It is the anniversary of the publication of one of the most popular of children’s books of all time. On this day in 1908. Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows was published. It has remained in print ever since.
It is fifty years since I first read it, there are lines that still remain fresh in the mind from that first reading.
The ever buoyant Rat and the depressive pessimist Mole have gone to Mole’s house, from which Mole has been absent for some time. They make a good fist of restoring it to a homely condition, but Mole is then hit by a dark wave.
Mole promptly had another fit of the blues, dropping down on a couch in dark despair and burying his face in his duster. “Rat,” he moaned, “how about your supper, you poor, cold, hungry, weary animal? I’ve nothing to give you – nothing – not a crumb!”
“What a fellow you are for giving in!” said the Rat reproachfully. “Why, only just now I saw a sardine-opener on the kitchen dresser, quite distinctly; and everybody knows that means there are sardines about somewhere in the neighbourhood. Rouse yourself! pull yourself together, and come with me and forage.”
They went and foraged accordingly, hunting through every cupboard and turning out every drawer. The result was not so very depressing after all, though of course it might have been better; a tin of sardines, a box of captain’s biscuits, nearly full, and a German sausage encased in silver paper.
“There’s a banquet for you!” observed the Rat, as he arranged the table. “I know some animals who would give their ears to be sitting down to supper with us to-night!”
“No bread!” groaned the Mole dolorously; “no butter, no–”
“No pate de foie gras, no champagne!” continued the Rat, grinning. “And that reminds me, what’s that little door at the end of the passage? Your cellar, of course! Every luxury in this house! Just you wait a minute.”
He made for the cellar-door, and presently reappeared, somewhat dusty, with a bottle of beer in each paw and another under each arm, “Self-indulgent beggar you seem to be, Mole,” he observed. “Deny yourself nothing. This is really the jolliest little place I ever was in.
As someone of a Moleish rather than a rodentine persuasion, there is a tendency to note the half empty glasses, to see the cloud around every silver lining. But I am glad I also have Rat moments, those times when there is great delight in small things.