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And * 

a River went our from 









Published October, 1908 








VI. MR. TOAD 120 









A | A HE 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 
hurriedly 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, 
rinding 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, sud- 
denly 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 spell-bound 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 gradually to grow up round it, like a 
frame round a picture. 

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, its 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 
unfastened 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: 
'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 nothing 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 suddenly. 

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 leaned 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, wriggling 
with curiosity. 

'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the 
Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeef pickled 

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 
'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 
forebore 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 
people are 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 Bad- 
ger! Nobody interferes with him. They'd bet- 
ter 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 sometimes, 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 murmur 
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, C O my! O 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. 

l l 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 chirruped 
cheerily in an inviting sort of way. 

A broad glistening muzzle showed itself 
above the edge of the bank, and the Otter 
hauled himself 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 I beg pardon I don't 
exactly mean that, you know.' 

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

'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!' observed 
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 every- 

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'll 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 recol- 
lected 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 
pleasant work as unpacking the basket. It 
never is. But the Mole was bent on enjoying 


everything, 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 
finished 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, / want to row, now!' 

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 trium- 
phant 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 
welcome 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 in- 
deed for my foolish and ungrateful conduct. My 
heart quite fails me when I think how I might 
have lost that beautiful luncheon-basket. In- 
deed, 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. 'What's a little wet to a Water 
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'll teach you to row, and to swim, and you'll 
soon be as handy on the water as any of us.' 

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 sniggering 
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 partic- 
ular they were whom they spoke to; and about 
adventures down drains, and night-fishings with 
Otter, or excursions far a-field with Badger. 
Supper was 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 content- 
ment, 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 


2 3 

longer and full of interest as the ripening 
summer 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. 



ATTY,' said the Mole suddenly, one 
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 


cautiously. 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'll 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 when 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 comfortably 
in the stern. 

'He is indeed the best of animals,' replied 
Rat. 'So simple, so good-natured, and so 
affectionate. 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 
mellowed red brick, with w r ell-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'll 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 'delight- 
ful residence.' 

'Finest house on the whole river,' cried 
Toad boisterously. 'Or anywhere else, for 
that matter,' 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 life- 
time. I propose to devote the remainder of 
mine to it, and can only regret the wasted 
years that lie behind me, squandered in trivi- 
alities. 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 accordingly, 
the Rat following with a most mistrustful ex- 
pression; 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, with- 
out 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, 
bookshelves, 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 dominoes 
you'll find,' he continued, as they descended 
the steps again, 'you'll find that nothing what- 


ever 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 
afternoon? " ! 

'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'm 
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 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 
watching 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 ahead. 

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 
sitting 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 particular, 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 fellows! This is the real 
life for a gentleman! Talk about your old 

'I don't 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'll 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'll 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 was 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 
morning. 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, forgotten to provide. The hard work 
had all been done, and the two animals were 
resting, thoroughly 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 

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 disaster, fleet and unforeseen, sprang out 
on them disaster momentous indeed to their 
expedition, 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 considered 
him in the least; the Toad and the Water Rat 
walking behind the cart talking together 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 incredible speed, 
while from out the dust a faint 'Poop-poop!' 
wailed like an uneasy animal in pain. Hardly 
regarding it, they turned to resume their con- 
versation, 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, immense, 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 
situation such as this simply abandoned himself 
to his natural emotions. Rearing, plunging, 
backing 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 backwards towards the deep 
ditch at the side of the road. It wavered an 
instant then there was a heartrending crash 
and the canary-coloured cart, their pride and 
their joy, lay on its side in the ditch, an ir- 
redeemable 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! I'll have the law on you! I'll 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 manners, 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 
disappearing motor-car. He breathed short, 
his face wore a placid satisfied expression, and 
at intervals he faintly murmured Toop- 

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 

'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 carelessly into the ditch in the wake of my 
magnificent 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'll 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 the 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 vacancy. 

