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Chapter 9, IN WHICH PIGLET IS ENTIRELY SURROUNDED BY WATER

IT rained and it rained and it rained. Piglet told himself that never in all his life, and he was goodness knows how old—three, was it, or four?—never had he seen so much rain. Days and days and days.

“If only,” he thought, as he looked out of the window, “I had been in Pooh's house, or Christopher Robin's house, or Rabbit's house when it began to rain, then I should have had Company all this time, instead of being here all alone, with nothing to do except wonder when it will stop.” And he imagined himself with Pooh, saying, “Did you ever see such rain, Pooh?” and Pooh saying, “Isn't it awful, Piglet?” and Piglet saying, “I wonder how it is over Christopher Robin's way,” and Pooh saying, “I should think poor old Rabbit is about flooded out by this time.” It would have been jolly to talk like this, and really, it wasn't much good having anything exciting like floods, if you couldn't share them with somebody.

For it was rather exciting. The little dry ditches in which Piglet had nosed about so often had become streams, the little streams across which he had splashed were rivers, and the river, between whose steep banks they had played so happily, had sprawled out of its own bed and was taking up so much room everywhere, that Piglet was beginning to wonder whether it would be coming into his bed soon.

“It's a little Anxious,” he said to himself, “to be a Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water. Christopher Robin and Pooh could escape by Climbing Trees, and Kanga could escape by Jumping, and Rabbit could escape by Burrowing, and Owl could escape by Flying, and Eeyore could escape by—by Making a Loud Noise Until Rescued, and here am I, surrounded by water and I can't do anything.”

It went on raining, and every day the water got a little higher, until now it was nearly up to Piglet's window... and still he hadn't done anything.

“There's Pooh,” he thought to himself. “Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right. There's Owl. Owl hasn't exactly got Brain, but he Knows Things. He would know the Right Thing to Do when Surrounded by Water. There's Rabbit. He hasn't Learnt in Books, but he can always Think of a Clever Plan. There's Kanga. She isn't Clever, Kanga isn't, but she would be so anxious about Roo that she would do a Good Thing to Do without thinking about it. And then there's Eeyore And Eeyore is so miserable anyhow that he wouldn't mind about this. But I wonder what Christopher Robin would do?”

Then suddenly he remembered a story which Christopher Robin had told him about a man on a desert island who had written something in a bottle and thrown it in the sea; and Piglet thought that if he wrote something in a bottle and threw it in the water, perhaps somebody would come and rescue him!

He left the window and began to search his house, all of it that wasn't under water, and at last he found a pencil and a small piece of dry paper, and a bottle with a cork to it. And he wrote on one side of the paper:

HELP!

PIGLIT (ME)

and on the other side:

IT'S ME PIGLIT, HELP

HELP!

Then he put the paper in the bottle, and he corked the bottle up as tightly as he could, and he leant out of his window as far as he could lean without falling in, and he threw the bottle as far as he could throw—splash!—and in a little while it bobbed up again on the water; and he watched it floating slowly away in the distance, until his eyes ached with looking, and sometimes he thought it was the bottle, and sometimes he thought it was just a ripple on the water which he was following, and then suddenly he knew that he would never see it again and that he had done all that he could do to save himself.

“So now,” he thought, “somebody else will have to do something, and I hope they will do it soon, because if they don't I shall have to swim, which I can't, so I hope they do it soon.” And then he gave a very long sigh and said, “I wish Pooh were here. It's so much more friendly with two.”

When the rain began Pooh was asleep. It rained, and it rained, and it rained, and he slept and he slept and he slept. He had had a tiring day. You remember how he discovered the North Pole; well, he was so proud of this that he asked Christopher Robin if there were any other Poles such as a Bear of Little Brain might discover.

“There's a South Pole,” said Christopher Robin, “and I expect there's an East Pole and a West Pole, though people don't like talking about them.” Pooh was very excited when he heard this, and suggested that they should have an Expotition to discover the East Pole, but Christopher Robin had thought of something else to do with Kanga; so Pooh went out to discover the East Pole by himself. Whether he discovered it or not, I forget; but he was so tired when he got home that, in the very middle of his supper, after he had been eating for little more than half-an-hour, he fell fast asleep in his chair, and slept and slept and slept.

