In which Pooh invents a new game and Eeyore joins in
We start the chapter with Pooh, who is walking towards a bridge over a stream in the forest. He is trying to make up a song about fir cones, because there are lots of them lying around, but he is not having much luck finding anything that rhymes with fir cone. Just as he comes to the bridge he trips, and the fir cone he was holding falls out of his paw and lands splash in the river.
Pooh says "Bother", and starts to go and get another fir cone, but then he decides to just lie down and watch the river for a while in a peaceful type of way, and as he is looking at the river he suddenly sees his fir cone floating away down the river - he had dropped it on one side of the bridge, and now it has emerged from the other side of the bridge.
Pooh is intrigued by this discovery, and wants to see whether it is just a one-off or whether it will happen again with a new fir cone. And so he tries it again, and it does happen again - he drops the fir cone on one side of the bridge, and then sees it come out on the other side of the bridge.
Now that he has confirmed his first discovery, Pooh decides to raise the stakes a little bit - this time he drops two fir cones into the stream at once to see which one comes out from under the bridge first. One of them does come out first, but unfortunately Pooh can't tell which one it is, as both fir cones were the same size, so then he tries it with one big fir cone and one small one, and the big one comes out first, which is what he predicted would happen (he had also predicted that the small one would come out last, and he was right about that too, which just shows you that Poohs have more brain than they are sometimes given credit for).
Pooh continues to play his fir cone game all afternoon, and by tea-time he has made 36 correct guesses and 28 incorrect guesses, which is pretty good going I think you'll agree.
This is rather a momentous occasion...for Pooh has just invented Poohsticks! (It becomes Poohsticks rather than Poohfircones because it turns out that sticks are easier to mark than fir cones, so you can tell whose stick is whose).
So...one day Pooh and Piglet and Rabbit and Roo are all standing on the bridge playing Poohsticks. They all drop their sticks in the water when Rabbit says "Go!", and then run across to the other side of the bridge to see which stick is the winner. It takes ages though, because the river is only going very slowly.
Roo gets overexcited in the meantime, and keeps thinking he has spotted his stick, when he probably hasn't. Pooh thinks he can see Piglet's stick, which is a bit greyish, and Piglet is thrilled to hear this, and is trying to look but carefully, in case he falls in.
Pooh is watching the progress of Piglet's stick, and it's big, and grey, and he's sure that it's Piglet's stick - but then it turns out to be Eeyore instead! Everybody cries out "Eeyore!" in surprise, and Eeyore comes fully out from under the bridge, floating in a dignified manner with his legs in the air, and turning around gently in the river's current. Roo says that he didn't realise that Eeyore was playing, and Eeyore says that he wasn't.
- "Eeyore, what are you doing there?" said Rabbit.
- "I'll give you three guesses, Rabbit. Digging holes in the ground? Wrong. Leaping from branch to branch of a young oak tree? Wrong. Waiting for somebody to help me out of the river? Right. Give Rabbit time, and he'll always get the answer."
- "But, Eeyore," said Pooh in distress, "what can we - I mean, how shall we - do you think if we -"
- "Yes," said Eeyore. "One of those would be just the thing. Thank you, Pooh."
Roo is very impressed that Eeyore is going round and round in the water, as well he might be, and when Roo says that he can swim too Eeyore says that swimming round and round actually takes far more skill than swimming normally, although his choice of swimming stroke is really nobody's business but his own.
The animals go quiet for a little while as they try to think of a plan to help Eeyore out of the river. Pooh is the first to speak, and he says that he has an idea, although he is not all that confident that it is a good one, and Eeyore isn't all that confident either. Pooh's idea is to throw stones into the river, which would then cause a wave, which would wash Eeyore to the bank.
Rabbit says that this is a very good idea, which pleases Pooh, but Piglet is worried that they might hit Eeyore by mistake, and Eeyore is worried that they might miss him by mistake, and tells Piglet that he must think of all the possible outcomes before they start.
Pooh has already made an executive decision to put the plan in motion, however, and he has picked up a very large stone and is leaning over the bridge with the stone in his paws. He explains to Eeyore that he's not going to throw the stone, only drop it, so he couldn't possibly hit Eeyore, although he would prefer it if he stopped turning round and round, but Eeyore says he likes turning round and round, so he won't.
