Toad of Toad Hall enters the Northern Caucus race
After he won the Caucus races in the South, the Southern Lion thought he should also have a Caucus race in the North of the country. Soon after he got rid of the Winged Monkeys the Black Panther had told him to have a race there. The German Shepherd had said the same. But the Pink Panther had told him to wait, for he was going to distribute jelly babies in the North. When the animals there stooped low to gather them up, then the Lion could leap over them, and so could his mates, and they would have no difficulty in winning the race.
But it took a long time for the Pink Panther to distribute his jelly babies. And a story began to spread that the Pink Panther did not know how to make jelly babies, and what he produced was not very tasty. There were even stories that he thought you had to put cement into everything. And though the Lion could not believe that there were animals who did know know jelly babies had to be soft and luscious, it became clear that what the Pink Panther left behind him for them to feed on was far too hard for the animals of the North.
And then there was another problem. The Caucus race in the North was not against the Seethala Kotiya from Biyagama, but against a Badger and other woodland creatures of the same sort who lived in a verdant park. The park was situated round a beautiful old house that was known in the Island in the Sun as Toad Hall. How it had got that name no one knew, for there had never been toads there, not even in the days of the Old Lion or the Tired Tortoise or the Rogue Elephant.
At first the Southern Lion did not worry too much about the Badger and the other animals who lived in Toad Park. After all the Badger was much happier underground and no one thought he was able to run quickly above the ground.
‘And you need not worry about his assistants either,’ the Pink Panther said encouragingly. ‘The Mole does not like the Rat, and the Rat can’t stand the Mole.’
‘But they will hang together against us,’ the Black Panther said darkly.
‘No, no, not at all. Neither will take the lead in a Caucus race because they think the other will bite his backside from behind. And the Rat has very sharp teeth even if he cannot run so fast.’
So, the Lion was made to feel quite confident, and even though the Black Panther scowled and growled to himself, he said nothing to worry the Lion.
But then, to everyone’s astonishment, the Badger produced a Toad. It was a very old Toad he found, under a stone, but this old Toad turned out to be very lively. Indeed there were those who said the Badger had originally found not a Toad, but a handsome young Prince, in a cave with a stone roof. But the Badger was a wise badger and he knew lots of special spells and, before the Prince could blink, he had turned him into a Toad.
And when he showed his Toad to the Rat and the Mole, they all thought this was a perfect choice. He looked so old that, even though he ran or rather hopped energetically, it was obvious that he could not keep this up for a long time. And then the Mole felt it would be easy for him to take his place, an idea that had also occurred to Ratty. So they, and all their friends, decided to cheer on the Toad, and ignore the story that a colony of, not monkeys, but big baboons, was gathering in the darker parts of the jungle where rats and even moles did not venture.