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The Wind in the Willows

by GreenMatthews

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Two compact discs presented in a full-colour A5 gatefold sleeve. Also contains the entire libretto with linocut illustrations.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Wind in the Willows via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 11 GreenMatthews releases available on Bandcamp and save 25%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of The Wind in the Willows, Virtual Wassail, Midwinter Revels, Roots&Branches, Come Again! Sweet Love Doth Now Invite (live), A Christmas Carol: A Folk Opera, A Brief History of Christmas, The Men Who Marched Away: Songs of the Great War, and 3 more. , and , .

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1.
Mole Awakes 03:12
Now the winter is fled and the spring again is here. All the world comes to life at the dawning of the year. All the fields are in bud again; green returns to the wood again. In the river fish play, silver in the waters clear. All the world returns to life at the dawning of the year. Far below underground, Mole began to slowly stir, Blinked the sleep from his eyes and brushed the moist earth from his fur. Rose with anticipation, sniffed the air with elation. 􏰃pring was calling to him 􏰄Rise up now and venture out.􏰅 S􏰃o to digging he began, following his q􏰆uivering snout.... “No more frost and no more snow! No need to be underground! Though Mole End is my hearth and home, By earth I’m no more bound. The spring it is springing, the year is new, the sun is in the sky! A s􏰃crabble, a sc􏰃robble, a s􏰃crape or two And hey then up go I!􏰄 Emerging in the sunlight Mole blinked once or twice then saw A rabbit who stood in his way and held outstretched his paw. “A penny to pay to pass this way!” he demanded. Mole replied “Get out of my way - I don’t have all day!” as he elbowed him aside. The other rabbits clustered round but Mole paid them no mind Then on he walked to see what he beyond the meadow might find. He turned a bend at the meadow’s end and halted in mid-stride For he was standing on the bank of a river deep and wide..
2.
The River 03:21
The river was flanked by lush verdant banks Where willows wept into the stream. The sun’s golden rays formed a radiant haze And Mole stood as if in a dream. For never before had he seen such a sight - His eyes shone with rapture and awe and delight His heart filled with wonder and try as he might He couldn’t tear his gaze away. For all was a-chatter, a-chuckle and chase And all was a-gurgle, a-rustle and swirl And all was a-glitter, a-glint and a-gleam This wonderful watery world Quite gone from his mind was his home left behind - That mean little underground dwelling. “Why should I” thought Mole “want to live in a hole When to live here is joy beyond telling?” The river had captured him body and soul And with a compulsion beyond his control He knew from that moment he had but one goal - To dwell there for all of his days. For all was a-chatter, a-chuckle and chase And all was a-gurgle, a-rustle and swirl And all was a-glitter, a-glint and a-gleam This wonderful watery world So Mole sat and gazed in a rapturous daze At the chattering, bubbling stream. At the grayling and trout, minnow darting about. At the roach and the dace and the bream. And the tall willows weeping like wives at a wake And the water weed waving like sinuous snakes And the ducks all a-dabbling and the proud, handsome drakes And he felt as though he had come home. For all was a-chatter, a-chuckle and chase And all was a-gurgle, a-rustle and swirl And all was a-glitter, a-glint and a-gleam This wonderful watery world
3.
And so the warm sun beat on down upon the dreaming Mole When on the other bank he noticed hidden away, a hole And from the hole a face appeared - a friendly face at that. “Why hello Ratty!” the Mole exclaimed. “Good day to you!” answered the Rat. “How would you like to come across and take some tea with me?” “I’d love to, Ratty” Mole answered “but I fear it’s not to be. For I can’t swim and I can’t fly and moles tend not to float.” “Don’t worry!” said Ratty “I’ve just the thing” And stepped into his little boat. He smartly sculled across the stream then with the painter wrestled. Once he was there the Mole declared “I’ve never seen such a vessel! So smart and sleek like a silver streak and painted aft and fore. A new endeavour for I have never Been boating on rivers before." Rat stopped his task, amazed and asked “Have I heard you correctly? If you’ve not been upon the stream we must change that directly! Why my dear boy, there is no joy to compare to being afloat. So what would you say if we spent today Just messing around in a boat?” “I quite agree” Mole said with glee and stepped into the craft. Rat took the sculls; away he pulled and both friends talked and laughed. And from that hour their friendship flowered and grew both fast and strong And Rat regaled him with many a tale As they merrily paddled along...
4.
