chapter eight

In which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole

Here we are at chapter eight, and we find that Pooh is going to see his friend Christopher Robin and find out whether he is interested in Bears today. Pooh has made up a brand new song which starts with the phrase "Sing Ho! for the life of a Bear" which is such a good way to start a song that he uses it for the first and second lines, and then the rest of the song concerns honey and snow and paws and whatnot.

Pooh finds Christopher Robin, and he is very excited to see that Christopher Robin is putting on his Big Boots, because Big Boots mean an Adventure. Pooh tries to tidy himself up a bit so that he looks Ready for Anything.

Christopher Robin is actually struggling a bit with his Big Boots, perhaps because they are so big, and Pooh has to sit down and lean hard against Christopher Robin, and Christopher Robin pulls and pulls on his boots and eventually gets them on. So Pooh is already having a Useful day.

Not only that, but it turns out that Pooh was quite right about the Adventure, because Christopher Robin makes a very exciting announcement - they are going to go an an Expedition! Pooh is thrilled to hear that they are going on an Expotition, because he's never really been on one of those. Christopher Robin says that the Expedition will be to find the North Pole, which is just a thing that you discover, no more explanation needed than that really (Pooh has asked for enlightenment).

Christopher Robin explains that all the animals will be going, Pooh and Rabbit and Kanga and everyone, because an Expedition really means a "long line of everybody". He tells Pooh to make sure the others are ready, and that they all bring Provisions with them (things to eat, Pooh, things to eat).

So off Pooh goes to round up the others for the Expotition, and the first person that he runs into is Rabbit.

"Hallo, Rabbit," he said, "is that you?"
"Let's pretend it isn't," said Rabbit, "and see what happens."

Pooh tells Rabbit about the Expotition (which he says is a sort of boat, which might not be exactly right, but we shall have to wait and see), and about the fact that they are going to discover a Pole, or it might have been a Mole.

So Rabbit goes off to tell Kanga, and Pooh carries on to Piglet's house. Piglet is playing that game where you choose an Event, like getting a new house or finding a new friend, and then blow on the fluffy part of a dandelion while saying this year, next year, sometime or never. And then when all the fluff has disappeared, whatever you are saying at the time will be true, and you will know when the Event will happen (or not happen).

When Pooh arrives, Piglet has just discovered that his Event will never be happening, although unfortunately he has forgotten what the Event was in the first place, and he is hoping it wasn't anything nice.

Pooh tells Piglet all about the Expotition and how they are going to discover something (Pooh seems to have forgotten about the Pole on the way over). Piglet is immediately worried that they might discover something fierce, but he calms down when he finds out that Christopher Robin will be there to protect him should the need arise.

So now all the animals know about the grand Expedition, and after they have gathered neatly together at the top of the forest, they all set off. They are all there - Christopher Robin and Rabbit are first, then Piglet and Pooh, then Kanga and little Roo and Owl, then Eeyore, and a long line of Rabbit's friend-and-relations right at the back. (Rabbit insists that he didn't invite his friend-and-relations, they just sort of turned up, like they usually do.)

Eeyore is feeling a bit gloomy, and has a little grump about the fact that he didn't want to come on this Expo - what Pooh said - and that if he wants to sit down he'll have to circumnavigate around a number of Rabbit's friends-and-relations, which will result in less of an Expo thingamijig and more of a Confused Noise. Owl butts in and starts to offer his opinion, but Eeyore is not in the mood.

"I'm not asking anybody," said Eeyore. "I'm just telling everybody. We can look for the North Pole, or we can play 'Here we go gathering Nuts in May' with the end part of an ants' nest. It's all the same to me."

Anyway, despite Eeyore's gloominess they are all walking along to discover the Pole, and Pooh is making up a song about the whole affair, when Christopher Robin says "Hush!", because they are just coming up to a Dangerous Place.

And Pooh says "Hush!" to Piglet, and Piglet says "Hush!" to Kanga, and Kanga says "Hush!" to Owl (while Roo says "Hush!" quietly to himself), and Owl says "Hush!" to Eeyore, and Eeyore turns round and says "Hush!" in a scary voice to all of Rabbit's accumulated friends-and-relations, and all of Rabbit's friends-and-relations turn round and say "Hush!" to each other, right up until the "Hush!" reaches the very end of the line and the smallest friend-and-relation, Alexander Beetle, who is mortified to find that the entire Expotition is saying "Hush!" to him and has to bury himself in a crack for two days and then live quietly with his aunt for the rest of his life to recover.

Meanwhile, Christopher Robin at the front of the Expedition has spotted a twisting stream with high rocky banks, which is very dangerous indeed.

"It's just the sort of place," he explained, "for an Ambush."
"What sort of bush?" whispered Pooh to Piglet. "A gorse-bush?"
"My dear Pooh," said Owl in his superior way, "don't you know what an Ambush is?"
"Owl," said Piglet, looking round at him severely, "Pooh's whisper was a perfectly private whisper, and there was no need -"
"An Ambush," said Owl, "is a sort of Surprise."
"So is a gorse-bush sometimes," said Pooh.

