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The Open Road

Next day the Water Rat took Mole to visit Mr Toad, who lived nearby in a handsome old house called Toad Hall. It was built of mellow red brick and had lawns reaching down to the river. Toad was rather rich, but not a very sensible animal. Ratty and Badger had to keep an eye on him. He was good-natured, but inclined to show off, and he was always getting into trouble.

The friends found him sitting in a deck-chair in the garden, looking at a road map. He had bought a gipsy caravan, painted bright yellow, with green wheels. There was an old grey horse to draw it. Toad was planning his first trip and persuaded Mole and Rat to go along with him.

Toad was bouncing about, full of the joys of the Open Road - its freedom and fresh air. "Here today and somewhere else tomorrow! Across the rolling downs!" he cried excitedly

The three of them set out, but before they had gone very far, disaster struck!

They were walking along the country lane quite happily, leading the horse. Suddenly a loud POOP! POOP was heard.

A magnificent motor-car, all plateglass and chromium, flashed past them, flinging out a cloud of blinding dust. Then it was gone, a speck in the distance.

The poor horse was frightened and bolted. The caravan turned over and fell into the ditch. Its windows were smashed and one wheel came off.

Ratty and MOle were furious. "You roadhog!" they shouted, shaking their fists. But Toad just sat there in the dust, a dazed look in his eyes, muttering "POOP! POOP!" He did not care about the wrecked caravan. He was already thinking how marvellous it would be to drive a car.

Next day, on the River Bank, everyone was talking about the latest news.

"Have you heard? Toad went up to London by an early train this morning. And he has ordered - what do you think? - a large and very expensive #motor-car!"


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