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The wooden toolbox that serves as a passengers' car is filled with sounds of chattering, clamoring, & conversation, which somehow manages to be heard despite the nearly-deafening roar of the human-sized train wheels that are rotating just outside the tiny cabin, which is filled with mice, rats, bats, squirrels, gerbils, hamsters, shrews, & chipmunks of just about every gender, race, & nationality you can think of. The air is tinged with smoke drifting from some of the passengers' cigars or cigarettes, but a number of the other commuters try to alleviate the bitter smell of those noxious gray fumes with scented air fresheners or sprays of sweet perfume. All rodents who aren't standing up are seated comfortably on the cushions of plush, velvet-lined sofas that flank either side of the toolbox-car in neatly-sorted rows; the settees are all positioned so that their backs are touching & every pair of sofas is turned in to face one another, which is a good thing for the many passengers that want to speak or otherwise interact with their fellow travellers. In each of the makeshift booths, large mahogany tables are planted between the pairs of sofas, providing a convenient place for one to do homework or business papers, play with toys & games, do a crossword puzzle, read a book, have a snack, or indulge in some other activity to amuse oneself during the long train ride. The booths are all placed beneath paneless square windows that offer passengers a chance to get some fresh air or a fleeting glimpse of the rolling green hills & the small villages adorning the English countryside.

At your sparsely-inhabited booth, in the midst of the busy scene going on around you, you sit across from a lone traveler, your one suitcase resting at your feet underneath the table. Your partner, a gruff-looking farmer-mouse with a cloth English cap on his head & tufts of hay & wheat sticking to his clothes, stares blankly at you for most of the trip, having nothing to say. Then, at one point, he suddenly leans over & says to you in a thick Yorkshire accent, "Pardon my gawpin, good squeaker; Ah don't mean t' stare, & Ah'm 'opin Ah'm not narkin' or moitherin' thee i' any manner, bu' Ah'm curious t' know...Is 'at a ticket-stub i' thy pocket?"

You look down at the small piece of paper in your pocket, & then back up at the Yorkshire mouse, to whom you give your answer: "Yes. Yes, it is."

"An' where are y' bahn fer?" the Yorkshire mouse asks.

"For Mouse London," you reply.

The Yorkshire mouse is pleasantly surprised to hear this. "Mouse London?" he marvels. "Flippin' 'eck...Tha's where Ah'm bahn, too!"

"I'm sure everyone on this train can say the same thing," you remark with a smile.

"Oh," the Yorkshire mouse exclaims in sheer delight, "then, by gum, ye're i' fer a real grand treat! Ah hear from my owd friend up i' Leeds 'at Mouse London is th' best place i' all o' England--nay, th' best place i' all th' 'ole rodent world--t' go spend a holiday! Dear Mack egged me on t' bob dahn there & stay fer a few days, just t' see 'ow wonderful it is!"

"Is that so?" you ask. "Well, if your friend is asking you to take a trip to Mouse London just for that reason, then it must really be wonderful."

"'At's wha' Mack lets on t'me," the Yorkshire mouse says with a smile & a nod of his head. "'As-ta e'er bahn t' Mouse London thissen?"

"Have I been there myself?" you repeat, before shaking your head & saying, "No, I'm afraid I haven't."

"Well," the Yorkshire mouse says, "then, Ah reckon this'll be th' fust trip there fer both o' us."

After about another hour or so, the passengers in the toolbox-car begin looking out the windows & clamoring in excitement as they see their ride pulling into Exeter Train Station. With a blowing of the whistle & a final grind of the wheels, the train comes to a stop; the rodent passengers then all begin filing out of the tiny cabins with their luggage & hopping down onto the pavements below, taking great care to avoid the crushing feet of the humans hustling & bustling around them as they make their way out of the station & into the city.

The Yorkshire mouse watches you lean down to pick up your suitcase, then gets up & follows you to the toolbox-car's exit portal. "Onto th' causey, now!" the Yorkshire mouse cries, & with that, the two of you jump out of the cabin & onto the station pavement. Once you've taken a moment to sweep the dust off your clothes, you walk along with the Yorkshire mouse to the gates of the city, which open to reveal the interior of Mouse London.

