Simply Messing about in Boats

The following excerpt is from The Wind in the Willows.

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“Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in all my life,” said Mole.

“What?” cried the Rat, open-mouthed: “Never been in a — you never — well I — what have you been doing then?”

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“Is it so nice as all that?” asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

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“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half as much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing –about — in — boats; messing —”

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“Look ahead, Rat!” cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

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“— about in boats — or with boats,” the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. “In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not…”

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The Mole never heard a word he was saying. Absorbed in the new life he was entering upon, intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, the scents and the sounds and the sunlight, he trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long, waking dreams. The Water Rat, like the good little fellow he was, sculled steadily on and forebore to disturb him.

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3 thoughts on “Simply Messing about in Boats

  1. The girls will never forget building and sailing Ruby. That was an awesome family project, you can see the excitment in their eyes the day it slid into the lake. I bet it is not the last wooden boat built by this crew

    Thanks for sharing the day, papa Larry & Janet

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