Excerpt from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
In this excerpt the Rat and the Mole have been on a picnic and are preparing to go across the river back to their home.
Note: A scull is a rowboat and sculls are like oars.
1) The afternoon sun was getting low as the Rat sculled gently homewards in a dreamy mood, murmuring poetry-things over to himself, and not paying much attention to Mole. But the Mole was very full of lunch, and self-satisfaction, and pride, and already quite at home in a boat (so he thought) and was getting a bit restless besides: and presently he said, ‘Ratty! Please! I want to row, now!’
The Rat shook his head with a smile. ‘Not yet, my young friend,’ he said--’wait till you’ve had a few lessons. It’s not so easy as it looks.’
2) The Mole was quiet for a minute or two. But he began to feel more and more jealous of Rat, sculling so strongly and so easily along, and his pride began to whisper that he could do it every bit as well. He jumped up and seized the sculls, so suddenly, that the Rat, who was gazing out over the water and quietly saying more poetry-things to himself, was taken by surprise and fell backwards off his seat with his legs in the air for the second time, while the triumphant Mole took his place and grabbed the sculls with entire confidence.
‘Stop it, you SILLY creature!’ cried the Rat, from the bottom of the boat.
‘You can’t do it! You’ll have us over!’
3) The Mole flung his sculls back with a flourish, and made a great dig at the water. He missed the surface altogether, his legs flew up above his head, and he found himself lying on the top of the prostrate Rat. Greatly alarmed, he made a grab at the side of the boat, and the next moment--Sploosh!
Over went the boat, and he found himself struggling in the river.
4) The Rat got hold of a scull and shoved it under the Mole’s arm; then he did the same by the other side of him and, swimming behind, propelled the helpless animal to shore, hauled him out, and set him down on the bank, a squashy, pulpy lump of misery. When the Rat had rubbed him down a bit, and wrung some of the wet out of him, he said, ‘Now, then, old fellow! Trot up and down the towing-path as hard as you can, till you’re warm and dry again, while I dive for the luncheon-basket.’
5) The Rat plunged into the water again, recovered the boat, righted her and made her fast, fetched his floating property to shore by degrees, and finally dived successfully for the luncheon-basket and struggled to land with it.
When all was ready for a start once more, the Mole, limp and dejected, took his seat in the stern of the boat; and as they set off, he said in a low voice, broken with emotion, ‘Ratty, my generous friend! I am very sorry indeed for my foolish and ungrateful conduct. My heart quite fails me when I think how I might have lost that beautiful luncheon-basket. Indeed, I have been a complete jerk, and I know it. Will you overlook it this once and forgive me, and let things go on as before?’
6) ‘That’s all right, bless you!’ responded the Rat cheerily. ‘What’s a little wet to a Water Rat? I’m more in the water than out of it most days. Don’t you think any more about it; and, look here! I really think you had better come and stop with me for a little time. It’s very plain and rough, you know--not like Toad’s house at all--but you haven’t seen that yet; still, I can make you comfortable. And I’ll teach you to row, and to swim, and you’ll soon be as handy on the water as any of us.’
7) The Mole was so touched by his kind manner of speaking that he could find no voice to answer him; and he had to brush away a tear or two with the back of his paw. But the Rat kindly looked in another direction, and presently the Mole’s spirits revived again, and he was even able to give some straight back-talk to a couple of moorhens who were sniggering to each other about his bedraggled appearance.
8) When they got home, the Rat made a bright fire in the parlour, and planted the Mole in an arm-chair in front of it, having fetched down a dressing-gown and slippers for him, and told him river stories and gave him supper. Very shortly after wards a terribly sleepy Mole had to be escorted upstairs by his considerate host, to the best bedroom, where he soon laid his head on his pillow in great peace and contentment, knowing that his new-found friend, the River, was lapping the sill of his window.