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The Narrowboat

from The Wind in the Willows by GreenMatthews



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!"


from The Wind in the Willows, released June 28, 2021


all rights reserved



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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