'Now, look here, Toad!' said the Rat sharply: 
'as soon as we get to the town, you'll 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'll 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'll 
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 
bewitching smell! I owe it all to you, my best 
of friends!' 

The Rat turned from him in despair. 'You 
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'll go 
to the railway station, and with luck we may 
pick up a train there that'll 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 spell-bound, 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 
gossiping, 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/ 



'TpHE 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 
himself put off. 'It's all right,' the Rat would 
say. 'Badger'll turn up some day or other- 
he's always turning up and then I'll introduce 
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 some- 
thing?' 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 know.' 

'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'll be coming along some day, 
if you'll 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 win- 
dows with a speed that mocked at boating of 


any sort or kind, that he found his thoughts 
dwelling 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 
tangled 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 
hand-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 when 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 animals, 
snug in their holes while wind and rain were 
battering at their doors, recalled still keen morn- 
ings, 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 was 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 after- 
noon, the rambles along dusty lanes and 
through yellow cornfields; 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 
country 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 want 
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 towards 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 
caricatures, 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 side. 

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 narrow 
face, with hard eyes, had flashed up for an 
instant from a hole, and was gone. He hesi- 
tated 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 places of the wood. 

Then the whistling began. 

Very faint and shrill it was; 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 throughout the whole length of the 
wood to its farthest limit. They were up and 
alert and ready, evidently, 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 multiplied, 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, con- 
cealment 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 fullness, that dread 
thing which other little dwellers in field and 
hedgerow had encountered here, and known 
as their darkest moment that thing which 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 
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 
accustomed peg. His goloshes, which always 
lay by the umbrella-stand, were also gone. 

The Rat left the house, and carefully ex- 
amined 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 
anxiously 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 cheerfully, '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 gen- 
erally 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 pass- 
words, 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'll 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 wouldn't.' 

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 
refreshed and in his usual spirits, the Rat said, 
'Now then! I'll 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 ! ' 

'What'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 

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 recognized 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 aching 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'll 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'll 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'll tie 
it up for you.' 

'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, examining 
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 examined 
the humps and slopes that surrounded them. 

'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, 
remarking 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?' 

1 But don't you see what it means, you you 
dull-witted animal?' cried the Rat impa-tiently. 

'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 
rewarded, 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 any- 

'Really, Rat,' said the Mole, quite pettishly, 
'I think we'd had enough of this folly. Who 
ever heard of a door-mat telling anyone 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, 'you'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 in- 
tellect 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'll 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 
walking 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 

'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!' exclaimed 
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 disposed. 
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, were 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 
flickered and played over everything without 

The kindly Badger thrust them down 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 
actually 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 attractive, and whether the other things 
would obligingly 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 
heartily, '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. 
'Another 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 con- 
vinced he's a heaven-born driver, and nobody 
can teach him anything; and all the rest 

'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 hopelessly 
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?' 

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 halfway 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'll take Toad seriously in hand. We'll stand 


no nonsense whatever. We'll bring him back 
to reason, by force if need be. We'll make him 
be a sensible Toad. We'll 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 be 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'll 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 lot. 
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 
seconds, 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 
respectfully 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,' replied 
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 
excuse 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 w r as 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 affectionate 

'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 
arrived 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, ramparts 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 con- 
ceited way, just as if they had done it them- 
selves. 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 expression; 
but I met no sensible being to ask the news 
of. About halfway across I came on a rabbit 


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 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 511 were up and out hunting, 
and were chivvying him round and round. 
"Then why didn't any of you do something?' 1 
I asked. "You mayn't be blest 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, ns? r he merely said: "do something? 
us rabbits?" 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 


'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 Wood. 

'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 enquiries 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 
hedgehogs 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'll 
send some one with you to show you the way. 
You won't want any dinner to-day, I'll 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 

Presently they all sat down to luncheon 
together. 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 
underground. 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 tradesmen, no remarks passed on you by 
fellows looking 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 lodgings; 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 windows 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!' 

