chapter five

In which Rabbit has a busy day, and we learn what Christopher Robin does in the mornings

Ah, here we have a chapter all about Rabbit, and he is quite ready for it - indeed, he has woken up knowing that something Important is going to occur, and that he is going to organise, or lead, or bring order out of chaos. It is the kind of day that involves the other animals saying "Yes, Rabbit" and "No, Rabbit" at intervals, and letting him tell them what to do. This is Rabbit's day.

Rabbit ponders how he should begin his important day, and he thinks about going round to Kanga's, but then decides against it on account of Tigger and his bouncing. So instead he pops along to Christopher Robin's house, because he knows that Christopher Robin depends upon him, what with the other animals not having anything noticeable in the way of brain, apart from Owl, who can spell Tuesday, at least most of the time, but then sometimes it's not just spelling that's required.

And Kanga is too busy mothering Roo, and Roo is too young, and Tigger is too bouncy, so really that does just leave Rabbit for Christopher Robin to rely on.

Rabbit is walking along on the way to Christopher Robin's house, and by-and-by he crosses the stream, which brings him to the part of the forest where his friends-and-relations live. Rabbit nods to the odd hedgehog, and says a quick morning to several others, and then takes his leave; and we can tell how important and charismatic Rabbit is because he leaves behind him an enormous sense of excitement, so much so that some of the beetles go straight to the Hundred Acre Wood and start climbing trees so that they will be able to see whatever the exciting thing is that is about to happen, when it happens.

Rabbit hurries on and arrives at Christopher Robin's house. He knocks on the door and then calls out, but there is no answer. Christopher Robin is Out, and just as Rabbit is about to leave he spots a piece of paper on the ground, with a pin in it, as if it has fallen from the door. Rabbit reads the paper, and this is what it says:

 

GON OUT
BACKSON
BISY
BACKSON
C.R.

 

A-ha! A note, a very important note, and Rabbit must of course relay its contents immediately to the entire population of the forest. Owl's house is nearest, so he goes there first, and knocks on the knocker and rings on the doorbell, and eventually Owl lets him in. Rabbit explains to Owl that as, between them, they are the only animals in the forest with brain, the others just making do with fluff, it is they who must do any thinking that might be required.

Rabbit shows the note to Owl. Owl is a little nervous about this, because although he obviously has more brain than, say Pooh, and he can spell his own name (WOL), and he can read perfectly well when he is not under pressure, it is a bit different when there is an expectant Rabbit standing next to you saying "Well?" all the time.

Rabbit says "Well?", and Owl tries to look Wise and Thoughtful, while saying things like "Exactly" and "Precisely" and hoping that something helpful will happen soon. Rabbit then reveals that yesterday he went to visit Christopher Robin, and he was Out then as well, only there was a different notice pinned to his door, although the meaning of the notice was the same.

Owl asks Rabbit what he did yesterday when he found the note, and Rabbit says that he didn't do anything, and Owl says that that was probably the best thing to do.

Rabbit says "Well?" again to poor old Owl, who is still not sure what the note actually says - but then he has a very clever idea. He asks Rabbit to tell him exactly what the first notice said, but Rabbit just says that it said basically the same as the second notice, so Owl wonders whether to push Rabbit out of the tree.

But he decides to have one last go at it, as he can always push Rabbit out of the tree in a minute, and so he asks Rabbit to tell him the exact words of the first notice. And finally, Rabbit does - the first notice had said Gon out. Backson, just like the second notice, apart from the Bisy Backson part.

Owl breathes an enormous sigh of relief now that he actually knows what they are talking about, and explains to Rabbit that what has happened is that Christopher Robin has gone out with Backson. Rabbit asks what a Backson looks like, and Owl begins to explain about the Spotted or Herbaceous Backson, but then he realises that he doesn't really know anything at all about the Spotted or Herbaceous Backson, and admits as much to Rabbit, who says thank you, and goes off to find Pooh.

Pooh is singing one of his songs when Rabbit finds him...


"Hallo, Pooh," said Rabbit.
"Hallo, Rabbit," said Pooh dreamily.
"Did you make that song up?"
"Well, I sort of made it up," said Pooh. "It isn't Brain," he went on humbly, "because You Know Why, Rabbit; but it comes to me sometimes."
"Ah!" said Rabbit, who never let things come to him, but always went and fetched them.