Rat told of Mr Toad and his residence Toad Hall And how of all the houses round it dwarfed them one and all He praised his lavish welcome and his kind and generous heart “He’s always glad when you arrive and sorry when you part.” Rat told of stoats and weasels in the Wild Wood dark and fell And how though quiet here and now, they oft-times would rebel. He told of Mr Badger who dwelt deep in those same woods And how though seeming gruff and grim, he was both great and good. And as the Rat expounded and rowed with verve and skill Mole marvelled at his graceful poise - his heart with envy filled 'Til he could wait no longer and elbowed Rat aside And stole his seat and seized the oars and flourished them with pride. “Look out!” cried Ratty “Have a care!” but Mole could not resist He flourished both oars wildly, dug at the stream and missed. His feet and head changed places, his world turned upside down And next thing he was overboard, submerged and like to drown. He felt a paw beneath his arm and upward then was borne Rat stowed him safely him on the bank all dripping and forlorn Then while he fetched the boat which far downriver had been swept Poor Mole sat on the riverbank and hung his head and wept. The Rat returned and asked “Dear Mole, whatever can it be That has reduced you to such abject depths of misery?” “It looked so easy” poor Mole wailed “I thought that I’d excel But now, thanks to my vanity, you’re cold and wet as well!” Then Ratty smiled and knelt down and took Mole’s trembling paw “My dear chap, it’s at times like this you learn what friends are for. If from each other help we need, we only have to ask it Now, sit here while I dive again and fetch the luncheon basket...”
5.
To Toad Hall 04:07
So the Mole and the Rat dwelt together in content. All through the green springtime everywhere together went. But as spring into summer grew Mole yearned for acquaintance new. “I’ve not met Mr Toad - let’s to him a visit pay.” “Certainly” replied the Rat And to Toad Hall made their way. As they rowed up the river Toad Hall came into sight. A grand, imposing mansion which dwarfed its neighbours quite. They tied off at the boathouse and across the gardens strode Where taking tea upon the lawn they came on Mr Toad. On seeing Mole and Rat Toad sprang quickly to his feet And with a hand outstretched he ran forward them to greet. “Dear Ratty and dear Mole, what an opportune surprise! We leave tomorrow for adventures under sunny skies!” “We leave?” asked Rat suspiciously. Said Mole “We’ve just arrived” But Toad ran on “It grieves me, friends, to watch you waste your lives On rivers and on boats and such other foolish ways. I’ve found the only true way for a chap to spend his days!” Toad ushered them around the front to show them his new plan And standing in the courtyard was a gipsy caravan In red and yellow painted and immaculately kept. Rat sighed and scowled and tutted but beside him Mole’s heart leapt. “Now have you ever seen the like of this?” exulted Toad. “The one, true path, the only way – life on the open road! No two days in the same place - every hour a waking dream! A better life by far than boating on some dreary stream!” “My river isn’t dreary” Rat said in a quiet voice But seeing Mole’s excitement left him with no other choice And so the following morning the Rat and Mole and Toad Rode out to start their new life upon the open road.
6.
7.
They’d not gone far down the road when from the way they’d come They heard a strange and keening sound likewise a distant hum. Poop poop! Poop poop! They looked to see what it might be But nothing round them could they see so continued on their way. Poop poop! Poop poop! The sound was closer than before. The humming had become a roar which filled the whole highway. Then in a whirl of dust and noise the motor-car swept down Upon the friends, the cart and horse. The world turned upside down. Poop poop! Poop poop! Despite Mole’s efforts at his ear The poor horse ran in abject fear and the cart turned upside down. Poop poop! Poop poop! The brazen shout rang in their ears Then in the distance disappeared as swift as it had come. “You road hog!” shouted Rat and danced with rage and shook his fist. Mole went to fetch the horse but Toad was lost in a kind of mist. “Poop poop! Poop poop! O heavenly vision! O sweetest sound! O wonder which I’ve finally found!” Said Rat “We must complain.” “Complain? Complain? Of such a blessed sight?” said Toad. “That Mercury of the open road? That bolt? That hurricane?!” The Rat let out a sigh. “I recognise the signs,” said he. “A new fad has him in its grip. This is the way he’ll be For days and days like someone in a reverie No use to anyone he’ll be ‘til the fad’s course is complete.” And so both friends set out for comfort, hearth and home And left Toad standing quite alone in the middle of the street. But then next day the news began to spread around Toad had that morning gone to town upon the earliest train. And there he bought, over a brandy and cigar, A large expensive motor-car.... His fad was underway!
8.
So the autumn drew on and the nights drew in likewise. Leaves from trees began falling underneath the darkening skies. And the world slowed its breathing as the swallows were leaving For the warm sunny South where there was no frost or ice. And one night beside the fire Mole sought the Rat’s advice. “Dear Rat might we go on a trip to the Wild Wood? I’ve not met Mr Badger out of all the neighbourhood.” But the Rat yawned and said “Oh no. In the springtime we’ll surely go. Badger hates social calls and it wouldn’t do at all. When the spring comes round again that will be the time to call.” But the Mole was resolved and when Ratty was asleep He put on his warm coat and then out the door did creep. It had just begun snowing and the daylight was going But undaunted Mole walked just as swiftly as he could Left the Riverbank behind and made his way to the Wild Wood...
9.