The Mole assented heartily; and the Badger 
in consequence got very friendly with him. 
'When lunch is over,' he said, 'I'll take you all 
round this little place of mine. I can see you'll 
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 
large 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 


vaultings of the crammed store-chambers, the 
masonry everywhere, the pillars, the arches, the 
pavements. '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, naturally, 
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 world. 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'll pass the 
word around to-morrow, and I think you'll have 
no further trouble. Any friend of mine walks 
where he likes in this country, or I'll 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 
oppressing 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'll 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 amazement. 

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 
lingerings, 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. 



/ TpHE 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 wide 
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 re- 



sponded, moreover, to that small inquiring 
something which all animals carry inside them, 
saying unmistakably, '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 un- 
pleasantness, 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 silhouet- 
ted, 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 
darkness, 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 
searching 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 
pulling 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 morning he had hardly given it a thought, 
so absorbed had he been in his new life, in all 
its pleasures, its surprises, its fresh and capti- 
vating experiences. Now, with a rush of old 
memories, 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, sorrowfully, 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. 

1 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'll 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 heartstrings he set his face down the road 
and followed submissively in the track of the 
Rat, while faint, thin little smells, still dogging 
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 way 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'll 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 

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 Badger'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 sud- 
denly 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 

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 
gloomily, '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'll 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 pass- 
ing 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 
was 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 on 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 
surrounded 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 
cheerless, 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'll make a jolly 
night of it. The first thing we want is a good 
fire; I'll 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'll fetch the wood 


and the coals, and you get a duster. Mole 
you'll 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 pol- 
ished 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 himself; 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 
emotion, 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 
wonderful find and a bargain, and this other 
thing was bought out of laborious savings and 
a certain 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 
expatiate on them, quite forgetful of the supper 
they both so much needed; Rat, who was 
desperately hungry but strove to conceal it, 
nodding seriously, examining with a puckered 
brow, and saying, 'wonderful,' and 'most re- 
markable,' 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 
confused murmur of tiny voices, while broken 
sentences 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 
sometimes, 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 little 
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 tlte 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! 
Joy was hers in the morning! 

And then they heard the angels tell 
' Who were the first to cry No well ? 
Animals all, as it befell, 
In the stable where they did dwell! 

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 
heartily. 'And now come along in, all of 
you, and warm yourselves by the fire, and have 
something 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 pur- 
chases, 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 
conversation, 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 examin- 
ing the label on one of the beer-bottles. 'I 
perceive this to be Old Burton,' he remarked 
approvingly. '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 wip- 
ing 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 captured 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 convent. 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 
remained 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 
lantern 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'll 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 
gathered 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 


TT 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 

1 20 

MR. TOAD 121 

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 powerfu motor-car will arrive at 
Toad Hall on approval or return. At this 
very moment, perhaps, Toad is busy arraying 
himself in those singularly hideous habiliments 
so dear to him, which transform him from a 
(comparatively) 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 animals will accompany me instantly to 
Toad Hall, and the work of rescue shall be 

'Right you are!' cried the Rat, starting up. 
'We'll rescue the poor unhappy animal! We'll 
convert him! He'll 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 

MR. TOAD 123 

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 the 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 over- 
coat, came swaggering down the steps, drawing 
on his gauntleted 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 
invitation 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, 
kicking 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. 

MR. TOAD 125 

'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 t hard on you. I'll 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'll 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 
behind them. 

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

They made themselves comfortable in arm- 
chairs and waited patiently. Through the 
closed door they could just hear the long con- 
tinuous 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 proceeding 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, 
solemnly leading by the paw a very limp and 
dejected 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. 

