When Toad had been dried off and given a suit of Ratty's to wear, Rat told him what had happened while he had been away.
The Wild Wooders had taken over Toad Hall. Weasels, ferrets and stoats were living there, eating Toad's food and drinking his drink and telling everybody he was never coming back.
Toad was all for going up there at once and turning them out. But Ratty explained that they had armed sentries posted and all the entrances were guarded. He and Badger and Mole patrolled the Hall every day, and there was no way in.
Just then two tired, shabby animals entered. The Badger's clothes were covered with mud.
He said solemnly: "Welcome home, Toad. alas, what am I saying? This is a poor homecoming. Unhappy Toad." And he sat down and cut himself a piece of cold pie.
But Mole, whose fur was full of bits of hay and straw, danced round Toad joyously and said: "You must have escaped! O #clever Toad!"
At this, Toad began to tell all his adventures and show off to the admiring Mole.
"Don't egg him on, Mole," said Ratty. "We have to think what to do next."
They all began to talk at once, until they were silenced by the Badger.
"Be quiet, all of you," he growled. He finished his pie and had a piece of cheese before he spoke again.
"Toad, you bad, troublesome little animal! Aren't you ashamed of yourself? What do you think father, my old friend, would have said if he'd known of your goings-on?"
The Toad rolled over on his face on the sofa and began to sob.
"Never mind that!" said Badger. "We'll let bygones be bygones. I'll tell you my plan to get Toad Hall back again. There is an underground passage - " And the Badger outlined his plan to the eager listeners.
The secret passage came up inside Toad Hall, in the butler's pantry, next to the banqueting hall. That night there was to be a birthday party for the Chief Weasel. Everyone would be in the banqueting hall having a good time, except for a few sentries outside in the grounds.
Badger and his men would creep along the tunnel, armed to the teeth, then come up inside the Hall and take the Wild Wooders by surprise.
Badger had a pile of weapons, and Ratty distributed them into four little heaps. As he ran from one to the other, he muttered busily, "Here's a sword for the Rat here's a sword for the Mole, here's a sword for the Toad, here's a sword for the Badger! Here's a pistol for the Rat, here's a pistol for the Mole - " and so on, till all the weapons were sorted out.
Then they had a supper of baked beans and macaroni cheese. When it was dark, they put on their belts and their pistols and swords, and set off for the secret passage. Badger led the way, flourishing a thick stick.
They kept stopping in the darkness, and bumped into each other several times. This gave Toad, who was last, quite a right. But soon they could hear the noise of the feast, overhead - the stamping of little feet, clinking of glasses, and cheers.
"Now, boys, all together!" said Badger, and they heaved at the trapdoor. They came up into the butler's pantry, and could hear the Chief Weasel giving a speech of thanks.
"I should like to say a word about our kind host, Mr Toad," he sniggered. "#Good Toad! #Modest Toad! #Honest Toad!"
Everybody laughed. "In return for his hospitality, I have made up a little song about him!"
Then the Chief Weasel began to sing a very rude song, all about motor-cars and prison, at the top of his squeaky little voice.
"Let me get at him!" said Toad.
"NOW!" cried the Badger, and they burst into the banqueting hall, laying about them with their weapons.
What a squeaking and a squealing and a screeching filled the air!
Terrified weasels dived under the tables. Ferrets rushed madly for the fireplace, and got hopelessly stuck in the chimney.
The mighty Badger laid about him with his stick. Mole gave a terrible war cry, "A Mole! A Mole!" Rat flourished his pistol. Toad, swollen to twice his usual size, went straight for the Chief Weasel. There were only the four of them, but to the Wild Wooders they seemed like an army.
At last the room was clear, and all the weasels fled squeaking back to the Wild wood, except for a few Mole had given brooms and aprons, and set to tidy up the Hall.
10 The Wanderer's Return
Next day Toad wanted to give a banquet for his friends and neighbours to celebrate his homecoming. He spent the morning making out a programme, full of Songs (by Toad), and Speeches (by Toad), on subjects like "Our Prison System" and "Horse-dealing".
When his friends saw it they told him what they thought of him. "You #must turn over a new leaf, Toad," they said, "and stop showing off!"
"Not one little song?"
"Not one little song!"
Poor Toad! He had to promise to reform. But up in his bedroom, looking in the mirror, he sang his last little song in praise of himself. It was called "When the Toad Came Home."
The Toad - came - home!
There was panic in the parlour and howling in the hall,
There was crying in the cowshed and shrieking in the stall,
When the Toad - came - home!
When the Toad - came - home!
There was smashing in of window and crashing in of door,
There was chivvying of weasels that fainted on the floor,
When the Toad - came - home!
Bang! go the drums!
The trumpeters are tooting and the soldiers are saluting,
And the cannon they are shooting and the motor-cars are hooting.
As the Hero comes!
Shout - Hoo - ray!
And let each one of the crowd try and shout it very loud.
In honour of an animal of whom you're justly proud, for it's Toad's - great - day!
Toad sang this very loudly, with expression, and when he came to the end, he sang it all over again. Then he went quietly downstairs to greet his guests. He refused to take any credit for the victory. "No, no, it was all Badger's idea. Mole and Rat did most of the fighting," he said modestly. Mole and Rat looked at each other. This was indeed an altered Toad!
The Gaoler's daughter and the engine driver were sent letters of thanks and presents. The barge-woman was sent the value of her horse, though Toad protested. The gipsy was sent nothing, as he had done rather well out of the deal.
The four friends sometimes took a stroll together in the Wild Wood of a summer evening. Respectful mother weasels pointed them out to the young ones, and told them to behave, or the terrible great grey Badger would get them. This was somewhat unfair to Badger, who was fond of children. But it never failed to make them behave.
The World around Us is Wonderful. Protect it