The wood was dark and silent as the grave All covered with a thick white shroud. The trees stood leafless, bare and stark Against the sky of dense, dark clouds. A sound made Mole turn sharply around But nothing there made cry nor moan. He ground his teeth and he ventured on. He hoped and he prayed that he was alone. But there again a distant sound. A foot upon twigs and a harsh, short cry. And there a figure in the undergrowth. Two figures, three, then four – how they multiplied... Then like a dream they disappeared As swift and as suddenly as they had come. Mole tried to call for help but fear And terror had robbed him of his tongue. And then as if from all around A whistling, a crying and a hooting began. And were there more figures? – Mole couldn’t tell And taking to his heels he turned and ran. For miles and miles he hurtled through the wood, The eerie sounds following all the way, ‘Til weeping, exhausted and trembling with fright He found a little hollow and hid himself away...
10.
Meanwhile the Rat on waking and finding his friend gone Had guessed his destination and swiftly followed on Armed with a torch and cudgel as quickly as he could To save the Mole from that which lurked deep in the dark Wild Wood. Rat stalked into the wood like a bright avenging flame. He searched each nook and hollow while calling his friend’s name. “Dear Mole! Where are you, dear old chap? I’ve come to take you home! It’s far too cold and fierce a night to spend it here alone." At length he was rewarded with a feeble answering cry. “I’m over here, dear Ratty – O thank Heaven you came by! I’ve been so scared and worried – my legs and paws are numb. I should have known that you were right – I never should have come.” “My dear old fellow, don’t you fret – you’re safe now here with me And now all that remains is that we get home speedily...” But even as he spoke the clouds above began to drop Such snow so thick and fast it seemed that it would never stop. “There’s nothing for it,” Ratty said “There’s nowhere else to go” We’re trapped here - we can’t venture out in such a lot of snow. It’s just a case of waiting ‘til we’re no longer snowbound So since we’re in this hollow let’s have a look around.” The hollow nestled in the great roots of a mighty tree Rat shone his lantern on a sight which filled them both glee. For there, next to a bell-pull and a door and welcome mat A neatly-lettered sign which read “Welcome to Badger’s Sett.” “We’re saved!” exulted Ratty “Why my poor, hapless Mole All this time you’ve been sheltering in what you deemed a hole When all this time you’re standing in Badger’s entrance hall. Let’s not waste any more time – let’s give this bell a pull!” So Mole tugged on the bell while Rat beat upon the door. “For pity’s sake please let us in before we’re quite done for!” At length they heard a voice and heavy tread come from inside. A rattled lock, an unpicked chain and then the door swung wide.
11.
Badger looked upon the friends bathed the hall’s warm light. “My poor dear Rat why ever are you out on such a night? Come in at once and bring your friend who I’ve not met before?” Rat answered “This is Mr Mole” and hastened through the door. “I’m charmed to meet you” Badger said and held outstretched his paw. Mole took it, shook it heartily and answered “Proud, I’m sure.” Then Badger led them down the hall to his inviting lounge. A roaring fire was in the grate which they both clustered round. “I’ll fetch you towels and dressing gowns and pour a glass of wine. Then once you’ve thawed out and relaxed, perhaps you’d like to dine? There’s hot stew bubbling on the stove and it can stretch to three And you can tell me how I’ve come to have your company.” They ate and Badger listened while the Mole and Rat explained How they’d come to be stranded and that they would never again Come into the Wild Wood upon such a dark and fearsome night. “I’m glad to have your company.” said Badger “Stay the night!" The friends accepted gratefully and straightaway retired To sleep a night of comfort filled with food and drink and fire. And Mole reflected as he fell asleep in seconds flat That he was lucky to have such friends as Badger and the Rat.
12.
So the winter gave way to the springtime once again. And the natural world greeted her like a long-lost friend. And the flowers began shooting and the trees began fruiting. All the world came to life as the year once more revolved And then one day in the spring Badger made a firm resolve... Upon a fine and sunny day a knock came at the door. Mole went to see who it might be and on the doorstep saw The Badger standing large as life and looking grave and grim. “The spring is come” the Badger said “and now our task begins." “I speak of course of Mr Toad and his unruly ways. He’s getting us beasts a fearful name because he spends his days Careering round the countryside in those infernal cars. We have to act before he brings himself or others to harm." “He had three crashes just last week” said Rat and shook his head. “And if he carries on in this way he’ll end up ruined or dead.” The Mole said “It’s our duty, chaps to help our poor, dear friend. If we agree we’ll make him see this madness has to end.” The Badger said “I’m glad to see that we’re all of one mind. Let’s go to Toad Hall straightaway and there I’ll think you’ll find A few well-chosen words from me will make him change his ways.” And so the friends rowed up the river to lift the Toad’s malaise...
13.
