II: Ɖ Opn Rod

“Rati,” sd ɖ Mol sudnli, wn brît sumrmornñ, “f y plīz, I wont t asc y a fevr.”

Ɖ Rat wz sitñ on ɖ rivrbanc, sññ a litl soñ. H hd jst cmpozd it himslf, so h wz vri tecn p wɖ it, n wd nt pe propr atnśn t Mol or enʈñ els. Sins rli mornñ h hd bn swimñ in ɖ rivr, in cumṗni wɖ hiz frendz ɖ ducs. N ẃn ɖ ducs std on ɖer hedz sudnli, az ducs wl, h wd dîv dǎn n ticl ɖer necs, jst undr ẃr ɖer ćinz wd b f ducs hd ćinz, tl ɖe wr forst t cm t ɖ srfis agn in a huri, spluṭrñ n angri n śecñ ɖer feɖrz at him, fr it z imposbl t se qt OL y fīl ẃn yr hed z undr wōtr. At last ɖe implord him t g awe n atnd t hiz ǒn aferz n līv ɖm t mînd ɖerz. So ɖ Rat wnt awe, n sat on ɖ rivrbanc in ɖ sún, n md p a soñ abt ɖm, ẃć h cōld

“DUCS’ DITI.”

Ol alñ ɖ bacwōtr,

Ʈru ɖ ruśz tōl,

Ducs r a-daḅlñ,

P teilz ol!

Ducs’ teilz, drecs’ teilz,

Yelo fīt a-qivr,

Yelo bílz ol ǎt v sît

Bizi in ɖ rivr!

Sluśi grīn unḍgroʈ

Ẃr ɖ roć swim –

Hir w cīp ǎr lardr,

Cūl n fl n dim.

Evrwn fr ẃt h lîcs!

W lîc t b

Hedz dǎn, teilz p,

Daḅlñ fri!

Hî in ɖ blu abv

Swifts ẃrl n cōl –

W r dǎn a-daḅlñ

Upteilz ol!

“I d’nt nǒ ɖt I ʈnc so VRI mć v ɖt litl soñ, Rat,” obzrvd ɖ Mol cōśsli. H wz no powt himslf n dd’nt cer hu ń it; n h hd a candid nećr.

“Nr d’nt ɖ ducs nɖr,” rplaid ɖ Rat ćirf̣li. “Ɖe se, ’Ẃ c’nt feloz b alaud t d ẃt ɖe lîc ẂN ɖe lîc n AZ ɖe lîc, instd v uɖr feloz sitñ on bancs n woćñ ɖm ol ɖ tîm n mcñ rmarcs n powtri n ʈñz abt ɖm? Ẃt NONSNS it ol z!’ Ɖt’s ẃt ɖ ducs se.”

“So it z, so it z,” sd ɖ Mol, wɖ gret hartinis.

“No, it z’nt!” craid ɖ Rat indignntli.

“Wel ɖen, it z’nt, it z’nt,” rplaid ɖ Mol suɖñli. “Bt ẃt I wontd t asc y wz, w’nt y tec m t cōl on Mr. Tod? I’v hŕd so mć abt him, n I d so wont t mc hiz aqentns.”

“Ẃ, srtnli,” sd ɖ gd-nećrd Rat, jumpñ t hiz fīt n dsmisñ powtri fṛm hiz mînd fr ɖ de. “Gt ɖ bot ǎt, n w’l padl p ɖr at wns. It’s nvr ɖ roñ tîm t cōl on Tod. Rli or lêt h’z olwz ɖ sem felo. Olwz gd-tmprd, olwz glad t si y, olwz sori ẃn y g!”

“H mst b a vri nîs animl,” obzrvd ɖ Mol, az h got intu ɖ bot n tc ɖ scúlz, ẃl ɖ Rat setld himslf cumf̣tbli in ɖ strn.

“H z indd ɖ bst v animlz,” rplaid Rat. “So simpl, so gd-nećrd, n so afx́ṇt. Phps h’z nt vri clevr – w c’nt ol b jīńsz; n it me b ɖt h z bʈ bostfl n cnsitd. Bt h hz got sm gret qoḷtz, hz Todi.”

