III: Ɖ Wîld Wŭd

Ɖ

Mol hd loñ wontd t mc ɖ aqentns v ɖ Bajr. H sīmd, bî ol acǎnts, t b sć an importnt prṣnij n, ɖo rerli viẓbl, t mc hiz unsìn inflụns flt bî evrbdi abt ɖ ples. Bt ẃnvr ɖ Mol mnśnd hiz wś t ɖ Wōtŗat h olwz faund himslf pt of. “It’s ol rît,” ɖ Rat wd se. “Bajr’l trn p sm de or uɖr – h’z olwz trnñ p – n ɖen I’l intṛdys y. Ɖ bst v feloz! Bt y mst nt onli tec him AZ y fînd him, bt ẂN y fînd him.”

“Cd’nt y asc him hir – dinr or smʈñ?” sd ɖ Mol.

“H wd’nt cm,” rplaid ɖ Rat simpli. “Bajr hets Ssayti, n invteśnz, n dinr, n ol ɖt sort v ʈñ.”

“Wel, ɖen, s’pozñ w g n cōl on HIM?” sjstd ɖ Mol.

“Ǒ, I’m śr h wd’nt lîc ɖt at OL,” sd ɖ Rat, qt alarmd. “H’z so vri śî, h’d b śr t b ofndd. I’v nvr īvn vnćrd t cōl on him at hiz ǒn hom mslf, ɖo I nǒ him so wel. Bsdz, w c’nt. It’s qt ǎt v ɖ qsćn, bcz h livz in ɖ vri midl v ɖ Wîld Wŭd.”

“Wel, s’pozñ h dz,” sd ɖ Mol. “Y tld m ɖ Wîld Wŭd wz ol rît, y nǒ.”

“Ǒ, I nǒ, I nǒ, so it z,” rplaid ɖ Rat ivesivli. “Bt I ʈnc w w’nt g ɖr jst nǎ. Nt JST yt. It’s a loñ we, n h wd’nt b at hom at ɖs tîm v yir enhǎ, n h’l b cmñ alñ sm de, f y’l wêt qaytli.”

Ɖ Mol hd t b cntnt wɖ ɖs. Bt ɖ Bajr nvr cem alñ, n evri de bròt its aḿzmnts, n it wz nt tl sumr wz loñ ovr, n cold n frost n mîri wez cept ɖm mć indorz, n ɖ swoḷn rivr rêst past ǎtsd ɖer windoz wɖ a spīd ɖt moct at botñ v eni sort or cnd, ɖt h faund hiz ʈts dwelñ agn wɖ mć psistns on ɖ solitri gre Bajr, hu livd hiz ǒn lîf bî himslf, in hiz houl in ɖ midl v ɖ Wîld Wŭd.

In ɖ wintrtîm ɖ Rat slept a gret dīl, rtîrñ rli n rîzñ lêt. Jrñ hiz śort de h smtmz scribld powtri or dd uɖr smōl dmestic jobz abt ɖ hǎs; n, v cors, ɖr wr olwz animlz dropñ in fr a ćat, n consiqntli ɖr wz a gd dīl v storitelñ n cmperñ nots on ɖ past sumr n ol its dwñz.

Sć a rić ćaptr it hd bn, ẃn wn cem t lc bac on it ol! Wɖ iḷstreśnz so ńmṛs n so vri hîli culrd! Ɖ pajnt v ɖ rivrbanc hd marćt steḍli alñ, unfoldñ itslf in sīnpicćrz ɖt s’xidd ć uɖr in stetli pṛseśn. Prpl lūștrîf arîvd rli, śecñ lux́urịnt tangld locs alñ ɖ éj v ɖ mirr ẃns its ǒn fes laft bac at it. Wilohrb, tndr n wistfl, lîc a pnc súnset-clǎd, wz nt slo t folo. Cumfri, ɖ prpl hand-in-hand wɖ ɖ ẃît, crept fʈ t tec its ples in ɖ lîn; n at last wn mornñ ɖ difidnt n dleyñ dogrǒz stept delic̣tli on ɖ stej, n wn ń, az f strñḿzic hd anǎnst it in stetli cōrdz ɖt streid intu a gvót, ɖt Jūn at last wz hir. Wn membr v ɖ cumṗni wz stl awetd; ɖ śeṗdbô fr ɖ nimfs t wu, ɖ nait fr hūm ɖ lediz wêtd at ɖ windo, ɖ prins ɖt wz t cis ɖ slīpñ sumr bac t lîf n luv. Bt ẃn medoswīt, deḅner n odṛs in ambr jrcin, muvd greśsli t hiz ples in ɖ grūp, ɖen ɖ ple wz redi t bgin.

