We are all familiar with the sight of toads squashed upon the highway. On any idle afternoon they can be found at a glance, just lying about the more frequented avenues, their flattened bodies drying out in the sun. Certainly, toads are perhaps the poorest among pedestrians. But in The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame proves that a toad, and in particular a Mr. J. Thadeaus Toad, does not belong behind the wheel of any car or motorized contraption.
Historicaly, Wind in the Willows was written at a time when the automobile was indeed the paramount obsession among the idle playboys of the world, and they had to have them. But perhaps there was never such a formidable playboy as a simple toad, the said J. Thadeaus Toad, whose mania for the hobby of motor cars was always like a devil keeping his shoulder, whispering the most ill advised transgressions into his ear.
This mania developes until Toad is ultimately captured and brought before a humorless contingent with no notion of kind allowance for playboys or their costly games, and Toad is found guilty of motor theft.
Toad makes a great deal of false resolve in prison, but he is soon able to escape in the array of a washerwoman, before he can be broken of his great toadish spirit. This is arguably the most thrilling part of the novel! Toad makes his way back to his home by many varied modes of transport. First, an old track bound, schedule keeping train. Secondly, a shorekeeping, donky-tied barge. And thirdly, the afore said donkey untied from the afore said barge. But finally it is a blessed motor car, and Toad thrills the pages again with his excited and proud cantations and falsely uttered and artful remorses!