'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 

MR. TOAD 127 

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 im- 
patiently. 'I'd have said anything in there. 
You're so eloquent, dear Badger, and so 
moving, 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'll 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 

MR. TOAD 129 

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'll take great care of everything for you 
till you're well, Toad,' said the Mole; 'and 
we'll 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 
ordered 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 
violent paroxysms possessed him he would 
arrange bedroom chairs in rude resemblance 
of a motor-car and would crouch on the fore- 
most of them, bent forward and staring fixedly 
ahead, making uncouth and ghastly noises, till 
the climax was reached, when, turning a com- 
plete somersault, he would lie prostrate amidst 
the ruins of the chairs, apparently completely 
satisfied for the moment. As time passed, 
however, these painful 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 Bad- 
ger, whom he found fidgeting to be off and 
stretch his legs in a long ramble round his wood 
and down his earths and burrows. 'Toad's 
still in bed,' he told the Rat, outside the door. 
'Can't get much out of him, except, "O leave 

MR. TOAD 131 

him alone, he wants nothing, perhaps he'll 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'll be out till luncheon 
time, so you and I will spend a pleasant morn- 
ing together, and I'll 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 nuisance, 
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.' 

MR. TOAD 133 

'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 

'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, beginning 
to get rather alarmed, 'of course I'll 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 

Tt's best to be on the safe side,' he said, on 
reflection. 'I've known Toad fancy himself 
frightfully bad before, without the slightest 
reason; 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 

MR. TOAD 135 

possible 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 
opposite 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'll be so 
conceited with what he'll think is his cleverness 
that he may commit any folly. One comfort 
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 policemen.' 

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. 

MR. TOAD 137 

'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 
luncheon that could be provided at so short a 
notice, and sat down to eat it in the coffee- 

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 l e g of the table to 
conceal his over-mastering en lo ti n - 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 alon so well. Toad 
listened eagerly, all ears, for a time; at last he 
could stand it no longer. lJ e slipped out of 
the room quietly, paid his bill at the bar, and as 
soon as he got outside sauntef ed round quietly 
to the inn-yard. 'There canrft be any harm,' 
he said to himself, 'in my onty just looking at 

The car stood in the mid dl e of the yard, 
quite unattended, the stable-'helps and other 
hangers-on being all at thei r 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 know in g how it came 
about, he found he had hold o f the handle and 
was turning it. As the famil iar sound broke 
forth, the old passion seized ori Toad and com- 
pletely mastered him, body and sou l- As if in a 
dream he found himself, someh ow ? seated in the 

MR. TOAD 139 

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. 

5JC 5JC 5j* *JC 5|? 5|? 

'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 impertinence 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? Without, 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 

'First-rate!' said the Chairman. 

* So you had better make it a round 

MR. TOAD 141 

twenty years and be on the safe side,' con- 
cluded the Clerk. 

'An excellent suggestion!' said the Chair- 
man approvingly. 'Prisoner! Pull yourself 
together 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, shriek- 
ing, 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 difficulties; across the hollow- 
sounding drawbridge, below the spiky portcullis, 
under the frowning archway of the grim old 
castle, whose ancient towers soared high over- 
head; 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 threatening looks through 
their vizards; across courtyards, 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, 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 
murrain on both of them!' 

The gaoler nodded grimly, laying his withered 

MR. TOAD 143 

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. 




Willow-Wren was piping 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 dispersing 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 com- 
panions, leaving the Water Rat free to keep an 
engagement 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. 'O, 
the blessed coolness!' he said, and sat down, 
gazing thoughtfully into the river, silent and 

'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 turn- 


ing 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 
slightest trace. And they've asked every 
animal, too, for miles around, and no one 
knows anything about him. Otter's evidently 
more anxious than he'll 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, 
considering 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 fish- 
ing, 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 wan- 
dering back from wherever he is if he is any- 
where 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, T 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'll 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. 1 

'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 meadows 
wide-spread, and quiet gardens, and the river 
itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all 
washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant 
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 
patiently 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 mys- 
tery 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 curiosity. 

