chapter five

In which Piglet meets a Heffalump

We start the chapter with Pooh, Christopher Robin and Piglet all together, passing the time of day and having a munch. Christopher Robin immediately introduces the theme of this chapter by telling the others that he has seen a Heffalump today! Pooh asks what the Heffalump was doing, and Christopher Robin says that it hadn't been doing much, and that he didn't think the Heffalump had seen him back.

"I saw one once," said Piglet. "At least, I think I did," he said. "Only perhaps it wasn't."
"So did I," said Pooh, wondering what a Heffalump was like.
"You don't often see them," said Christopher Robin carelessly.
"Not now," said Piglet.
"Not at this time of the year," said Pooh.

It's time for Pooh and Piglet to head home, so off they go along the path just outside the Hundred Acre Wood. They are having a little chat with each other about various inconsequential things, but when they come to the Six Pine Trees Pooh reveals that he has actually been formulating a very daring plan. And it is this - he is going to catch a Heffalump.

Well, as you can imagine Piglet is extremely impressed by this plan, although he is a little disappointed that he didn't think of it first. Pooh explains that he will catch the Heffalump by using a Cunning Trap, and that he will need Piglet's help, which cheers Piglet up no end.

The two animals sit down together and start to work out the specifics of the plan. Pooh suggests that they dig a Very Deep Pit, so the Heffalump would fall into it as he was walking along. Piglet is not sure why the Heffalump would fall in, and Pooh explains that the Heffalump would probably be humming and looking up at the sky to see if it might rain, and then before he knew it he would be half-way down the pit, which would be as good as being all the way down for their purposes.

Piglet is not entirely convinced by this strategy, as he has spotted a flaw in the plan - if it was raining to start off with, then the Heffalump wouldn't be looking up at the sky wondering if it was going to rain, as he would know it was raining already.

Pooh has not really considered this argument, but he quickly counters by saying that if it was already raining the Heffalump would be looking at the sky hoping that the rain would stop, and then before he knew it...

And Piglet agrees that, now that Pooh has covered that side of the debate, he is satisfied that their plan can work. But Pooh has a query...

Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit?
Piglet said that the best place would be somewhere where a Heffalump was, just before he fell into it, only about a foot further on.

But, again, there is a flaw in this logic, and this time it is Pooh who brings attention to it - the Heffalump would see them digging the pit, and have time to escape. Piglet says that that wouldn't be true if he was looking at the sky, but Pooh says he could easily Suspect if he looked down.

They are a little discouraged at this point, and Pooh is beginning to realise that they may have found out why Heffalumps hardly ever get caught. They stand up for a little while, remove some gorse prickles from themselves, sit down again, and try to think of another plan.

Pooh decides that a bit of lateral thinking is in order, and so he asks Piglet how he would go about catching Pooh if he felt like it. Piglet says that he would make a trap, and he would put a jar of honey into the trap, and this would attract Pooh and lead him into the trap...

And they've got it! Bait is the answer! Pooh gets a little distracted by thoughts of all that honey, and so Piglet has to bring him back to the conversation by asking him what the Heffalump equivalent of honey is. Piglet thinks that it might be acorns, although Pooh thinks honey would still be the best thing, and they are arguing about that when Piglet realises that if they are going to use acorns then he'll have to give up some of his own acorns, whereas if they use honey then that will come from Pooh. So he gives in on the honey question, just before Pooh has realised it too.

So, Pooh goes home to fetch some honey, while Piglet digs the deep pit. Pooh finds a jar of honey in his larder, and he thinks that it is honey because it has the word HUNNY written on it, but he decides to just check that it looks like honey. Which it does, so he decides to just check that it tastes like honey, because it could look like honey and still be cheese. So he has a little taste, and then decides to check that it is honey all the way down, because you never know, someone could have come along and put cheese at the bottom of the jar for a lark. And what if Heffalumps don't like cheese, and there is cheese down there? Best to check.

So he checks right down to the bottom, and sighs with relief, because it is in fact honey all the way down, so that's good.

He takes the jar and goes back to see Piglet, who has by this time dug a Very Deep Pit (and we have to give Piglet some considerable Acclaim at this point, for he has just dug a Very Deep Pit in the time it has taken Pooh to eat a jar of honey, and that is not to be sneezed at.)