Then suddenly he was dreaming. He was at the East Pole, and it was a very cold pole with the coldest sort of snow and ice all over it. He had found a bee-hive to sleep in, but there wasn't room for his legs, so he had left them outside. And Wild Woozles, such as inhabit the East Pole, came and nibbled all the fur off his legs to make Nests for their Young. And the more they nibbled, the colder his legs got, until suddenly he woke up with an Ow!—and there he was, sitting in his chair with his feet in the water, and water all round him!

He splashed to his door and looked out....

“This is Serious,” said Pooh. “I must have an Escape.”

So he took his largest pot of honey and escaped with it to a broad branch of his tree, well above the water, and then he climbed down again and escaped with another pot... and when the whole Escape was finished, there was Pooh sitting on his branch dangling his legs, and there, beside him, were ten pots of honey....

Two days later, there was Pooh, sitting on his branch, dangling his legs, and there, beside him, were four pots of honey....

Three days later, there was Pooh, sitting on his branch, dangling his legs, and there beside him, was one pot of honey.

Four days later, there was Pooh...

And it was on the morning of the fourth day that Piglet's bottle came floating past him, and with one loud cry of “Honey!” Pooh plunged into the water, seized the bottle, and struggled back to his tree again.

“Bother!” said Pooh, as he opened it. “All that wet for nothing. What's that bit of paper doing?”

He took it out and looked at it.

“It's a Missage,” he said to himself, “that's what it is. And that letter is a 'P,' and so is that, and so is that, and 'P' means 'Pooh,' so it's a very important Missage to me, and I can't read it. I must find Christopher Robin or Owl or Piglet, one of those Clever Readers who can read things, and they will tell me what this missage means. Only I can't swim. Bother!”

Then he had an idea, and I think that for a Bear of Very Little Brain, it was a good idea. He said to himself:

“If a bottle can float, then a jar can float, and if a jar floats, I can sit on the top of it, if it's a very big jar.”

So he took his biggest jar, and corked it up.

“All boats have to have a name,” he said, “so I shall call mine The Floating Bear.” And with these words he dropped his boat into the water and jumped in after it.

For a little while Pooh and The Floating Bear were uncertain as to which of them was meant to be on the top, but after trying one or two different positions, they settled down with The Floating Bear underneath and Pooh triumphantly astride it, paddling vigorously with his feet.

Christopher Robin lived at the very top of the Forest. It rained, and it rained, and it rained, but the water couldn't come up to his house. It was rather jolly to look down into the valleys and see the water all round him, but it rained so hard that he stayed indoors most of the time, and thought about things. Every morning he went out with his umbrella and put a stick in the place where the water came up to, and every next morning he went out and couldn't see his stick any more, so he put another stick in the place where the water came up to, and then he walked home again, and each morning he had a shorter way to walk than he had had the morning before. On the morning of the fifth day he saw the water all round him, and he new that for the first time in his life he was on a real island. Which is very exciting. It was on this morning that Owl came flying over the water to say “How do you do?” to his friend Christopher Robin.

“I say, Owl,” said Christopher Robin, “isn't this fun? I'm on an island!”

“The atmospheric conditions have been very unfavourable lately,” said Owl.

“The what?”

“It has been raining,” explained Owl.

“Yes,” said Christopher Robin. “It has.”

“The flood-level has reached an unprecedented height.”

“The who?”

“There's a lot of water about,” explained Owl.

“Yes,” said Christopher Robin, “there is.”

“However, the prospects are rapidly becoming more favourable. At any moment—”

“Have you seen Pooh?”

“No. At any moment—”

“I hope he's all right,” said Christopher Robin. “I've been wondering about him. I expect Piglet's with him. Do you think they're all right, Owl?”

“I expect so. You see, at any moment—”

“Do go and see, Owl. Because Pooh hasn't got very much brain, and he might do something silly, and I do love him so, Owl. Do you see, Owl?”

“That's all right,” said Owl. “I'll go. Back directly.” And he flew off.

