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

`So you're in the washing business, ma'am?' said the barge-woman politely, as they glided along. `And a very good business you've got too, I dare say, if I'm not making too free in saying so.'
`Finest business in the whole country,' said Toad airily. `All the gentry come to me--wouldn't go to any one else if they were paid, they know me so well. You see, I understand my work thoroughly, and attend to it all myself. Washing, ironing, clear-starching, making up gents' fine shirts for evening wear-- everything's done under my own eye!'
`But surely you don't DO all that work yourself, ma'am?' asked the barge-woman respectfully.
`O, I have girls,' said Toad lightly: `twenty girls or thereabouts, always at work. But you know what GIRLS are, ma'am! Nasty little hussies, that's what _I_ call 'em!'
`So do I, too,' said the barge-woman with great heartiness. `But I dare say you set yours to rights, the idle trollops! And are you very fond of washing?'
`I love it,' said Toad. `I simply dote on it. Never so happy as when I've got both arms in the wash-tub. But, then, it comes so easy to me! No trouble at all! A real pleasure, I assure you, ma'am!'
`What a bit of luck, meeting you!' observed the barge-woman, thoughtfully. `A regular piece of good fortune for both of us!'
`Why, what do you mean?' asked Toad, nervously.
`Well, look at me, now,' replied the barge-woman. `_I_ like washing, too, just the same as you do; and for that matter, whether I like it or not I have got to do all my own, naturally, moving about as I do. Now my husband, he's such a fellow for shirking his work and leaving the barge to me, that never a moment do I get for seeing to my own affairs. By rights he ought to be here now, either steering or attending to the horse, though luckily the horse has sense enough to attend to himself. Instead of which, he's gone off with the dog, to see if they can't pick up a rabbit for dinner somewhere. Says he'll catch me up at the next lock. Well, that's as may be--I