that was done 
hundreds of years before he ever came to live 
there and he repaired it and cleaned it out, 
because he thought it might come in useful 
some day, in case of trouble or danger; and 
he showed it to me. 'Don't let my son know 
about it,' he said. 'He 's a good boy, but very 
light and volatile in character, and simply can- 
not hold his tongue. If he 's ever in a real fix, 
and it w r ould be of use to him, you may tell him 
about the secret passage; but not before.' 

The other animals looked hard at Toad to 
see how he would take it. Toad was inclined 
to be sulky at first; but he brightened up imme- 
diately, like the good fellow he was. 

'Well, well," he said; 'perhaps I am a bit of 
a talker. A popular fellow such as I am - - my 
friends get round me we chaff, we sparkle, 
we tell witty stories and somehow my tongue 
gets wagging. I have the gift of conversation. 
I 've been told I ought to have a salon, what- 
ever that may be. Never mind. Go on, Badger. 
How 's this passage of yours going to help us?" 

"I 've found out a thing or two lately," con- 



tinned the Badger. 'I got Otter to disguise 
himself as a sweep and call at the back-door 
with brushes over his shoulder, asking for a job. 
There 's going to be a big banquet to-morrow 
night. It 's somebody's birthday the Chief 
Weasel's, I believe - - and all the weasels will be 
gathered together in the dining-hall, eating and 
drinking and laughing and carrying on, suspect- 
ing nothing. No guns, no swords, no sticks, no 
arms of any sort whatever!" 

'But the sentinels will be posted as usual," 
remarked the Rat. 

"Exactly," said the Badger; 'that is my 
point. The weasels will trust entirely to their 
excellent sentinels. And that is where the pas- 
sage conies in. That very useful tunnel leads 
right up under the butler's pantry, next to the 

"Aha! that squeaky board in the butler's 
pantry!" said Toad. "Now I understand it!" 

'We shall creep out quietly into the butler's 
pantry " cried the Mole. 

;< with our pistols and swords and sticks 
" shouted the Rat. 



" and rush in upon them," said the Badger. 

" and whack 'em, and whack 'em, and 
whack 'em!" cried the Toad in ecstasy, running 
round and round the room, and jumping over 
the chairs. 

"Very well, then," said the Badger, resuming 
his usual dry manner, "our plan is settled, and 
there 's nothing more for you to argue and 
squabble about. So, as it 's getting very late, 
all of you go right off to bed at once. We will 
make all the necessary arrangements in the 
course of the morning to-morrow." 

Toad, of course, went off to bed dutifully 
with the rest he knew better than to refuse 
though he was feeling much too excited to 
sleep. But he had had a long day, with many 
events crowded into it; and sheets and blankets 
were very friendly and comforting things, after 
plain straw, and not too much of it, spread on 
the stone floor of a draughty cell; and his head 
had not been many seconds on his pillow before 
he was snoring happily. Naturally, he dreamt 
a good deal; about roads that ran away from 
him just when he wanted them, and canals that 



chased him and caught him, and a barge that 
sailed into the banqueting-hall with his week's 
washing, just as he was giving a dinner-party; 
and he was alone in the secret passage, pushing 
onwards, but it twisted and turned round and 
shook itself, and sat up on its end ; yet somehow, 
at the last, he found himself back in Toad Hall, 
safe and triumphant, with all his friends gath- 
ered round about him, earnestly assuring him 
that he really was a clever Toad. 

He slept till a late hour next morning, and by 
the time he got down he found that the other 
animals had finished their breakfast some time 
before. The Mole had slipped off somewhere 
by himself, without telling any one where he 
was going to. The Badger sat in the arm-chair, 
reading the paper, and not concerning himself 
in the slightest about what was going to happen 
that very evening. The Rat, on the other hand, 
was running round the room busily, with his 
arms full of weapons of every kind, distributing 
them in four little heaps on the floor, and saying 
excitedly under his breath, as he ran, "Here 's-a- 
sword - for - the - Rat, here 's - a - sword - for - the - 



Mole, here 's -a -sword -for -the -Toad, here 's-a- 
sword - for - the - Badger ! Here 's - a - pistol - for - 
the -Rat, here 's-a-pistol -for -the -Mole, here 's- 
a- pistol -for -the -Toad, here 's - a - pistol - for - 
the -Badger!" And so on, in a regular, rhyth- 
mical way, while the four little heaps gradually 
grew and grew. 

