chapter nine

In which Piglet is entirely surrounded by water

It is raining at the start of this chapter, on and on and on, until it's really more of a Flood. Poor old Piglet is stuck inside his house staring out at the rain and thinking that he has never seen so much of it before. Interestingly, we learn an estimate of Piglet's age here, as he thinks he is probably either three or four.

Piglet is a bit chagrined that he is all by himself rather than with Pooh or Rabbit or Christopher Robin, because he is having to just think to himself rather than have a fun conversation about it all, which would be much more exciting. But still, even on his own it is quite exciting, because there really is water everywhere, so much so that the water has almost reached into Piglet's own house.

"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."

And it goes on raining, on and on, and the water is now so high that it has almost reached Piglet's window and come on in without an Invitation. And Piglet is seriously starting to think that he really must do something, even if he can't climb trees or fly or any of the other special skills that the others possess.

So he is wondering what Christopher Robin would advise in such a situation, and he fortuitously remembers that Christopher Robin once told him a story about a stranded man who had put a message into a bottle and thrown it into the sea. Perhaps if Piglet does the same then someone will read his message and come to his rescue!

Piglet searches the bits of his house that aren't Submerged to find a piece of paper, a pencil, and a bottle with a cork in it. And he writes this on one side of the paper:



And this on the other:


Then he puts the paper into the bottle, stops it up with the cork, and throws the bottle into the floods. As he watches it float away he knows for certain that he will never see it again, but that he has done everything in his power to help himself, and it is now up to somebody else to do something useful, because if they don't then he will have to swim, and he can't. And Piglet gives a long sigh at the futility of the situation and the nature of the Piglet condition, and once again wishes that he was with Pooh, because it is so much more friendly with two.

Meanwhile, at Pooh's house, Pooh has been having a long snooze while the rain has been falling. He has had a hard day, because following his dramatic discovery of the North Pole he had asked Christopher Robin whether there were any other Poles that might be suitable for Discovery by Bear. Christopher Robin had told him that there was definitely a South Pole, and very possibly East and West Poles as well, although "people don't like talking about them".

Pooh is understandably excited by this revelation, and promptly suggests that they form an Expotition to discover the East Pole, but Christopher Robin is busy playing with Kanga, so Pooh has a go at discovering the East Pole by himself. We are not quite sure whether he managed to find it or not, but we do know that all of the effort involved wore him out, which is why he only eats supper for a little over half an hour before falling asleep, and staying asleep for a very long time.

While he is sleeping he has a rather unusual dream. He dreams that he has found the East Pole, which turns out to be at a very cold place with lots of ice and snow. He finds a beehive in which to have a sleep, but the beehive is only big enough for his upper body, so he leaves his legs outside. And then Wild Woozles (the kind that live at the East Pole) come along and start munching the fur from his legs, because they use the fur to make nests for baby Woozles. And without the fur Pooh's legs are getting colder and colder, until they get so cold that he wakes up - and his feet are in water, and there's water all inside his house!

Pooh has a look out the window and, despite lacking in the brain department, immediately realises that this is a Serious Situation, and he will need an escape plan. So what he decides to do is use a branch of the tree to sit on, and he brings with him every pot of honey that he has in the house, carrying them outside one by one.

Finally, when the last pot of honey has been carried outside, Pooh sits down on the branch with 10 pots of honey beside him. And two days later he is still sitting there, and there are four pots of honey on the branch, and three days later he is still sitting there, and there is one pot of honey on the branch, and four days later, he is still sitting there...and there are no pots of honey on the branch.

Pooh is now completely out of Provisions, which would be a worry, except that Piglet's message in a bottle chooses that exact moment to float carelessly by. Pooh mistakes the bottle for a pot of honey, but that does mean that he jumps into the water to get hold of it rather than let it drift away.

He is initially Perturbed when he sees that is it not in fact a honey jar, as he has gone through all that wet for nothing, but then he sees the piece of paper with Piglet's message on.

Pooh doesn't have quite enough brain to read the whole message, but he manages to recognise the letter 'P', and he knows that the letter 'P' means 'Pooh', so this is clearly something very important involving Pooh, and he will need to look for Christopher Robin or Owl or Piglet to find out what it says.

But, of course, this presents Pooh with a problem, for he is still in the middle of a flood, and he can't swim. He only has his empty honey jars for company...hmm, empty honey jars...which might float!

Pooh gets hold of the biggest honey jar that he has, seals it up, calls his new boat The Floating Bear, and sets sail.

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.

At the top of the forest, Christopher Robin is feeling very lucky that his house is high up and so safe from the rain. On the fifth straight day of rain he notices that his house is now actually on an island, which is rather thrilling. Owl flies over to visit him, and Christopher Robin tells him the exciting news about being on an island, but Owl is more interested in explaining about the weather and using long words such as Atmospheric Conditions.

Christopher Robin is concerned about Pooh, because as we know he is not the brightest bear in the world and he might have got into trouble in all the water. Christopher Robin asks Owl to go and check on him, so Owl flies off to Pooh's house, but when he gets there he just sees the nine boats of honey on the branch (10 pots minus The Floating Bear), but no Pooh.

Fortunately, Pooh reaches Christopher Robin's house right at this moment, and gets a big hug from Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin asks Pooh how he managed to get through the water, and Pooh explains about his boat and the important message that he was sent, and the fact that he would have read it but he had some water in his eyes, so he has brought it to Christopher Robin to read instead.

Christopher Robin reads the message, and says that it is from Piglet. Pooh is a bit disappointed to find out that the message is not about himself, and the 'P's are Piglets rather than Poohs. Christopher Robin says that they need to go and rescue Piglet, and suggests that Owl could carry him on his back, but Owl is not sure about this and starts to explain about the importance of dorsal muscles.

Christopher Robin cuts him off quickly (because Owl can go on a bit once he's started), and says that Owl should instead just go and tell Piglet that help is on its way, and then he and Pooh will think of a plan to rescue Piglet. So Owl flies off, and Christopher Robin asks to see Pooh's 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 the top of it or underneath it."

Pooh shows Christopher Robin The Floating Bear, and Christopher Robin is very impressed with Pooh's ingenuity and bravery, while Pooh looks modestly at the floor. However, there is one problem with Pooh's boat - it is too small for two of them, and on the way back there will be three of them, because of Piglet, and it is definitely too small for three of them.

It is at this point that Pooh comes up with possibly the most intelligent, most brilliant, most spectacular idea he has ever had - he says that they could go in Christopher Robin's umbrella!

Well, Christopher Robin is stunned by the brilliance of this suggestion, because he thinks that this plan might well work. He opens his umbrella and puts it, upside down, into the water. It is a bit wobbly when left by itself in the water, but it definitely floats!

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.

But when Christopher Robin and Pooh both get in at the same time the umbrella stays perfectly upright. Christopher Robin names the new boat The Brain of Pooh, and they set sail to Piglet's house, while doing a bit of revolving in between.

Piglet is, of course, very much relieved and thrilled to see the The Brain of Pooh approach his house, even more so because he has had a nasty moment when Owl turned up, sat down on a tree branch and started wittering on like he does, and Piglet was so bored that he fell asleep and almost fell out of his window into the water, only being saved by a loud squawk from Owl.

And so Piglet is saved by a very clever bear and his boats, and we'll go on to chapter 10!

Christopher Robin gives a Pooh party

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.