I: Ɖ Rivrbanc

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Mol hd bn wrcñ vri hard ol ɖ mornñ, sprñclīnñ hiz litl hom. Frst wɖ brūmz, ɖen wɖ dustrz; ɖen on ladrz n steps n ćerz, wɖ a bruś n a peil v ẃîtwoś; tl h hd dust in hiz ʈrot n îz, n splaśz v ẃîtwoś ol ovr hiz blac fŕ, n an ecñ bac n wiri armz. Sprñ wz muvñ in ɖ er abv n in ɖ rʈ b’lo n arnd him, peṇtretñ īvn hiz darc n loli litl hǎs wɖ its spirit v dvîn discntnt n loññ. It wz smōl wundr, ɖen, ɖt h sudnli fluñ dǎn hiz bruś on ɖ flor, sd “Boɖr!” n “Ǒ blo!” n olso “Hañ sprñclīnñ!” n boltd ǎt v ɖ hǎs wɖt īvn wêtñ t pt on hiz cot. Smʈñ p abv wz cōlñ him impirịsli, n h md fr ɖ stīp litl tunl ẃć ansrd in hiz ces t ɖ gavld carijdrîv ǒnd bî animlz huz rezidnsz r nirr t ɖ sún n er. So h scrept n scraćt n scrabld n scrūjd n ɖen h scrūjd agn n scrabld n scraćt n scrept, wrcñ biẓli wɖ hiz litl pwz n muṭrñ t himslf, “P w g! P w g!” tl at last, pop! hiz snǎt cem ǎt intu ɖ súnlît, n h faund himslf rolñ in ɖ worm gras v a gret medo.

“Ɖs z fîn!” h sd t himslf. “Ɖs z betr ɖn ẃîtwośñ!” Ɖ súnśîn struc hot on hiz fŕ, soft brizz c’rest hiz hītd brǎ, n aftr ɖ s’cluźn v ɖ séḷrij h hd livd in so loñ ɖ caṛl v hapi brdz fél on hiz duld hírñ olmst lîc a śǎt. Jumpñ of ol hiz for legz at wns, in ɖ jô v livñ n ɖ dlît v sprñ wɖt its clīnñ, h psyd hiz we acrs ɖ medo tl h rīćt ɖ hej on ɖ frɖr sîd.

“Hold p!” sd an eldrli rabit at ɖ gap. “Sixpns fr ɖ priṿlij v pasñ bî ɖ prîṿt rod!” H wz bǒld ovr in an instnt bî ɖ impeśnt n cntmćs Mol, hu trotd alñ ɖ sîd v ɖ hej ćafñ ɖ uɖr rabits az ɖe pīpt huṛdli fṛm ɖer houlz t si ẃt ɖ rǎ wz abt. “Uńn sōs! Uńn sōs!” h rmarct jirñli, n wz gn bfr ɖe cd ʈnc v a ʈuṛli saṭsfactri rplî. Ɖen ɖe ol startd grumḅlñ at ć uɖr. “Hǎ STYPID y r! Ẃ dd’nt y tel him — ” “Wel, ẃ dd’nt Y se — ” “Y mt hv rmîndd him — ” n so on, in ɖ yźl we; bt, v cors, it wz ɖen mć tù lêt, az z olwz ɖ ces.

It ol sīmd tù gd t b tru. Hiɖr n ɖiɖr ʈru ɖ medoz h rambld biẓli, alñ ɖ hejroz, acrs ɖ copsz, fîndñ evrẃr brdz bildñ, flǎrz budñ, līvz ʈrustñ – evrʈñ hapi, n pṛgresiv, n okpaid. N instd v hvñ an unīzi conśns pricñ him n ẃisṗrñ “ẃîtwoś!” h smhǎ cd onli fīl hǎ joli it wz t b ɖ onli îdl dog amñ ol ɖz bizi sitiznz. Aftr ol, ɖ bst part v a hoḷde z phps nt so mć t b restñ yrslf, az t si ol ɖ uɖr feloz bizi wrcñ.