Rabbit asks Pooh if he has seen a Spotted or Herbaceous Backson wandering around anywhere. "No," says Pooh. "Not a - no." Pooh has seen Tigger, but that's obviously not much use, and Pooh has also seen Piglet, but that's only useful if Piglet had seen the Backson, and Piglet probably only saw Pooh.

Rabbit sits down for a moment, but that makes him feel less Important, so he stands up again, and then he articulates the final and ultimate question, the answer to which will Explain Everything...what does Christopher Robin do in the mornings?

Pooh says that he and Christopher Robin had breakfast together yesterday, but he hadn't seen him later than that, because when it comes to around 11 o'clock or so he has to go home on account of having One or Two Things to Do.

Pooh thinks that he might have seen Christopher Robin at maybe half past eleven, or a bit later, and then he realises that he really hasn't seen him around so much lately, at least not in the mornings.

Rabbits says that that is just the point - where is Christopher Robin going in the mornings?


"Perhaps he's looking for something."
"What?" asked Rabbit.
"That's just what I was going to say," said Pooh. And then he added, "Perhaps he's looking for a - for a -"
"A Spotted or Herbaceous Backson?"
"Yes," said Pooh. "One of those. In case it isn't."
Rabbit looked at him severely.
"I don't think you're helping," he said.
"No," said Pooh. "I do try," he added humbly.

Rabbit says thank you to Pooh for trying, and then goes off to find Eeyore (he does invite Pooh, but Pooh feels another verse of his song coming on).

In fact, Piglet has had the same idea about visiting Eeyore, and he has brought him a present - a lovely bunch of violets that he picked himself just that morning, that he was going to keep for himself, but then decided to give to Eeyore when he realised that Eeyore had never had a bunch of violets picked for him (poor Eeyore).

Piglet arrives at Eeyore's Gloomy Place with his bunch of violets, and he is feeling very happy because of the Very Good Thing that he is about to do for Eeyore. Eeyore is a little busy though, and tells Piglet to come back tomorrow, or maybe the next day, but Piglet is intrigued by a thing on the ground that Eeyore is staring at, so he comes to have a closer look.

What Eeyore is staring at is a pattern of three sticks on the ground. Two of the sticks are touching at their top ends, but not at their bottom ends, and the third stick is laid across their middle.

Eeyore asks Piglet if he knows what the pattern is, and Piglet says he doesn't, so Eeyore tells him that it is in fact an 'A'. Piglet say "Oh", and Eeyore says "Not O - A". Eeyore says that Christopher Robin has expressly told him that this is an 'A', and it will remain an 'A' until somebody treads on it (Piglet jumps back a step to avoid being somebody).

Eeyore says that the 'A' means learning, and education, and all of the things that Pooh and Piglet lack (Eeyore is perhaps a little on the harsh side here). Eeyore then makes a rather impassioned speech about the meaning of the 'A'.


"I'm telling you. People come and go in this forest, and they say. 'It's only Eeyore, so it doesn't count.' They walk to and fro saying 'Ha Ha!'. But do they know anything about A? They don't. It's just three sticks to them. But to the Educated - mark this, little Piglet - to the Educated, not meaning Poohs and Piglets, it's a great and glorious A. Not," he added, "just something that anybody can come and breathe on."
Piglet stepped back nervously, and looked round for help.

Luckily for poor perplexed Piglet Rabbit happens to come along at just that moment. Rabbit asks Eeyore if he knows what Christopher Robin does in the mornings nowadays. Eeyore asks Rabbit if he knows what the 'A' is, but Rabbit just sees three sticks, which seems to prove Eeyore's point.

Eeyore explains to Rabbit that Christopher Robin learns in the mornings, instigorating knowledge, in order to become Educated, and that he, Eeyore, is in a small way doing the same thing. Now that Eeyore has spoken of knowledge and learning Rabbit recognises the three sticks as an 'A', although he unkindly suggests that it isn't a very good one, and then he hurries off.

Eeyore has been rather stunned by Rabbit's knowledge of the letter A, and in fact he seems rather annoyed by it, as he proceeds to jump up and down on his three sticks, which become six sticks, which become twelve sticks. It seems that Eeyore thought that the letter A would be beyond an animal such as Rabbit.

Piglet very nervously starts to say "I think -", but Eeyore cuts him off, so he just blurts out that he thinks violets are rather nice, and leaves the bunch of violets for Eeyore before running home.

And the next morning another note appears on Christopher Robin's door, but this time it says:

 

GONE OUT
BACK SOON
C.R.

 

And that's how everyone discovered what Christopher Robin does in the mornings!

Pooh invents a new game

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.