In Which Kanga Finds Herself in a Tight Spot
Today was another splendid day in the Hundred Acre Wood. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the river that flowed beneath the Poohsticks Bridge was splashing and babbling merrily. Yes, today was the sort of day where everyone could find a reason to be happy.
Well, except, perhaps, Rabbit.
Yes, unfortunately, Rabbit had come down with a bad cold ever since the night he had stood out in the rain to protect his garden from being over-watered or struck by lightning. For days, Rabbit sneezed, and coughed, and then sneezed some more, and then coughed some more. It seemed like it would have been quite a long time before Rabbit was back to his old self again. But that was before Kanga came along.
Kanga and her son Roo lived in another part of the Hundred Acre Wood, in the northeast part near the Sandy Pit. Kanga was a very kind and motherly animal, and when she heard that Rabbit was feeling sick, she decided to take it upon herself to help him get better. So that morning, Kanga was busy packing her pocket with medicine, tissues, and boxes of soup mix. Little Roo came into the kitchen, looking curious.
“What are you packing for, Mama?” he asked.
“Well, dear, Rabbit’s feeling very sick, so I’m going to help him get better again. I may be gone during the whole day.”
“But what do I do then, Mama? I wanna help too!”
He looked up at her imploringly. She smiled and patted his head.
“I know you do, Roo, but I wouldn’t want you to get as sick as Rabbit.”
Roo was about to protest, when he perked up to a voice he knew well.
It was Tigger! Tigger was the bounciest, most energetic animal in the Hundred Acre Wood, and was Roo’s best friend. At the moment, Tigger was bouncing along, singing his favorite song: the one he had composed himself.
"The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made of the rubber
Their bottoms are made of the springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun-fun-fun-fun-FUN
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I’m the only one!
IIII’M the only one!"
“Mama!” Roo said, jumping up and down excitedly. “I can spend the day with Tigger while you visit Rabbit!”
“Well, that’s a splendid idea, Roo!” Kanga said, beaming.
She had finished packing, so the two went to the door, just as Tigger was bouncing past. He spotted them, pulled a perfect sideways bounce, and landed neatly on his feet.
“Good morning, Mrs. Kanga, ma’am!” he said, giving a salute.
“And good morning to you, Tigger, dear!”
“Aww, she called me ‘dear’…” Tigger mumbled, bashfully. “I was just practioning singing while bouncing. It’s a little tricky, I know, but a Tigger’s gotta do what that Tigger’s gotta do!”
“Well, I’m glad you were in the area, Tigger. I was off to Rabbit’s to help him feel better.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right,” said Tigger, somberly, “Old Long-Ears is down with the sickies. I’d cheer him up with a good bounce, but the last time I did that, he seemed to get worse instead of better.”
“Well, then, do you think you could watch Roo while I’m gone?”
Tigger’s expression lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Why, of course I’ll keep an eye on Roo-boy, Mrs. Kanga ma’am! You can count on me!”
Roo was just excited as Tigger, but before he joined him, he gave his mother a warm hug.
“I’ll see you later, Mama! Tell Rabbit I said hi!”
She smiled and hugged him in return.
“I will, dear. You be careful now.”
“You’ve got nothing to worry about, Kanga,” said Tigger, “Tiggers are always careful! Come on, Roo-boy! Hoo-hoo-hoo-HOO!”
With that, Tigger sprang off, and Roo came close behind with his own “Hoo-hoo-hoo-HOO!” He waved to Kanga as he headed into the woods, and Kanga beamed. She knew Tigger thought of Roo as a little brother, and would never let anything bad happen to him, so she was quite reassured in leaving him in Tigger’s hands. So, with that, she started off toward Rabbit’s home.