H ʈt hiz hapinis wz cmplit ẃn, az h miandrd emlisli alñ, sudnli h std bî ɖ éj v a fl-féd rivr. Nvr in hiz lîf hd h sìn a rivr bfr – ɖs slīc, sinẏs, fl-bodid animl, ćesñ n ćuc̣lñ, gripñ ʈñz wɖ a grgl n līvñ ɖm wɖ a laf, t flñ itslf on freś plêmêts ɖt śc ɖmslvz fri, n wr còt n hld agn. Ol wz a-śec n a-śivr – glints n glīmz n sparclz, rusl n swrl, ćatr n bubl. Ɖ Mol wz b’wićt, intranst, faṣnetd. Bî ɖ sîd v ɖ rivr h trotd az wn trots, ẃn vri smōl, bî ɖ sîd v a man hu holdz wn spel-baund bî xîtñ storiz; n ẃn tîrd at last, h sat on ɖ banc, ẃl ɖ rivr stl ćatrd on t him, a baḅlñ pṛseśn v ɖ bst storiz in ɖ wrld, snt fṛm ɖ hart v ɖ rʈ t b tld at last t ɖ inseśbl sì.

Az h sat on ɖ gras n lct acrs ɖ rivr, a darc houl in ɖ banc oṗzit, jst abv ɖ wōtr’z éj, còt hiz î, n drīṃli h fél t cnsiḍrñ ẃt a nîs snug dwelñples it wd mc fr an animl wɖ fy wonts n fond v a bīźu rivrsîd rezidns, abv fludlevl n rmot fṛm nôz n dust. Az h gezd, smʈñ brît n smōl sīmd t twncl dǎn in ɖ hart v it, vaniśt, ɖen twncld wns mor lîc a tîni star. Bt it cd hardli b a star in sć an unlîcli sićueśn; n it wz tù gliṭrñ n smōl fr a glǒwrm. Ɖen, az h lct, it wnct at him, n so dclerd itslf t b an î; n a smōl fes bgan graɉli t gro p rnd it, lîc a frem rnd a picćr.

A brǎn litl fes, wɖ ẃiscrz.

A grev rǎnd fes, wɖ ɖ sem twncl in its î ɖt hd frst atractd hiz notis.

Smōl nīt irz n ʈic silci her.

It wz ɖ Wōtŗat!

Ɖen ɖ tū animlz std n rgardd ć uɖr cōśsli.

“Hlo, Mol!” sd ɖ Wōtŗat.

“Hlo, Rat!” sd ɖ Mol.

“Wd y lîc t cm ovr?” inqîrd ɖ Rat prezntli.

“Ǒ, its ol vri wel t TŌC,” sd ɖ Mol, rɖr petiśli, h biyñ ny t a rivr n rivrsîd lîf n its wez.

Ɖ Rat sd nʈñ, bt stūpt n unfasnd a rop n hōld on it; ɖen lîtli stept intu a litl bot ẃć ɖ Mol hd nt obzrvd. It wz pentd blu ǎtsd n ẃît wɖn, n wz jst ɖ sîz fr tū animlz; n ɖ Mol’z hol hart wnt ǎt t it at wns, īvn ɖo h dd nt yt fŭli unḍstand its ysz.

Ɖ Rat scúld smartli acrs n md fast. Ɖen h hld p hiz fōrpw az ɖ Mol stept jinjrli dǎn. “Līn on ɖt!” h sd. “Nǎ ɖen, step lîvli!” n ɖ Mol t hiz s’prîz n rapćr faund himslf acć̣li sītd in ɖ strn v a riyl bot.

“Ɖs hz bn a wundrfl de!” sd h, az ɖ Rat śuvd of n tc t ɖ scúlz agn. “D y nǒ, I’v nvr bn in a bot bfr in ol mî lîf.”

“Ẃt?” craid ɖ Rat, opn-mǎɖd: “Nvr bn in a – y nvr – wel I – ẃt hv y bn dwñ, ɖen?”

