Turmoil in the Island in the Sun: Mister Toad’s Song
By Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
I told you last week, Dearly Beloved that the old Badger had found an even older Toad to run in the Caucus Race that the Southern Lion had decided to hold in the North. And since no one was sure where the Toad had come from, and since the Pink Panther was busily spreading the story that he was not a Toad at all, but a young Prince, the Badger decided that he and his friends would have to declare that the Toad had been born in Toad Hall, in a four poster bed with a silver canopy. And they were delighted when the Toad agreed to take up their story, and behaved so grandly after that that even they began to believe he was a Toad of princely lineage.
So all of them, even the snuffling Badger, all ran behind the Toad, who did huff and puff a lot but still managed to defeat the Lion. For the Lion too had now begun to huff and puff when he ran, and he was also much regretting that he had not listened to the Black Panther and started this race earlier.
So the Toad came first in the Northern Caucus Race, and he promptly moved into Toad Hall. But at first he seemed happy to talk to the Lion, and in fact he told him that he would invite the Lion to visit him at Toad Hall.
But he made one condition, to which in fact the Lion agreed. For it turned out that the Toad was very fond of fast motor-cars, and there were plenty at Toad Hall which he wanted to ride around in. But no one except those the Lion selected himself had licenses to drive motor cars. For as you know, Dearly Beloved, motor cars can be dangerous things.
But the Toad seemed so sweet and harmless that the Lion agreed he could have a new chauffeur whom he could choose. Unfortunately the Pink Panther thought this was not a good idea, and he strongly advised the Lion to change his mind. And the Lion, who was deeply upset about what had happened, told the Toad that he would have to use a chauffeur the Lion selected.
‘Unless,’ he said, for the Toad looked so woebegone that he felt sorry, ‘Unless, that is, you are willing to drive the car yourself.’
At this the Toad seemed to grin, but then he dropped his jaw and looked so sad that the Lion thought he understood how clever the Lion had been. For, he thought, Mr Toad was so very old that he would never be able to navigate a car in the Park, let alone on the roads.
He was wondering, for he was a soft-hearted lion, whether he should change his mind, but the Toad quickly bowed and left the room. And so the lion did not hear him guffaw when he was out in the open air, exulting in his own cleverness. For he was a very clever Toad indeed.
And he could also compose songs in his head. So as he drove back to Toad Hall, he let the roof of his wonderful convertible car down, and sang at the top of his voice the song of Mr Toad.
‘The world has held great Heroes,
As history-books have showed;
But never a name to go down to fame
Compared with that of Toad!
The clever men at Oxford
Know all there is to be known
But none of them knew one half as much
As intelligent Mr. Toad!
The animals sat in the Ark and cried,
Their tears in torrents flowed.
Who was it said, “ There’s land ahead “ ?
Encouraging Mr. Toad!
The Army all saluted
As they marched along the road.
Was it the King? Or Kitchener?
No. It was Mr. Toad!
The Queen and her Ladies-in-waiting
Sat at the window and sewed.
She cried, “ Look! who’s that handsome man? “
They answered, “ Mr. Toad. “
And so it was a very happy Toad indeed who drove back to Toad Hall.