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The Adventures of Mr.Toad (1)
Tucked away among the willow, deep in the peaeful countryside, lie in the house of three good friends.
In his cozy house in the river bank lives Mr.Water Ratーhis friends call him Ratty.
Close by lives Mole, as kindly and gentle a soul as ever drew a breath.
And in a great mansion set in its spacious park lives Toadyーthe madcap, the reckless, extravagant, the fabulous Mr.Toad.
Why, you may ask, do we call him the reckless, extravagant Toad ?
Well, Toady, you see, is a speed demon.
As a boy, he went from the fastest tricycle to the fastest bicycle to the speedist boat on the river.
And even after he was quite grown up,he still was always in trouble.
He would knock down old ladies on his speeding bycycle.
He would upset picnic parties with his speedy boat.
There were always lawsuits threatening and dameges to pay.
His good friends Ratty and Mole worried constantly about him.
And poor old MacBadger, who managed Toad's money, could scarecely keep up with his tremendous bills.
It is no wonder Toad's friends were delighted when news came that Toad had reformed.
Ratty told Mole as they sipped their tea one afternoon.
" MacBadger has had a very firm talkwith Toad, and he has promised to mend his ways, " said Ratty.
" Splendid, " said Mole with a happy smile.
And he sighed a happy sigh.
" It seems almost too good to be true ! " said he.
The Adventures of Mr.Toad (2)
Alas, it was too good to be true !
At that moment there came a knock on the door.
It was the postman with a special delivery for Mr.Water Rat.
" Come at once to Toad Hall！"
it said, and it was signed " A. MacBadger. "
" Oh, dear ! " said Ratty,with a shake of his head.
" This means trouble."
But friends are friends through thick and thin, so off they started, snatching a last nibble of toasted muffin as they went.
At Toad Hall they found poor MacBaadger pacing up and down.
" Ah, lads ! " said he.
" You've come at last ! I'm close to being a nervous wreck ! "
"What seems to be trouble, MacBadger ? " asked Mr.Rat.
" It's Toad, " groaned MacBadger.
" This time he's gone too far !"
" But he promisedー" said Mole.
" Oh, yes, he's given up fast bicyces and speedy boats, it's true, "
" But now he's rampaging about the country in a canany-colored gypsy cart. "
" A gypcy cart ! " echoed Rat and Mole.
And it was true, too true.
Rat and Mole had just turned down the road toward home, after a long talk with MacBadger, when a great cloud of dust came rolling toward them.
Out of the dust a voice called.
And the voice was the voice of Toad.
" Hellow you fellows ! " cried Toad.
" You're the very animals I was coming to see. "
"We went to have a talk with you, " said Mr. Rat severely.
The Adventures of Mr.Toad (3)
" A visit ?" cried Toad. " Spendid. "
But a visit was not what Ratty had in mind.
" Really, Toad, " Ratty said solemnly, " this has gone far enoughーtoo far, in fact.
Your leckless pranks are giving us animals a bad name.
And you will soon have thrown away all your money and will have nothing to live on.
You must give up your horse and cart. "
" My horse and cart ! ive them up ? Nonsense ! "
He cracked his whip and away he went, down the road in a cloud of dust.
Suddenly a strange sound filled the air.
Honk, Honk! it went. Honk !, Honk !
Up went the horse's heels in fright.
And over they went, horse, Toad, cart and all.
The motor car, which had caused it all, went chugging off out of sight.
And Mole and Rat hurried over to pick up their fallen friend.
" Well, Toady, this should be a lesson to you, " said Ratty.
" you can see that speed brings nothing but trouble. I hope you are through now with that horse and cart. "
" Horse and cart ? " Toad repearted.
There was a strange far-off look in his eyes.
" Oh, yes. I'm through with gypsy carts forever. I'm going to get a mortor car ! " think of that !
The Adventure of Mr.Toad (4)
Well, Rat and Mole managed to get Toad safely home, and they put him straight to bed.
They locked him in,too, for he was raving noisily about his motor car.
And they sat themselves down in the hall.
But they did not know Toad !.
Stone walls could not make a prison for Toad.
He knotted a rope of twisted sheets and slipped down it to the ground.