“Z it so nîs az ol ɖt?” asct ɖ Mol śîli, ɖo h wz qt priperd t b’liv it az h lent bac in hiz sīt n sveid ɖ cŭśnz, ɖ òrz, ɖ rǒlocs, n ol ɖ faṣnetñ fitñz, n flt ɖ bot swe lîtli undr him.

“Nîs? It’s ɖ ONLI ʈñ,” sd ɖ Wōtŗat soḷmli, az h lent fwd fr hiz stroc. “B’liv m, mî yuñ frend, ɖr z NƮÑ – abṣlut nʈñ – haf so mć wrʈ dwñ az simpli mesñ abt in bots. Simpli mesñ,” h wnt on drīṃli: “mesñ – abt – in – bots; mesñ — ”

“Lc ahd, Rat!” craid ɖ Mol sudnli.

It wz tù lêt. Ɖ bot struc ɖ banc fl tilt. Ɖ drīmr, ɖ joys òrzmn, le on hiz bac at ɖ botm v ɖ bot, hiz hìlz in ɖ er.

“ – abt in bots – or WƉ bots,” ɖ Rat wnt on cmpoẓdli, picñ himslf p wɖ a pleznt laf. “In or ǎt v ’m, it dz’nt matr. Nʈñ sīmz riyli t matr, ɖt’s ɖ ćarm v it. Ẃɖr y gt awe, or ẃɖr y d’nt; ẃɖr y arîv at yr desṭneśn or ẃɖr y rīć smẃr els, or ẃɖr y nvr gt enẃr at ol, y’r olwz bizi, n y nvr d enʈñ in ptiklr; n ẃn y’v dn it ɖr’z olwz smʈñ els t d, n y cn d it f y lîc, bt y’d mć betr nt. Lc hir! F y’v riyli nʈñ els on hand ɖs mornñ, s’pozñ w drop dǎn ɖ rivr tgɖr, n hv a loñ de v it?”

Ɖ Mol wagld hiz toz fṛm śir hapinis, spred hiz ćst wɖ a sai v fl cntntmnt, n līnd bac blisf̣li intu ɖ soft cŭśnz. “ẂT a de I’m hvñ!” h sd. “Let s start at wns!”

“Hold hard a minit, ɖen!” sd ɖ Rat. H lūpt ɖ pentr ʈru a rñ in hiz landñstej, clîmd p intu hiz houl abv, n aftr a śort inṭvl ri’pird staġrñ undr a fat, wicr lunćnbascit.

“Śuv ɖt undr yr fīt,” h obzrvd t ɖ Mol, az h pást it dǎn intu ɖ bot. Ɖen h untaid ɖ pentr n tc ɖ scúlz agn.

“Ẃt’s insd it?” asct ɖ Mol, riġlñ wɖ krioṣti.

“Ɖr’z cold ćicn insd it,” rplaid ɖ Rat brīfli; “coldtuñcoldhamcoldbīfpicldgrcinzsaḷdfrenćrolzcreșanẉjzpotdmìtjinjrbirleṃnedsodawōtr — ”

“Ǒ stop, stop,” craid ɖ Mol in xṭsiz: “Ɖs z tù mć!”

“D y riyli ʈnc so?” inqîrd ɖ Rat sirịsli. “It’s onli ẃt I olwz tec on ɖz litl xcrśnz; n ɖ uɖr animlz r olwz telñ m ɖt I’m a mìn bīst n cut it VRI fîn!”

Ɖ Mol nvr hŕd a wrd h wz seyñ. Abzorbd in ɖ ny lîf h wz enṭrñ upn, intox̣cetd wɖ ɖ sparcl, ɖ ripl, ɖ sénts n ɖ sǎndz n ɖ súnlît, h treld a pw in ɖ wōtr n dremt loñ wecñdrīmz. Ɖ Wōtŗat, lîc ɖ gd litl felo h wz, scúld steḍli on n fōrbòr t dstrb him.

“I lîc yr cloɖz ōf̣li, old ćap,” h rmarct aftr sm haf an aur or so hd pást. “I’m gwñ t gt a blac velvit smocñsūt mslf sm de, az sn az I cn aford it.”

