chapter seven

In which Kanga and baby Roo come to the forest, and Piglet has a bath

It is time to meet two brand new characters, who have arrived in the forest seemingly out of nowhere - Kanga and her son Roo. Seeing as there are two of them together, they have decided to split their name in two, giving them enough name for two animals rather than just one. You have probably already guessed that these new animals are kangaroos.

We might ask ourselves at this point what two kangaroos are doing in the middle of an English forest. However, if we did ask ourselves that, we might also have to ask ourselves what a talking bear is doing in the middle of an English forest, or a Piglet who wears a dark green jumper. We might, in other words, find ourselves in a Dangerous Area, so we shall avoid these particular questions, and carry on with our story.

Pooh, however, is brave enough to ask how Kanga and Roo got to the forest, and Christopher Robin tells Pooh that they came in the Usual Way, and Pooh doesn't understand that but says "Ah!" anyway. He then goes to Piglet's house, and finds that Rabbit is there too, and they all have a chat about the new arrivals. To be frank, they are not immediately keen on the idea.

"What I don't like about it is this," said Rabbit. "Here we are - you, Pooh, and you, Piglet, and Me - and suddenly -"
"And Eeyore," said Pooh.
"And Eeyore - and suddenly -"
"And Owl," said Pooh.
"And Owl - and then all of a sudden -"
"Oh, and Eeyore," said Pooh. "I was forgetting him."
"Here - we - are," said Rabbit, very slowly and carefully, "all - of - us, and then, suddenly, we wake up one morning, and what do we find? We find a Strange Animal among us."

They are particularly worried because they have never even heard of this particular type of animal before, and it is a type of animal that carries its family around in its pocket! Rabbit tries to imagine what it would be like if he carried his family around in his pocket - because of the large number of friends-and-relations that Rabbit has, he would need an extremely high number of pockets.

The animals then initiate a debate concerning the actual number of pockets that Rabbit would need to accommodate his entire friends-and-relations collection. Piglet suggests that he would need 16 pockets, but Rabbit disagrees, saying he would need 17, and one more for a handkerchief, so that's 18, and he really doesn't have time for that number of pockets. Pooh, after a long silence, says that it would be 15, but Rabbit rather wishes to move on by this stage, and says that the point is, what are they going to do about Kanga?

It is Rabbit himself who comes up with a plan, unsurprisingly, considering that the combined brain power of the others doesn't amount to anything worth speaking of. Rabbit's plan revolves around baby Roo, who they will steal from Kanga and hide. When Kanga asks herself where her baby is, the others will says "Aha!".

"Aha!" said Pooh, practising. "Aha! Aha!...Of course," he went on, "we could say 'Aha!' even if we hadn't stolen Baby Roo."
"Pooh," said Rabbit kindly, "you haven't any brain."
"I know," said Pooh humbly.

Rabbit explains that they will say "Aha!" in order to demonstrate to Kanga that they know where little Roo is. It will let her know that they are prepared to reveal Roo's whereabouts, as long as she agrees to leave the forest and never come back.

Now, we have to admit that we are a little disappointed to find that Pooh, Rabbit and Piglet are being so unfriendly to the newcomers, based solely on the fact that they have never heard of kangaroos before and they are prejudiced against animals who carry their family around in pockets. However, we will put this reaction down to a protective instinct rather than real malice, and hope that the following chapter will show the animals being a little more kindly.

Meanwhile, Pooh is practising saying "Aha!" in a corner, and sometimes not quite getting it right, and wondering if Kanga will have to practise listening to it to get her part right and understand it properly, which seems to have missed a point somewhere, although we are not quite sure where.

Piglet, who we know is a small and potentially nervous fellow, pipes up to say that Christopher Robin has told him that a Kanga is Generally Regarded as One of the Fiercer Animals, and that when such an animal is Deprived of its Young, it becomes as fierce as Two of the Fiercer Animals. Which would, of course, make "Aha!" a rather foolish thing to say to Kanga.

"Piglet," said Rabbit, taking out a pencil, and licking the end of it, "you haven't any pluck."
"It is hard to be brave," said Piglet, sniffling slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal."

Rabbit then raises Piglet's spirits considerably by telling him that it is his very smallness that will prove to be of great use for their Plan. Piglet is so excited by this news that he completely forgets to be nervous, and he receives further reassurance when Rabbit says that Kangas are only fierce in the winter, and at the other times of year they are of an Affectionate Disposition.

Pooh is a tiny bit jealous of Piglet's Importance, until Rabbit says that, without Pooh, the whole plan would be impossible. Wow! That sort of bear!

Rabbit has been busily writing all this time, and is now ready to reveal his grand plan to capture baby Roo. The basic plan goes like this: Pooh will talk to Kanga, so that she is distracted. Rabbit will take hold of baby Roo, and Piglet will quickly jump into Kanga's pocket as a replacement. Kanga will then go home, and not notice that Roo is missing until Afterwards!

After Rabbit has revealed his plan there is a stunned silence. Piglet opens and shuts his mouth for a little while without saying anything, and asks Rabbit croakily exactly what happens Afterwards, when Kanga discovers that Roo has become Piglet? Rabbit reminds Piglet that that is when they will say "Aha!", all three of them together, which calms Piglet right down.

