The Wind In The Willows - online version

Complete text of the classic childrens book By KENNETH GRAHAME

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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 remarkable,' at intervals, when the chance for an observation was given him.
At last the Rat succeeded in decoying him to the table, and had just got seriously to work with the sardine-opener when sounds were heard from the fore-court without--sounds like the scuffling of small feet in the gravel and a 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 fieldmice stood in a semicircle, red worsted comforters 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.
CAROL