"That 's all very well, Rat," said the Badger 
presently, looking at the busy little animal over 
the edge of his newspaper; ''I 'm not blaming 
you. But just let us once get past the stoats, 
with those detestable guns of theirs, and I assure 
you we shan't want any swords or pistols. We 
four, with our sticks, once we 're inside the 
dining-hall, why, we shall clear the floor of all 
the lot of them in five minutes. I 'd have done 
the whole thing by myself, only I didn't want 
to deprive you fellows of the fun!" 

'It 's as well to be on the safe side," said the 
Rat reflectively, polishing a pistol-barrel on his 
sleeve and looking along it. 

The Toad, having finished his breakfast, 
picked up a stout stick and swung it vigorously, 
belabouring imaginary animals. "I '11 learn 'em 



to steal my house!" he cried. 'I '11 learn 'em, 
I '11 learn Yin!" 

"Don't say 'learn 'em,' Toad," said the Rat, 
greatly shocked. "It's not good English." 

"What are you always nagging at Toad for?' 
inquired the Badger, rather peevishly. 'What 's 
the matter with his English? It 's the same what 
I use myself, and if it 's good enough for me, it 
ought to be good enough for you!" 

"I 'm very sorry," said the Rat humbly. 
"Only I think it ought to be 'teach 'em,' not 
'learn Ym.' ! 

"But we don't want to teach 'em," replied the 
Badger. "We want to learn 'em- -learn 'em, 
learn 'em! And what's more, we're going to 
do it, too!" 

"Oh, very well, have it your own way," said 
the Rat. He was getting rather muddled about 
it himself, and presently he retired into a corner, 
where he could be heard muttering, "Learn Ym, 
teach Ym, teach Ym, learn Ym!" till the Badger 
told him rather sharply to leave off. 

Presently the Mole came tumbling into the 
room, evidently very pleased with himself. 



"I 've been having such fun!" he began at once; 
"I 've been getting a rise out of the stoats!" 

"I hope you 've been very careful, Mole?" 
said the Rat anxiously. 

"I should hope so, too," said the Mole con- 
fidently. :< I got the idea when I went into the 
kitchen, to see about Toad's breakfast being 
kept hot for him. I found that old washer- 
woman-dress that he came home in yesterday, 
hanging on a towel-horse before the fire. So I 
put it on, and the bonnet as well, and the shawl, 
and off I went to Toad Hall, as bold as you 
please. The sentries were on the look-out, of 
course, with their guns and their 'Who comes 
there?' and all the rest of their nonsense. 
'Good morning, gentlemen!' says I, very re- 
spectful. 'Want any washing done to-day?' 
They looked at me very proud and stiff and 
haughty, and said, 'Go away, washerwoman! 
We don't do any washing on duty.' 'Or any 
other time?' says I. Ho, ho, ho! Wasn't I 
funny, Toad?" 

"Poor, frivolous animal!" said Toad, very 
loftily. The fact is, he felt exceedingly jealous 



of Mole for what he had just done. It was 
exactly what he would have liked to have done 
himself, if only he had thought of it first, and 
hadn't gone and overslept himself. 

"Some of the stoats turned quite pink," con- 
tinued the Mole, "and the Sergeant in charge, 
he said to me, very short, he said, 'Now run 
away, my good woman, run away! Don't keep 
my men idling and talking on their posts.' 
'Run away?' says I; 'it won't be me that'll 
be running away, in a very short time from 

"O Moly, how could you?" said the Rat, dis- 

The Badger laid down his paper. 

"I could see them pricking up their ears and 
looking at each other," went on the Mole; 
"and the Sergeant said to them, 'Never mind 
her; she doesn't know what she 's talking 
about. ' ; 

"'O! don't I?' said I. 'Well, let me tell you 
this. My daughter, she washes for Mr. Badger, 
and that '11 show you whether I know what 
I 'm talking about; and you 'II know pretty 



i ? 

soon, too! A hundred bloodthirsty badgers, 
armed with rifles, are going to attack Toad Hall 
this very night, by way of the paddock. Six 
boatloads of Rats, with pistols and cutlasses, 
will come up the river and effect a landing in 
the garden; while a picked body of Toads, 
known as the Die-hards, or the Death-or-Glory 
Toads, will storm the orchard and carry every- 
thing before them, yelling for vengeance. There 
won't be much left of you to wash, by the time 
they 've done with you, unless you clear out 
while you have the chance ! ' Then I ran away, 
and when I was out of sight I hid; and pres- 
ently I came creeping back along the ditch 
and took a peep at them through the hedge. 
They were all as nervous and flustered as could 
be, running all ways at once, and falling over 
each other, and every one giving orders to every- 
body else and not listening; and the Sergeant 
kept sending off parties of stoats to distant 
parts of the grounds, and then sending other 
fellows to fetch 'em back again; and I heard 
them saying to each other, 'That 's just like 
the weasels; they 're to stop comfortably in the 



banqueting-hall, and have feasting and toasts 
and songs and all sorts of fun, while we must 
stay on guard in the cold and the dark, and 
in the end be cut to pieces by bloodthirsty 
Badgers ! ' 

"Oh, you silly ass, Mole!" cried Toad, 
"You 've been and spoilt everything!" 