“I beg yr pardn,” sd ɖ Mol, pŭlñ himslf tgɖr wɖ an ef̣t. “Y mst ʈnc m vri rūd; bt ol ɖs z so ny t m. So – ɖs – z – a – Rivr!”

“Ɖ Rivr,” c’rectd ɖ Rat.

“N y riyli liv bî ɖ rivr? Ẃt a joli lîf!”

“Bî it n wɖ it n on it n in it,” sd ɖ Rat. “It’s bruɖr n sistr t m, n ānts, n cumṗni, n fūd n drinc, n (naćṛli) wośñ. It’s mî wrld, n I d’nt wont eni uɖr. Ẃt it hz’nt got z nt wrʈ hvñ, n ẃt it dz’nt nǒ z nt wrʈ nwñ. Lord! ɖ tîmz w’v hd tgɖr! Ẃɖr in wintr or sumr, sprñ or ōtm, it’s olwz got its fun n its xîtmnts. Ẃn ɖ fludz r on in Febrri, n mî sélrz n besmnt r brimñ wɖ drinc ɖt’s no gd t m, n ɖ brǎn wōtr runz bî mî bst bedrūm windo; or agn ẃn it ol drops awe n, śoz paćz v mud ɖt smelz lîc plum cec, n ɖ ruśz n wīd clog ɖ ćanlz, n I cn potr abt drî śod ovr most v ɖ bed v it n fînd freś fūd t īt, n ʈñz cerlis ppl hv dropt ǎt v bots!”

“Bt z’nt it a bit dul at tîmz?” ɖ Mol vnćrd t asc. “Jst y n ɖ rivr, n nwn els t pas a wrd wɖ?”

“Nwn els t – wel, I ms’nt b hard on y,” sd ɖ Rat wɖ fōrbeṛns. “Y’r ny t it, n v cors y d’nt nǒ. Ɖ banc z so crǎdd nawdez ɖt mni ppl r muvñ awe oltgɖr: Ǒ no, it z’nt ẃt it yst t b, at ol. Otrz, cñfiśrz, dabćics, murhenz, ol v ɖm abt ol de loñ n olwz wontñ y t D smʈñ – az f a felo hd no biznis v hiz ǒn t atnd t!”

“Ẃt lîz ovr ƉR’ asct ɖ Mol, wevñ a pw twdz a bacgrǎnd v wŭdḷnd ɖt darcli fremd ɖ wōtrmedoz on wn sîd v ɖ rivr.

“Ɖt? Ǒ, ɖt’s jst ɖ Wîld Wŭd,” sd ɖ Rat śortli. “W d’nt g ɖr vri mć, w rivrbancrz.”

“R’nt ɖe – r’nt ɖe vri NÎS ppl in ɖr?” sd ɖ Mol, a trîfl nrṿsli.

“W-e-l,” rplaid ɖ Rat, “let m si. Ɖ sqiṛlz r ol rît. N ɖ rabits – sm v ’m, bt rabits r a mixt lot. N ɖen ɖr’z Bajr, v cors. H livz rît in ɖ hart v it; wd’nt liv enẃr els, îɖr, f y peid him t d it. Dir old Bajr! Nbdi inṭfirz wɖ HIM. Ɖ’d betr nt,” h add sgnificntli.

“Ẃ, hu ŚD inṭfir wɖ him?” asct ɖ Mol.

“Wel, v cors – ɖr – r uɖrz,” xplend ɖ Rat in a heztetñ sort v we.

“Wīzlz – n stots – n foxz – n so on. Ɖ’r ol rît in a we – I’m vri gd frendz wɖ ɖm – pas ɖ tîm v de ẃn w mīt, n ol ɖt – bt ɖe brec ǎt smtmz, ɖr’z no dnayñ it, n ɖen – wel, y c’nt riyli trust ɖm, n ɖt’s ɖ fact.”

Ɖ Mol ń wel ɖt it z qt agnst animl-eticét t dwel on poṣbl trubl ahd, or īvn t alud t it; so h dropt ɖ subjict.

