The Wind In The Willows - online version

Complete text of the classic childrens book By KENNETH GRAHAME

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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 everyone 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 was a sound of much stamping in