Pooh and Piglet put the rather empty jar of honey at the bottom of the pit, and then climb out and walk home together. They arrange to meet at six o'clock tomorrow morning by the pine trees to see how many Heffalumps have fallen into their trap. Pooh asks Piglet if he has any string, because they might need that to lead the Heffalumps home with, but Piglet thinks that Heffalumps come if you whistle. Pooh says that some do and some don't, you never can tell with Heffalumps, and they say good night and both go home to bed.

Pooh gets to sleep OK, but the wakes up in the middle of the night with a sinking feeling. He knows exactly what this means - he is hungry - and so he goes to the larder to get himself a little middle of the night snack. He was sure there was a jar of honey in there, but now he can't find it, and it is all very strange.

However, he then remembers about the Heffalump and the trap and the pit, and says Bother. "It all comes of trying to be kind to Heffalumps," he says, and goes back to bed. But he can't sleep, even when he is counting sheep, or Heffalumps, and indeed counting Heffalumps is worse, because they keep eating all his honey.

For some minutes he lay there miserably, but when the five hundred and eight-seventh Heffalump was licking its jaws, and saying to itself "Very good honey this, I don't know when I've tasted better," Pooh could bear it no longer.

Pooh gets out of bed and runs straight to the Six Pine Trees, which look cold and lonely, and the Very Deep Pit looks deeper than it did before, and Pooh's honey jar at the bottom of it looks mysterious and strange. But the honey jar still contains some honey, so Pooh goes down into the pit and gets his nose into the honey jar so he can reach the little bit left at the bottom of the jar.

We leave Pooh there for a little while and go back to Piglet's house, where Piglet has also woken up and is talking to himself bravely in preparation for the Heffalump. He is not really feeling very brave though, and he is worrying about various Heffalump-related questions - are Heffalump's fierce? Do they come when you whistle? Are they Fond of Pigs? Are they particularly and specifically Fierce with Pigs who have have grandfathers called Trespassers William?

These are all very scary questions, but they are made even scarier by the fact that Piglet is due to meet his very first Heffalump in about an hour! Pooh will be joining him, and it is much more Friendly with Two, but then Heffalumps could well be fierce with both pigs and bears, and then what are they to do?

Piglet considers these points very carefully, and thinks about pretending to have a headache so that he can stay in bed and avoid all Heffalumps. But then, it might be a really nice day outside, and they might not have caught any Heffalumps, in which case he'll be stuck inside doing nothing when he could be outside having fun.

And then Piglet has a Clever Idea. What he will do is go to the pit, have a quick look into the trap, and see if they have caught anything. If there is a Heffalump in there, he will go back to bed; if there is no Heffalump in there then he won't.

Piglet sets off for the pit, and when he gets up close he knows that they have actually caught a Heffalump, because he can hear it Heffalumping about like anything! Piglet is understandably very frightened and has the urge to run away, but he stands his ground because he does want to find out what a Heffalump looks like. So he goes right to the edge of the trap and looks downs...

And Pooh has been trying to get the last little bit of honey from the bottom of his jar, and now he is trying to get the jar to come off his head, but the more he tries, the more it sticks. And he is bothering and owing to himself, and then he tries bumping the jar against things, and he tries climbing out of the trap, but as he can't see anything at all through the jar these are not terribly successful ideas.

Pooh has to give up, and he is so sad and frustrated that he lets out a loud roaring the exact moment that Piglet has looked into the trap.

"Help, help," cried Piglet, "a Heffalump, a Horrible Heffalump!" and he scampered off as hard as he could, still crying out, "Help, help, a Herrible Hoffalump! Hoff, hoff, a Hellible Horralump! Holl, holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!"

Piglet runs straight to Christopher Robin's house (as we have seen from previous chapters, Christopher Robin is a calming influence and a great source of support for the animals). When Piglet gets his breath back and tells Christopher Robin what's wrong - he has seen a Heffalump with the biggest head ever which looked like a jar - Christopher Robin comes to have a look.

They go back to the pit, and they can hear Pooh inside, who is still stuck in the jar and is bumping his head against a tree root to try to free himself. "There!", says Piglet, "Isn't it awful?", holding on tightly to Christopher Robin's hand.

Christopher Robin doesn't think that it's awful, and he actually thinks it's very funny, and he laughs and laughs. While he is laughing Pooh bangs his head against the root one more time and manages to smash the jar and get free.

Poor Piglet realises that he has been a Foolish Piglet, and he is a bit ashamed of himself and has to go home early with a headache. But Christopher Robin and Pooh go and have breakfast together.

"Oh bear!" said Christopher Robin. "How I do love you!"
"So do I," said Pooh.


Eeyore has a birthday

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.