You & the Yorkshire mouse are both stunned speechless by what you are seeing. The sun is shining brightly in the blue skies, as white clouds drift in the gentle spring breeze & birds in mid-flight chirp merry songs to herald your arrival. The scenery of the city & the activity going on around you is positively breathtaking. Rodentlings are laughing & shouting cheerfully as they play together in the streets. Well-dressed grown-ups of every species & ethnic group are chatting & conversing with one another in pleasant harmony. The air is filled with music & sounds of everyday life. For a moment, it almost seems as though you've entered Utopia...a magical land where everything is perfect & nothing bad ever happens...

The Yorkshire mouse is mostly silent as he lingers in his stupor of amazement for a while, but then, he manages to find his voice: "*Gollup*...By gum...May Cor aboon strike me dahn..." When you look at the Yorkshire mouse in puzzlement, he titters sheepishly & says, "Ah'm soz, sirrah, bu' when ye're seein' a sight like this, one canna 'elp bu' be gob-smacked a' fust, & then, all o' a sudden, th' words start bletherin' out o' thy cake'ole..."

"It's nothing to worry about," you tell the Yorkshire mouse. "Anyone would have acted the same way upon coming here & seeing this great city for the first time."

"Ah, sirrah," the Yorkshire mouse says in agreement, "'at's exactly what this city is! It's gurt & cumly & grand & champion, all a' once! It caps all th' other mouse cities i' th' world! Ah, fer one, feel fair chuffed & mawmet t' be 'ere!" He pauses for several moments, taking in the sights, smells, & sounds of Mouse London, as you do the same. Then, after a while has passed, the Yorkshire mouse speaks again: "Well, Ah reckon 'at's enough gawpin'; what d'ye say we bob dahn th' streets & 'ave a sharp skeg a' everything?"

"Yes," you respond, "let's."

And so, you & the Yorkshire mouse make your way together down the streets of Mouse London, looking around at all the buildings & rodents & whatnot that you see. As the two of you carry on with your tour, the Yorkshire mouse continues to gawk & marvel to himself, "Aye, this is indeed a champion city--everything Mack said i' would be...Ah mean, it's so flippin' gurt &, & thrang wi' activity...Look a' all th' rodents walkin' about, indulgin' i' fine twang wi' their friends & callin wi' th' nosy neighbors...Not umpteen din t' cause a racket & disturb thee...An' look a' all th' gradely day-tale mice i' their grand coits & gloves on their dawks...Look a' th' lish loans wi' all th' bumpy gray cobs on 'em; we don't 'ave roads like 'at on th' farmlands...Awww, will ye jus' take a skeg a' th' lahl bairns laiking together, laughin' & playin' so cheerfully...Nay, not a sign o' foggy fret anywhere...No coil dust muckin' up th' chimbley-smoke & pollutin' th' atmosphere...Th' air feels so clean, ye coul' breathe it i' all day, & nobody would care...An' there's no ket or trammel litterin' th' streets & alley-ginnels...'At's a grand sign, too..."

"I take it you like London so far?" you ask the Yorkshire mouse.

The Yorkshire mouse can barely contain himself as he answers, "'Eck, aye, sirrah! All 'at & even more!"

"You don't travel very much, do you?" you inquire.

The Yorkshire mouse replies, "Nay, sirrah, Ah'm afraid not. Y'see, like thee, Ah, too, am offcumden from another land. Ah belong t' Yorksher, but Ah dwell i' th' countryside, far from bein' cloise t' th' gurt cities like Leeds & Lancashire & such...An' not really 'avin' any fancy new technology or a sharp, quick way t' get i' touch wi' any o' these cities, we mice o' th' laithes & mistals & staggarths & cottage 'ouses tend t' hugger up together i' lahl communities o' our own. Th' bairns i' th' farming or rural areas are allus busy towing on their families' property t' addle a livin' fer themselves, so they canna 'gait t' skoil. An' thus, much o' th' micefolk i' rural Yorksher know lahl t' nowt about th' world aht o' Prairieville, as i' were. It's fair bad job, really...quite unfortunate."

"Oh, surely," you say, "the ruralmice in Yorkshire must know a little bit about the outside world!"