In a little while he was back again. Pooh isn't there,” he said.

“Not there?”

“He's been there. He's been sitting on a branch of his tree outside his house with nine pots of honey. But he isn't there now.”

“Oh, Pooh!” cried Christopher Robin. “Where are you?”

“Here I am,” said a growly voice behind him.

“Pooh!”

They rushed into each other's arms.

“How did you get here, Pooh?” asked Christopher Robin, when he was ready to talk again.

“On my boat,” said Pooh proudly. “I had a Very Important Missage sent me in a bottle, and owing to having got some water in my eyes, I couldn't read it, so I brought it to you. On my boat.”

With these proud words he gave Christopher Robin the missage.

“But it's from Piglet!” cried Christopher Robin when he had read it.

“Isn't there anything about Pooh in it?” asked Bear, looking over his shoulder.

Christopher Robin read the message aloud.

“Oh, are those 'P's' piglets? I thought they were poohs.”

“We must rescue him at once! I thought he was with you, Pooh. Owl, could you rescue him on your back?”

“I don't think so,” said Owl, after grave thought. “It is doubtful if the necessary dorsal muscles ”

“Then would you fly to him at once and say that Rescue is Coming? And Pooh and I will think of a Rescue and come as quick as ever we can. Oh, don't talk, Owl, go on quick!” And, still thinking of something to say, Owl flew off.

“Now then, Pooh,” said Christopher Robin, “where's your boat?”

“I ought to say,” explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, “that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends.”

“Depends on what?”

“On whether I'm on top of it or underneath it.”

“Oh! Well, where is it?”

“There!” said Pooh, pointing proudly to The Floating Bear.

It wasn't what Christopher Robin expected, and the more he looked at it, the more he thought what a Brave and Clever Bear Pooh was, and the more Christopher Robin thought this, the more Pooh looked modestly down his nose and tried to pretend he wasn't.

“But it's too small for two of us,” said Christopher Robin sadly.

“Three of us with Piglet.”

“That makes it smaller still Oh, Pooh Bear, what shall we do?”

And then this Bear, Pooh Bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, F. O. P. (Friend of Piglet's), R. C. (Rabbit's Companion), P. D. (Pole Discoverer), E. C. and T. F. (Eeyore's Comforter and Tail-finder)—in fact, Pooh himself—said something so clever that Christopher Robin could only look at him with mouth open and eyes staring, wondering if this was really the Bear of Very Little Brain whom he had know and loved so long.

“We might go in your umbrella,” said Pooh.

“?”

“We might go in your umbrella,” said Pooh?

“??”

“We might go in your umbrella,” said Pooh.

“!!!!!!”

For suddenly Christopher Robin saw that they might. He opened his umbrella and put it point downwards in the water. It floated but wobbled.

Pooh got in. He was just beginning to say that it was all right now, when he found that it wasn't, so after a short drink, which he didn't really want, he waded back to Christopher Robin. Then they both got in together, and it wobbled no longer.

“I shall call this boat The Brain of Pooh,” said Christopher Robin, and The Brain of Pooh set sail forthwith in a south-westerly direction, revolving gracefully.

You can imagine Piglet's joy when at last the ship came in sight of him. In after-years he liked to think that he had been in Very Great Danger during the Terrible Flood, but the only danger he had really been in was the last half-hour of his imprisonment, when Owl, who had just flown up, sat on a branch of his tree to comfort him, and told him a very long story about an aunt who had once laid a seagull's egg by mistake, and the story went on and on, rather like this sentence, until Piglet who was listening out of his window without much hope, went to sleep quietly and naturally, slipping slowly out of the window towards the water until he was only hanging on by his toes, at which moment, luckily, a sudden loud squawk from Owl, which was really part of the story, being what his aunt said, woke the Piglet up and just gave him time to jerk himself back into safety and say, “How interesting, and did she?” when—well, you can imagine his joy when at last he saw the good ship, Brain of Pooh (Captain, C. Robin; Ist Mate, P. Bear) coming over the sea to rescue him...

And as that is really the end of the story, and I am very tired after that last sentence, I think I shall stop there.