" A motor car ! A motor car ! I've got to have a motor car !"
he panted as he truged away down the moonlit road.
" I'll have one,too, if I have to beg or borrow it ! "
Rat and Mole were shocked by Toad's wild excitement.
But imagine how much more shocked they were next morning.
They were still on guard at the bedroom door when they saw the headline in the local paper.
"TOAD ARRESTEDーSTEALS CAR ! " screamed the headline.
" Toad ! " cried his frends .
" It can't be ! He's safe in bed. "
The Adventures of Mr.Toad (5)
They quickly unlocked the door and flung it open.
The rope of sheets still hung out the open window.
And Toad indeed was gone.
Yes it was just as the paper had said.
Toad was in jail for stealing a car.
On the day of the trial, Rat and Mole and MacBadger sat in the courtroom, feeing sad indeed.
But not Toad.
He was as gay as you please.
He explained to the court that he had not stolen the car at all.
He had bought it from some weasels, and in exchange he had given them the deed to Toad hall.
" The deed to Toad Hall！" the words swept through the crowded courtroom.
" he traded his home for a motor car ? "
No one could believe it , no one but Toady's own friends.
They new how strong his longing for speed could be.
The judge and jury did not believe it.
Espcialy since the weasels lied and it was not so.
So Toad was found guilty and sent to jail for 99 years !
The Adventures of Mr.Toad(6)
The judge and jury did not believe it.
Especially since the weasels lied and said it was not so.
So Toad was found guilty and sent to jailーto jail for 99 years !
Poor Toad !
He thought everyone had fogotten him.
Months passed, and he sat hundled in his dreary cell.
But his mind was not idleーnot Toad.
And on Cristmas Eve he slipped past the jailer and made his escape.
Of course the jailer was not fooled for long, but by the time he new what had happened, Toady was on his way.
Disguised as a stout little lady, he was speeding through the night.
And where did he go ?
Why, straight back to that quiet spot beneath the river willows, where Ratty were spending a sad and lonely Cristmas Eve.
When Toad appeared in the doorway, he found Ratty and Mole had another caller.
MacBadger was there, talking excitedly.
" We've made a great mistake, lads." he was saying.
" Toad did trade Toad Hall for a motor car.
And the weasels are living there now.
We must go and get the deed from them, so Toady's name will be cleared ! "
With this good news, they were glad indeed to welcome the runaway Toad.
It was midnight when the four friends rowed silently up a secret tunnel that led back from the river to Toad Hall.
Then up the back stairway they crept to the great hall where the weasels were, all sound asleep.
They woke up, alas, just as Mole was making off with the deed.
And then fight was on.
Oh, what a fight it was, too !
Wham, slam, crash, bam !
Our friends were outnumbered, but they fought like heroes, and at last they won.
So Toad was cleared of the charges, and better still, he promised to give up the motor cars.
" What a happy day ! "said Ratty, when it was all settled.
" Isn't it wonderful ? " said Mole.
" Come, lads, " said MacBadger.
" Let's drink a toast. To the New Year ! And to the New Toad !"
The sound of falling bricks broke in on their toast.
And from outside the window a voice called to them.
" Come on, you follows ! " called the voice, and they knew at once it was Toad.
" This is the life ! TravelーAdventureーexcitement ! And the sky is the limit ! "
They ran to the window and looked out.
There was Toad, waving to them from a brand-new airplane !
Yes, life went on peacefully there beneath the willows.
But peace and quiet were never enough for Toad.
" Well, lads, " said MacBadger after a moment, with a thoughtful shake of head,
" here's a toast nonethelessーto our jolly, charming madcap
ーthe fabulous Mr.Toad ! "
The Adventures of Toad (2)
The Badger strode into the room with an expression full of seriousness.
" The hour has come ! " he said with great solemnity.
" What hour ? " asked the Rat uneasily, glancing at the clock on the mantelpiece.
" Why, Toad's hour ! " replied the Badger.
" The hour of Toad ! I said I would take him in hand as soon as the winter was well over, and I'm going to take him in hand to-day ! "
" Toad's hour, of course ! " cried the Mole.
