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2. THE OPEN ROAD (continued)
`So it is, so it is,' said the Mole, with great heartiness.
`No, it isn't!' cried the Rat indignantly.
`Well then, it isn't, it isn't,' replied the Mole soothingly. `But what I wanted to ask you was, won't you take me to call on Mr. Toad? I've heard so much about him, and I do so want to make his acquaintance.'
`Why, certainly,' said the good-natured Rat, jumping to his feet and dismissing poetry from his mind for the day. `Get the boat out, and we'll paddle up there at once. It's never the wrong time to call on Toad. Early or late he's always the same fellow. Always good-tempered, always glad to see you, always sorry when you go!'
`He must be a very nice animal,' observed the Mole, as he got into the boat and took the sculls, while the Rat settled himself comfortably in the stern.
`He is indeed the best of animals,' replied Rat. `So simple, so good-natured, and so affectionate. Perhaps he's not very clever--we can't all be geniuses; and it may be that he is both boastful and conceited. But he has got some great qualities, has Toady.'
Rounding a bend in the river, they came in sight of a handsome, dignified old house of mellowed red brick, with well-kept lawns reaching down to the water's edge.
`There's Toad Hall,' said the Rat; `and that creek on the left, where the notice-board says, "Private. No landing allowed," leads to his boat-house, where we'll leave the boat. The stables are over there to the right. That's the banqueting-hall you're looking at now--very old, that is. Toad is rather rich, you know, and this is really one of the nicest houses in these parts, though we never admit as much to Toad.'
They glided up the creek, and the Mole slipped his sculls as they passed into the shadow of a large boat-house. Here they saw many handsome boats, slung from the cross beams or hauled up on a slip, but none in the water; and the place had an unused and a deserted air.
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