When they arrived at Toad Hall their worst fears soon awoke. A large, expensive motor car stood belching acrid smoke And at the wheel an apparition dressed in mask and scarf. The Toad hopped down and hailed the three friends with a merry laugh. “My dear chaps, what a nice surprise! You’re just in time!” said Toad. “I’ll introduce you to the pleasures of the open road!” But one look at the faces of the Badger, Rat and Mole Showed clearly they’d no interest in the pleasures he extolled. The Rat and Mole both seized him and dragged him through the door. They took him to the salon and then flung him to the floor. “Take off those hideous clothes!” said Badger with imperious voice. “I shan’t!” said Toad, but Rat and Mole left him with little choice. When they had stripped him of his cap and goggles, gloves and scarf He looked far less impressive - not as debonair by half. The Badger took him by the paw and said, “Toad, come with me. I’ve one or two things which I won’t say in this company.” He took him to the drawing room while Rat and Mole stood by And through the door they heard him talk and Toad begin to cry. After a spell, the Badger brought him back to where they waited. And Badger seemed quite satisfied while Toad seemed quite deflated. “I’m pleased to tell you Toad has seen the error of his ways. He swears he’ll never touch another car for all his days.” “That’s marvellous!” cried Mole but he had not convinced the Rat “Call me a cynic, Badger, but can Toad attest to that?” Toad looked up at Badger, then at Ratty, then at Mole. His eyes burned with a fire bright from deep within his soul. “Poop-poop! Poop-poop! Why Badger, despite what you allege, I’ll never make such a foolish pledge as long as I’m alive! Poop-poop! Poop-poop! I swear the very next time I see A Daimler, Dodge or Model T- Poop-poop! - away I’ll drive!” The Badger turned to Mole and Rat. “There is no other way. We’ll have to stand guard over him at all times, night and day, Until this fad has run its course and once again He’s fit to call himself our friend and can hold up his head once more.” And so the Toad became a prisoner in his hall, Denied his freedom and parole 'til he forswore motor-cars.
14.
All the hot summer long Toad remained confined at home. Badger, Mole and the Rat would never leave their charge alone. Every day alternating at his bedroom door waiting 'Til the madness had passed and he’d woken from his dream But while they guarded him Toad began to form a scheme.. It was the Rat’s turn to mount guard And by Toad’s door was standing poised. He hadn't been there waiting long When from behind the door he heard a noise. The sound was a wailing and crying out in pain. A howling of agony and anguish sore. Rat paused - the voice cried out once again - And reaching a decision he unlocked the door. Toad looked like one who was near to death. His face was hollow and his skin was drenched. His eyes were wild and his breath came fast. He whispered to the Rat with teeth tightly clenched. “Dear Rat, I fear I haven’t long to go. Would you please oblige me while there’s still a chance And fetch a doctor from the town?” But Ratty pursed his lips and looked down at him askance. “Now Toady I know that you’re shamming sick,” he said “Sit up and let’s have no more theatrics and moans!” But Toad threw his head back and let out such a cry So anguished that it chilled Ratty down to his bones. “A lawyer too and a man of God besides! Make haste for I feel the icy hand of death. It claws at my heart and it freezes my frame. Make haste dear friend, I have but a few hours left!” The Rat was alarmed by Toad’s impassioned plea. He ran from the house straightways to the town But when he returned with the notary and priest The dying Toad was nowhere to be found...
15.
When Rat was gone Toad rose and dressed in motoring attire And in the looking-glass he paused his likeness to admire. “Now tremble all pedestrians and users of the road! Gaze on the finest motorist in England – Mr Toad!” He walked along the highway and came on a country inn. The day being hot and dry he thought to take a drink within. When stationed on the forecourt with the driver’s door ajar He spied a bright-red, powerful and gleaming motor-car. “What harm can come from merely looking at the car?” Toad mused. “To drive it would be wrong but just to touch might be excused. To sit before the dashboard and perhaps to just pretend To stamp the pedals, toot the horn and steer imagined bends?” But as he climbed the running-board and took the driver’s seat The old familiar madness came and swept him off his feet. Poop poop! Poop poop! Toad flicked the switch, let out the choke; The engine came to life and smoke belched forth from the exhaust. Poop poop! Poop poop! The tooting brought out at a run The owner and the publican but the motor-car was lost..
16.
“In dealing with a crime so grave” the judge said to the clerk “The law’s bite must be seen to be quite equal to its bark. The prisoner’s guilt is proved, so pray consult the penal code. What is the stiffest sentence we can give to this loathsome Toad?” The clerk considered briefly “Well, there are three counts, m’ lud. The first of theft, the second one of peril to public good. The third one is most serious and one we can’t let pass - Of calling an officer of the law a fat and impertinent ass.” The court broke into uproar then and several ladies fainted. The judge called out for order and gazed down at the attainted. “We find you guilty, cringing wretch, of these offences three. Now hearken while I sentence you to penal custody.” “For theft you shall serve one year and for furious driving four. As for gratuitous insults to an officer of the law Which is the most egregious crime so fourteen years seems plenty. Which makes nineteen, but to be neat - we’ll round it up to twenty.” And so the minions of the law fell on the hapless Toad. They girded him with iron chains and saw him safely stowed Down in a dungeon dark and dank by burly warders manned. The stoutest, strongest prison ever built in Old England.