'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 loose-strife 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 
willow-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 anywhere, surely we shall find 

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 humourously, 
while 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 utter 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 rim 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 
deepening 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 remem- 
brance should remain and grow, and over- 
shadow 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 
way. '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 re-capture 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 
penalties; so Mole, after struggling with his 
memory 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 
animal; but Rat, lingering, looked long and 
doubtfully at certain hoof-marks deep in the 

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


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

Portly had soon been comforted by the 
promise 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 remember 
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 


contentedly and with importance; watched him 
till they saw his muzzle suddenly lift and his 
waddle break into a clumsy amble as he 
quickened 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 patience, 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 

'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 power 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 
happiness on his face, and something of a 
listening look still lingering there, the weary 
Rat was fast asleep. 


TT 7HEN 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 him- 
self 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 debonair! How can I hope to be ever set 
at large again' (he said), 'who have been im- 
prisoned 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 police- 
men!' (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 knowl- 
edge of men and matters you possess! O un- 
happy and forsaken Toad!' With lamentations 
such as these he passed his days and nights 
for several weeks, refusing his meals or inter- 
mediate 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 out- 

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 
canary, 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 antimacas- 
sar 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'll 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 
reflected, 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; be 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 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 complete. 

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 import- 
ant 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.' 

Sbe 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 w r ash-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 
affably, 'never mind; think no more about it. 
/ 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 washer- 
woman; 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 Thursday. 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 differ- 
ence 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 washerwoman. 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! 7 

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 
thoughtfully 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 picturseque fiction 
which she could supply herself, she hoped 
to retain her situation, in spite of the suspicious 
appearance of things. 

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 control. 

'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 chin. 

'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, 
indeed, his chief danger; for Toad was an 
animal with a strong sense of his own dig- 
nity, 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 


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 simu- 
lated 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 waiscoat 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 travellers, 
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 waist- 
coat 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 distinguished 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'll send the money on to-morrow ? 
I'm well-known 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 penalities 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 diverted 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 other. 

'Hullo, mother!' said the engine-driver, 
'what's the trouble? You don't look par- 
ticularly 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'll 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'll 
wash a few shirts for me when you get home, 
and send 'em along, I'll 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 sym- 
pathetic 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 began to skip up and down and 
shout and sing snatches of song, to the great 
astonishment of the engine-driver, who had 
come across washerwomen before, at long in- 
tervals, 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: Tt's very strange; we're the 
last train running in this direction to-night, yet I 
could be sworn that I heard another following us!' 

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 possi- 

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 shabbily 
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 suppli- 
cation, 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 
cleverness, 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 mis- 
ery 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 policemen when I'm on my 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'll 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, 
sniggering. Toad looked about for a stone 
to throw at him, but could not succeed in 
finding one, which vexed him more than any- 
thing. 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 morning. 


^ I A HE Water Rat was restless, and he did 
-*- not exactly know why. To all appearance 
the summer's pomp was still at fullest height, 
and although in the tilled acres green had given 
way to gold, though rowans were reddening, 
and the woods were dashed here and there with 
a tawny fierceness, yet light and warmth and 
colour were still present in undiminished 
measure, clean of any chilly premonitions 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 another feathered 
friend, for months a part of the familiar land- 
scape 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 affected 
by all these Sittings and farewells, this eager 
discussion of plans, routes, and fresh quarters, 
this daily shrinkage in the stream of comrade- 
ship. One gets unsettled, depressed, and in- 
clined 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 talk- 
ing; or swaying strongly to the passing wind 
and recovering itself 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 harvest-mice seemed pre- 
occupied. 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 pack- 
ing their belongings; while everywhere piles 
and bundles of wheat, oats, barley, beech-mast 
and nuts, lay about ready for transport. 

'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 

'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 two 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 
together earnestly and low. 