"Mole," said the Badger, in his dry, quiet way, 
"I perceive you have more sense in your little 
finger than some other animals have in the 
whole of their fat bodies. You have managed 
excellently, and I begin to have great hopes of 
you. Good Mole! Clever Mole!" 

The Toad was simply wild with jealousy, 
more especially as he couldn't make out for 
the life of him what the Mole had done that 
w r as so particularly clever; but, fortunately for 
him, before he could show temper or expose 
himself to the Badger's sarcasm, the bell rang 
for luncheon. 

It was a simple but sustaining meal - - bacon 
and broad beans, and a macaroni pudding; and 
when they had quite done, the Badger settled 
himself into an arm-chair, and said, 'Well, 



we 've got our work cut out for us to-night, and 
it will probably be pretty late before we 're 
quite through with it; so I 'm just going to 
take forty winks, while I can." And he drew a 
handkerchief over his face and was soon snoring. 
The anxious and laborious Rat at once re- 
sumed his preparations, and started running 
between his four little heaps, muttering, 
"Here 's-a-belt-for-the-Rat, here 's-a-belt-for- 
the-Mole, here Va-belt-for-the-Toad, here 's-a- 
belt-f or-the-Badger ! " and so on, with every 
fresh accoutrement he produced, to which there 
seemed really no end; so the Mole drew his 
arm through Toad's, led him out into the open 
air, shoved him into a wicker chair, and made 
him tell him all his adventures from beginning 
to end, which Toad was only too willing to do. 
The Mole was a good listener, and Toad, with 
no one to check his statements or to criticise 
in an unfriendly spirit, rather let himself go. 
Indeed, much that he related belonged more 
properly to the category of what-might-have- 
stead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are al- 



ways the best and the raciest adventures; and 
why should they not be truly ours, as much as 
the somewhat inadequate things that really 
come off? 



WHEN it began to grow dark, the Rat, 
with an air of excitement and mystery, 
summoned them back into the parlour, stood 
each of them up alongside of his little heap, 
and proceeded to dress them up for the coming 
expedition. He was very earnest and thorough- 
going about it, and the affair took quite a long 
time. First, there was a belt to go round each 
animal, and then a sword to be stuck into each 
belt, and then a cutlass on the other side to 
balance it. Then a pair of pistols, a policeman's 
truncheon, several sets of handcuffs, some ban- 
dages and sticking-plaster, and a flask and a 
sandwich-case. The Badger laughed good-hu- 
mouredly and said, "All right, Ratty ! It amuses 
you and it doesn't hurt me. I 'm going to do 
all I 've got to do with this here stick." But 
the Rat only said, "Please, Badger. You know 



I shouldn't like you to blame me afterwards 
and say I had forgotten anything!' 1 

When all was quite ready, the Badger took 
a dark lantern in one paw, grasped his great 
stick with the other, and said, "Now then, fol- 
low me! Mole first, 'cos I 'm very pleased with 
him; Rat next; Toad last. And look here, 
Toady! Don't you chatter so much as usual, 
or you '11 be sent back, as sure as fate!" 

The Toad was so anxious not to be left out 
that he took up the inferior position assigned 
to him without a murmur, and the animals set 
off. The Badger led them along by the river 
for a little way, and then suddenly swung him- 
self over the edge into a hole in the river bank, 
a little above the water. The Mole and the 
Rat followed silently, swinging themselves suc- 
cessfully into the hole as they had seen the 
Badger do; but when it came to Toad's turn, 
of course he managed to slip and fall into the 
water with a loud splash and a squeal of alarm. 
He was hauled out by his friends, rubbed down 
and wrung out hastily, comforted, and set on 
his legs; but the Badger was seriously angry, 


Tfif rttxtyrr xitiif, > \uit< then, 
folloii' tne!" 


and told him that the very next time he made a 
fool of himself he would most certainly be left 

So at last they were in the secret passage, 
and the cutting-out expedition had really begun ! 