17.
Dulce Domum 04:07
While the Toad lay in chains, summer slowly ebbed away. Autumn changed into winter, longer nights and shorter days. In the dying year’s embers on a day in December, Rat and Mole walked abroad, heading home before the night, But then Mole picked up a scent which awoke a strange delight.. Mole’s pointed nose twitched – a familiar scent which He knew and loved dearly of old. Its imperious call held Mole in its thrall And cut through the frost and cold. And all of a sudden his heart with desire Burned with a yearning by one thing inspired. The scent which had found him and set him on fire - The scent of his home left behind. The Rat was ahead on the road when Mole said “Dear Ratty please come back awhile.” But Rat wouldn’t wait - “It’s getting quite late And home is at least two more miles.” So Ratty trudged on as the Mole agonised And pictures of home danced in front of his eyes 'Til at length he tore himself away with a sigh And followed his friend down the road. But all of the while as they walked side by side Mole felt a great sob building up deep inside And at length he could bear it no more and he cried And he cried like his poor heart would break. “My dear fellow” Rat asked “Whatever’s the matter?” “You wouldn’t stop, Ratty!” Mole cried. “I know it’s not grand like Toad’s acres of land Nor pretty like your riverside. But it was my own little comfortable home! A hole in the ground but a hole of my own! And one day last Spring I left it all alone And I only remembered it now..” Rat held the Mole fast and said “Don’t be downcast. A misunderstanding, dear friend. I wasn’t aware but I solemnly swear I shan’t rest ‘til we find Mole End.” And with that he set off the way they had come While Mole followed on in the gathering gloom. Yet though it was darkening Mole’s senses thrummed And he soon caught the scent once again. Rat watched as his friend wandered hither and yon. His busy nose twitching as he hunted on And just when he thought that the last hope had gone Mole cried out and started to dig...
18.
Mole ran down the passageway with Ratty at his tail And though the way was wet with mud and odorous and stale The Mole could not conceal his pride when he showed to his friend The little door with bell-pull, mat and sign which read Mole End. The latch was lifted, hinges creaked, they found themselves inside. “A charming little home!” cried Rat but Mole’s good spirits died. “Why Ratty though you’re very kind we never should have come For I’ve no food to offer you not even a crust or crumb!” But Rat was looking through the kitchen Cupboards, shelves and drawers And presently returned with several Items in his paws. A box of Captain’s biscuits And some tins of bully beef. “Now there’s a dinner” Ratty cried “A veritable feast!” They lit the fire and Ratty pottered off down to the cellar. When he returned he said “Why Mole, you self-indulgent fellow! There’s half-a-dozen bottles here of finest Burton ale. With fire and food and company and beer we’ll never fail!” Before the blazing logs they ate and drank contentedly. There came a knocking at the door and Mole got up to see. And standing in the porch were four young mice in scarves and coats. They took a breath and sang a Christmas carol to them both...
19.
Villagers all, this frosty tide, Let your doors swing open wide, Though wind may follow, and snow beside, Draw us in by your fire to bide; Joy shall be yours in the morning! Joy shall be yours in the morning! Though wind may follow, and snow beside, Joy shall be yours in the morning! Here we stand in the cold and sleet, Blowing fingers and stamping feet, We’ve come from afar you for to greet— You by the fire and we in the street— Bidding you joy in the morning! Bidding you joy in the morning! We’ve come from afar you for to greet Bidding you joy in the morning! For ere one half of the night was gone, Sudden a star has led us on, Raining bliss and benison— Bliss to-morrow and more anon, Joy for every morning! Joy for every morning! Raining bliss and benison Joy for every morning! Goodman Joseph toiled through the snow— Saw the star o'er stable low; Mary she might not further go— Welcome thatch, and litter below! Joy was hers in the morning! Joy was hers in the morning! Mary she might not further go Joy was hers in the morning! And then they heard the angels tell Who were the first to cry Nowell? Animals all, as it befell, In the stable where they did dwell! Joy shall be theirs in the morning! Joy shall be theirs in the morning! Animals all, as it befell Joy shall be theirs in the morning!
20.
They finished their song and Rat said “Come along, Let’s get you inside where it’s warm.” The mice didn’t need to be told twice and speedily Poured through the door in a swarm. While Rat mulled some ale Mole asked them to retire And sit and refresh themselves next to the fire. They drank and they talked all that could desire Then merrily went on their way. And Mole turned to Rat and hugged him close and tight And whispered his thanks for a wonderful night. His homesickness cured and heart filled with delight He made his way off to his bed.
