chapter six

In which Eeyore has a birthday and gets two presents

Ho-ho, this is going to be another chapter for Eeyore! Although he's not all that impressed about this to begin with, as he's standing by a stream looking at his reflection and saying "Pathetic". He crosses the stream just to have a look from the other side, but it's still no better. "Nobody minds," he says. "Nobody cares."

Before we can learn what Eeyore is upset about, or whether he is just having a usual reaction to Life in General, Pooh arrives from out of some bracken, and says good morning.

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."

Pooh isn't sure what mulberry bush he is talking about, but it turns out that the mulberry bush isn't that important. Pooh sits down to try to work out what's wrong, but he has trouble with this because he doesn't have much in the way of brain, so he has a good old sing instead.

Eeyore gloomily tells him that he should have a good sing and Enjoy Himself, because Some Can. Pooh is sure that something is the matter with Eeyore because he is so sad, and Eeyore says that it's his birthday, and can't you tell by all the presents strewn around the place?

But of course there aren't any presents strewn around, or piled up, or even put away neatly in the cupboard, and there's no cake, or candles, or balloons, or anything! It is Eeyore's birthday today and everyone has forgotten! Oh, Eeyore.

Pooh wishes Eeyore many happy returns of the day, and Eeyore wishes them back to Pooh, because he doesn't want both of them to be miserable on his birthday, and he gets quite upset at this thought, and tells Pooh that it's bad enough being miserable by himself, with no presents and no proper notice taken of him, but he can't cope if everyone else is going to be miserable too.

Pooh is overwhelmed by this poignant show of emotion from the donkey, and he resolves to find Eeyore a present right away, even if he has to get him another, proper present afterwards.

When Pooh arrives at his house he finds that Piglet is already there, jumping up and trying to reach the knocker. Pooh asks him what he is doing, and Piglet explains, and Pooh kindly offers to knock the knocker for him, which he does. And while they wait for someone to come to the door, Pooh tells Piglet about the sad state of Eeyore, and how gloomy he is, and then exclaims that whoever lives there is taking an awfully long time to come to the door.

Piglet points out that Pooh lives there, and Pooh says oh yes, and they go in. Pooh goes straight to his larder and gets a small jar of honey, and tells Piglet that he is going to give it to Eeyore as a present. Piglet asks if he could give it to Eeyore too, so that it is from both of them, but Pooh says that that isn't a good idea.

As he can't give the honey with Pooh, Piglet decides to give Eeyore a balloon, which he has left over from his party. Now, we will presume that this is the same party as referenced in chapter one, when the balloons that Christopher Robin had taken home were used to help Pooh float. We were a bit worried in chapter one because Pooh didn't have a balloon, and so might not have been invited to Piglet's party. But here, Piglet is casually talking about his party right in front of Pooh, so that must mean that Pooh was invited, and he has just given his balloon to someone else. That is a relief.

Piglet immediately goes home to fetch his balloon, and Pooh heads off to see Eeyore and give him the honey. It's quite a long way from his house to Eeyore's Gloomy Place, and when he is about half-way there he comes over a bit funny, as if it is time for a little something. Luckily he has the jar of honey with him, and so he sits down and eats the honey, and then continues on his way.

But then a terrible thought occurs to him...he has eaten Eeyore's present! Bother! It is not too awful though once Pooh has realised that he still has a nice empty honeypot, which he could wash and then write "Happy Birthday" on, and then Eeyore could put things in it.

He therefore needs someone to write the happy birthday, so he goes off to find Owl, and wishes him many happy returns of Eeyore's birthday. Pooh says that he is going to give Eeyore the jar for his birthday, and Owl says that someone has been keeping honey in the jar, which Pooh knew already, and also that someone should write Happy Birthday on the jar, and Pooh already knew that too.

Pooh asks Owl to do the writing, because his own spelling is good but Wobbly. Owl admires the pot and says that they should give it to Eeyore from both of them, but Pooh says that that is not a good idea. Pooh washes the pot, and Owl has a bit of a think as to how you spell the word birthday.

Owl asks Pooh if he can read, and he is a bit anxious about this, but he seems to be reassured when Pooh says that he can read things if Christopher Robin explains what they say first. This seems to suggest that perhaps Owl's spelling is not as good as we had previously thought.