Rǎndñ a bnd in ɖ rivr, ɖe cem in sît v a hansm, digṇfaid old hǎs v meloud red bric, wɖ wel-cept lōnz rīćñ dǎn t ɖ wōtr’z éj.

“Ɖr’z Tod Hōl,” sd ɖ Rat; “n ɖt crìc on ɖ left, ẃr ɖ notisbord sz, “Prîṿt. No landñ alaud,” līdz t hiz bothǎs, ẃr w’l līv ɖ bot. Ɖ steblz r ovr ɖr t ɖ rît. Ɖt’s ɖ banqtñhōl y’r lcñ at nǎ – vri old, ɖt z. Tod z rɖr rić, y nǒ, n ɖs z riyli wn v ɖ nîsist hǎzz in ɖz parts, ɖo w nvr admit az mć t Tod.”

Ɖe glîdd p ɖ crìc, n ɖ Mol śipt hiz scúlz az ɖe pást intu ɖ śado v a larj bothǎs. Hir ɖe sw mni hansm bots, sluñ fṛm ɖ cros bīmz or hōld p on a slip, bt nn in ɖ wōtr; n ɖ ples hd an unyzd n a dzrtd er.

Ɖ Rat lct arnd him. “I unḍstand,” sd h. “Botñ z pleid ǎt. H’z tîrd v it, n dn wɖ it. I wundr ẃt ny fad h hz tecn p nǎ? Cm alñ n let’s lc him p. W śl hír ol abt it qt sn inuf.”

Ɖe disimbarct, n strold acrs ɖ ge flǎr-dect lōnz in srć v Tod, hūm ɖe prezntli hapnd upn restñ in a wicr gardnćer, wɖ a priokpaid xpreśn v fes, n a larj map spred ǎt on hiz niz.

“Hre!” h craid, jumpñ p on siyñ ɖm, “ɖs z splendid!” H śc ɖ pwz v bʈ v ɖm wormli, nvr wêtñ fr an intṛdux́n t ɖ Mol. “Hǎ CÎND v y!” h wnt on, dansñ rnd ɖm. “I wz jst gwñ t snd a bot dǎn ɖ rivr fr y, Rati, wɖ strict ordrz ɖt y wr t b fećt p hir at wns, ẃtvr y wr dwñ. I wont y badli – bʈ v y. Nǎ ẃt wl y tec? Cm insd n hv smʈñ! Y d’nt nǒ hǎ luci it z, yr trnñ p jst nǎ!”

“Let’s sit qayt a bit, Todi!” sd ɖ Rat, ʈrowñ himslf intu an īzi ćer, ẃl ɖ Mol tc anɖr bî ɖ sîd v him n md sm sivl rmarc abt Tod’z “dlîtfl rezidns.”

“Fînist hǎs on ɖ hol rivr,” craid Tod bôstṛsli. “Or enẃr els, fr ɖt matr,” h cd nt hlp adñ.

Hir ɖ Rat nujd ɖ Mol. Unforćṇtli ɖ Tod sw him d it, n trnd vri red. Ɖr wz a momnt’s penfl sîḷns. Ɖen Tod brst ǎt lafñ. “Ol rît, Rati,” h sd. “It’s onli mî we, y nǒ. N it’s nt sć a vri bad hǎs, z it? Y nǒ y rɖr lîc it yrslf. Nǎ, lc hir. Let’s b snṣbl. Y r ɖ vri animlz I wontd. Y’v got t hlp m. It’s most importnt!”