Now Rabbit’s house was in a sandy bank beneath a tree, with a fenced-off portion for his cherished garden. His house had two entrances: the front door, which was, in reality, merely a hole in the bank, and the back door, which was more like an actual door. The smaller and more slender animals, like Piglet, Tigger, and Roo, could get in through the front door, but the larger animals, like Eeyore, Owl, and for the most part, Winnie the Pooh, would use the back door (Pooh had had too much trouble with Rabbit’s front door on a certain visit, but that’s a different story). Now Kanga was the tallest and largest of the animals. By no means was she a portly kangaroo, but she was somewhat round in the middle, meaning no offense to her by any means. It comes from being a mother who enjoys living comfortably, so it is really no fault of hers.
But as I was saying, as Kanga was tall, she used Rabbit’s back door for going in and going out, which is of course what she did on this day. She found him in his bed, blankets pulled up to his chin, looking very sleepy and ill. He looked up slightly as Kanga came in.
“Kanga?…Is that you?” he asked, his voice very hoarse.
“Yes, Rabbit. I’ve come to help you get better. I hope you don’t mind.”
She began unpacking her pouch, laying down the medicines and soup mix boxes.
“Oh…That’s very kind of you, Kanga, but you really needn’t have gone to such trouble.”
“Nonsense, it’s no trouble at all.”
She began performing all the things she’d do if Roo had a cold: she made sure Rabbit’s feet were warm, placed an ice bag at his forehead, took his temperature, and sat by his bedside, either knitting or reading, administering medicine every few hours and feeding him nice hot soup.
By the end of the day, Rabbit was starting to look much better. However, around sundown, there came a knock at the back door. Standing up, Kanga went to the door and, opening it, found Owl standing at it.
“Good evening, Kanga.”
“Oh! Good evening, Owl! What brings you here?”
“I was taking my usual evening fly-by through the woods, when I noticed that a bad evening storm is approaching…”
He pointed with one wing to a very dense, dark patch of clouds approaching. Kanga gasped.
“Indeed. It is imperative that you make sure you and Rabbit are safe and secure inside.”
Rabbit had sat up, looking alarmed.
“But-But the storm! My garden! My beautiful vegetables will be ruined!”
However, Kanga had gently but forcefully moved Rabbit back into a lying position.
“Rabbit, it’s because of a storm that you’re bedridden, so please be sensible and don’t go recklessly out into this one…”
Then, a thought occurred to her.
“Owl! Will you go to Tigger’s house and tell him and Roo to spend the night at our house? They’ll be safer there.”
"You may count on me, Kanga,” said Owl, grandly. “I’ll be swift! Good luck!”
With a sweep of his wings, he took off into the slowly darkening skies. Rabbit moaned.
“But what if something happens to my garden?…”
“Now, Rabbit, just relax. Worrying about it won’t help you feel any better.”
“…I suppose you’re right, Kanga. Goodness knows I’m in no condition to even put up a barricade…”
With that, and with some mutterings of his “prized carrots” and “blue ribbon rutabagas”, he drifted off to sleep. Kanga, meanwhile, settled herself in Rabbit’s armchair, and at the first clap of thunder, her thoughts instantly drifted to little Roo, shielded from the rain by Tigger as they hurried back to her house.
“Be safe, Roo dear…” she muttered, before drifting off to sleep.
The storm raged all that night. The wind blew fiercely, rain came down in buckets like many, many waterfalls, thunder crashed, and lightning flashed. In the middle of it all, a rather loud crash, which sounded quite close, could be heard. Needless to say, however, everyone was safe and secure in their homes. Even gloomy old Eeyore, with his home made merely of sticks, found shelter in Pooh’s home. He was just glad someone had remembered him.
By next morning, however, the storm had blown itself out, and the sun came back out from behind the clouds, shining down on the soggy but still whole Hundred Acre Wood. There were puddles of every size scattered about, and Rabbit’s vegetables, though wet, seemed glad for the extra moisture, and were still quite intact. Rabbit was still sound asleep, and Kanga was just stirring. She yawned and stretched.
“Goodness! I can’t believe I’ve slept through that horrible storm. Since Rabbit’s still asleep, I think I’ll just go home and check up on Roo and Tigger.”