"If they don't know nowt, they know lahl, as Ah've said afower," the Yorkshire mouse explains. "Bu' whate'er th' case may be, th' aht world is strange & eerie & even terrfiying t' those i' th' countrylands...a reet unkerd place. An' much o' wha' we do know about th' aht world, we can barely gaum or understand i' fully..."

"But if most of the Yorkshire countrymice don't go to school," you inquire, "then where do they get information about the outside world?"

"We sam it up from th' local cals, o' course. Lot o' idle flibberty-gibbets, they are...daft gauvies who hardly 'ave a sense o' owt, much less th' majority o' wha' comes out o' their fleps! When we ax th' cals summat, they let on t' us wha' they claim t' know, & 'at isn't reet umpteen. Ah reckon those gauvies know nowt about th' aht world--they don't 'ave th' gumption t' agait off & actually see those places fer themselves!"

"You said your friend who told you about London was from Leeds, right?" you ask the Yorkshire mouse.

"Aye, sirrah," the Yorkshire mouse answers with a nod, "& he's far more reliable than th' pasture cals! So Ah'm takin' 'is advice & 'gaitin' aht t' see fresh, new worlds wi' me own een!"

"And you really do feel that Mouse London is everything Mack said it was?" you question.

The Yorkshire mouse replies, "Aye, o' course, sirrah; ye already know th' answer t' 'at as well as Ah do! Ah'm fair suited by i'...blowed over, really. Mouse London frames t' be a place Ah'll think on fer th' rest o' my days. T' be fair honest wi' ye, Ah reckon Ah'll nivver look a' Yorksher i' th' same way agin."

"I'm inclined to agree with you," you remark with a nod & a warm smile.

After spending a few more minutes walking through the streets of Mouse London, you & the Yorkshire mouse stop when you come to a crossroads at a quiet intersection. The tall post in front of you is adorned with nine wooden signs decorated with paw-painted images & text in varying fonts; each of these signs is facing in a different direction, pointing the way to a certain place.

You take a quick glance up at the crossroads, then turn to face the Yorkshire mouse again. You extend your paw to shake his hand as you say, "Well, my dear friend, I'm afraid I must part ways with you at this time."

"'Od on & wait a tick!" the Yorkshire mouse blurts in startlement. "What's th' big 'urry all o' a sudden?"

"I think I shall take the opportunity to go off & see the sights of Mouse London for myself," you tell the Yorkshire mouse. "The signs on the crossroads may lead the way to some nice shops or restaurants, maybe even a tourist attraction or two that I might want to visit."

"Oh, 'at's reet fine wi' me," the Yorkshire mouse says. "Ah reckon Ah'll do some o' me own gallivantin' around th' town, anall. But fust, sin Ah'm feelin' fair clemmed, Ah migh' bob ower t' 'at bistro yonder & spend a bit o' me Godspenny's on a snap & mash, & 'appen, some sweet spices afterwards, if Ah'm up fer dessert."

"Where will you be staying while you're in Mouse London?" you ask.

The Yorkshire mouse just shrugs his shoulders & says, "Ah ne'er gave i' much thought...Ah think Ah'll 'gait latin about fer hafe a' a hotel or inn somewhere. Wi' luck, Ah shoul' find a cozy lahl spot cheap enough t' stay fer a' least a week."

"I certainly hope you do," you tell the Yorkshire mouse encouragingly.

"Much thanks, sirrah," the Yorkshire mouse says. "Though Ah mun confess 'at Ah lief rue & regret 'avin' t' leave such a paragon o' grand company as thissen." With a smile, the Yorkshire mouse waves "goodbye" to you as he begins walking off towards the bistro across the street & says, "Tarra & mind! 'Ope yer time i' Mouse London is a good 'un!"

You wave "farewell" to the Yorkshire mouse & bid him "adieu", & after you watch him leave from your sight, you turn back to the crossroads & look carefully at each of the signs upon it, glancing at the pictures & writing that indicate the places they lead to...



Barney's Bookstore

Basil's Encyclopedia Of The Citizens Of Mouse London

Larry's Libretto Company

Sophocles' Alley-House

Flaversham's Toy Shop

Madame Ratburn's Wagon

The Courthouse

Daniels' Curio Emporium

Exeter Train Station



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