“It’s abt yr rowñ, I s’poz,” sd ɖ Rat, wɖ an iṇsnt er. “Y’r gtñ on ferli wel, ɖo y splaś a gd bit stl. Wɖ a gret dīl v peśns, n eni qontti v coćñ, y me — ”

“Ǒ, pù! botñ!” inṭruptd ɖ Tod, in gret dsgust. Sili bôiś aḿzmnt. I’v gvn ɖt p LOÑ ago. Śir west v tîm, ɖt’s ẃt it z. It mcs m dǎnrît sori t si y feloz, hu òt t nǒ betr, spendñ ol yr eṇjiz in ɖt emlis manr. No, I’v dscuvrd ɖ riyl ʈñ, ɖ onli jenyin okpeśn fr a lîftîm. I pṛpoz t dvot ɖ rmendr v mîn t it, n cn onli rgret ɖ westd yirz ɖt lî bhnd m, sqondrd in triviaḷtiz. Cm wɖ m, dir Rati, n yr emịbl frend olso, f h wl b so vri gd, jst az far az ɖ steblyard, n y śl si ẃt y śl si!”

H léd ɖ we t ɖ steblyard acordñli, ɖ Rat folowñ wɖ a most mstrustfl xpreśn; n ɖr, drwn ǎt v ɖ coć hǎs intu ɖ opn, ɖe sw a jipsicaṛvan, śînñ wɖ nynis, pentd a cnẹri-yelo pict ǎt wɖ grīn, n red ẃīlz.

“Ɖr y r!” craid ɖ Tod, stradlñ n xpandñ himslf. “Ɖr’z riyl lîf fr y, imbodid in ɖt litl cart. Ɖ opn rod, ɖ dusti hîwe, ɖ hīʈ, ɖ comn, ɖ hejroz, ɖ rolñ Dǎnz! Camps, viḷjz, tǎnz, sitiz! Hir tde, p n of t smẃr els tmoro! Travl, ćenj, inṭrest, xîtmnt! Ɖ hol wrld bfr y, n a hrîzn ɖt’s olwz ćenjñ! N mînd! ɖs z ɖ vri fînist cart v its sort ɖt wz evr bilt, wɖt eni xpśn. Cm insd n lc at ɖ arenjmnts. Pland ’m ol mslf, I dd!”

Ɖ Mol wz tṛmndsli inṭrestd n xîtd, n foloud him īgrli p ɖ steps n intu ɖ intirịr v ɖ caṛvan. Ɖ Rat onli snortd n ʈrust hiz handz dīp intu hiz pocits, rmenñ ẃr h wz.

It wz indd vri compact n cumf̣tbl. Litl slīpñbuncs – a litl tebl ɖt foldd p agnst ɖ wōl – a ccñstov, locrz, bcślvz, a brdcej wɖ a brd in it; n pots, panz, jugz n cetlz v evri sîz n vrayti.

“Ol cmplit!” sd ɖ Tod trîumfntli, pŭlñ opn a locr. “Y si – biscits, potd lobstr, sardīnz – evrʈñ y cn poṣbli wont. Soḍwōtr hir – baci ɖr – letrpepr, bêcn, jam, cardz n doṃnoz – y’l fînd,” h cntinyd, az ɖe dsndd ɖ steps agn, “y’l fînd ɖt nʈñ ẃtvr hz bn fgotn, ẃn w mc ǎr start ɖs afṭnun.”

“I beg yr pardn,” sd ɖ Rat slǒli, az h ćùd a strw, “bt dd I oṿhír y se smʈñ abt “W,” n “START,” n “ƉS AFṬNUN?”“

“Nǎ, y dir gd old Rati,” sd Tod, implorñli, “d’nt bgin tōcñ in ɖt stif n snifi sort v we, bcz y nǒ y’v GOT t cm. I c’nt poṣbli manij wɖt y, so plīz cnsidr it setld, n d’nt argy – it’s ɖ wn ʈñ I c’nt stand. Y śrli d’nt mīn t stic t yr dul fusti old rivr ol yr lîf, n jst liv in a houl in a banc, n BOT? I wont t śo y ɖ wrld! I’m gwñ t mc an ANIML v y, mî bô!”