She went to the back door and tried to open it, but found that she couldn’t. Try as she may, no matter how hard she pushed, she couldn’t get the door open. What she didn’t know was that the very loud crash that had come from close by was a rather large, rather thick tree branch landing in front of the door, and it was too big to budge alone, so it seemed as if Kanga was trapped inside Rabbit’s house.
“Oh my…Who knows how long it could take to get the door open again? What do I do?”
She looked around, and her eyes fell upon Rabbit’s front door, the hole that Pooh had been stuck in for several days. Rabbit had carefully widened it a bit, so that on days when Pooh was his usual stoutness, he could still squeeze through it. Kanga, however, had never attempted to go through this way, as she was sure she wouldn’t fit. She looked at the hole, then down at herself, placing both paws on her stomach. She had never really thought that she had gotten slightly heavier over the years. She hadn’t minded, of course, because she had never been in a situation like this. Now, however, there was no time to ponder about it. If she couldn’t get to Roo and Tigger first, she could at least let someone know about the blocked door.
So, she poked her head and her paws through, looking out into the damp but sunny outdoors. Then she wriggled until her arms were out, and then she began carefully to pull herself through, using her strong feet to push off the ground. However, almost immediately as she began to squeeze through, she knew she was in trouble. She felt a great tightness around her belly, and then stopped altogether. She pushed with her front paws and with her back paws, but she just could not budge forward. So she tried going back, bracing her back paws against the wall and pushing, but she couldn’t go back either.
She was stuck.
Admittedly, she had thought this was likely to happen, but she had cared more about getting out and making sure everything was all right. Now she knew how Pooh must’ve felt, hanging half in and half out of Rabbit’s front door, bottom half stuck inside, top half stuck outside. She wondered how long it would take for someone to notice what had happened, and if she’d even be able to get out, when she heard a familiar voice humming a tune, accompanied by an occasional “splash splish”, as if the person were walking through rain puddles.
Up over the rise to Kanga’s right came Winnie the Pooh himself, humming a little hum that went something like this:
"If the rain comes down in buckets
Why can’t it come down in pots?
And if those pots were honey pots
Then I would like that lots and lots"
Pooh chuckled to himself, and even Kanga had to smile, despite her predicament. Luckily, Pooh came right up to her, and was about to pass her, when he stopped short, turned, and stared at the half of Kanga he could see.
“Good morning, Pooh, dear,” Kanga said, as if nothing was wrong.
“Oh, good morning, Kanga!” said Pooh, cheerily, then quizzically, “if I may ask, what are you doing in Rabbit’s front door?”
“Oh, me? Well, something’s blocked his back door, so I was just poking my head out to try and let someone know. He’s still very sick, so I don’t want him to go to the bother.”
“Oh, yes, I quite understand, Kanga,” said Pooh, nodding. “I shall go and gather the others. Why don’t we go together?”
Kanga’s ears drooped. She had been dreading when this would come up. Well, it was now or never.
“Um, Pooh dear, I don’t think I can. I’m a little…stuck.”
She hung her head. Pooh stood for a moment, then looked her over, then gave a little gasp.
“You are?? Why, Kanga, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, dear. I suppose I was being a little foolish. I wanted to make sure Roo was all right as well. He and Tigger should still be at home. I just hope they didn’t get caught in the rain…”
“Oh, Kanga…I know just how you feel. I remember being stuck in there as well. 'A Wedged Bear in a Great Tightness', as Owl said. But don’t you worry. We’ll have you out of there.”
“Thank you, Pooh,” said Kanga, with a sad sort of smile.
“Now, the thing to do first is…” Pooh tapped his paw to his forehead. “Think, think, think…Ah! I shall find Tigger and Roo first and let them know what has happened! I wouldn’t want you to be lonesome.”
“That’s a wonderful idea, dear,” replied Kanga, wondering what Roo would make of this.
