The Wind In The Willows - online version

Complete text of the classic childrens book By KENNETH GRAHAME

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

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 convinced he's a heaven-born driver, and nobody can teach him anything; and all the rest follows.'
`How many has he had?' inquired the Badger gloomily.
`Smashes, or machines?' asked the Rat. `Oh, well, after all, it's the same thing--with Toad. This is the seventh. As for the others--you know that coach-house of his? Well, it's piled up--literally piled up to the roof--with fragments of motor-cars, none of them bigger than your hat! That accounts for the other six--so far as they can be accounted for.'
`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,' continued 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 anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter. All are sleepy--some actually asleep. All are weather-bound,