So Owl wrote...and this is what he wrote:
Pooh looked on admiringly.
"I'm just saying 'A Happy Birthday'," said Owl carelessly.
"It's a nice long one," said Pooh, very much impressed by it.

Owl explains that what he is actually writing is not just Happy Birthday, but a full A Very Happy Birthday with Love from Pooh, which is of course much longer than just happy birthday, and Explains Everything, whilst using up a great deal of pencil.

While Owl and Pooh are preparing their jar, Piglet is running across the forest to take his balloon to Eeyore. He is running very fast because he wants to give his present to Eeyore before Pooh gives his present to Eeyore, because then it will look as if he has spontaneously remembered Eeyore's birthday without anyone having had to tell him, which is much better than only remembering secondhand.

Unfortunately, Piglet is not looking where is going, and he trips on a rabbithole, and falls down - and BANG!!!

Piglet lay there, wondering what had happened. At first he thought that the whole world had blown up; and then he thought that perhaps only the forest part of it had; and then he thought that perhaps only he had, and he was now alone in the moon or somewhere, and he would never see Christopher Robin or Pooh or Eeyore again. And then he thought, "Well, even if I'm in the moon, I needn't be face downwards all the time," so he got cautiously up and looked about him.

Luckily for Piglet he is still in the forest and not on the moon, so that's good. But what was that big bang that he heard - surely that couldn't have been made just by a Piglet falling over? And where is his balloon? And where has this small piece of damp rag appeared from?

Oh no - the small piece of damp rag is the balloon, and the BANG was the balloon going pop! We have to say that Piglet rather panics at this point, saying oh dear over and over again, not knowing what to do. He eventually comes to the depressing conclusion that it is too late to go back home, and he knows that he hasn't got another balloon anyway, so he pins all of his hopes on the idea that maybe Eeyore didn't really like balloons in the first place, and continues on his journey.

He finds Eeyore sitting by the stream, and wishes him happy returns. Eeyore is not really listening, and is trying to balance on three legs so that he can put his fourth leg behind his ear to help him hear better. Once he has done this Piglet says happy returns of the day again, and says that he has brought him a present. This is a moment of high drama for the reader, for we hadn't realised that Piglet was going to give Eeyore the balloon anyway, despite the fact that it had burst. Will Eeyore be insulted? Will it just depress him further? Will Piglet regret ever getting out of bed?

Piglet tells Eeyore that he has brought Eeyore a balloon, at which point Eeyore gets very excited. Poor Piglet has to explain that he fell down on the way, and that he accidentally burst the balloon. There is a very long silence, and then Piglet hands over the small piece of damp rag, sniffling a little bit as he does so (because of the horror of the situation).

Eeyore asks what colour the balloon was, when it was actually a balloon, and Piglet says that it was red, which happens to be Eeyore's favourite colour. And Eeyore asks how big it used to be, and Piglet says that it was the same size as Piglet, which is Eeyore's favourite size. Only now of course it isn't really red or Piglet-sized at all.

Piglet is standing there feeling very sad at the whole turn of events when Pooh appears. Pooh wishes Eeyore many happy returns of the day again, and Eeyore says that he is having them, thank you. Pooh says that he has brought Eeyore a present. Poor Piglet is sitting a little way away with his head in his paws, snuffling.

Pooh tells Eeyore that he has brought him a Useful Pot, with A Very Happy Birthday with Love from Pooh written on the side, and that Eeyore can use it to put things in. And he gives Eeyore the pot.

At this point Eeyore become quite excited, because has just spotted something very interesting indeed. He tells Pooh that his balloon will fit into the pot! Pooh says no, and explains that balloons are much too big to go into pots, and what Eeyore should do with a balloon is hold it and...

But Eeyore says that his balloon is different, and he picks it up with his teeth, and puts it into the pot - and it fits beautifully! So he takes it out again, and puts it in again, and takes it out again, and puts it in again.

"So it does!" said Pooh. "It goes in!"
"So it does!" said Piglet. "And it comes out!"
"Doesn't it?" said Eeyore. "It goes in and out like anything."

So Pooh and Piglet are both very glad that they have given Eeyore such useful and entertaining presents, and they let Eeyore know how glad they are, but Eeyore is too busy putting his balloon into the pot and then taking it out again, and he is very happy indeed!

Kanga and baby Roo

Winnie the Pooh and friends are Trademarks of Disney. Quotes are taken from Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.