Chapter 7 in Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows, in which Mole and Rat conduct a moonlit search on the river for Otter’s missing son, Portly. In a book of fanciful characters and idyllic countryside ramblings, this episode has a different feel to it—a midsummer night’s magic and mystery, as contrasted with bright, sunshine-filled summer days and cozy, firelit winter evenings.
In midmost of the stream, embraced in the weir’s shimmering arm-spread, a small island lay anchored, fringed close with willow and silver birch and alder. Reserved, shy, but full of significance, it hid whatever it might hold behind a veil, keeping it till the hour should come, and, with the hour, those who were called and chosen.
Slowly, but with no doubt or hesitation whatever, and in something of a solemn expectancy, the two animals passed through the broken, tumultuous water and moored their boat at the flowery margin of the island. In silence they landed, and pushed through the blossom and scented herbage and undergrowth that led up to the level ground, till they stood on a little lawn of a marvelous green, set round with Nature’s own orchard-trees—crab-apple, wild cherry, and sloe.
‘This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me,’ whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. ‘Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we will find Him!’1
They find the baby otter curled asleep at the feet of Pan, the Friend and Helper, whose piped melodies had guided them to the island.
Rowing towards home with little Portly, Pan already fading from their memories, Rat hears the music of the demigod once again, and recites it for Mole:
Lest the awe should dwell
And turn your frolic to fret
You shall look on my power at the helping hour
But then you shall forget !
Lest limbs be reddened and rent
I spring the trap that is set
As I loose the snare you may glimpse me there
For surely you shall forget !
Helper and healer, I cheer
Small waifs in the woodland wet
Strays I find in it, wounds I bind in it
Bidding them all forget ! 2
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Grahame, Kenneth, The Wind in the Willows
1 page 123.
2 page 129.