Mole and Ratty were sitting on the picnic basket waiting for Toan to appear, when an old badger shuffled up next to them.
“Excuse me,” said the Badger, “but I seem to be lost.”
Mole looked him up and down. “Yes,” replied Mole eventually, “you certainly do.”
After a brief pause, the Badger spoke. “I was wondering if you could help me find my way back home.”
Ratty sighed. “In case you haven’t heard, we’ve entered the Age of Personal Responsibility”
“Exactly,” added Mole. “You need to find your own way home.”
“Why?” asked Badger.
“Well, Toan says so,” explained Mole.
“And who is this Toan?” demanded the Badger.
“Toan of Toan Hall. He’s by far the most interesting thing around here. But you don’t have to take my word for it. He’ll be along in a few minutes and you can ask him yourself,” said Mole.
“He’s always ready to give an assessment of how well he’s doing!” added Ratty.
“But why on earth would I take his word for it?” asked the Badger.
“Well, because he’s the Toan, isn’t he?” said Ratty. “I mean he’s the one who promised us that he’d take us on an exciting trip and bring cakes and everything. He’s been telling us for years how wonderful this picnic is going to be.”
“That’s right,” added Mole. “Normally you couldn’t get me out of my house, but this adventure sounds so exciting and magical that I couldn’t possible miss it.”
“We’re going to some really, really exciting places in Toan’s car. Personally, I just can’t wait to be gonski,” said Ratty. “Toan promised us all this, and more.”
“How do you know that you can trust him?” asked the Badger.
“He told us we could trust him,” said Ratty, “and if you can’t trust a Toan saying ‘Trust Me’ who can you trust?”
Badger scoffed. “And I suppose that there’ll be fine weather always during the day and it’ll only rain at night-time to give the flowers a drink…”
“That’s right,” said Mole, “that’s exactly what Toany told us.”
The Badger nodded sagely. “I’d like to meet this Toan.”
“He’ll be here in a minute,” said Ratty. “He was due at midday and it’s only a quarter to three… Oh, look, I think I see him walking down the path. Here we are Toan! Over here.”
It was indeed Toan walking down the path. Badger and Ratty leapt to their feet excitedly.
“Can we leave now?” asked Ratty.
“Where’s your car?” asked Mole.
Toan held up his hand for silence. “Now, I know that I said some things in the heat of discussion and I went a little bit further than I would have if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark, however, I still want you to know that I intend to keep my word. It’s just that they no longer make cars, so we won’t be travelling by car. In fact, we’ll just be walking over there to the riverbank for our picnic. But that’s not really a broken promise, because one place is much like any other.”
“But I was so looking forward to a trip by car,” said Ratty.
“Now, now, Ratty,” said Toan, “there’s no need to be negative here.”
“But you promised,” said Mole.
“My overriding promise was that we would have a picnic,” said Toan. “And we shall. It’ll be a grand picnic. Providing you two have brought enough food, of course.”
While the other two cheered, the Badger snorted. “I thought so.”
“Who are you?” asked Toan.
“I’m just an old badger trying to find my way home.”
“Well, I think that it’s time you got back to work. We don’t have enough in our picnic basket to share with lazy badgers like you.”
The Badger walked off shaking his head.
“He wasn’t very nice was he, Toan?” asked Ratty.
“No,” said Toan. “I hope you’ve got more scones than this, or else you two will miss out. Come on, hurry up, you two. It’s time that I get what I deserve!”
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