“I d’nt cer,” sd ɖ Rat, doġdli. “I’m nt cmñ, n ɖt’s flat. N I AM gwñ t stic t mî old rivr, N liv in a houl, N bot, az I’v olwz dn. N ẃt’s mor, Mol’z gwñ t stic t m n d az I d, r’nt y, Mol?”

“V cors I am,” sd ɖ Mol, loyli. “I’l olwz stic t y, Rat, n ẃt y se z t b – hz got t b. Ol ɖ sem, it sǎndz az f it mt hv bn – wel, rɖr fun, y nǒ!” h add, wistf̣li. Pur Mol! Ɖ Lîf Advnćṛs wz so ny a ʈñ t him, n so ʈrilñ; n ɖs freś aspect v it wz so tmtñ; n h hd fōḷn in luv at frst sît wɖ ɖ cnẹri-culrd cart n ol its litl fitmnts.

Ɖ Rat sw ẃt wz pasñ in hiz mînd, n wevrd. H hetd dis’pôntñ ppl, n h wz fond v ɖ Mol, n wd d olmst enʈñ t oblîj him. Tod wz woćñ bʈ v ɖm closli.

“Cm alñ in, n hv sm lunć,” h sd, dipḷmaticli, “n w’l tōc it ovr. W nīd’nt dsîd enʈñ in a huri. V cors, I d’nt riyli cer. I onli wont t gv pleźr t y feloz. “Liv fr uɖrz!” Ɖt’s mî moto in lîf.”

Jrñ lunćn – ẃć wz xḷnt, v cors, az evrʈñ at Tod Hōl olwz wz – ɖ Tod simpli let himslf g. Disrigardñ ɖ Rat, h pṛsidd t ple upn ɖ inxpirịnst Mol az on a harp. Naćṛli a vołbl animl, n olwz mastrd bî hiz imaɉneśn, h pentd ɖ prospects v ɖ trip n ɖ jôz v ɖ opn lîf n ɖ rodsîd in sć glowñ culrz ɖt ɖ Mol cd hardli sit in hiz ćer fr xîtmnt. Smhǎ, it sn sīmd tecn fr grantd bî ol ʈri v ɖm ɖt ɖ trip wz a setld ʈñ; n ɖ Rat, ɖo stl uncnvinst in hiz mînd, alaud hiz gd-nećr t oṿrîd hiz prsnl objx́nz. H cd nt ber t dis’pônt hiz tū frendz, hu wr olrdi dīp in scīmz n antiṣpeśnz, planñ ǎt ć de’z sepṛt okpeśn fr sevṛl wīcs ahd.

Ẃn ɖe wr qt redi, ɖ nǎ trîumfnt Tod léd hiz cmpańnz t ɖ paḍc n set ɖm t capćr ɖ old gre hors, hu, wɖt hvñ bn cnsultd, n t hiz ǒn xtrim anoyns, hd bn tld of bî Tod fr ɖ dustiist job in ɖs dusti xpdiśn. H francli prifŕd ɖ paḍc, n tc a dīl v caćñ. Mntm Tod páct ɖ locrz stl tîtr wɖ nesṣriz, n huñ nǒzbagz, nets v uńnz, bundlz v hei, n bascits fṛm ɖ botm v ɖ cart. At last ɖ hors wz còt n harnist, n ɖe set of, ol tōcñ at wns, ć animl îɖr trujñ bî ɖ sîd v ɖ cart or sitñ on ɖ śaft, az ɖ hymr tc him. It wz a goldn afṭnun. Ɖ smel v ɖ dust ɖe cict p wz rić n saṭsfayñ; ǎt v ʈic orćdz on îɖr sîd ɖ rod, brdz cōld n ẃisld t ɖm ćiṛli; gd-nećrd wêférrz, pasñ ɖm, gev ɖm “Gḑe,” or stopt t se nîs ʈñz abt ɖer bytifl cart; n rabits, sitñ at ɖer frunt dors in ɖ hejroz, hld p ɖer fōrpwz, n sd, “Ǒ mî! Ǒ mî! Ǒ mî!”