21.
All through the winter Toad remained incarcerated fast, Locked in a noisome prison feeling beaten and downcast. “Oh woe for the confinement of the daring Mr Toad The Nemesis of Pedestrians and Terror of the Road!” His only company was the gaoler and his daughter fair. A comely lass whose heart was greatly touched by Toad’s despair. She’d bring him snacks and dainties and such other banned delights And in return Toad told her tales of all his daring exploits One day as Toad regaled her with vignettes of his career The girl appeared distracted only lending half-an-ear. Toad prattled on regardless seeing nothing odd nor strange Until at length she said “Be quiet! And listen for a change.” “It grieves me so to see you mouldering in this dungeon grim.” “I’m gratified,” said Toad “But my hopes of escape are slim.” “Not so,” the lass replied and then a question posed. “My aunt works in the laundry here. Why don’t you both change clothes?” “Preposterous!” cried Toad “Why, my dear girl, I am afraid That gentlemen don’t go about disguised as laundry maids!” The girl retorted “So you're telling me you’d rather stay To rot here as a gentleman when you could be out and away?” Faced with such logic Toad relented and agreed the switch. And so it was the following night as dark and black as pitch The aunt was locked in Toad’s cell dressed as a country squire And Toad was set at liberty in washerwoman’s attire. By morning Toad was well clear of his erstwhile abode And puffed up with conceit and pride he strutted down the road. “Who is that dashing blade who steals away from gaol?” he crowed “No Lock nor Bolt Can Hold Him – The Stealthy Mr Toad!”
22.
The Train 03:39
Then presently he came upon a country railway halt And at the sight his heart skipped and turned a somersault. “Why just the thing I need to get back to Toad Hall again I’ll buy a first-class ticket and then hop upon the train!” Arriving at the ticket booth he was distraught to find His wallet was still in the clothes that he had left behind. “Well, not to worry, my good man – I’ll send the money on.” The clerk refused which left our hero thoroughly woebegone. Toad sat down on the platform and began to wail and cry. He made such a commotion that the train driver came by. “Whatever is the matter?” he enquired tenderly “Oh sir, I’m stranded far from home” Toad sniffled piteously. The engine driver said “I’ll make a bargain with you, mother. We’re both skilled at our jobs so maybe we can help each other. An engine driver’s job’s a dirty one so I suggest If you’ll wash all my shirts then I will take you as my guest.” Though Toad had never washed a shirt or blouse in all his days He happily agreed and they went swiftly on their way. They’d not gone far when from behind the train there came a screech. Toad looked behind and what he saw turned him as white as bleach. Behind the train, another locomotive came apace Filled with policemen shouting “Stop!” as down the tracks it raced. The driver looked at Toad who in appeal fell to his knees. “Oh save me from this ghastly fate, kind engine driver, please!” The driver answered “Not unless you tell me who you are.” Toad answered “I am Mr Toad – I stole a motor car. And for this small infringement they incarcerated me In the darkest, dankest dungeon and threw away the key.” “A motor car! I hate those foul machines!” the driver spat. “Although to steal is wrong I can’t hand you in just for that. We’re going through a tunnel soon, jump out the other side And they can chase me all they like around the countryside.” And as the train came screeching through the tunnel round the bend Toad tensed himself until he saw the daylight at the end. Then with his heart up in his mouth he sprang forth from the train He tossed and tumbled down the bank and came to rest again... Toad picked himself up while he watched the second train go past And as he walked, he laughed to hear the whistle’s distant blast. “Who leapt to freedom from the train?” he chortled as he strode. “The Gentleman Who Knows No Fear – The Daring Mr Toad!”
23.
He came on a canal on which there was a narrowboat To which a large and heavy draught horse was securely yoked Toad fell in step beside the barge and greeted with good cheer The weatherbeaten woman at the tiller at the rear. “Good day my dear, where are you bound?” she asked as Toad walked by “To see my daughter” he replied “Near Toad Hall she resides.” “Now that’s a mighty way to walk!” the bargee’s wife opined “So I’ve a small suggestion if you think you’d be so kind." “My husband’s hunting with the dog for rabbits for our tea. I have to tend the boat and who can tell how long he’ll be? I’ve such a pile of washing and that seems to be your line. If I give you a lift then it might help you pass the time?” Toad hesitated for he’d never washed a shirt before “But after all,’ he reasoned “It can’t be a difficult chore. If washerwomen do it then I’m sure that so can I!” And he agreed to wash the shirts and went downstairs to try. He scrubbed and scrubbed and soaked and soaked And wrung and scraped and swore. Despite his efforts the shirts remained as filthy as before. When for the fiftieth time Toad lost the soap again He turned around to see the woman laughing like a drain. “I knew you weren’t a washerwoman from the very first!” Toad’s temper which was already at boiling point now burst: “You common, low, fat bargee’s wife! How dare you mock and goad The gentleman adventurer - The Dashing Mr Toad!?” The barge-woman drew close and seized poor Toad about the throat. “A nasty crawly slimy Toad aboard my nice clean boat!?” At which she threw him in the cut. He struggled to the side And hauled himself out dripping wet and flushed with wounded pride. The bargee’s wife laughed loud and long. While she was lost in mirth Toad unhitched the rope which lay around the horse’s girth And leaping on the horse’s back he galloped down the path And as the cries behind him faded Toad began to laugh... “The judges, juries, gaolers and policemen all agree There’s nobody they’ve met who’s as bold and cunning as me! On water or on land, upon railway, cut or road There’s nobody can outwit Resourceful Mr Toad!"