It was cold, and dark, and damp, and low, 
and narrow, and poor Toad began to shiver, 
partly from dread of what might be before 
him, partly because he was wet through. The 
lantern was far ahead, and he could not help 
lagging behind a little in the darkness. Then 
he heard the Rat call out warningly, "Come on, 
Toad!" and a terror seized him of being left 
behind, alone in the darkness, and he "came 
on" with such a rush that he upset the Rat into 
the Mole, and the Mole into the Badger, and 
for a moment all was confusion. The Badger 
thought they were being attacked from behind, 
and, as there was no room to use a stick or a 
cutlass, drew a pistol, and was on the point of 
putting a bullet into Toad. When he found 
out what had really happened he was very 
angry indeed, and said, :< Now this time that 
tiresome Toad shall be left behind!" 



But Toad whimpered, and the other two 
promised that they would be answerable for 
his good conduct, and at last the Badger was 
pacified, and the procession moved on; only 
this time the Rat brought up the rear, with a 
firm grip on the shoulder of Toad. 

So they groped and shuffled along, with their 
ears pricked up and their paws on their pistols, 
till at last the Badger said, "We ought by now 
to be pretty nearly under the Hall." 

Then suddenly they heard, far away as it 
might be, and yet apparently nearly over their 
heads, a confused murmur of sound, as if people 
were shouting and cheering and stamping on 
the floor and hammering on tables. The Toad's 
nervous terrors all returned, but the Badger 
only remarked placidly, 'They are going it, 
the weasels!" 

The passage now began to slope upwards; 
they groped onward a little further, and then 
the noise broke out again, quite distinct this 
time, and very close above them. "Ooo-ray-oo- 
ray-oo-ray-ooray ! " they heard, and the stamp- 
ing of little feet on the floor, and the clinking 



of glasses as little fists pounded on the ta- 
ble. "What a time they're having!" said the 
Badger. " Come on!" They hurried along the 
passage till it came to a full stop, and they 
found themselves standing under the trap-door 
that led up into the butler's pantry. 

Such a tremendous noise was going on in 
the banqueting-hall that there was little dan- 
ger of their being overheard. The Badger said, 
"Now, boys, all together!" and the four of 
them put their shoulders to the trap-door and 
heaved it back. Hoisting each other up, they 
found themselves standing in the pantry, with 
only a door between them and the banqueting- 
hall, where their unconscious enemies were ca- 

The noise, as they emerged from the passage, 
was simply deafening. At last, as the cheering 
and hammering slowly subsided, a voice could 
be made out saying, 'Well, I do not propose 
to detain you much longer" (great applause) 
"but before I resume my seat" (renewed 
cheering) "I should like to say one word 
about our kind host, Mr. Toad. We all know 



Toad!" - (great laughter) - "Good Toad, mod- 
est Toad, honest Toad!" (shrieks of merriment). 

"Only just let me get at him!" muttered 
Toad, grinding his teeth. 

"Hold hard a minute!" said the Badger, 
restraining him with difficulty. : 'Get ready, all 
of you!" 

- Let me sing you a little song," went on 
the voice, "which I have composed on the sub- 
ject of Toad" (prolonged applause). 

Then the Chief Weasel for it was he - 
began in a high, squeaky voice 

"Toad he went a-pleasuring 
Gaily down the street " 

The Badger drew himself up, took a firm 
grip of his stick with both paws, glanced round 
at his comrades, and cried 

'The hour is come! Follow me!" 

And flung the door open wide. 


What a squealing and a squeaking and a 
screeching filled the air! 

Well might the terrified weasels dive under 



the tables and spring madly up at the windows! 
Well might the ferrets rush wildly for the fire- 
place and get hopelessly jammed in the chim- 
ney! Well might tables and chairs be upset, 
and glass and china be sent crashing on the floor, 
in the panic of that terrible moment when the 
four Heroes strode wrathfully into the room! 
The mighty Badger, his whiskers bristling, his 
great cudgel whistling through the air; Mole, 
black and grim, brandishing his stick and 
shouting his awful war-cry, "A Mole! A 
Mole!" Rat, desperate and determined, his 
belt bulging with weapons of every age and 
every variety; Toad, frenzied with excitement 
and injured pride, swollen to twice his ordinary 
size, leaping into the air and emitting Toad- 
whoops that chilled them to the marrow! 
'Toad he went a-pleasuring ! " he yelled. "7 'II 
pleasure 'em!" and he went straight for the 
Chief Weasel. They were but four in all, but 
to the panic-stricken weasels the hall seemed full 
of monstrous animals, grey, black, brown and 
yellow, whooping and flourishing enormous cudg- 
els; and they broke and fled with squeals of 



terror and dismay, this way and that, through 
the windows, up the chimney, anywhere to get 
out of reach of those terrible sticks. 