Lêt in ɖ īvnñ, tîrd n hapi n mîlz fṛm hom, ɖe drù p on a rmot comn far fṛm habteśnz, trnd ɖ hors lūs t grêz, n ét ɖer simpl supr sitñ on ɖ gras bî ɖ sîd v ɖ cart. Tod tōct big abt ol h wz gwñ t d in ɖ dez t cm, ẃl starz grù fŭlr n larjr ol arnd ɖm, n a yelo mūn, apirñ sudnli n sîḷntli fṛm nẃr in ptiklr, cem t cīp ɖm cumṗni n lisn t ɖer tōc. At last ɖe trnd in t ɖer litl buncs in ɖ cart; n Tod, cicñ ǎt hiz legz, slīṗli sd, “Wel, gdnît, y feloz! Ɖs z ɖ riyl lîf fr a jntlmn! Tōc abt yr old rivr!”

“I D’NT tōc abt mî rivr,” rplaid ɖ peśnt Rat. “Y NǑ I d’nt, Tod. Bt I ƮNC abt it,” h add pʈeticli, in a lowr ton: “I ʈnc abt it – ol ɖ tîm!”

Ɖ Mol rīćt ǎt fṛm undr hiz blancit, flt fr ɖ Rat’s pw in ɖ darcnis, n gev it a sqīz. “I’l d ẃtvr y lîc, Rati,” h ẃisprd. “Śl w run awe tmoro mornñ, qt rli – VRI rli – n g bac t ǎr dir old houl on ɖ rivr?”

“No, no, w’l si it ǎt,” ẃisprd bac ɖ Rat. “Ʈancs ōf̣li, bt I òt t stic bî Tod tl ɖs trip z endd. It wd’nt b sef fr him t b left t himslf. It w’nt tec vri loñ. Hiz fadz nvr d. Gdnît!”

Ɖ end wz indd nirr ɖn īvn ɖ Rat sspctd.

Aftr so mć opn er n xîtmnt ɖ Tod slept vri sǎndli, n no amǎnt v śecñ cd rǎz him ǎt v bed nxt mornñ. So ɖ Mol n Rat trnd t, qaytli n manf̣li, n ẃl ɖ Rat sw t ɖ hors, n lit a fîr, n clīnd last nît’s cups n platrz, n got ʈñz redi fr brecfst, ɖ Mol trujd of t ɖ nirist vilij, a loñ we of, fr milc n egz n verịs nesṣriz ɖ Tod hd, v cors, fgotn t pṛvîd. Ɖ hard wrc hd ol bn dn, n ɖ tū animlz wr restñ, ʈuṛli xōstd, bî ɖ tîm Tod apird on ɖ sīn, freś n ge, rmarcñ ẃt a pleznt īzi lîf it wz ɖe wr ol līdñ nǎ, aftr ɖ cerz n wuriz n ftīgz v hǎscīpñ at hom.

Ɖe hd a pleznt rambl ɖt de ovr grasi Dǎnz n alñ naro bîlenz, n camt az bfr, on a comn, onli ɖs tîm ɖ tū gests tc cer ɖt Tod śd d hiz fer śer v wrc. In consiqns, ẃn ɖ tîm cem fr startñ nxt mornñ, Tod wz bî no mīnz so rapćṛs abt ɖ simpliṣti v ɖ priṃtiv lîf, n indd atmtd t rzym hiz ples in hiz bunc, ẃns h wz hōld bî fors. Ɖer we le, az bfr, acrs cuntri bî naro lenz, n it wz nt tl ɖ afṭnun ɖt ɖe cem ǎt on ɖ hîrod, ɖer frst hîrod; n ɖr dzastr, flīt n unfsìn, sprañ ǎt on ɖm – dzastr m’mnṭs indd t ɖer xpdiśn, bt simpli oṿẃlmñ in its ifct on ɖ afṭc̣rir v Tod.