“N bynd ɖ Wîld Wŭd agn?” h asct: “Ẃr it’s ol blu n dim, n wn siz ẃt me b hilz or phps ɖe m’nt, n smʈñ lîc ɖ smoc v tǎnz, or z it onli clǎḑrift?”

“Bynd ɖ Wîld Wŭd cmz ɖ Wîd Wrld,” sd ɖ Rat. “N ɖt’s smʈñ ɖt dz’nt matr, îɖr t y or m. I’v nvr bn ɖr, n I’m nvr gwñ, nr y îɖr, f y’v got eni sns at ol. D’nt evr rfŕ t it agn, plīz. Nǎ ɖen! Hir’z ǎr bacwōtr at last, ẃr w’r gwñ t lunć.”

Līvñ ɖ mn strīm, ɖe nǎ pást intu ẃt sīmd at frst sît lîc a litl land-loct lec. Grīn trf slǒpt dǎn t îɖr éj, brǎn sneci trīrūts glīmd b’lo ɖ srfis v ɖ qayt wōtr, ẃl ahd v ɖm ɖ silṿri śoldr n fomi tumbl v a wir, arm-in-arm wɖ a restlis dripñ milẃīl, ɖt hld p in its trn a gre-gebld milhǎs, fild ɖ er wɖ a suɖñ mrmr v sǎnd, dul n smuɖ̇ri, yt wɖ litl clir vôsz spīcñ p ćirf̣li ǎt v it at inṭvlz. It wz so vri bytifl ɖt ɖ Mol cd onli hold p bʈ fōrpwz n gasp, “Ǒ mî! Ǒ mî! Ǒ mî!”

Ɖ Rat bròt ɖ bot alñsd ɖ banc, md hr fast, hlpt ɖ stl-ōcẉd Mol sefli aśor, n swuñ ǎt ɖ lunćnbascit. Ɖ Mol begd az a fevr t b alaud t unpac it ol bî himslf; n ɖ Rat wz vri plizd t indulj him, n t sprōl at fl leñʈ on ɖ gras n rest, ẃl hiz xîtd frend śc ǎt ɖ teblcloʈ n spred it, tc ǎt ol ɖ m’stirịs pacits wn bî wn n arenjd ɖer contents in dy ordr, stl gaspñ, “Ǒ mî! Ǒ mî!” at ć freś reṿleśn. Ẃn ol wz redi, ɖ Rat sd, “Nǎ, pić in, old felo!” n ɖ Mol wz indd vri glad t obe, fr h hd startd hiz sprñclīnñ at a vri rli aur ɖt mornñ, az ppl WL d, n hd nt pōzd fr bît or sup; n h hd bn ʈru a vri gret dīl sins ɖt distnt tîm ẃć nǎ sīmd so mni dez ago.

“Ẃt r y lcñ at?” sd ɖ Rat prezntli, ẃn ɖ éj v ɖer hungr wz smẃt duld, n ɖ Mol’z îz wr ebl t wondr of ɖ teblcloʈ a litl.

“I am lcñ,” sd ɖ Mol, “at a strīc v bublz ɖt I si traṿlñ alñ ɖ srfis v ɖ wōtr. Ɖt z a ʈñ ɖt strîcs m az funi.”

“Bublz? Oho!” sd ɖ Rat, n ćiṛpt ćiṛli in an invîtñ sort v we.

A brōd gliṣnñ muzl śoud itslf abv ɖ éj v ɖ banc, n ɖ Otr hōld himslf ǎt n śc ɖ wōtr fṛm hiz cot.

“Grīdi begrz!” h obzrvd, mcñ fr ɖ provndr. “Ẃ dd’nt y invît m, Rati?”

“Ɖs wz an impromtu afer,” xplend ɖ Rat. “Bî ɖ we – mî frend Mr. Mol.”

“Prǎd, I’m śr,” sd ɖ Otr, n ɖ tū animlz wr frendz fʈwʈ.

