Friday, September 16, 2011
" It Was My Own Little Home -- And I Was Fond of It -- And I Went Away And Forgot All about It."
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, Chapter Five, Dulce Domum, Excerpts, Public Domain
We others, who have long lost the more subtle of the physical senses, have not even proper terms to express an animal's inter-communications with his surroundings, living or otherwise, and have only the word `smell,' for instance, to include the whole range of delicate thrills which murmur in the nose of the animal night and day, summoning, warning? inciting, repelling. It was one of these mysterious fairy calls from out the void that suddenly reached Mole in the darkness, making him tingle through and through with its very familiar appeal, even while yet he could not clearly remember what it was. He stopped dead in his tracks, his nose searching hither and thither in its efforts to recapture the fine filament, the telegraphic current, that had so strongly moved him. A moment, and he had caught it again; and with it this time came recollection in fullest flood.
Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way! Why, it must be quite close by him at that moment, his old home that he had hurriedly forsaken and never sought again, that day when he first found the river! And now it was sending out its scouts and its messengers to capture him and bring him in. Since his escape on that bright morning he had hardly given it a thought, so absorbed had he been in his new life, in all its pleasures, its surprises, its fresh and captivating experiences. Now, with a rush of old memories, how clearly it stood up before him, in the darkness! Shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day's work.
[ GJ - But Ratty refused to take a detour! He was too busy.]
Poor Mole stood alone in the road, his heart torn asunder, and a big sob gathering, gathering, somewhere low down inside him, to leap up to the surface presently, he knew, in passionate escape. But even under such a test as this his loyalty to his friend stood firm. Never for a moment did he dream of abandoning him. Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him imperiously. He dared not tarry longer within their magic circle. With a wrench that tore his very heartstrings he set his face down the road and followed submissively in the track of the Rat, while faint, thin little smells, still dogging his retreating nose, reproached him for his new friendship and his callous forgetfulness.
The Mole subsided forlornly on a tree-stump and tried to control himself, for he felt it surely coming. The sob he had fought with so long refused to be beaten. Up and up, it forced its way to the air, and then another, and another, and others thick and fast; till poor Mole at last gave up the struggle, and cried freely and helplessly and openly, now that he knew it was all over and he had lost what he could hardly be said to have found.
The Rat, astonished and dismayed at the violence of Mole's paroxysm of grief, did not dare to speak for a while. At last he said, very quietly and sympathetically, `What is it, old fellow? Whatever can be the matter? Tell us your trouble, and let me see what I can do.'
Poor Mole found it difficult to get any words out between the upheavals of his chest that followed one upon another so quickly and held back speech and choked it as it came. `I know it's a -- shabby, dingy little place,' he sobbed forth at last, brokenly: `not like -- your cosy quarters -- or Toad's beautiful hall -- or Badger's great house -- but it was my own little home -- and I was fond of it -- and I went away and forgot all about it -- and then I smelt it suddenly -- on the road, when I called and you wouldn't listen, Rat -- and everything came back to me with a rush -- and I wanted it! -- O dear, O dear! -- and when you wouldn't turn back, Ratty -- and I had to leave it, though I was smelling it all the time -- I thought my heart would break. -- We might have just gone and had one look at it, Ratty -- only one look -- it was close by -- but you wouldn't turn back, Ratty, you wouldn't turn back! O dear, O dear!'
Recollection brought fresh waves of sorrow, and sobs again took full charge of him, preventing further speech.
The Rat stared straight in front of him, saying nothing, only patting Mole gently on the shoulder. After a time he muttered gloomily, `I see it all now! What a pig I have been! A pig -- that's me! Just a pig -- a plain pig!'
Read this brilliant analysis of the author's life and his classic work.