Rabbit becomes a little exasperated by the dithering and takes control, telling Pooh that he should drop the rock when Rabbit says "Now!", and telling Eeyore that Pooh will drop the rock shortly (Eeyore says that he thinks he will be able to tell when the rock is dropped, thank you Rabbit).
Rabbit asks Eeyore if he is ready, and Eeyore says No, and then Rabbit says "Now!" and Pooh drops the rock into the water with a Splash...and Eeyore disappears from view...
And suddenly Piglet's stick comes out from under the bridge just ahead of Rabbit's, which isn't really what they were looking for, and then, just as Pooh is beginning to worry that his idea may have been more of an Accident, Eeyore begins to emerge by the bank of the river!
All of the animals rush down to the riverside to help pull Eeyore out of the water, and soon he is safely back on dry land.
- "Oh, Eeyore, you are wet!" said Piglet, feeling him.
- Eeyore shook himself, and asked somebody to explain to Piglet what happened when you had been inside a river for quite a long time.
Rabbit congratulates Pooh on his Clever and Successful Idea (the one about hooshing Eeyore to the bank by throwing a rock into the river). Eeyore indignantly protests that he was not hooshed to the bank - in fact, he dived, so as not to be hit by Pooh's large rock. Piglet whispers to Pooh to reassure him that the rock didn't really almost hit Eeyore, and it's just Eeyore being Eeyore.
Pooh is still a little bit anxious, as he knows from experience that sometimes his ideas seem to be Grand and Clever when they're in his head, and then Foolish and Deluded when they're out in the real world, but he is reassured by the fact that they had been trying to get Eeyore out of the river, and Eeyore is out of the river, so things can't be that bad after all.
Rabbit dries Eeyore off a bit, and asks him how he fell into the river in the first place. Eeyore says that he didn't fall at all - he was bounced. He had just been minding his own business by the side of the river when he had received a loud bounce, which had resulted in a slip into the river.
Piglet thinks that it was probably Tigger who did the bouncing, and before the animals get a chance to consider this, Tigger himself comes along and says hello. Rabbit spots a chance to be Useful and Important, and he questions Tigger as to the exact sequence of events which led to Eeyore being bounced into the river. Tigger says that he didn't bounce Eeyore, but Eeyore is not so sure.
- "You bounced me," said Eeyore gruffly.
- "I didn't really. I had a cough, and I happened to be behind Eeyore, and I said 'Grrr-oppp-ptschschschz'."
- "Why?" said Rabbit, helping Piglet up, and dusting him. "It's all right, Piglet."
- "It took me by surprise," said Piglet nervously.
Eeyore says that taking people by surprise is what he calls bouncing, and he does not approve of the practice in general. He says that they live in a big forest and there's plenty of room for bouncing, he just doesn't see why there has to be any bouncing in the bit of the forest where he lives, as it's rather inconvenient.
Tigger is still arguing, and saying that he didn't bounce anyhow, he coughed, but Eeyore says that that really makes no difference when you're in a river.
Christopher Robin arrives in the middle of this debate, and he is in a very good mood, and feeling like he might suddenly know every last piece of knowledge in the world, and then he could tell Pooh all about it, because Pooh isn't quite sure about some of it.
Rabbit starts to explain the situation to Christopher Robin, and Tigger is denying it, and Pooh is saying that Tigger didn't mean to, and Roo is wanting Tigger to bounce him, and everyone is talking at once which is resulting in less of an explanation and more of a Cacophony, until Rabbit hushes everybody up, and asks Christopher Robin what he thinks about the whole incident.
Christopher Robin is a little confused, understandably, and so he says that they should just play Poohsticks. So that is what they do, and Eeyore wins more games than everyone, and Roo falls in the water once by accident and once on purpose, and then Kanga comes to take Roo home for bed, and Rabbit goes home with Kanga and Roo, and Tigger and Eeyore walk off together as Eeyore tells Tigger about his Poohsticks-winning strategy.
And that just leaves Christopher Robin and Pooh together on the bridge. They stand there for quite a long time, just watching the river and being quiet and peaceful. And then Pooh speaks...
- "Tigger is all right, really," said Pooh lazily.
- "Of course he is," said Christopher Robin.
- "Everybody is really," said Pooh. "That's what I think," said Pooh. "But I don't suppose I'm right," he said.
- "Of course you are," said Christopher Robin.