Now that the plan is all arranged and everyone knows what they are doing (and Rabbit has explained Pooh's part to him one more time), they go out to look for Kanga.

It so happens that Kanga and Roo are spending the afternoon jumping around in some sand and falling down mouseholes - well, Roo is jumping around and falling down mouseholes, and Kanga is generally doing more supervising and reminding Roo of the lateness of the hour.

Pooh puts the first part of their plan into action, and strikes up a conversation with Kanga in order to distract her. Unfortunately, Pooh's chosen topic - poetry - goes down rather in the manner of a lead balloon, as apparently Kanga is not terribly interested in the subject. Pooh struggles manfully onwards, however, and launches into one of his own compositions, Lines Written by a Bear of Very Little Brain.

Kanga is still not particularly distracted though, and Pooh doesn't even get to his last verse before she interrupts and tells Roo that they really must be heading home soon. Rabbit gives Pooh a 'hurrying-up sort of nudge', so Pooh is forced to rush into a rather desperate final attempt to carry on with the plan - he asks Kanga if she has seen a nearby tree, and whether she thinks there is a bird in it or a fish.

Rabbit tries to back him up, while also picking up Roo, by saying that Kanga really ought to have a look at the tree and the bird in it (unless it's a fish). Piglet helps out by deciding that it isn't a fish, it's a bird, and then Pooh moves the conversation on by trying to decide exactly what type of bird it is, now that it's not a fish.

And finally, just before the whole plan looks like being less of a plan and more of a Silliness, Kanga turns around, and Piglet immediately seizes the moment and jumps straight into Kanga's pocket, and Rabbit scampers off with Roo safely in his paws.

Kanga notices that Rabbit has gone, and so Pooh quickly says that Rabbit thought of something that he had to attend to suddenly - and so did Piglet. Luckily, Kanga is not suspicious of this rather suspicious explanation, and when she asks 'Roo' whether he is all right, Piglet thinks quickly and replies in a sort of squeaking tone that might be mistaken for that of a baby kangaroo.

And the animals have done it! Kanga says goodbye to Pooh and heads home, with Piglet safely ensconced in her pocket. Unfortunately, because of Kanga's impressive jumping skills, Piglet is having a rather rough time of things, and saying "Ooooooooo-ow" more than you would consider healthy.

Still, he manages to make it to Kanga's house without giving himself away - but once they arrive at Kanga's house, a flaw in the Plan becomes evident. Kanga looks into her pocket and realises that she is carrying a Piglet rather than a Roo, and she is almost frightened until she realises that Christopher Robin wouldn't let anything bad happen to Roo. So instead of worrying about the situation, she decides to have a bit of fun with it, and tells 'Roo' (Piglet) that it is bedtime.

Piglet, showing real bravery, says "Aha!" to the best of his ability, considering the Terrifying Journey he has endured. But his "Aha!" is not the best "Aha!" there has ever been, and Kanga doesn't seem to respond as she was supposed to. Kanga then says that he needs to have a bath before bedtime, and Piglet becomes very anxious at this, especially when he realises that he is the only animal available to say "Aha!" (Rabbit is playing with baby Roo, and Pooh has decided to be a Kanga and is jumping in the sand).

Kanga ups the ante at this point and suggests that 'Roo' might like a cold bath today. Piglet gives an indignant shudder, and tries in vain to make Kanga see that he is not, in fact, baby Roo. Kanga just says that 'Roo' is very clever to imitate Piglet's voice, and takes out the soap from the cupboard.

Piglet runs out of options, and finds himself in the bath being scrubbed with a flannel. He continues to protest his Pigletness, but Kanga continues to ignore him and scrub, and even gets some soap in his mouth. Poor little Piglet.

Things get even worse when Kanga mentions Roo's bedtime medicine, and just when we are waiting to see what awful concoction Piglet will be made to drink, Christopher Robin knocks on the door. Phew, that was a close one!

Piglet leaps on this unexpected opportunity, and asks Christopher Robin to vouch for the fact that he is Piglet, not Roo. Christopher Robin says that he can't be Roo because he has just seen Roo playing at Rabbit's house, and Piglet says "I told you so, I'm Piglet".

Christopher Robin shook his head again. "Oh, you're not Piglet," he said. "I know Piglet well, and he's quite a different colour."
Piglet began to say that this was because he had just had a bath, and then he thought that perhaps he wouldn't say that.

Kanga manages to slip some medicine into Piglet anyway, and they decide that perhaps Piglet is a relation of Pooh's, a nephew or an uncle or similar. Christopher Robin decides to call this new animal Pootel, or Henry Pootel for short, and then Henry Pootel (Piglet) takes his chance and runs very fast all the way home.

And when he is a hundreds yards away from home he stops running and rolls the rest of the way, so as to return himself to his proper comfortable colour.

Kanga and Roo stay in the forest happily, as the animals have discovered that there is no need to say "Aha!" to them at all, and Rabbit spends Tuesdays with Roo, and Kanga spends Tuesdays with Pooh (teaching him how to jump), and Piglet spends Tuesdays with Christopher Robin. And everybody's happy.

Expotition to the North Pole

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.