The Wind In The Willows - online version

Complete text of the classic childrens book By KENNETH GRAHAME

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Toad sat up slowly and dried his eyes. Secrets had an immense attraction for him, because he never could keep one, and he enjoyed the sort of unhallowed thrill he experienced when he went and told another animal, after having faithfully promised not to.
`There--is--an--underground--passage,' said the Badger, impressively, `that leads from the river-bank, quite near here, right up into the middle of Toad Hall.'
`O, nonsense! Badger,' said Toad, rather airily. `You've been listening to some of the yarns they spin in the public-houses about here. I know every inch of Toad Hall, inside and out. Nothing of the sort, I do assure you!'
`My young friend,' said the Badger, with great severity, `your father, who was a worthy animal--a lot worthier than some others I know--was a particular friend of mine, and told me a great deal he wouldn't have dreamt of telling you. He discovered that passage--he didn't make it, of course; that was done hundreds of years before he ever came to live there--and he repaired it and cleaned it out, because he thought it might come in useful some day, in case of trouble or danger; and he showed it to me. "Don't let my son know about it," he said. "He's a good boy, but very light and volatile in character, and simply cannot hold his tongue. If he's ever in a real fix, and it would be of use to him, you may tell him about the secret passage; but not before."'
The other animals looked hard at Toad to see how he would take it. Toad was inclined to be sulky at first; but he brightened up immediately, like the good fellow he was.
`Well, well,' he said; `perhaps I am a bit of a talker. A popular fellow such as I am--my friends get round me--we chaff, we sparkle, we tell witty stories--and somehow my tongue gets wagging. I have the gift of conversation. I've been told I ought to have a salon, whatever that may be. Never mind. Go on, Badger. How's this passage of yours going to help us?'
`I've found out a thing or two lately,' continued the Badger. `I got Otter to disguise himself as a sweep and call at the back- door with brushes over his shoulder, asking for a job. There's going to be a big banquet to-morrow night. It's somebody's birthday--the Chief Weasel's, I believe--and all the weasels will be gathered together in the dining-hall, eating and drinking and laughing and carrying on, suspecting nothing. No guns, no swords, no sticks, no arms of any sort whatever!'