24.
The Gipsy 03:20
Toad cantered easily onward for a hour, maybe two And all the while inside a mighty hunger grew and grew. He realised it was hours since he’d eaten any meal And it was getting harder to ignore his stomach’s appeal. Just then he caught an odour which filled him with great desire - The smell of game stew bubbling upon an open fire. He turned the bend and sitting there before him was a man Next to some blazing pine logs and a gipsy caravan. Toad’s eyes lit up on seeing such a culinary treat And he was on the verge of begging for a bite to eat When he was interrupted by the gipsy asking him “How would you like to sell that horse on which you’ve ridden in?" Toad thought fast for he didn’t have a penny in his purse To walk was bad but destitution certainly was worse “How much, kind sir, are you inclined to give me for this nag?” The gipsy thought a while and then replied “A shilling a leg.” Toad cried “But that makes only four and he’s at least worth seven!” The gipsy sneered and curled his lip and raised his eyes to heaven. “I’ll give you five and that’s far more than this old screw is worth. I’m always looking for horses but I can’t afford the earth.” “But he’s a full-blood Andalusian!” protested Toad “The finest, fastest, strongest horse a jockey ever rode! However, since I find myself in something of a fix If you give me a bowl of stew, I’ll sell you him for six.” The gipsy grumbled but hauled out a grubby shovel purse And counted out six shiny shillings with a muttered curse And then Toad ate his fill of stew until he overflowed And made his merry way onward feeling quite a different Toad. There’s bankers and there’s stockbrokers Who’ve made themselves a pile, But none of them are quite as sharp or quite as mercantile As one upon whom such a gift for business is bestowed The Silver-Tongued, Persuasive, Glib and Charming Mr Toad!
25.
Toad ambled down the highway when an old familiar sound From far behind him caught his ear and made him turn around And down the road he saw a sight which made him come alive A party in a motor-car out for a Sunday drive. “What luck!” thought Toad “I’m sure if I appeal to protocol They’ll gladly take a stranded gentleman back to Toad Hall!” But he began to tremble when he recognised from afar The folk from whom he’d stolen the previous motor-car. Toad, overcome with terror at the prospect of arrest, Fell deep into a faint and fell face down in distress Concerned, the driver pulled up by the roadside and got out “Here lend a hand, you fellows, this poor lady has passed out!” The gentlemen placed Toad safe next to the driver’s seat “Now sit awhile dear lady 'til you’re steady on your feet. We’ll take you to a doctor who’ll give you the finest care And while we travel breathe in the pleasant country air.” Toad realised they had no knowledge who they’d taken on His spirits rose and as the motor-car sped swiftly on He found himself admiring the grace with which it moved And speculated how the driving could well be improved. Then Toad could wait no longer. With a grip as strong as steel He forced the driver from the seat And seized the steering-wheel Poop-poop! Poop-poop! Now tremble and quake before a one Who shuns and scorns pedestrians and spurns the Highway Code! Know that I am None other than he whom you thought parked Safe in a dungeon deep and dark - The Daring Mr Toad! The passengers all cried as one: “Let’s seize this wicked Toad!” But Toad spun round the wheel At which the vehicle left the road. And ploughed through fields And hurtled straight through thick hedge-ways Through foliage, grass and straw and hay with the passengers hanging on. Until at last The motor-car came to a halt And, bruised and battered by the assault, It lay in a duckpond. Toad sprang out of the wreckage and jubilantly crowed “Who was it stole the same car once again? Ingenious Toad!” Then blithely paying no heed to the party’s feeble screams He turned with purpose and strode off and fell into a stream...
26.
The current was strong and pulled Toad along And swiftly swept him far downstream. His clothes fell asunder, the weed pulled him under, He opened his cold lips to scream But water gushed into his lungs and he found He just made a strangled and gurgling sound. Resigned to his fate he decided to drown But then felt a hand under his arm Which firmly propelled him back into the air And steered back onto the bank with great care. Toad found himself looking into the stern stare Of none other than Ratty himself. Ratty put Toad in his boat and to his house he rowed. He made a pot of boiling tea and passed a cup to Toad. “Now Toady, you’re a good friend but I trust you’ve learned your lesson? Please tell me that this brush with death has banished your obsession?” Toad wept and said “My dearest Rat I can’t thank you enough For saving me from drowning in the river wild and rough. I swear I’m done with motor-cars I’ll leave them well alone. And after my ordeal I think I’d quite like to go home.”
