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With the arrival of spring and fine weather outside, the good-natured Mole loses patience with spring cleaning. He has fled his underground home, emerging to take in the air and ends up at the river, which he has never seen before. Here he meets Rat (a water vole), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Rat takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with "Ratty" teaching Mole the ways of the river, with the two friends living together in Ratty's riverside home.One summer day, Rat and Mole disembark near the grand Toad Hall and pay a visit to Toad. Toad is rich, jovial, friendly and kindhearted, but aimless and conceited; he regularly becomes obsessed with current fads, only to abandon them abruptly. Having recently given up boating, Toad's current craze is his horse-drawn caravan. He persuades the reluctant Rat and willing Mole to join him on a trip. Toad soon tires of the realities of camp life, and sleeps in the following day to avoid chores. Later that day, a passing motorcar scares the horse, causing the caravan to overturn into a ditch. Rat threatens to have the law on the car driver, while Mole calms the horse, but Toad's craze for caravan travel is immediately replaced by an obsession with motorcars. The result of this obsession is that every time he sees a motorcar he immediately wants to ride in it, despite his friends' numerous efforts to stop him.
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