“Sć a rumṗs evrẃr!” cntinyd ɖ Otr. “Ol ɖ wrld sīmz ǎt on ɖ rivr tde. I cem p ɖs bacwōtr t trî n gt a momnt’s pīs, n ɖen stumbl upn y feloz! – At līst – I beg pardn – I d’nt xacli mīn ɖt, y nǒ.”

Ɖr wz a rusl bhnd ɖm, pṛsidñ fṛm a hej ẃr-in last yir’z līvz stl cluñ ʈic, n a strîpi hed, wɖ hî śoldrz bhnd it, pīrd fʈ on ɖm.

“Cm on, old Bajr!” śǎtd ɖ Rat.

Ɖ Bajr trotd fwd a pes or tū; ɖen gruntd, “Hm! Cumṗni,” n trnd hiz bac n dis’pird fṛm vy.

“Ɖt’s JST ɖ sort v felo h z!” obzrvd ɖ dis’pôntd Rat. “Simpli hets Ssayti! Nǎ w ś’nt si eni mor v him tde. Wel, tel s, HU’Z ǎt on ɖ rivr?”

“Tod’z ǎt, fr wn,” rplaid ɖ Otr. “In hiz brand-ny wejrbot; ny togz, ny evrʈñ!”

Ɖ tū animlz lct at ć uɖr n laft.

“Wns, it wz nʈñ bt sêlñ,” sd ɖ Rat, “Ɖen h tîrd v ɖt n tc t puntñ. Nʈñ wd plīz him bt t punt ol de n evri de, n a nîs mes h md v it. Last yir it wz hǎsbotñ, n w ol hd t g n ste wɖ him in hiz hǎsbot, n pritnd w lîct it. H wz gwñ t spend ɖ rest v hiz lîf in a hǎsbot. It’s ol ɖ sem, ẃtvr h tecs p; h gts tîrd v it, n starts on smʈñ freś.”

“Sć a gd felo, tù,” rmarct ɖ Otr rflectivli: “Bt no stbiḷti – ispeṣ́li in a bot!”

Fṛm ẃr ɖe sat ɖe cd gt a glims v ɖ mn strīm acrs ɖ îḷnd ɖt seṗretd ɖm; n jst ɖen a wejrbot flaśt intu vy, ɖ rowr – a śort, stǎt figr – splaśñ badli n rolñ a gd dīl, bt wrcñ hiz hardist. Ɖ Rat std p n hêld him, bt Tod – fr it wz h – śc hiz hed n setld strnli t hiz wrc.

“H’l b ǎt v ɖ bot in a minit f h rolz lîc ɖt,” sd ɖ Rat, sitñ dǎn agn.

“V cors h wl,” ćucld ɖ Otr. “Dd I evr tel y ɖt gd stori abt Tod n ɖ loc̦īpr? It hapnd ɖs we. Tod….”

An eṛnt Mêflî swrvd unsteḍli aʈwort ɖ cuṛnt in ɖ intox̣cetd faśn afctd bî yuñ bludz v Mêflîz siyñ lîf. A swrl v wōtr n a “clūp!” n ɖ Mêflî wz viẓbl no mor.

Nɖr wz ɖ Otr.

Ɖ Mol lct dǎn. Ɖ vôs wz stl in hiz irz, bt ɖ trf ẃr-on h hd sprōld wz clirli vecnt. Nt an Otr t b sìn, az far az ɖ distnt hrîzn.

Bt agn ɖr wz a strīc v bublz on ɖ srfis v ɖ rivr.

Ɖ Rat humd a tyn, n ɖ Mol rec̣lectd ɖt animl-eticét fbad eni sort v coment on ɖ sudn dis’piṛns v wn’z frendz at eni momnt, fr eni rīzn or no rīzn ẃtvr.

“Wel, wel,” sd ɖ Rat, “I s’poz w òt t b muvñ. I wundr ẃć v s hd betr pac ɖ lunćnbascit?” H dd nt spīc az f h wz frîtf̣li īgr fr ɖ trīt.

“Ǒ, plīz let m,” sd ɖ Mol. So, v cors, ɖ Rat let him.

