In which Pooh goes visiting and gets into a tight place
So here we are at chapter two, and Pooh is walking through the forest, having already done his Stoutness Exercises for the morning in front of his mirror. His Stoutness Exercises foreshadow the main plotline to come (rather cleverly), so we should make a special effort to remember them.
Pooh has also made up a little hum which he is humming, and he is walking around humming away when he happens upon a hole in a bank. As we have seen in chapter one, Pooh may not be the world's cleverest bear but he does possess some rather sound reasoning skills, and he employs them again here - a hole means Rabbit, and Rabbit means Company, and Company means, most importantly of all, Food.
This is Rabbit's first mention of the whole book, and we are a little sad to find that Pooh is more interested in Food than he is in Rabbit, but I expect that Pooh is equally interested in Both, which is perfectly acceptable for bears.
We could also note that although Christopher Robin is called Christopher Robin, and Winnie the Pooh is called Winnie the Pooh (and Edward too), Rabbit seems only to be called Rabbit, rather than, say, William Rabbit, or Rabbit William. So that might be considered a slight disadvantage, but unless Rabbit complains about it I don't think we will mind.
Pooh calls into the hole to see if Rabbit is home. At first there is no answer, so he calls again...
- "What I said was, 'Is anybody at home'" called out Pooh very loudly.
- "No!" said a voice; and then added, "You needn't shout so loud. I heard you quite well the first time."
What we have there is a rather confusing situation, because nobody is at home, but somebody has called out to say that nobody is at home, so how can nobody and somebody be at home at the same time?
- "Hallo, Rabbit, isn't that you?"
- "No", said Rabbit, in a different sort of voice this time.
- "But isn't that Rabbit's voice?"
- "I don't think so," said Rabbit. "It isn't meant to be."
Luckily the Misunderstanding is soon sorted out, because Rabbit was really trying to avoid random and sundry animals rather than Winnie the Poohs. And so Pooh goes into Rabbit's house through his front doorhole, and they have a little something for elevenses.
Once they have stickily munched their elevenses, Pooh says that he had better be off, and Rabbit says that he had better be off too, so off Pooh goes, climbing out of the hole. And he gets his nose out, and then his ears, and then his paws, and then his shoulders...and then he's stuck.
He tries to go back in, but he can't, and then he tries to go back out again, but he is very definitely well and truly stuck. Rabbit, who was just leaving himself, has had to use the back door to get out, as the front door has a bear stuck in it. And he comes round to the front of Pooh and tries to pull him out by the paw, but Pooh remains wedged.
Because of the grave seriousness of the situation - Pooh being completely immobilised, Rabbit having no front door - the two friends seem to become a little stressed at this point, and even have a brief disagreement. Pooh asserts that the problem has arisen because of an inadequately capacious front door, and Rabbit insists that the problem is more down to bears who don't know when they should really stop eating, and he decides that the thing to do is to go and fetch Christopher Robin.
This is the second time in as many chapters that Christopher Robin has been fetched when there is a dilemma or situation to be sorted out, and so we can assume that he is held in quite high esteem by the inhabitants of the forest for his problem-solving abilities.
Christopher Robin comes to help, and says "Silly old bear" in a voice that is so affectionate but calm that the animals feel rather hopeful that something can be done.
- "I was just beginning to think," said Bear, sniffing slightly, "that Rabbit might never be able to use his front door again. And I should hate that," he said.
- "So should I," said Rabbit.
Unfortunately for Pooh, the something that can be done is wait for a week until Pooh becomes thin again. But the other animals offer to make it better by reading to Pooh's front end, and Rabbit asks if he can hang towels on Pooh's back end, which probably won't make things better but shouldn't make them any worse either.
Pooh is understandably upset about the situation, and a tear rolls down his cheek - poor old Pooh.
- "Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?"
And Christopher Robin does read that sort of book, and they wait, and wait, and Pooh gets thinner and thinner. And then at the end of the week they all band together, all the animals of the forest, including Rabbit's many friends-and-relations, and they pull and pull and pull...
And Pooh ows and ows and ows, but then he goes Pop, and he's free! And Christopher Robin and all the animals land in a large heap, and Winnie the Pooh lands on top of them, and once he has got his breath back he goes back to wandering in the forest.
And that is the end of chapter two! We must admit that, once again, it has not been a great chapter for Pooh, and in our first two chapters he has now fallen into a gorse bush, been stung, shot, starved, and stuck down a Rabbit hole. You could say that things are Not Going Well, but I am sure that they will improve once we go a little further. Are you coming?