27.
“Go home?” asked Rat aghast. “You mean to say you haven’t heard About the stoats and weasels?” “No!” Toad answered “Not a word. What has befallen my ancestral seat in my absence? I beg you, Ratty, tell the tale,” and so the Rat commenced. “The other two were staying at Toad Hall 'til you came back And then one evening while they slept the Wild Wooders attacked. The stealthy stoats and wicked weasels knocked them both about They fought but were outnumbered so the bounders threw them out. And since that night the Wild Wooders have lived in your abode.” Toad buried his head in his hands “Oh, feckless, foolish Toad! Because of my obsessions and my fancies and my fads I’ve lost the finest home that anybody ever had.” “Not so!” said Badger who had entered unobserved with Mole. “For, while you’ve been careering around out of control, The Mole and Rat and I have been scheming for your good We’ve found a way to drive the weasels back into the Wood.” “They’ve posted sentries all around the walls” the Mole explained “With searchlights pointed all about the grounds and rifles trained. There is no hope of taking Toad Hall back by land or air. Before we get within a mile they’d know that we were there.” “It’s hopeless, then,” Toad snuffled softly and began to cry. “Now come along” said Badger “There’s another way to try. Before your father sadly passed away he told to me A secret which must not be told to any but you three. “For times of deadly danger there is a catacomb Which runs from by the riverbank to Toad Hall’s dining room. Tomorrow night the Wild Wood folk will meet to drink and feast If we can sneak up and surprise them, there’s a chance at least!” The Toad looked up at Rat and Mole and Badger gratefully “No fellow ever had such stout companions as you three. I thank you for your friendship and tomorrow let us all Make those wicked stoats and weasels rue The day they took Toad Hall!”
28.
All the following day Badger, Rat and Mole and Toad Laid their plans to retake their friend’s occupied abode. Every dodge and manoeuvre which would make their way smoother Was debated and set to the tiniest detail. By the time they’d laid their plans They were sure they couldn’t fail... And when the sun had stolen from the sky And night had fallen on the riverside The four avengers stealthily stole out And made for the tunnel with Badger as their guide. All four were armed with stout holly staves. The way followed many a twist and bend. For miles they plodded through the dark Until they found themselves at the tunnel’s end. From up above there came the sound Of drinking, carousing and of merriment The Badger quietly opened the hatch And one by one the four friends through it went...
29.
Rat was first into the room and gave a mighty shout. The Mole was next and after him the Badger darted out Then after him came Mr. Toad yelling as he ran. There was a pause and then the Battle of Toad Hall began. The room became a blur of noise and mayhem as the friends Struck left and right and front and back and left and right again. The weasels and the stoats were caught entirely by surprise And for a while they stood as though they had been mesmerised. They roused themselves and drunkenly attempted to defend. Too late for now the battle swung to our intrepid friends. The stoats and weasels fought in vain against their fierce attack And though their number was the greater, they were beaten back. The Badger’s mighty strength was seen as he fought one to five. The agile Rat was everywhere and nimbly ducked and dived. The dogged Mole fought like a bulldog tireless and brave And Toad filled them with terror as he swung his holly stave. At length the stoats and weasels fled before the four friends’ wrath. The Mole and Rat chased after them to see them safely off. The Badger poured them all a drink and sat down by the hearth. “Well Toad, we won’t be seeing them again” he said and laughed The Mole and Rat returned and the four friends drank a toast To hearth and home and all the simple things they cherished most. To comradeship, a job well done and sharing of a load And lastly to the prodigal son – the new and chastened Toad.
30.
Epilogue 01:17
So we now bid adieu to the four comrades who We’ve come to know during our tale. We’ve followed them all from river to hall, Via Wild Wood, the road and the jail. Before we take leave of the Rat and the Toad, And Badger and Mole and then take to the road We hope we have pleased you with each episode Of this tale we’ve been telling to you. We thank you for listening and bid you farewell. Safe home to wherever it is that you dwell. We started our story as strangers but, well, We hope that we’re parting as friends. And now our tale comes to an end.

credits

released June 28, 2021

Chris Green: voice, guitar, accordion, bass guitar
Sophie Matthews: voice, flute, shawm, recorder, English border bagpipes

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GreenMatthews Coventry, UK

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews play English traditional songs and tunes in a thoroughly 21st-century kick-ass style. Using a blend of ancient instruments such as cittern, English bagpipes and shawm as well as modern folk instruments such as guitar, flute and piano accordion, they breathe new life into material from hundreds of years ago, making it fresh and relevant for a modern audience. ... more

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