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

'O, 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'll 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'll 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'll 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 blissful 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 southwards week by week, easily, lazily, 
lingering as long as I dared, but always heed- 
ing 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 
passionate reminiscence, while he listened 
fascinated, and his heart burned within him. 
In himself, too, he knew that it was vibrating 
at last, that chord hitherto dormant and 


unsuspected. The mere chatter of these 
southern-bound birds, their pale and second- 
hand reports, had yet power to awaken this 
wild new sensation 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 odor? 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 treachery. 

' 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 again?' 

'In due time/ said the third, 'we shall be 
home-sick once more for quiet water-lilies 
swaying 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 music.' 

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 coloured 


panorama that his inner eye was seeing so 
clearly. What seas lay beyond, green, leaping, 
and crested 1 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 

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 beyond ! 

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 
moment 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; know- 
ing, 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 

'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 wood- 
land. 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 gomg 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, tramp- 
ing away from it, tramping southward, following 
the old call, back to the old life, tJte 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 nodded north- 
wards. 'Never mind about it. I had every- 
thing 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 ban- 
queted 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 Norwegian 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 with 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 

'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. 
Family troubles, as usual, began it. The 
domestic storm-cone was hoisted, and I 
shipped myself on board a small trading 
vessel bound from Constantinople, 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 sleeping 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 swim- 
ming in an atmosphere of amber, rose, and 
aquamarine; we lay in wide land-locked har- 


hours, 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 
pleasure! Or, when weary 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 

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 up country. 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 with 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 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 Water Rat, and hurried off home. There 
he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a 
simple meal, in which, remembering the 
stranger'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 con- 
trary, 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 flowed 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- 
down 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 treasure, 
fished in still lagoons and dozed day-long on 
warm white 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 
capstan, 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 herself 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 

'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! 
Grappling with him strongly he dragged him 
inside, threw him down, and held him. 

The Rat struggled desperately for a few 
moments, and then his strength seemed sud- 
denly to leave him, and he lay still and ex- 
hausted, with closed eyes, trembling. Presently 
the Mole assisted him to rise and placed him in 
a chair, where he sat collapsed and shrunken 
into himself, 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. Gradu- 
ally the Rat sank into a troubled doze, broken 
by starts and confused murmurings of things 
strange and wild and foreign to the unen- 
lightened 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 


matters; 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 
reminiscences ? Even to himself, now the spell 
was broken and the glamour gone, he found it 
difficult 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 redden- 
ing apples around, of the browning nuts, of jams 
and preserves and the distilling of cordials; till 
by easy stages such as these he reached mid- 
winter, 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'll 


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. 




/ T A HE 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 before 
misfortune fell upon him. He shook himself 
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 nervous 
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 everywhere, 
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 its 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 it is a nice morn- 
ing 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 
living, 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 
myself,' 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'll 
give you a lift.' 

She steered the barge close to the bank, 
and Toad, with many humble and grateful 
acknowledgments, stepped lightly on board 
and sat down with great satisfaction. 'Toad's 
luck again!' thought he. T always come out 
on top!' 


'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 yourself, 
ma'am?' asked the barge- woman respectfully. 

'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 7 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. '/ 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'll 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 

'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'll be bound. Got any onions?' 

1 1 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 joy- 
ful prospect before you. There's a heap of 
things of mine that you'll find in a corner of 
the cabin. If you'll just take one or two of 
the most necessary sort I won't venture to 
describe them to a lady like you, but you'll 
recognise them at a glance and put them 
through the wash-tub as we go along, why, it'll 
be a pleasure to you, as you rightly say, and a 
real help to me. You'll 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 gentlemen'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'll 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! 1 

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. Nothing 
that he could do to the things seemed to please 
them or do them good. He tried coaxing, 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 washerwoman or Toads; and 
lost the soap, for the fiftieth time. 

A burst of laughter made him straighten 
himself 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'll 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- 

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 whistled 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 con- 
tinued to spur his steed onward in its wild 

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 him. 

