The Wind In The Willows - online version

Complete text of the classic childrens book By KENNETH GRAHAME

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They glided up the creek, and the Mole slipped his sculls as they passed into the shadow of a large boat-house. Here they saw many handsome boats, slung from the cross beams or hauled up on a slip, but none in the water; and the place had an unused and a deserted air.
The Rat looked around him. `I understand,' said he. `Boating is played out. He's tired of it, and done with it. I wonder what new fad he has taken up now? Come along and let's look him up. We shall hear all about it quite soon enough.'
They disembarked, and strolled across the gay flower-decked lawns in search of Toad, whom they presently happened upon resting in a wicker garden-chair, with a pre-occupied expression of face, and a large map spread out on his knees.
`Hooray!' he cried, jumping up on seeing them, `this is splendid!' He shook the paws of both of them warmly, never waiting for an introduction to the Mole. `How KIND of you!' he went on, dancing round them. `I was just going to send a boat down the river for you, Ratty, with strict orders that you were to be fetched up here at once, whatever you were doing. I want you badly--both of you. Now what will you take? Come inside and have something! You don't know how lucky it is, your turning up just now!'
`Let's sit quiet a bit, Toady!' said the Rat, throwing himself into an easy chair, while the Mole took another by the side of him and made some civil remark about Toad's `delightful 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. Unfortunately 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----'