Pacñ ɖ bascit wz nt qt sć pleznt wrc az unpacñ ɖ bascit. It nvr z. Bt ɖ Mol wz bnt on injoyñ evrʈñ, n olɖo jst ẃn h hd got ɖ bascit páct n strapt p tîtli h sw a plet stẹrñ p at him fṛm ɖ gras, n ẃn ɖ job hd bn dn agn ɖ Rat pôntd ǎt a forc ẃć enbdi òt t hv sìn, n last v ol, bhold! ɖ musṭdpot, ẃć h hd bn sitñ on wɖt nwñ it – stl, smhǎ, ɖ ʈñ got finiśt at last, wɖt mć los v tmpr.

Ɖ afṭnunsún wz gtñ lo az ɖ Rat scúld jntli homẉdz in a drīmi mūd, mrṃrñ powtriʈñz ovr t himslf, n nt peyñ mć atnśn t Mol. Bt ɖ Mol wz vri fl v lunć, n slf-saṭsfax́n, n prîd, n olrdi qt at hom in a bot (so h ʈt) n wz gtñ a bit restlis bsdz: n prezntli h sd, “Rati! Plīz, I wont t ro, nǎ!”

Ɖ Rat śc hiz hed wɖ a smîl. “Nt yt, mî yuñ frend,” h sd – ’wêt tl y’v hd a fy lésnz. It’s nt so īzi az it lcs.”

Ɖ Mol wz qayt fr a minit or tū. Bt h bgan t fīl mor n mor jeḷs v Rat, scúlñ so stroñli n so īẓli alñ, n hiz prîd bgan t ẃispr ɖt h cd d it evri bit az wel. H jumt p n sizd ɖ scúlz, so sudnli, ɖt ɖ Rat, hu wz gezñ ǎt ovr ɖ wōtr n seyñ mor powtriʈñz t himslf, wz tecn bî s’prîz n fél bcwdz of hiz sīt wɖ hiz legz in ɖ er fr ɖ secnd tîm, ẃl ɖ trîumfnt Mol tc hiz ples n grabd ɖ scúlz wɖ intîr confidns.

“Stop it, y SILI as!” craid ɖ Rat, fṛm ɖ botm v ɖ bot. “Y c’nt d it! Y’l hv s ovr!”

Ɖ Mol fluñ hiz scúlz bac wɖ a fluriś, n md a gret dig at ɖ wōtr. H míst ɖ srfis oltgɖr, hiz legz flù p abv hiz hed, n h faund himslf layñ on ɖ top v ɖ prostret Rat. Gretli alarmd, h md a grab at ɖ sîd v ɖ bot, n ɖ nxt momnt – Splūś!

Ovr wnt ɖ bot, n h faund himslf struġlñ in ɖ rivr.

Ǒ mî, hǎ cold ɖ wōtr wz, n Ǒ, hǎ VRI wet it flt. Hǎ it sañ in hiz irz az h wnt dǎn, dǎn, dǎn! Hǎ brît n welcm ɖ sún lct az h rouz t ɖ srfis cofñ n spluṭrñ! Hǎ blac wz hiz dsper ẃn h flt himslf sncñ agn! Ɖen a frm pw gript him bî ɖ bac v hiz nec. It wz ɖ Rat, n h wz evidntli lafñ – ɖ Mol cd FĪL him lafñ, rît dǎn hiz arm n ʈru hiz pw, n so intu hiz – ɖ Mol’z – nec.

Ɖ Rat got hold v a scúl n śuvd it undr ɖ Mol’z arm; ɖen h dd ɖ sem bî ɖ uɖr sîd v him n, swimñ bhnd, pṛpeld ɖ hlplis animl t śor, hōld him ǎt, n set him dǎn on ɖ banc, a sqośi, pulpi lump v miẓri.

Ẃn ɖ Rat hd rubd him dǎn a bit, n rúñ sm v ɖ wet ǎt v him, h sd, “Nǎ, ɖen, old felo! Trot p n dǎn ɖ towñpaʈ az hard az y cn, tl y’r worm n drî agn, ẃl I dîv fr ɖ lunćnbascit.”