Ɖe wr strolñ alñ ɖ hîrod īẓli, ɖ Mol bî ɖ hors’z hed, tōcñ t him, sins ɖ hors hd cmplend ɖt h wz biyñ frîtf̣li left ǎt v it, n nbdi cnsidrd him in ɖ līst; ɖ Tod n ɖ Wōtŗat wōcñ bhnd ɖ cart tōcñ tgɖr – at līst Tod wz tōcñ, n Rat wz seyñ at inṭvlz, “Yes, prisîsli; n ẃt dd Y se t HIM?” – n ʈncñ ol ɖ tîm v smʈñ vri difṛnt, ẃn far bhnd ɖm ɖe hŕd a fent wornñ hum; lîc ɖ dron v a distnt bì. Glansñ bac, ɖe sw a smōl clǎd v dust, wɖ a darc sntr v eṇji, advansñ on ɖm at increḍbl spīd, ẃl fṛm ǎt ɖ dust a fent “Pūp-pūp!” weild lîc an unīzi animl in pen. Hardli rgardñ it, ɖe trnd t rzym ɖer convseśn, ẃn in an instnt (az it sīmd) ɖ pīsfl sīn wz ćenjd, n wɖ a blast v wind n a ẃrl v sǎnd ɖt md ɖm jump fr ɖ nirist dić, It wz on ɖm! Ɖ “Pūp-pūp’ rañ wɖ a brezn śǎt in ɖer irz, ɖe hd a momnt’s glims v an intirịr v gliṭrñ pletglas n rić Mroco, n ɖ mgnifisnt motrcar, imns, breʈ-snaćñ, paśṇt, wɖ its pîḷt tns n hugñ hiz ẃīl, pzest ol rʈ n er fr ɖ frax́n v a secnd, fluñ an inveḷpñ clǎd v dust ɖt blîndd n inrápt ɖm utrli, n ɖen dwindld t a spec in ɖ far distns, ćenjd bac intu a dronñ bì wns mor.

Ɖ old gre hors, drīmñ, az h plodd alñ, v hiz qayt paḍc, in a ny rw sićueśn sć az ɖs simpli abandnd himslf t hiz naćṛl imośnz. Rirñ, plunjñ, bacñ steḍli, in spît v ol ɖ Mol’z ef̣ts at hiz hed, n ol ɖ Mol’z lîvli lanḡj d’rectd at hiz betr fīlñz, h drouv ɖ cart bcwdz twdz ɖ dīp dić at ɖ sîd v ɖ rod. It wevrd an instnt – ɖen ɖr wz a hart-rendñ craś – n ɖ cnẹri-culrd cart, ɖer prîd n ɖer jô, le on its sîd in ɖ dić, an iridiṃbl rec.

Ɖ Rat danst p n dǎn in ɖ rod, simpli trnsportd wɖ paśn. “Y vilnz!” h śǎtd, śecñ bʈ fists, “Y scǎndṛlz, y hîweṃn, y – y – rodhogz! – I’l hv ɖ lw v y! I’l rport y! I’l tec y ʈru ol ɖ Corts!” Hiz homsicnis hd qt slipt awe fṛm him, n fr ɖ momnt h wz ɖ scipr v ɖ cnẹri-culrd vesl drivn on a śol bî ɖ reclis jóciyñ v rîvl marinrz, n h wz trayñ t rec̣lect ol ɖ fîn n bîtñ ʈñz h yst t se t mastrz v stīmlōnćz ẃn ɖer woś, az ɖe drouv tù nir ɖ banc, yst t flud hiz parlrcarpit at hom.

Tod sat stret dǎn in ɖ midl v ɖ dusti rod, hiz legz strećt ǎt bfr him, n stérd fix̣dli in ɖ d’rex́n v ɖ dis’pirñ motrcar. H briɖd śort, hiz fes wòr a plasid saṭsfaid xpreśn, n at inṭvlz h fentli mrmrd “Pūp-pūp!”

Ɖ Mol wz bizi trayñ t qayt ɖ hors, ẃć h s’xidd in dwñ aftr a tîm. Ɖen h wnt t lc at ɖ cart, on its sîd in ɖ dić. It wz indd a sori sît. Panlz n windoz smaśt, axlz hoplisli bnt, wn ẃīl of, sardīntinz scatrd ovr ɖ wîd wrld, n ɖ brd in ɖ brdcej sobñ pitifli n cōlñ t b let ǎt.