“I shall be back as quick as I can, Kanga!” Pooh called as he hurried off, singing another song, though it sounded more urgent than the last:
"A Kanga stuck in Rabbit’s door
Could be stuck for a day or three or four
But with the help of Pooh and friends
We’ll get dear Kanga free again!"
Kanga knew she could rely on Pooh. He may have been a bear of very little brain, but when his mind was set on something, either honey or his friends, he had complete focus. Now her only concern was Rabbit waking up and seeing what was happening. She was certain he would not be happy to find not only his front door blocked again, but his back door as well. Luckily, she could still hear Rabbit’s snores inside, and that was some comfort.
It wasn’t too long before she heard a familiar bouncing noise, and a wave of relief swept over her as she saw Tigger and Roo bounce toward her. Roo bounced up to Kanga and she took him up in her arms, giving him a warm nuzzle.
“Oh, Roo, I’m so glad you’re safe…”
“I’m all right, Mama, but Pooh said you’re stuck.”
“Yes, dear. I was being a little careless, I suppose…”
“Don’t you worry none, Mrs. Kanga ma’am,” said Tigger, consolingly, “we’ll have you out of there in two tails of a lamb’s shake!”
He took one of Kanga’s paws in his and tugged as hard as he could, Roo pulling on the other. Kanga flinched as she felt herself jerk forward, but she didn’t budge out. Tigger let go and rubbed his large chin thoughtfully.
“No offense, Kanga, but I think we’re gonna need a lot more than Roo-boy and me to get you outta there.”
“Don’t worry about that, dear,” said Kanga. “Pooh’s going to find help, to unblock Rabbit’s back door.”
“Hey, that reminds me…” said Tigger, as if remembering something. “Maybe we could get Old Long-Ears to help!”
“Oh, no-no-no, Tigger, I couldn’t ask that of Rabbit. He’s much too sick. In fact, I don’t think he’d be too happy to find the back half of me in his front door.”
“Yeah, I see what you mean…All right, Roo, I’m gonna help Buddy Bear round up the others. You keep your mama company, all righty?”
“Ok, Tigger!’ Roo gave a miniature version of Tigger’s salute.
“Keep your chin up, Kanga! T.T.F.N.! Ta-Ta For Now!”
With that, Tigger sprang off, but not with his usual silliness. He was a Tigger on a mission.
Roo, meanwhile, sat down, resting his head against his mother’s arm.
“I was very worried about you last night, Roo,” said Kanga. “Did you get home all right?”
“Yeah! Tigger and I spent most of the day doing a bunch of different bounces he said all Tiggers knew best! Then we saw the sky get cloudy, and then Owl flew up just as we were about to get inside Tigger’s house. He led the way back home, and he was talking about something to do with a storm where his 'great-grand-uncle Wendell'nearly had all of his feathers blown off in the wind. I almost fell asleep, but Tigger carried me the rest of the way home, and we got in just before the storm hit. We let Owl spend the night as well, but he picked up where he had left off in his story, so I fell asleep again.”
“Well, I’m just glad the three of you were safe. If something had happened, I don’t know what I would have done…”
“I guess it’s kinda my fault, huh, Mama?…” asked Roo, sadly.
Kanga was surprised.
“What do you mean?”
“If I didn’t make you worry, you wouldn’t be stuck…”
His little ears drooped. But Kanga scooped him up and help him close.
“Oh, Roo, it’s not your fault at all. The only reason I’m in Rabbit’s front door is because the back door’s blocked. So it was more my fault, really. Don’t blame yourself, dear…”
She kissed him warmly on the forehead, and he smiled again, resting in his mother’s arms. Soon, however, they heard a loud “HALOOOO!” that could only mean Tigger had returned. They saw him bounce up the rise, and behind him were Pooh, Piglet, Owl, and Eeyore. There was even a mound of dirt moving along like a snake toward them, evidence that Gopher had joined the rescue party. Everyone gathered around Kanga.