He had travelled some miles, his horse and he, 
and he was feeling drowsy in the hot sunshine, 
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 them- 
selves 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 Goddess, 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 something. He looked the gipsy 
over carefully, wondering 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 him. 

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 me.' 

'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 countenance. 

'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'll make it five shillings, and that's 
three-and-sixpence more than the animal'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'll 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 
canvas bag out of the depths of his trouser 
pocket, and counted out six shillings and six- 
pence 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 pea- 
hens, 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 way out; and his pride and conceit be- 
gan 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 con- 
ceited 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 ap- 
proaching him a speck that turned into a dot 
and then into a blob, and then into some- 
thing very familiar; and a double note of 
warning, only too well known, fell on his de- 
lighted 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 
sickening pain in his interior. And well he 
might, the unhappy animal; for the approach- 
ing 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- 

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 hailing people in broad day on the high 
road, instead 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 washerwoman 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 other. 

'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 
cravings that rose up and beset him and took 
possession 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 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 
mattter 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 
motion, 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 Toad!' 

With a cry of horror the whole party rose 
and flung themselves on him. 'Seize him!' 
they cried, 'seize the Toad, the wicked animal 
who stole our motor-car! Bind him, chain him, 
drag him to the nearest police-station! Down 
with the desperate and dangerous Toad!' 

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 helpless 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! O 
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! 
Sitting 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 des- 
perately, 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 
triumphant 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 was 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 min- 


utes, puffing and panting, for he was quite 

As he sighed and blew and stared before him 
into the dark hole, some bright small thing 
shone and twinkled in its depths, moving 
towards 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 



THE 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'll have something to say to you later!' 

Toad was 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! However, 
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 up- 
stairs 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 washerwoman. 

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 experi- 
ences and had taken much hard exercise since 
the excellent breakfast provided for him by the 
gipsy. While they ate Told 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 
cripple, if you think it's exciting; be a bank- 
rupt, for a change, if you've set your mind on it: 
but why choose to be a convict ? When are you 
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-birds?' 

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 
question. So although, while the Rat was 
talking so seriously, he kept saying to himself 
mutinously, '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 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'll 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 ad- 
ventures. I shall lead a quiet, steady, respect- 
able life, pottering about my property, and im- 
proving it, and doing a little landscape garden- 
ing 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 

'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 ?' 

'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 animal 
again. I can bear it.' 

'When you got into that that trouble of 
yours,' said the Rat, slowly and impressively; 
'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 plausi- 
bility 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 skirmishing 
stoats who stuck at nothing occupied the con- 
servatory 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 bloodthirsty 
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 uncalled-for 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 prisons 
and magistrates, and policemen; horrid personal 
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. Til jolly soon see about 

'It's no good, Toad!' called the Rat after 
him. 'You'd better come back and sit down; 
you'll 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'll- 

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 laughing 
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 
cautiously. 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, ap- 
parently 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- 
mals I 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 disarmed 
his friend's criticism and won them back to his 
side, 'Ratty! I see that I have been a head- 
strong and a wilful Toad! Henceforth, believe 
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 country 
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'll 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 pie. 

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'll 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'll tell you one or two of my little adventures, 
Mole, and you shall judge for yourself!' 

'Well, well,' said the Mole, moving towards 
the supper-table; 'supposing you talk while 
I eat. Not a bite since breakfast! O my! 

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 

1 done it, Mole? Horse-dealing! That's how 
I done it!' 

'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'll 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 
youself? 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. 
Secrets had an immense attraction for him, 
because he never could keep one, and he en- 
joyed the sort of unhallowed thrill he experi- 
enced 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.' 

'O, 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 

'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 would 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 im- 
mediately, 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, whatever 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- 
tinued 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 passage comes 
in. That very useful tunnel leads right up 
under the butler's pantry, next to the dining- 

'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 
gathered 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, rhythmical 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; T'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 din- 
ing-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'll learn 'em 
to steal my house!' he cried. 'I'll learn 'em, 
I'll learn 'em!' 