Ɖ Rat cem t hlp him, bt ɖer ynîtd ef̣ts wr nt sfiśnt t rît ɖ cart. “Hai! Tod!” ɖe craid. “Cm n ber a hand, c’nt y!”

Ɖ Tod nvr ansrd a wrd, or bujd fṛm hiz sīt in ɖ rod; so ɖe wnt t si ẃt wz ɖ matr wɖ him. Ɖe faund him in a sort v a trans, a hapi smîl on hiz fes, hiz îz stl fixt on ɖ dusti wec v ɖer dstroyr. At inṭvlz h wz stl hŕd t mrmr “Pūp-pūp!”

Ɖ Rat śc him bî ɖ śoldr. “R y cmñ t hlp s, Tod?” h dmandd strnli.

“Glorịs, stŕñ sît!” mrmrd Tod, nvr of̣rñ t muv. “Ɖ powtri v mośn! Ɖ RIYL we t travl! Ɖ ONLI we t travl! Hir tde – in nxt wīc tmoro! Viḷjz scipt, tǎnz n sitiz jumt – olwz smbdi els’z hrîzn! Ǒ blis! Ǒ pūp-pūp! Ǒ mî! Ǒ mî!”

“Ǒ STOP biyñ an as, Tod!” craid ɖ Mol dspẹrñli.

“N t ʈnc I nvr Ń!” wnt on ɖ Tod in a drīmi moṇton. “Ol ɖoz westd yirz ɖt lî bhnd m, I nvr ń, nvr īvn DREMT! Bt NǍ – bt nǎ ɖt I nǒ, nǎ ɖt I fŭli riylîz! Ǒ ẃt a flǎri trac lîz spred bfr m, hnsfʈ! Ẃt dustclǎdz śl sprñ p bhnd m az I spīd on mî reclis we! Ẃt carts I śl flñ cerlisli intu ɖ dić in ɖ wec v mî mgnifisnt onset! Horid litl carts – comn carts – cnẹri-culrd carts!”

“Ẃt r w t d wɖ him?” asct ɖ Mol v ɖ Wōtŗat.

“Nʈñ at ol,” rplaid ɖ Rat frmli. “Bcz ɖr z riyli nʈñ t b dn. Y si, I nǒ him fṛm v old. H z nǎ pzest. H hz got a ny crêz, n it olwz tecs him ɖt we, in its frst stej. H’l cntiny lîc ɖt fr dez nǎ, lîc an animl wōcñ in a hapi drīm, qt yslis fr ol practicl prṗsz. Nvr mînd him. Let’s g n si ẃt ɖr z t b dn abt ɖ cart.”

A cerfl inspx́n śoud ɖm ɖt, īvn f ɖe s’xidd in rîtñ it bî ɖmslvz, ɖ cart wd travl no longr. Ɖ axlz wr in a hoplis stet, n ɖ misñ ẃīl wz śatrd intu pìsz.

Ɖ Rat nótd ɖ hors’z reinz ovr hiz bac n tc him bî ɖ hed, cariyñ ɖ brdcej n its histericl okpnt in ɖ uɖr hand. “Cm on!” h sd grimli t ɖ Mol. “It’s fîv or six mîlz t ɖ nirist tǎn, n w śl jst hv t wōc it. Ɖ snr w mc a start ɖ betr.”

“Bt ẃt abt Tod?” asct ɖ Mol añśsli, az ɖe set of tgɖr. “W c’nt līv him hir, sitñ in ɖ midl v ɖ rod bî himslf, in ɖ dstractd stet h’z in! It’s nt sef. S’pozñ anɖr Ʈñ wr t cm alñ?”

“Ǒ, BOƉR Tod,” sd ɖ Rat saṿjli; “I’v dn wɖ him!”