" I remember now ! We'll teach him to be a sensible Toad ! "
" This very morning, " continued the Badger, " another new and exceptionally powerful motor-car will arrive at Toad Hall. We must will accompany me instantly to Toad Hall, and the work of rescue shall be accomplished. "
The Adventures of Toad (4)
They had to lay Toad out on the floor, kicking and calling all sorts of names, before they could get his motor-clothes off him.
" You knew it must come to this, sooner or later, Toad, " Badger explained .
" You're getting us animals a bad name by your furious driving and your smashes and your rows with the police. Now, I don't want to bee too hard on you. I'll make one more effort to bring you to reason. Come with me and hear some facts about yourself."
He took Toad firmly by the arm, led him into a room and closed the door.
" That's no good ! " said the Rat contemptuously.
" Talking to Toad'll never cure him. "
" He'll say anything. "
After some three-quarters of an hour the Badger reappeared, leading by the paw a very limp and dejected Toad.
His skin hung baggily about him, his legs wobbled, and his cheeks were furrowed by the tears so plentifully called forth by the Badger's moving discourse.
" Sit down, Toad, " said the Badger kindly.
" My friends, I am pleased to imform you that Toad has at last seen the error of his ways and has undertaken to give up motor-cars for ever. Now, Toad, Iwant you solemly to repeat, before your friends here, what you admitted to me just now. First, you are sorry for what you've done, and see the folly of it all ? "
There was a long, long pause.
Toad looked desperately this way and that.
At last he spoke.
" No ! " he said a little sullenly, but stoutly.
" I'm not sorry. And it wasn't folly at all ! It was simply glorious ! "
" What ? " cried the Badger, scandalized.
" Didn't you tell me just now, in there ― "
" O, yes, yes, in there, " said Toad.
" I'd have anything in there. You're so eloquent, dear badger. But I'm not a bit sorry really. On the contrary, I faithfully promise that the very first motor-car I see, poop-poop ! off I go in it ! "
" Told you so, " observed the Rat.
" Then, Ratty, " murmured Toad, more feebly than ever, " I beg you ー for the last time, probably － to step round to the village as quickly as possible ー even now it may be too late ー and fetch the doctor. And, while you are about it ー would you ask the lawyer to step up ? "
" O, he must be really bad ! " the Rat said to himself as he hurried from the room, locking the door behind him.
" I've known Toad fancy himself bad before, but i've never heard him ask for a lawyer ! "
He ran off on his errand of mercy.
Toad hopped lightly out of bed as soon as he heard the key turn in the lock.
Then, laughing heartily, he dressed quickly and, knoting the sheets from his bed together and tying one end round the window, he slid to the ground and marched off whistling a merry tune.
It was a gloomy luncheon for Rat when Badger and Mole returned and he had to face them at table with his pitiful story.
Meantime, Toad was walking briskly along, some miles from home.
" Smart work that ! " he remarked to himself, chuckling.
" Poor old Ratty ! A worthy fellow, but very little intelligence. I must take him in hand some day. "
He strode along till he reached a little town. where the sign of " The Red Lion " reminded him that he was exceedingly hungry. He marched into the inn and sat down to eat.
He was about half-way through his meal when a familiar sound made him fall a-trembling all over.
The poop-poop ! drew nearer, the car couldbe heard to turn into the inn-yard, and Toad had to hold on to the keg of the table to conceal his overmastering emotion.
Presently, the party entered the room, hungry and talkative.
Toad listened for a time.
At last he could stand it no longer. He paid his bill and sauntered round quietly to the inn-yard.
" There cannot be any harm, " he said to himself, " in my only just looking at it ! "
The car stood in the middle of the yard, quite un attended.
Toad waled slowly round it, musing deeply.
" I wonder,"he said to himself, "if this sort of car starts easily ? "
The Adventures of Toad (13)
Next moment, hardly knowing how it came about, ha had hold of the handle and was turning it.
As the familiar sound broke forth, the old passion seized on Toad and completely mastered him, body and soul.
As if in a dream he found himself, somehow, seated in the driver's seat.
he swung tehe car out through the archway, increased his pace and, as the car leapt forthon the high road, he ws only consious that he was once more Toad at his best and highest, Toad the terror, the Lord of the lone trail !