The affair was soon over. Up and down, 
the whole length of the hall, strode the four 
Friends, whacking with their sticks at every 
head that showed itself; and in five minutes 
the room was cleared. Through the broken 
windows the shrieks of terrified weasels escaping 
across the lawn were borne faintly to their ears; 
on the floor lay prostrate some dozen or so of 
the enemy, on whom the Mole was busily 
engaged in fitting handcuffs. The Badger, rest- 
ing from his labours, leant on his stick and 
wiped his honest brow. 

: 'Mole," he said, "y u 're the best of fellows! 
Just cut along outside and look after those 
stoat-sentries of yours, and see what they 're 
doing. I 've an idea that, thanks to you, we 
shan't have much trouble from them to-night!" 

The Mole vanished promptly through a win- 
dow; and the Badger bade the other two set a 
table on its legs again, pick up knives and forks 
and plates and glasses from the debris on the 



floor, and see if they could find materials for a 
supper. "I want some grub, I do," he said, in 
that rather common way he had of speaking. 
"Stir your stumps, Toad, and look lively! 
We 've got your house back for you, and you 
don't offer us so much as a sandwich." 

Toad felt rather hurt that the Badger didn't 
say pleasant things to him, as he had to the 
Mole, and tell him what a fine fellow he was, 
and how splendidly he had fought; for he was 
rather particularly pleased with himself and the 
way he had gone for the Chief Weasel and sent 
him flying across the table with one blow of his 
stick. But he bustled about, and so did the 
Rat, and soon they found some guava jelly in a 
glass dish, and a cold chicken, a tongue that 
had hardly been touched, some trifle, and quite 
a lot of lobster salad; and in the pantry they 
came upon a basketful of French rolls and any 
quantity of cheese, butter, and celery. They 
were just about to sit down when the Mole 
clambered in through the window, chuckling, 
with an armful of rifles. 

"It 's all over," he reported. "From what I 



can make out, as soon as the stoats, who were 
very nervous and jumpy already, heard the 
shrieks and the yells and the uproar inside t'le 
hull, some of them threw down their rifles and 
fled. The others stood fast for a bit, but when 
the weasels came rushing out upon them they 
thought they were betrayed; and the stoats 
grappled with the weasels, and the weasels 
fought to get away, and they wrestled and 
wriggled and punched each other, and rolled 
over and over, till most of 'em rolled into the 
river! They 've all disappeared by now, one 
way or another; and I 've got their rifles. So 
that's all right!" 

" Excellent and deserving animal!" said the 
Badger, his mouth full of chicken and trifle. 
"Now, there 's just one more thing I want you 
to do, Mole, before you sit down to your supper 
along of us; and I wouldn't trouble you only I 
know I can trust you to see a thing done, and 
I wish I could say the same of every one I know. 
I 'd send Rat, if he wasn't a poet. I want you 
to take those fellows on the floor there upstairs 
with you, and have some bedrooms cleaned 



out and tidied up and made really comfortable. 
See that they sweep under the beds, and put 
clean sheets and pillow-cases on, and turn down 
one corner of the bed-clothes, just as you know 
it ought to be done; and have a can of hot 
water, and clean towels, and fresh cakes of soap, 
put in each room. And then you can give them 
a licking a-piece, if it 's any satisfaction to you, 
and put them out by the back-door, and we 
shan't see any more of them, I fancy. And 
then come along and have some of this cold 
tongue. It 's first rate. I 'm very pleased with 
you, Mole!" 

The good-natured Mole picked up a stick, 
formed his prisoners up in a line on the floor, 
gave them the order "Quick march!" and led 
his squad off to the upper floor. After a time, 
he appeared again, smiling, and said that every 
room was ready and as clean as a new pin. 
"And I didn't have to lick them, either," he 
added. "I thought, on the whole, they had had 
licking enough for one night, and the weasels, 
when I put the point to them, quite agreed with 
me, and said they wouldn't think of troubling 



me. They were very penitent, and said they 
were extremely sorry for what they had done, 
but it was all the fault of the Chief Weasf i and 
the stoats, and if ever they could do anything 
for us at any time to make up, we had only got 
to mention it. So I gave them a roll a-piece, 
and let them out at the back, and off they ran, 
as hard as they could!" 