Ɖe hd nt pṛsidd vri far on ɖer we, hvr, ẃn ɖr wz a paṭrñ v fīt bhnd ɖm, n Tod còt ɖm p n ʈrust a pw insd ɖ elbo v ć v ɖm; stl briɖñ śort n stẹrñ intu vecnsi.

“Nǎ, lc hir, Tod!” sd ɖ Rat śarpli: “az sn az w gt t ɖ tǎn, y’l hv t g stret t ɖ p’līșteśn, n si f ɖe nǒ enʈñ abt ɖt motrcar n hu it b’loñz t, n loj a cmplent agnst it. N ɖen y’l hv t g t a blacsmiʈ’s or a Ẃīlrait’s n arenj fr ɖ cart t b fećt n mndd n pt t rîts. It’l tec tîm, bt it’s nt qt a hoplis smaś. Mnẃl, ɖ Mol n I wl g t an ín n fînd cumf̣tbl rūmz ẃr w cn ste tl ɖ cart’s redi, n tl yr nrvz hv rcuvrd ɖer śoc.”

“P’līșteśn! Cmplent!” mrmrd Tod drīṃli. “M CMPLEN v ɖt bytifl, ɖt hevnli viźn ɖt hz bn vǎćseft m! MND Ɖ CART! I’v dn wɖ carts fr evr. I nvr wont t si ɖ cart, or t hír v it, agn. Ǒ, Rati! Y c’nt ʈnc hǎ oblîjd I am t y fr cnsntñ t cm on ɖs trip! I wd’nt hv gn wɖt y, n ɖen I mt nvr hv sìn ɖt – ɖt swon, ɖt súnbīm, ɖt ʈundrbolt! I mt nvr hv hŕd ɖt intransñ sǎnd, or smelt ɖt bwićñ smel! I o it ol t y, mî bst v frendz!”

Ɖ Rat trnd fṛm him in dsper. “Y si ẃt it z?” h sd t ɖ Mol, adresñ him acrs Tod’z hed: “H’z qt hoplis. I gv it p – ẃn w gt t ɖ tǎn w’l g t ɖ relwe-steśn, n wɖ luc w me pic p a tren ɖr ɖt’l gt s bac t ɖ rivrbanc tnît. N f evr y cać m gwñ a-pleẓ́rñ wɖ ɖs pṛvocñ animl agn!” – H snortd, n jrñ ɖ rest v ɖt wiri truj adrest hiz rmarcs xclūsivli t Mol.

On rīćñ ɖ tǎn ɖe wnt stret t ɖ steśn n dpoztd Tod in ɖ secnd-clas wêtñrūm, gvñ a portr tupns t cīp a strict î on him. Ɖe ɖen left ɖ hors at an ínstebl, n gev ẃt d’rex́nz ɖe cd abt ɖ cart n its contents. Ivnć̣li, a slo tren hvñ landd ɖm at a steśn nt vri far fṛm Tod Hōl, ɖe iscortd ɖ spel-baund, slīp-wōcñ Tod t hiz dor, pt him insd it, n instructd hiz hǎscīpr t fīd him, undres him, n pt him t bed. Ɖen ɖe got ǎt ɖer bot fṛm ɖ bothǎs, scúld dǎn ɖ rivr hom, n at a vri lêt aur sat dǎn t supr in ɖer ǒn cozi rivrsîd parlr, t ɖ Rat’s gret jô n cntntmnt.

Ɖ folowñ īvnñ ɖ Mol, hu hd rizn lêt n tecn ʈñz vri īzi ol de, wz sitñ on ɖ banc fiśñ, ẃn ɖ Rat, hu hd bn lcñ p hiz frendz n goṣpñ, cem strolñ alñ t fînd him. “Hŕd ɖ nyz?” h sd. “Ɖr’z nʈñ els biyñ tōct abt, ol alñ ɖ rivrbanc. Tod wnt p t Tǎn bî an rli tren ɖs mornñ. N h hz ordrd a larj n vri xpnsiv motrcar.”