The Wind In The Willows - online version

Complete text of the classic childrens book By KENNETH GRAHAME

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`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 northwards. `Never mind about it. I had everything 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 desire!'
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 seafaring 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 banqueted 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 seafaring. O, those southern seaports! The smell of them, the riding-lights at night, the glamour!'