"You don't promise," said the Badger, "never to go into debt again?"
"Certainly not!" replied Toad emphatically. "On the contrary, I faithfully promise that the very first opportunity I have, chink-chink, I'll borrow even more!"
Christmas is a good time of year to start thinking up rules.
You can only open one present before breakfast. Spread them out: that way there will be no tears later in the day.
The turkey must be for exactly the right time: 20 minutes a pound at 180 degrees. That way no one will go down with food poisoning.
But you can't legislate against Auntie Vera and Uncle Bob having a row. Or Grandad having apoplexy and falling head-first into his plate.
It's the same with last week's Euro deal. They agreed some new rules, for the future, new restrictions on countries borrowing.
That's OK as far as it goes. The turkey will be nicely roasted.
But everyone knows they have agreed restrictions on borrowing before. And they didn't work.
The financial crisis was so horrendous, it made all that pre-tinkering irrelevant.
And, as with the unreliable Mr Toad, one has to question whether European nations will stick to what they agreed to in that room with Chancellor Merkel.
"Toad, I want you solemnly to repeat, before your friends here, what you fully admitted to me in the smoking-room just now," pronounced the gratified Badger. "First, you are sorry for what you've done, and you see the folly of it all?"
Toad looked desperately this way and that, while the other animals waited in grave silence.
"No!" he said a little sullenly, but stoutly; "I'm not sorry. And it wasn't folly at all! It was simply glorious!"
"What?" cried the Badger, greatly scandalized. "You backsliding animal, didn't you tell me just now, in there..."
"Oh, yes, yes, in there," said Toad impatiently. "I'd have said anything in there. You're so eloquent, dear Badger, and so moving, and so convincing...but I find that I'm not a bit sorry or repentant really, so it's no earthly good saying I am; now, is it?"
Of course, Toad was talking about his new obsession with fast cars - "Poop! Poop".
But I wonder when the backsliding will start in Europe?