" This ruffian, " said the Chairman of the Bench of Magistrates,
" has been found guilty of stealing a valuable motor-car, driving to the public danger, and gross impertience to the police. "
" Mr. Clerk, what is the very stiffest penalty we can impose for each of these offences ? "
The Clerk scratched his nose.
" Siesome people would consider, " he observed, theft" that stealing the motor-car was the worst offence ; and so it is. But cheeking the police undoubtedly carries the servest penalty ; and so it ought.
Supposing you were to say twelve months for the theft ; three years for the furious driving, and fifteen years for the cheek, which was pretty bad sort of cheek, judging by what we've heard, those figures, added together, tot up to nineteen years !
Better make it a round twenty and be on the safe side. "
" Excellent ! " said the chairman.
Then the brutal minions of law fell upon the hapless Toad.
They loaded him with chains, and dragged him from the Court house, shrieking, praying, protesting ; across the merket-place, below the portcullis of the grim old castle, on and on, till they reached the dungwon that lay in the innermost keep.
The rusty key creaked in the lock, the great door clanged behind them ; and Toad was a helpless prisoner in the remotest dungeon of the best-guarded keep of the stoutest castle in all of England.
Toad flung hiself on the floor, and abandoned himself to dark despair.
" This is the end of everything, " he said, " the end of the career of the popular and handsome Toad, the Toad so free and careless and debonair ! Stupid animal that I was ! O wise old Badger ! O intelligent Rat and sensible Mole !
O unhappy and forsaken Toad ! "
With lamentations such as these he passed his days and nights for several weeks.
Now the gaoler had a daughter who was particularly fond of animals.
This kind-hearted girl, pitying the misery of Toad, said to her father one day, " Father ! I can't bear to see that poor beast so unhappy and getting so thin ! Lte me have the managing of him ! "
Her father replied that she could do what she liked with him.
He was tired of Toad and his sulks and his airs.
So that day she knocked at the door of Toad's sell.
" Cheer up, Toad, " she said coaxingly.
" And do try and eat a bit of dinner. I've brought you some of mine ! "
But still Toad wailed and kicked with his legs, and refused to be comforted. So the wise girl retired for the time.
When she returned, some hours later, she carried a tray with a plate piked up with very hot buttered toast.
The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad ; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfast on frosty mornings and cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings.
Toad sat up, dried his eyes, munched his toast and soon began talking about himself and how important he was, and what a lot of his frirnds thought of him.
The gaoler's daughter saw that the topic was doing him good and encouraged him to go on.
When she said good night, Toad was very much the same self-satisfied animal that he had been of old.
They had many talks together after that and the girl grew very sorry for Toad.
One mornig the girl was very thoughtful.
" Toad, " she said presently, " I have an aunt who is a washerwoman. "
" There, there, " said Toad affably, " never mind ; I have several aunts who ought to be washerwoman. "
" Do be quiet, Toad, " said the girl.
" You talk too much. As I said, I have an aunt who is a washerwoman. Now, you're very rich, and she's very poor. A few pounds wouldn't make any difference to you, and it would mean a lot to her.
Now, I think if she were properly approached, she would let you have her dress and bonnet and so on, and you could escape as the official washerwoman. You're very alike ー particularly about the figure. "
The Adventures of Toad (20)
" We're not, " said the Toad in a huff.
" I have a very elegant figure ー for what I am. And you wouldn't surely have Mr. Toad of Toad Hall going about the country disguised as a washerwoman ? "
" Then you can stop here as a Toad, " replied the girl with much spirit.
Toad was always ready to admit himself in the wrong.
" You are a good, clever girl " he said.
" Introduce me to your worthy aunt, if you will be so kind.
Next evening the girl ushered her aunt into Toad's cell.
In return for his cash, Toad received s cotton print gown, an apron, an apron , a shawl and a rusty black bonnet.
Shaking with laughter, the girl proceeded to " hook-and-eye " him into the gown, and tied the strings of the bonnet under his chin.
" You're the very image of her, " she giggled.
With a quaking heart, Toad set forth.
But he was soon agreeably surprised to find how easy everything was.
The washerwoman's squat figure seemed a passport for every barred door and grim gateway.
The humorous sallies to which he was subjected formed his chief danger ; for Toad was an animal with a strong sense of his own dignity.