'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 'em.'" 

'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 'em, 
teach 'em, teach 'em, learn 'em!' 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 we 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 now!" 

'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. Bad- 
ger, and that'll show you whether I know what 
I'm talking about; and you'll know pretty soon, 
too! A hundred bloodthirsty badgers, armed 
with rifles, are going to attack Toad Hall this 
very night, by way of the paddock. Six boat- 
loads 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 
at the Die-hards, or the Death-or- Glory Toads, 
will storm the orchard and carry everything 
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!' 3 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 Bad- 

'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 
was 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 handker- 
chief over his face and was soon snoring. 

The anxious and laborious Rat at once 
resumed 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's-a-belt-for-the-Toad, here's-a-belt- 
for-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- 
happened - had - 1 -only-thought-of-it-in-time- 
instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are 
always 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 
bandages and sticking-plaster, and a flask and 
a sandwich-case. The Badger laughed good- 
humouredly 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 any- 
thing ! ' 

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, follow 
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'll be sent back, as sure as fate!' 

The Toad was so anxious not to be left 
out that he took up the inferior position as- 
signed 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 himself over the edge into a hole in the 
river-bank, a little above the water. The Mole 
and the Rat followed silently, swinging them- 
selves successfully 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, and told him that the 


very next time he made a fool of himself he 
would most certainly be left behind. 

So at last they were in the secret passage, 
and the cutting-out expedition had really 

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 table. 
'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 them- 


selves 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 danger 
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 


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)--'! should like to say one word 
about our kind host, Mr. Toad. We all 
know Toad!'- -(great laughter) --'Good Toad, 
modest Toad, honest Toad!' (shrieks of merri- 

'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 
subject 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 
fireplace and get hopelessly jammed in the 
chimney! 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. Til 
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 
cudgels; and they broke and fled with squeals 
of terror and dismay, this way and that, 
through the windows, up the chimney, any- 
where 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 es- 
caping 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, resting from his labours, leant on his 
stick and wiped his honest brow. 

'Mole,' he said,' 'you'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 
window; 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, chuck- 
ling, 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 the 
hall, 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 goodnatured 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 Weasel 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 
contentment, and presently retired to rest 


between clean sheets, safe in Toad's ancestral 
home, won back by matchless valour, consum- 
mate strategy, 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 /'// 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 I'll see 

you Stop a minute, though! Why, of course, 

dear Badger! What is my pleasure or con- 
venience 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 Water- 
ways 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 mightly, and he 
worked very hard and got all the letters fin- 
ished 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 gentlemen. Toad swaggered out and 
found it was one of the prisoners of the pre- 


vious evening, very respectful 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 shil- 
ling for him, or, again, perhaps there mightn't; 
and the poor weasel seemed really quite grate- 
ful, and hurried off eagerly to do his mission. 

When the other animals came back to 
luncheon, very boisterous and breezy after 
a morning 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 ex- 
changed significant glances. 

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 
garden, 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 evening, 
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 
gloomily. 'But the thing had to be done. This 
good fellow has got to live here, and hold his 
own, and be respected. W T ould 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 

*" * ^\,f -J, ^Lf ^^ 

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 
audience 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 shriek- 
ing in the stalls, 

When the Toad came home! 

When the Toad came home! 

There was smashing in of window and crash- 
ing 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 

And the cannon they are shooting and the 

motor-cars are hooting, 
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 

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 quietly 
down the stairs to greet his guests, who he 
knew must be assembling in the drawing-room. 

All the animals cheered when he entered, 
and crowded round to congratulate him and 
say nice things about his courage, and his 
cleverness, 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, describing to an admiring circle of 
friends exactly how he would have managed 
things had be 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 dis- 
engaged 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 lines. 
He was indeed an altered Toad! 

?f* ?|> ?J* ?J ?J5 

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 ap- 
proximately 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, walking 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