“Oh, d-d-dear, Kanga,” stammered Piglet, “that d-doesn’t look very comfy…”
“If it can happen to Pooh Bear, it could happen to anyone…” said Eeyore in his slow, gloomy voice.
Gopher poked his head out of the ground.
“Hmm…this certainly looks like a bad predicament,” he said, whistling through his teeth as he always did when he pronounced “s” sounds. “Just like what happened to old Pooh boy. Say! I know what we could do! We could-”
“If it has anything to do with “dynamite”,” snapped Owl, “forget about it! It would have harmed Pooh, and it would certainly harm Kanga!”
“It was just a suggestion,” said Gopher with a shrug of the shoulders.
“Please, I don’t want you to worry about me just yet,” Kanga said, a little unnerved at Gopher’s suggestion of dynamite. “What I want you to do is unblock Rabbit’s back door and make sure he doesn’t wake up.”
“Count on us, Mrs. Kanga ma’am," said Tigger. "We’re on it! Come on, you blokes! Hoo-hoo-hoo-HOO!”
So everyone except Roo went to Rabbit’s back door, and they found it completely blocked by the enormous tree branch.
“Oh, my!” Piglet squeaked. “No wonder the door couldn’t open! The storm must’ve knocked that branch down!”
“Same thing happened to my house one day,” Eeyore put in, “only it knocked my house down instead of just blocking the door…”
“Well, boys, let’s get cracking and get this branch a-moving!” said Gopher.
So everyone took a hold of the branch and tugged to pull it away. This was easier said than done, however, for the branch was very thick and heavy, and even with all of them pulling at once, they could only move it bit by bit, which was very hard work. At last, they managed to move the branch to the side of the tree and out of the way, but by the time they had caught their breath, they noticed that Pooh was nowhere to be seen.
“Pooh? Where did you go?” asked Piglet.
“Well, how do you like that?” huffed Gopher. “That bear’s probably gone inside Rabbit’s house to get a “smackerel” of honey! That’s all he thinks about!”
“Don’t you go talking about Buddy Bear that way!” Tigger snapped. “He’d never abandon Kanga!”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, PLEASE!”
Owl stepped in between the two of them, wings held out to distance them.
“This is not the time to argue! Now that Rabbit’s back door has been unblocked, we are now able to go in and make sure Rabbit doesn’t wake up!”
“And p-p-perhaps some of us could help try to p-p-push Kanga out,” suggested Piglet in a quivering voice.
“That’s a great idea, Piglet, old pal!” said Tigger, in a more cheerful tone.
“Best idea we’ve had all day,” said Eeyore.
So, carefully, they opened the door and crept inside. To their surprise, despite all the noise they had been making by shifting the branch and the brief squabble, Rabbit was still sound asleep, snoring loudly. They could see the back end of Kanga, stuck at her stomach, her long tail hanging down.
“Poor Kanga,” said Tigger, sadly, “It’s even more a pity-a-ful sight then Pooh Bear in there.”
“Speaking of which, where is Pooh?” asked Owl.
Now that they looked around, they saw he wasn’t anywhere inside. This was quite unusual, as Rabbit’s house was Pooh’s favorite place to get honey when he was low himself.
“Well, wherever he is, we’d better get going,” said Owl. “Tigger, you’d better stay here to push. Piglet and I will make sure Rabbit stays asleep.”
So with that, Eeyore and Gopher headed back out the back door. Owl, for his part, supervised as Piglet carefully slipped a pair of Rabbit’s favorite winter ear muffs over his long ears, guaranteed to block out the sound of their attempts to extricate Kanga.
“Better see if it‘s effective,” he said.
Piglet shivered at this, but had no choice but to do it, so he carefully bent down and said, in a loud voice,
“Rabbit, if you can hear me, say something!”
He covered his face in his paws…but nothing happened. Rabbit stayed sound asleep. Piglet wiped his brow with a sigh as Owl grinned.
“Good work, Piglet! Are you ready, Tigger?”