Then the Mole pulled his chair up to the table, 
and pitched into the cold tongue; and Toad, 
like the gentleman he was, put all his jealousy 
from him, and said heartily, "Thank you kindly, 
dear Mole, for all your pains and trouble to- 
night, and especially for your cleverness this 
morning!" The Badger was pleased at that, 
and said, "There spoke my brave Toad!" So 
they finished their supper in great joy and con- 
tentment, and presently retired to rest between 
clean sheets, safe in Toad's ancestral home, won 
back by matchless valour, consummate strat- 
egy, and a proper handling of sticks. 

The following morning, Toad, who had over- 
slept himself as usual, came down to breakfast 
disgracefully late, and found on the table a cer- 



tain quantity of egg-shells, some fragments 
of cold and leathery toast, a coffee-pot three- 
fourths empty, and really very little else; which 
did not tend to improve his temper, considering 
that, after all, it was his own house. Through 
the French windows of the breakfast-room he 
could see the Mole and the Water Rat sitting 
in wicker chairs out on the lawn, evidently 
telling each other stories; roaring with laughter 
and kicking their short legs up in the air. The 
Badger, who was in an arm-chair and deep in 
the morning paper, merely looked up and 
nodded when Toad entered the room. But 
Toad knew his man, so he sat down and made 
the best breakfast he could, merely observing 
to himself that he would get square with the 
others sooner or later. When he had nearly 
finished, the Badger looked up and remarked 
rather shortly: "I 'm sorry, Toad, but I 'm 
afraid there 's a heavy morning's work in front 
of you. You see, we really ought to have a 
Banquet at once, to celebrate this affair. It 's 
expected of you in fact, it 's the rule." 
"O, all right!" said the Toad, readily. "Any- 



thing to oblige. Though why on earth you 
should want to have a Banquet in the morning 
I cannot understand. But you know I do not 
live to please myself, but merely to find out 
what my friends want, and then try and arrange 
it for 'em, you dear old Badger!" 

'Don't pretend to be stupider than you really 
are," replied the Badger, crossly; "and don't 
chuckle and splutter in your coffee while you 're 
talking; it 's not manners. What I mean is, 
the Banquet will be at night, of course, but the 
invitations will have to be written and got off 
at once, and you 've got to write 'em. Now sit 
down at that table - - there 's stacks of letter- 
paper on it, with 'Toad Hall' at the top in 
blue and gold and write invitations to all our 
friends, and if you stick to it we shall get them 
out before luncheon. And I 'II bear a hand, too, 
and take my share of the burden. / '// order 
the Banquet." 

"What!" cried Toad, dismayed. "Me stop 
indoors and write a lot of rotten letters on a 
jolly morning like this, when I want to go 
around my property and set everything and 



everybody to rights, and swagger about and 
enjoy myself! Certainly not! I'll be - - 1 '11 
see you Stop a minute, though ! Why, of 
course, dear Badger! What is my pleasure or 
convenience compared with that of others ! You 
wish it done, and it shall be done. Go, Badger, 
order the Banquet, order what you like; then 
join our young friends outside in their innocent 
mirth, oblivious of me and my cares and toils. 
I sacrifice this fair morning on the altar of duty 
and friendship!" 

The Badger looked at him very suspiciously, 
but Toad's frank, open countenance made it 
difficult to suggest any unworthy motive in this 
change of attitude. He quitted the room, 
accordingly, in the direction of the kitchen, and 
as soon as the door had closed behind him, 
Toad hurried to the writing-table. A fine idea 
had occurred to him while he was talking. He 
would write the invitations; and he would take 
care to mention the leading part he had taken 
in the fight, and how he had laid the Chief 
Weasel flat; and he would hint at his adven- 
tures, and what a career of triumph he had to 



tell about; and on the fly-leaf he would set out 
a sort of a programme of entertainment for the 
evening - - something like this, as he sketched 
it out in his head: 


(There will be other speeches by TOAD during 
the evening.) 


SYNOPSIS Our Prison System the Waterways of Old 
England Horse-dealing, and how to deal Property, 
its rights and its duties Back to the Land A 
Typical English Squire. 


(Composed by himself.) 


will be sung in the course of the 
evening by the . . . COMPOSER. 

The idea pleased him mightily, and he 
worked very hard and got all the letters finished 
by noon, at which hour it was reported to him 
that there was a small and rather bedraggled 
weasel at the door, inquiring timidly whether 
he could be of any service to the gentleman. 
Toad swaggered out and found it was one of the 
prisoners of the previous evening, very respect- 



ful and anxious to please. He patted him on 
the head, shoved the bundle of invitations into 
his paw, and told him to cut along quick and 
deliver them as fast as he could, and if he liked 
to come back again in the evening, perhaps 
there might be a shilling for him, or, again, 
perhaps there mightn't; and the poor weasel 
seemed really quite grateful, and hurried off 
eagerly to do his mission. 

