Here is the start of my short story which won first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society Competition to write a sequel to The Wind in the Willows.
One morning in late March, Mole was busying himself tidying up the entrance to the home he now shared on a full-time basis with his friend the Water Rat. He hummed to himself as he worked, revelling in the warmth and at being able to exert himself after the long, dark winter.
He heard the loud splash of an oar hitting water and then an even louder cry. He glanced out over the river and saw the Water Rat waving so wildly that he looked likely to pitch himself overboard.
“You’ll never guess the news,” called the Rat. “Never in ten thousand years.”
Mole put down his broom and watched as his friend tied up the boat and leapt up the path.
Ratty seized hold of Mole’s hands. “Guess my news, come on try to guess.”
“You have bought a new boat,” said Mole.
The Water Rat shook his head.
“Toad has bought a new boat, or a car, or a locomotive.”
Again Ratty shook his head.
“It’s even more wondrous than that,” he said. He sat down on the little bench by the side of the door and shook his head slowly as if he couldn’t truly believe the thoughts whirling round his own head. “Toad has just told me that he is going to get married.”
“Married,” cried the Mole and clapped his hands in joy.
Ratty looked at him askance. “I’m glad that you think it’s a cause for celebration,” he said.
“Not at all. Marriage is not for the likes of us. Not for animals meant to be lifelong bachelors. Marriage is for females and such like. And most of all, marriage is not for someone like Toad.”
Mole looked out over the river. In the depths of his heart stirred a little twinge of envy. It must be wonderful to fall in love, he mused, to make a gallant proposal, to be shyly accepted and to plan a whole new life together. But he took one look at his friend’s disgruntled face and decided to keep these thoughts to himself.
“Has Toad said who he wants to be his Best Animal?” Mole asked.
At that Ratty leapt up, his face now alight and beaming. “As a matter of fact, yes, he has. He has asked me. Isn’t that grand?”
“Oh yes, it’s absolutely grand,” cried the Mole, shaking his friend’s paw vigorously. “And absolutely the best choice possible.”
‘I agree,’ said Ratty. “In fact I’ll get down to my speech right this minute.”
Mole smiled fondly at his friend as he plunged into the house, all doubts and reservations about the wedding seemingly quite banished.
“Married,” said the Badger in astonishment when they broke the news to him that afternoon. “To a female?”
“To Natalia Natterjack, to be exact,” said Ratty. “She lives in Natterjack Manor.”
“Never heard of her,” said Badger. “Wish I never had.” He poured them all a cup of tea. “Does the poor young creature know what she’s letting herself in for?”
“And the other news,” said Mole, “is that Toad has asked Ratty to be his Best Animal. Isn’t that splendid?”
Badger growled. “Not if Toad changes his mind. Custom decrees that in those circumstances the Best Animal has to marry the bride.”
Ratty’s cup fell to the floor. “You can’t be serious,” he said. “Badger, tell me you’re not serious.”
“It is a most serious matter,” said the Badger. “Who ever heard of a marriage between a Water Rat and a Toad?”
Ratty turned a stricken face to Mole.
You can buy the short story on Amazon or Smashwords.
Alternatively you can buy all of the short listed stories in the anthology, The Wind in the Willows Short Stories. The proceeds from this go to the Kenneth Grahame Society.