“All set! Ready when you are, Mrs. Kanga ma’am!”
Kanga, meanwhile, had felt complete relief when she heard her friends’ voices inside and the assurance that Rabbit wouldn’t notice a thing. It nearly moved her to tears how dedicated her friends were. Just when Eeyore and Gopher returned to her front, who should come up but Pooh, but he was not alone. He had brought-
“Christopher Robin!” Kanga said in surprise.
So it was: Christopher Robin, the best friend to everyone in the Hundred Acre Wood, and to whom everyone went when they needed help. He knelt down by Kanga, smiling kindly.
“Don’t worry, Kanga. Pooh’s told me everything. We’ll get you out.”
“Well, I don’t believe it…” Gopher said in astonishment. “And here I thought Pooh Bear was just off getting more honey!”
“Well, actually, Gopher,” said Pooh, “I thought everyone would feel better if they could have a smackerel or two of honey to keep them on their feet. So I went to find a full pot, but I ran into Christopher Robin, and when I told him what had happened, he took me with him back here as fast as he could.”
“Yay! We’ll get Mama unstuck for sure with Christopher Robin here!” Roo cheered.
Kanga couldn’t help it. Her eyes filled with tears.
“Thank you, everyone. You’re the most wonderful friends I could ever ask for…”
“You’re wonderful yourself, Kanga. The best mother we’ve ever known,” said Christopher Robin, making Kanga smile even broader.
So Christopher Robin took hold of Kanga’s paws, Pooh took hold of Christopher Robin, Roo took hold of Pooh, Eeyore took hold of Roo, and Gopher took hold of Eeyore’s tail. At the count of three, everyone tugged as hard as they could, and Tigger pushed as hard as he could, Owl and Piglet right behind. It was no easy feat. Kanga’s stomach simply would not squeeze through, and Kanga was beginning to think she wouldn’t be able to get out after all.
However, Tigger suddenly grew serious and stepped away.
"Stand aside, chums,” he said to Owl and Piglet. “This is gonna take a Whoop-De-Dooper Loop-De-Looper Alley-Ooper Bounce!”
Owl and Piglet stood aside, as they had seen the bounce before, and knew just how powerful it was. First Tigger swung his leg up high, and twisted his tail in tight. He wound up all his springs, and with his eyes fixed straight ahead…he let it all loose!
His legs spinning like a tornado, he sprang like a bullet, bouncing around the walls of Rabbit’s home, knocking things over and forcing Owl or Piglet in desperation to keep them from crashing. At last, Tigger shot straight forward, shoulder out, at Kanga’s back end. He slammed into her, and with a loud “POP!” she shot out like a cork, landing on top of Christopher Robin. Tigger, still on his course, shot through the hole like a cannonball, ricocheted like a pinball between several trees, and landed neatly among the heap that was his friends.
Everyone got up, Christopher Robin helping Kanga to her feet, but almost immediately she was tackled down in an enthusiastic hug from Roo.
“Mama! Mama!” he cried. “You’re free! We did it!”
“Yes, Roo! Oh, thank you, dear!”
She kissed him and hugged him even closer. She then looked up at all of her friends, who were smiling down at her and Roo. Owl and Piglet soon joined them.
“And thank you, everyone. I’m sorry to have put you through so much trouble.”
“Don’t blame yourself, Kanga,” said Christopher Robin. “If it hadn’t been for that storm, the other door wouldn’t have been blocked. In any case, you were just trying to do the right thing. Three cheers for Kanga, the kindest animal in the Hundred Acre Wood!”
And everyone took up a cry of “Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray!”, making Kanga the happiest of all.
Not much else needs to be said, except that Rabbit eventually got well again in a few days time. Of course, no one mentioned that Kanga had been stuck in his front door for most of a day, as they felt it best not to embarrass her by letting the story spread. Rabbit asked no questions about what had happened while he was asleep, except for two things: how his garden was, and why he had woken up wearing his winter earmuffs?…