Piglet says that he was about to explain that to Pooh, and then Owl explains it again, and so Piglet has to explain it again to show that he had already understood before Owl even mentioned it. Pooh now understands too, and says that if an Ambush is a sort of surprise then a gorse-bush surprised him once when he fell into it (presumably Pooh is referring to the incident in chapter one where he falls out of a tree).

Owl asserts, once again, that they are not talking about gorse-bushes, but Pooh says that he is, which is true.

By this stage the animals are climbing up the stream on some rocks, and after walking like this for a while they find a place where the stream widens, with stripes of grass on its edges, so Christopher Robin calls out "Halt!" and they sit down and have a rest and eat some Provisions - indeed, Christopher Robin suggests that they eat all of their Provisions now so that they will have less to carry.

Poor old Eeyore hasn't brought any Provisions with him though, so everyone else is eating while he just watches. He checks to see if anyone is sitting on a thistle, and Pooh says he believes that he might be, and then he says Ow, and then when he gets up he confirms that he was indeed sitting on a thistle, and Eeyore goes ahead and eats the thistle, although he gets in a Complaint about the fact that sitting on thistles doesn't do them much good at all.

Rabbit and Christopher Robin have wandered a little way up the stream to have a private conversation, because Christopher Robin is not entirely sure what a North Pole would look like if you were standing right in front of one, and he wants to ask Rabbit's advice. They both say that they used to know, although now they've forgotten, but then they decide that it must be just a pole stuck in the ground, and hence the name.

Now that is sorted, they rejoin the other animals, where Piglet is having a snooze, Roo is having a wash in the stream (the first time he has ever washed by himself, according to Kanga), and Owl is telling Kanga an Interesting Anecdote.

Eeyore starts up a grumble about how he doesn't approve of washing in general, and he has just asked Pooh to share his thoughts on the subject when there is a squeak from Roo, a splash, and a cry from Kanga. Roo has fallen into the river!

Roo is being brave and not panicking, and even asking his Mum to watch him as he is swimming in the stream, although really he is just being carried along by the current.

All the animals try to think of something to do to help, some with more success than others. Piglet's idea of jumping up and down and making Oo, I say noises doesn't strike us as being immediately helpful, and Owl is wittering on about what to do when Sudden and Temporary Immersion occurs, without really doing anything about it. Kanga is running along the stream and asking Roo if he is OK, but it is Eeyore who has come up with an actual practical solution, as he is dangling his tail into the water so that Roo can grab hold of it and pull himself to safety.

Eeyore's plan doesn't quite work though, probably because his tail is not really big enough for the Task in Hand, and so Rabbit says that they need to find something to put across the stream lower down, so it is there before Roo drifts into it.

And Pooh saves the day! For he has already found a long pole, and he is already standing downstream with it, and when Kanga comes to help him hold it they set it out over the stream and Roo manages to grab hold of it and climb out. Well done, Pooh!

Roo is rather overexcited after his Adventure and asks everyone if they saw him swimming. Christopher Robin isn't paying proper attention though because he is staring at Pooh, who is still holding onto the pole he used to rescue Roo. Christopher Robin asks Pooh where he got the pole from, and Pooh says that he just found it, and Christopher Robin announces that it is not just a pole, it is the North Pole!

While this excitement is unfolding, poor old Eeyore is still standing with his tail in the stream, not knowing that Roo has already been rescued. Eeyore's tail is very cold by now, and in fact it is so cold that it has become quite numb. Christopher Robin dries it off with his handkerchief, which Eeyore is grateful for, because the other animals don't really understand about tails. Pooh comes along, still holding onto the North Pole, and says hello to Eeyore.

"Hallo, Pooh. Thank you for asking, but I shall be able to use it again in a day or two."
"Use what?" said Pooh.
"What we were talking about."
"I wasn't talking about anything," said Pooh, looking puzzled.
"My mistake again. I thought you were saying how sorry you were about my tail, being all numb, and could you do anything to help?"
"No," said Pooh. "That wasn't me," he said. He thought for a little and then suggested helpfully: "Perhaps it was somebody else."
"Well, thank him for me when you see him."

Pooh turns to Christopher Robin for moral support, and Christopher Robin tells Eeyore that Pooh has very cleverly found the North Pooh. Eeyore isn't overly impressed, as you might have expected, but he does say "Well, anyhow - it didn't rain", which for Eeyore is verging on ecstasy.

The animals stick the North Pole into the ground, and Christopher Robin writes out a notice to remind others that it is the North Pole and that it was discovered by Pooh. And then they all go home, Pooh feeling very proud of what he has achieved on this momentous day.

Piglet is surrounded by water

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.