THE RETURN OF MR TOAD
The following evening Rat calls everyone into the sitting room and prepares them for the expedition. He gives them a belt, a sword, a pair of pistols, a policeman’s truncheon, handcuffs, a flask and a sandwich box. When they are ready, Badger takes a lantern and says, «Now follow me! Mole first, then Rat and Toad last. And Toady, don’t talk!» Toad wants to be part of the expedition so he is quiet.
Badger takes them along the river for a little way and then goes into a hole in the river bank. Mole and Rat follow silently but Toad slips and falls into the water with a loud splash. His friends pull him out but Badger is very angry. They continue along the secret tunnel. It is cold and dark and poor Toad starts to shiver because he is frightened and also because he is completely wet.
At last Badger says, «We must be under the Hall now.» They are at the end of the tunnel. There is a door and they all push against it. It opens and they are in the pantry next to the dining room.
The weasels are making a lot of noise. They hear the chief weasel say, «Thank you, thank you, but before I finish I would like to say one word about our kind host, Mr Toad; good, modest, honest Toad!» Everybody laughs and Toad is furious!
Badger stands up, takes his stick and says, «The time is come! Follow me!»
They open the door and the four friends run into the dining room. The weasels and ferrets are terrified and run everywhere in a panic. The four friends go up and down the room hitting the animals with their sticks, and the weasels and ferrets try to escape through the windows and up the chimney. After five minutes the room is empty.
«Now, Toad,» says Badger, «we’ve got your house back for you. Now you can get us some food. I’m hungry.»
Toad is a little offended because Badger doesn’t tell him «well done» and «you are a great fighter», but he says nothing and finds some food for them to eat.
The next morning Toad wakes up late as usual. He comes down for breakfast. Rat and Mole are sitting in the garden and Badger is in the armchair reading the newspaper.
«Toad,» says Badger, «you must have a banquet to celebrate your return and you must write the invitations now.»
«What?!» cries Toad, «I must stay inside and write letters on a lovely morning like this!»
But then Toad has an idea. «But wait! Of course, dear Badger, I can start immediately.» Toad wants to write about his important part in the fight and also about his many adventures. He also thinks he can give a speech and sing some songs at the banquet.
He works hard all morning and when a weasel knocks at the door at midday and asks if he can be of service, Toad tells him to deliver the invitations.
But after lunch Rat and Badger sit Toad in a chair. «Look, Toad,» says Rat, «you must understand — you can’t give a speech or sing songs.»
«Can’t I sing just one little song?» asks Toad.
«No!» says Rat. «You know that your songs are all boasting and vanity, and your speeches are gross exaggeration. You know you must change.»
«You’re right. I promise to be a different Toad. But this is a hard world!»
That evening when the banquet begins, Toad enters the dining room to meet his guests. All the animals cheer and congratulate him but Toad is very humble. «Oh no,» he says, «Badger, Rat and Mole are the real heroes.»
The animals are very puzzled by his behaviour and Toad is happy because he feels that everyone is very interested in him.
At the end of the evening some animals ask for a speech and a song hut Toad shakes his head.
He is a changed Toad!
After this great adventure the four animals continue their lives in joy and contentment. Toad sends a gold chain and locket with pearls to the gaoler’s daughter with a modest and grateful letter.
The train driver also receives thanks and compensation. And Badger also makes Toad send money to the barge woman for her horse.
Sometimes during the long summer evenings the friends go for a walk in the Wild Wood. The weasels greet them with respect. Mother weasels call their children, point and say, «Look! There goes great Mr Toad, the brave Rat and famous Mr Mole.» But when their children are naughty they say that the terrible grey Badger is coming to get them. This is, of course, not true because Badger is very fond of children; but it always has an effect.