He kept his temper, however, though with difficulty.
It seemed hours before he crossed the last courtyard and dodged the outspread arms of the last warder, pleading with simulated passion for just one farewell embrace.
But at last he was free !
He walked quickly towards the lights of the town, not knowing what he should do next.
As he walked along, his attention was caught by some red aand green lights.
"Aha ! " he thought, " this is a piece of luck ! A railway-station."
He made his way to the station and went to buy his ticket.
He mechanically put his fingers where his waistcoat pocket should have been. But he found ー not only no money, but no pocket to hold it !
The Adventures of Toad (23)
To his horror he recollected that he had left both coat and waistcoat in his sell, and with them his money,keys, watch ー all that makes life worth living.
Full of despair, he wandered blindly down the platform where the train was standing and tears trickled down his nose.
Very soon his escape would be discovered and he would be caught and dragged back to prison. What was to be done ?
As he pondered, he found himself opposite the engine, which was being oiled by its affectionate driver.
" Hullo, mother ! " said the engine-driver, "what's the trouble ? "
" O, sir ! " said Toad, crying, " I am a poor washerwoman, and I've lost all my money, and can't pay for aticket, and I must get home tonight. O dear, O dear ! "
The Adventures of Toad (25)
Of course, he had never washed a shirt in his life, and couldn't if he tried ; but he thought : " When I get home and have money again, I will send the engine-driver enough to oay for quite a quantity of washing. "
The guard waved his flag, and the train moved out of the station.
Toad began to skip up and down and shout and sing, to the great astonishment of the engine-driver, who had come across washerwoman before, but never one at all like this.
They had covered many a mile, and Toad was considering what he would have for supper as soon as he got home, when the engine-driver, with a puzzled expression on his face, said : " It's very strange, we're the last train running in this direction to-night, yet I could be sworn that I heard another following us ! "
The Adventures of Toad (26)
Toad ceased his frivolous antics at once.
He became grave and depressed.
Presently the driver called out, " I can see it clearly now ! It is an engine on our rails, coming along at a great pace ! It looks as if we were being pursued ! They are gaining on us fast ! And the engine is crowded with policeman, waving truncheons and all shouting,
" Stop, stop ! stop ! "
Then the Toad fell on his knees and cried, " Save me, kind Mr. Engine-driver ! I am not the simple washerwoman I seem ! I am the well-known and popular Mr. Toad, and I have just escaped from a dungeon into which my enemies had flung me ! I only borrowed a motor-car while the owners were at lunch. I didin't mean to steal it ; but magistrats take such harsh views of high-spirited actions. "
The engine-driver looked very grave.
" I fear that you have been indeed a wicked toad, " he said, " and I ought to give you up to justice. But the sight of an animal in tears always mekes me feel soft-hearted. So cheer up, Toad ! I'll do my best and we may beat them yet ! "
They piled on more coals ; the furnace roared, the sparks flew, the engine leapt and swung, but still their pursuers slowly gained.
The engine-driver wiped his brow and said, " I'm afraid it's no good, Toad. You see, they have the better engine. There's only one thing left for us to do, and it's your only chance, so attend very carefully to what I tell you. A short way ahead of us is a long tunnel, and on the other side of that the line passes through a thick wood. Now, I will put on all the speed I can while we are running through the tunnel. "
" When we are through, I will put on brakes as hard as I can, and the moment it's safe to do so you must jump and hide in the wood, before they get through the tunnel and you see. "
" Then I will go full speed ahead again, and they can chase me for as long as they like. Now, be ready to jump when I tell you ! "
They piled on more coals and train shot into the tunnel.
They shot out at the other end into fresh air and the peaceful moonlight, and saw the wood lying dark and helpful upon either side of the line.
The driver put on brakes, and as the train slowed down to almost a walking pace he called out, " Now, jump ! "
The Adventiures of Toad (29)
Toad jumped, rolled down a short embankment, picked himself up unhurt, scrambled into the wood and hid.
Peeping out, he saw his train get up speed again and disappear.
Then out of the tunnel burst the pursuing engine, roaring and whistling, her motley crew waving their weapons and shouting,
" Stop ! stop ! "