Spring was in the air.
Nobody had actually said 'Spring begins today', or even 'Spring
starts next Tuesday', but, somehow, everybody knew that it was
Deep in a burrow next to the old oak tree, underneath a very old
and very worn, but much loved tartan blanket, Robbit twitched.
He was wonderfully warm and snug, and wasn't at all sure that he
wanted to wake up.
"Go away, Spring," He mumbled,
"Come back later, when it's Summer."
Robbit turned over and pulled his tartan blanket
up over his head, so that only the tips of his ears stuck out.
He tried to remember where he'd been in his dream.
There was a knock at the door of his burrow.
Robbitt pulled the tips of his ears down under his tartan blanket
and tried not to hear.
But the knocking wouldn't stop.
"Bother," Robbitt muttered under his
blanket, "Bother, bother, bother."
Wrapping his rug around him so that the holes didn't
show too much, Robbit stomped across the room and opened the
door of his borrow. There stood Andy.
"Oh," Robbit blinked blearily,
"Hi," Andy chirped cheerily, "Happy Spring."
Robbitt wondered what was happy about being woken
up from the longest and deepest sleep in the whole year.
"Is it?" Robbit asked, scratching an
ear, "Spring, I mean. Is it happy?"
"'Course it is," Andy breezed, "Sun's shining:
not raining: perfect."
"Perfect for what?" Asked Robbitt, and scratched his
"Building," Said Andy, "I'm building an attic."
Robbitt stopped scratching his ear
"A what?" He asked.
"An attic," Andy waved an arm in the direction of the
lower meadow, "On my new hill."
Robbitt peered over the grass to where Andy was
pointing: he could just make out the tip of a very large heap
"But," Robbitt protested, "Ant
hills don't have attics."
Andy folded two of his arms.
"Mine will," He said.
"So why are you here?" Asked Robbit, "Run out
of twigs? Want to borrow some?"
"Nope," Said Andy, "I just got bored."
"I thought you were too busy to get bored."
"Well, lonely, then," Andy admitted, "Not much
fun being busy when there's no-one else around."
Robbitt didn't think it would be much fun being
busy, even if there were lots and lots of people around. But
he was too polite to say so.
Andy shuffled his feet shyly.
"Would you like to come and keep me company?" He
asked, "You could watch me build."
The thought of watching Andy being busy made Robbit
feel sleepy all over again. He tried to think of something else
to do: something more suited to someone who's just woken up and
isn't at all sure he really wanted to. Something slow.
"Why don't we go and see if Jonathan's awake?" He
Andy and Robbit found Jonathan very wide awake
indeed. He'd dragged his spare shell out from his wardrobe and
propped it up against his front door post, and was busily polishing
it in the bright Spring sunshine.
Jonathan stopped polishing as he saw his friends arrive.
"Had to get all the winter dust and cobwebs
off it, you see," He explained.
Andy was very impressed: he wondered what it would
be like to have a shell that you could polish.
They all milled around, admiring Jonathan's gleaming shell, wondering
what to do next. It was such a lovely day, even Robbit was beginning
to feel like doing something, only none of them were quite sure
what the something should be.
"I think we should go and say hallo to Farmer
Jack and Mrs Katie," Said Robbit, nibbling thoughtfully
on a tuft of grass, "We haven't seen them all Winter."
It seemed like a very good idea, and so off they
They wandered contentedly in the general direction of the Old Farmhouse,
with Jonathan explaining to anyone who would listen his latest
trick for negotiating corners at high speed.
"You've got to tilt your shell,"
Jonathan lent over to one side to demonstrate, "Then you
swerve your body, like this."
Jonathan was so busy talking,
he bumped straight into a daisy.
"Hmmph," Said Andy, "Looks like
you still need someone to steer."
Jonathan tried hard not to look embarrassed.
"I just wanted to see if the flower smelt
nice," He said.
"Did it?" Asked Andy.
"'Course not," Said Jonathan, "Daisies don't have
"So why did you smell it, then?"
Jonathan pretended he hadn't heard.
"See that big stone ahead?" He asked, "This
time, I'll show you how I really do it."
Jonathan gave a delicate wiggle, and swept swiftly
and smoothly round the stone and out of sight.
"Smooth," Murmured Andy and Robbit
admiringly, "Very smooth."
All of a sudden, they heard a wail from the other
side of the stone, followed by a long silence then a faint, faraway
Andy and Robbit rushed to see what had happened. But
Jonathan was nowhere to be seen; there was just a great big hole
in the ground
"Oh, wow," Exclaimed Andy, "We
forgot Farmer Jack's well."
They peered carefully over the edge. Far below,
they could see Jonathan bobbing around on top of the water in
his shell, like a tiny coracle.
"Help!" He called in an upside-down
sort of voice that echoed around the walls of the well.
"Hold on," Yelled Andy in an encouraging sort of way, "We'll
soon get you out."
"How?" Robbit whispered in Andy's ear so Jonathan wouldn't
hear and feel worried, "We can't climb down the side of
"I can," Said Andy.
"But you couldn't reach Jonathan when you got there."
"Help," Jonathan's upside-down voice echoed damply
up the well again.
Suddenly, Andy had a very good idea.
"I know," He exclaimed, "I'll
go and find Old Mrs Spider: she could lower me down to Jonathan
on the end of a web."
Andy scurried off, as fast as his legs could carry
him; which was very fast indeed.
Forward to Chapter 2