When the other animals came back to lunch- 
eon, very boisterous and breezy after a morn- 
ing on the river, the Mole, whose conscience 
had been pricking him, looked doubtfully at 
Toad, expecting to find him sulky or depressed. 
Instead, he was so uppish and inflated that 
the Mole began to suspect something; while 
the Rat and the Badger exchanged significant 

As soon as the meal was over, Toad thrust 
his paws deep into his trouser-pockets, re- 
marked casually, "Well, look after yourselves, 
you fellows! Ask for anything you want!" and 
was swaggering off in the direction of the gar- 
den, where he wanted to think out an idea or 



two for his coming speeches, when the Rat 
caught him by the arm. 

Toad rather suspected what he was after, 
and did his best to get away; but when the 
Badger took him firmly by the other arm he 
began to see that the game was up. The two 
animals conducted him between them into the 
small smoking-room that opened out of the 
entrance-hall, shut the door, and put him into a 
chair. Then they both stood in front of him, 
while Toad sat silent and regarded them with 
much suspicion and ill-humour. 

"Now, look here, Toad," said the Rat. "It 's 
about this Banquet, and very sorry I am to 
have to speak to you like this. But we want 
you to understand clearly, once and for all, that 
there are going to be no speeches and no songs. 
Try and grasp the fact that on this occasion 
we 're not arguing with you; we 're just telling 


Toad saw that he was trapped. They under- 
stood him, they saw through him, they had got 
ahead of him. His pleasant dream was shat- 



: ' Mayn't I sing them just one little song?" 
he pleaded piteously. 

"No, not one little song," replied the Rat 
firmly, though his heart bled as he noticed the 
trembling lip of the poor disappointed Toad. 
"It 's no good, Toady; you know well that your 
songs are all conceit and boasting and vanity; 
and your speeches are all self-praise and and 
well, and gross exaggeration and and ' 

"And gas," put in the Badger, in his common 

"It's for your own good, Toady," went on 
the Rat. 'You know you must turn over a new 
leaf sooner or later, and now seems a splendid 
time to begin; a sort of turning-point in your 
career. Please don't think that saying all this 
doesn't hurt me more than it hurts you." 

Toad remained a long while plunged in 
thought. At last he raised his head, and the 
traces of strong emotion were visible on his 
features. 'You have conquered, my friends," 
he said in broken accents. "It was, to be sure, 
but a small thing that I asked - - merely leave 
to blossom and expand for yet one more even- 



ing, to let myself go and hear the tumultuous 
applause that always seems to me somehow 
to bring out my best qualities. However, 
you are right, I know, and I am wrong. Hence- 
forth I will be a very different Toad. My 
friends, you shall never have occasion to blush 
for me again. But, O dear, O dear, this is a 
hard world!" 

And, pressing his handkerchief to his face, he 
left the room, with faltering footsteps. 

"Badger," said the Rat, "/feel like a brute; I 
wonder what you feel like?'' 

"O, I know, I know," said the Badger gloom- 
ily. "But the thing had to be done. This 
good fellow has got to live here, and hold his 
own, and be respected. Would you have him a 
common laughing-stock, mocked and jeered at 
by stoats and weasels?'' 

"Of course not," said the Rat. "And, talking 
of weasels, it 's lucky we came upon that little 
weasel, just as he was setting out with Toad's 
invitations. I suspected something from what 
you told me, and had a look at one or two; 
they were simply disgraceful. I confiscated the 



lot, and the good Mole is now sitting in the 
blue boudoir, filling up plain, simple invitation 

At last the hour for the banquet began to 
draw near, and Toad, who on leaving the others 
had retired to his bedroom, was still sitting 
there, melancholy and thoughtful. His brow 
resting on his paw, he pondered long and 
deeply. Gradually his countenance cleared, and 
he began to smile long, slow smiles. Then 
he took to giggling in a shy, self-conscious 
manner. At last he got up, locked the door, 
drew the curtains across the windows, collected 
all the chairs in the room and arranged them in 
a semicircle, and took up his position in front 
of them, swelling visibly. Then he bowed, 
coughed twice, and, letting himself go, with 
uplifted voice he sang, to the enraptured audi- 
ence that his imagination so clearly saw: 



The Toad came home! 

There was panic in the parlours and howling in the halls, 

There was crying in the cow-sheds and shrieking in the 

When the Toad came home! 

When the Toad came home! 