So ɖ dizṃl Mol, wet wɖt n aśemd wɖn, trotd abt tl h wz ferli drî, ẃl ɖ Rat plunjd intu ɖ wōtr agn, rcuvrd ɖ bot, rîtd hr n md hr fast, fećt hiz flotñ proṗti t śor bî dgriz, n fîṇli dîvd s’xesf̣li fr ɖ lunćnbascit n strugld t land wɖ it.

Ẃn ol wz redi fr a start wns mor, ɖ Mol, limp n djctd, tc hiz sīt in ɖ strn v ɖ bot; n az ɖe set of, h sd in a lo vôs, brocn wɖ imośn, “Rati, mî jenṛs frend! I am vri sori indd fr mî fūliś n ungretfl conduct. Mî hart qt felz m ẃn I ʈnc hǎ I mt hv lost ɖt bytifl lunćnbascit. Indd, I hv bn a cmplit as, n I nǒ it. Wl y oṿlc it ɖs wns n fgiv m, n let ʈñz g on az bfr?”

“Ɖt’s ol rît, bles y!” rspondd ɖ Rat ćiṛli. “Ẃt’s a litl wet t a Wōtŗat? I’m mor in ɖ wōtr ɖn ǎt v it most dez. D’nt y ʈnc eni mor abt it; n, lc hir! I riyli ʈnc y hd betr cm n stop wɖ m fr a litl tîm. It’s vri plen n ruf, y nǒ – nt lîc Tod’z hǎs at ol – bt y hv’nt sìn ɖt yt; stl, I cn mc y cumf̣tbl. N I’l tīć y t ro, n t swim, n y’l sn b az handi on ɖ wōtr az eni v s.”

Ɖ Mol wz so tućt bî hiz cînd manr v spīcñ ɖt h cd fînd no vôs t ansr him; n h hd t bruś awe a tir or tū wɖ ɖ bac v hiz pw. Bt ɖ Rat cîndli lct in anɖr d’rex́n, n prezntli ɖ Mol’z spirits rvîvd agn, n h wz īvn ebl t gv sm stret bactōc t a cupl v murhenz hu wr sniġrñ t ć uɖr abt hiz bdragld apiṛns.

Ẃn ɖe got hom, ɖ Rat md a brît fîr in ɖ parlr, n plantd ɖ Mol in an armćer in frunt v it, hvñ fećt dǎn a dresñgǎn n sliprz fr him, n tld him rivrstoriz tl suprtîm. Vri ʈrilñ storiz ɖe wr, tù, t an rʈ-dwelñ animl lîc Mol. Storiz abt wirz, n sudn fludz, n līpñ pîc, n stīmrz ɖt fluñ hard botlz – at līst botlz wr srtnli fluñ, n FṚM stīmrz, so prizyṃbli BÎ ɖm; n abt heṛnz, n hǎ ptiklr ɖe wr hūm ɖe spouc t; n abt advnćrz dǎn drenz, n nîtfiśñz wɖ Otr, or xcrśnz far a-fīld wɖ Bajr. Supr wz a most ćirfl mīl; bt vri śortli aftwdz a teṛbli slīpi Mol hd t b iscortd upsterz bî hiz cnsidṛt host, t ɖ bst bedrūm, ẃr h sn leid hiz hed on hiz pilo in gret pīs n cntntmnt, nwñ ɖt hiz ny-faund frend ɖ Rivr wz lapñ ɖ sil v hiz windo.

Ɖs de wz onli ɖ frst v mni similr wnz fr ɖ imanṣpetd Mol, ć v ɖm longr n fl v inṭrest az ɖ rîṗnñ sumr muvd onẉd. H lrnt t swim n t ro, n entrd intu ɖ jô v runñ wōtr; n wɖ hiz ir t ɖ rìdstemz h còt, at inṭvlz, smʈñ v ẃt ɖ wind wnt ẃisṗrñ so constntli amñ ɖm.