There was smashing in of window and crashing in of door, 
There was chivvying of weasels that fainted on the floor, 
When the Toad came home! 

Bang ! go the drums ! 

The trumpeters are tooting and the soldiers are saluting, 

And the cannon they are shooting and the motor-cars are 

As the Hero comes! 

Shout Hoo-ray ! 

And let each one of the crowd try and shout it very loud, 
In honour of an animal of whom you 're justly proud, 
For it 's Toad's great day! 

He sang this very loud, with great unction 
and expression; and when he had done, he 
sang it all over again. 

Then he heaved a deep sigh; a long, long, 
long sigh. 



Then he dipped his hairbrush in the water- 
jug, parted his hair in the middle, and plastered 
it down very straight and sleek on each side 
of his face; and, unlocking the door, went qui- 
etly down the stairs to greet his guests, who 
he knew must be assembling in the drawing- 

All the animals cheered when he entered, and 
crowded round to congratulate him and say 
nice things about his courage, and his clever- 
ness, and his fighting qualities; but Toad only 
smiled faintly, and murmured, : 'Not at all!" 
Or, sometimes, for a change, "On the contrary!" 
Otter, who was standing on the hearthrug, de- 
scribing to an admiring circle of friends exactly 
how he would have managed things had he 
been there, came forward with a shout, threw 
his arm round Toad's neck, and tried to take 
him round the room in triumphal progress; but 
Toad, in a mild way, was rather snubby to him, 
remarking gently, as he disengaged himself, 
" Badger's was the master mind; the Mole and 
the Water Rat bore the brunt of the fighting; 
I merely served in the ranks and did little or 



nothing." The animals were evidently puzzled 
and taken aback by this unexpected attitude 
of his; and Toad felt, as he moved from one 
guest to the other, making his modest responses, 
that he was an object of absorbing interest to 
every one. 

The Badger had ordered everything of the 
best, and the banquet was a great success. 
There was much talking and laughter and chaff 
among the animals, but through it all Toad, 
who of course was in the chair, looked down his 
nose and murmured pleasant nothings to the 
animals on either side of him. At intervals he 
stole a glance at the Badger and the Rat, and 
always when he looked they were staring at 
each other with their mouths open; and this 
gave him the greatest satisfaction. Some of 
the younger and livelier animals, as the evening 
wore on, got whispering to each other that 
things were not so amusing as they used to be 
in the good old days; and there were some 
knockings on the table and cries of 'Toad! 
Speech! Speech from Toad ! Song! Mr. Toad's 
song!" But Toad only shook his head gently, 



raised one paw in mild protest, and, by pressing 
delicacies on his guests, by topical small-talk, 
and by earnest inquiries after members of their 
families not yet old enough to appear at social 
functions, managed to convey to them that this 
dinner was being run on strictly conventional 

He was indeed an altered Toad! 

After this climax, the four animals continued 
to lead their lives, so rudely broken in upon by 
civil war, in great joy and contentment, undis- 
turbed by further risings or invasions. Toad, 
after due consultation with his friends, selected 
a handsome gold chain and locket set with 
pearls, which he dispatched to the gaoler's 
daughter, with a letter that even the Badger 
admitted to be modest, grateful, and apprecia- 
tive; and the engine-driver, in his turn, was 
properly thanked and compensated for all his 
pains and trouble. Under severe compulsion 
from the Badger, even the barge-woman was, 
with some trouble, sought out and the value of 



her horse discreetly made good to her; though 
Toad kicked terribly at this, holding himself to 
be an instrument of Fate, sent to punish fat 
women with mottled arms who couldn't tell a 
real gentleman when they saw one. The amount 
involved, it was true, was not very burdensome, 
the gipsy's valuation being admitted by local 
assessors to be approximately correct. 

Sometimes, in the course of long summer 
evenings, the friends would take a stroll together 
in the Wild Wood, now successfully tamed so 
far as they were concerned; and it was pleasing 
to see how respectfully they were greeted by 
the inhabitants, and how the mother-weasels 
would bring their young ones to the mouths of 
their holes, and say, pointing, "Look, baby! 
There goes the great Mr. Toad! And that 's 
the gallant Water Rat, a terrible fighter, walk- 
ing along o' him! And yonder comes the 
famous Mr. Mole, of whom you so often have 
heard your father tell!" But when their infants 
were fractious and quite beyond control, they 
would quiet them by telling how, if they didn't 
hush them and not fret them, the terrible grey 



Badger would up and get them. This was a 
base libel on Badger, who, though he cared 
little about Society, was rather fond of children ; 
but it never failed to have its full effect.