N ẃt a ple it hd bn! Drǎzi animlz, snug in ɖer houlz ẃl wind n ren wr baṭrñ at ɖer dorz, rcōld stil cīn mornñz, an aur bfr súnrîz, ẃn ɖ ẃît mist, az yt undisprst, cluñ closli alñ ɖ srfis v ɖ wōtr; ɖen ɖ śoc v ɖ rli plunj, ɖ scampr alñ ɖ banc, n ɖ redịnt trnsfmeśn v rʈ, er, n wōtr, ẃn sudnli ɖ sún wz wɖ ɖm agn, n gre wz gold n culr wz born n sprañ ǎt v ɖ rʈ wns mor. Ɖe rcōld ɖ langṛs siesta v hot miḑe, dīp in grīn unḍgroʈ, ɖ sún strîcñ ʈru in tîni goldn śafts n spots; ɖ botñ n beɖñ v ɖ afṭnun, ɖ ramblz alñ dusti lenz n ʈru yelo cornfīldz; n ɖ loñ, cūl īvnñ at last, ẃn so mni ʈredz wr gaɖrd p, so mni frendśps rǎndd, n so mni advnćrz pland fr ɖ moro. Ɖr wz plenti t tōc abt on ɖoz śort wintrdez ẃn ɖ animlz faund ɖmslvz rnd ɖ fîr; stl, ɖ Mol hd a gd dīl v sper tîm on hiz handz, n so wn afṭnun, ẃn ɖ Rat in hiz armćer bfr ɖ blêz wz oltrṇtli dozñ n trayñ ovr rîmz ɖt wd’nt fit, h formd ɖ reẓluśn t g ǎt bî himslf n xplor ɖ Wîld Wŭd, n phps strîc p an aqentns wɖ Mr. Bajr.

It wz a cold stil afṭnun wɖ a hard stīli scî oṿhed, ẃn h slipt ǎt v ɖ worm parlr intu ɖ opn er. Ɖ cuntri le bér n intîrli līflis arnd him, n h ʈt ɖt h hd nvr sìn so far n so intiṃtli intu ɖ insîdz v ʈñz az on ɖt wintrde ẃn Nećr wz dīp in hr ańl slumbr n sīmd t hv cict ɖ cloɖz of. Copsz, delz, qoriz n ol hidn plesz, ẃć hd bn m’stirịs mînz fr xpḷreśn in līfi sumr, nǎ xpozd ɖmslvz n ɖer sīcrits pʈeticli, n sīmd t asc him t oṿlc ɖer śabi poṿti fr a ẃl, tl ɖe cd rayt in rić masc̣red az bfr, n tric n intîs him wɖ ɖ old dspśnz. It wz pitifl in a we, n yt ćirñ – īvn xiḷretñ. H wz glad ɖt h lîct ɖ cuntri undec̣retd, hard, n stript v its fîṇri. H hd got dǎn t ɖ bér bonz v it, n ɖe wr fîn n stroñ n simpl. H dd nt wont ɖ worm clovr n ɖ ple v sīdñ grasz; ɖ scrīnz v qicsét, ɖ bilǒi dreṗri v bìć n elm sīmd bst awe; n wɖ gret ćirflnis v spirit h pśt on twdz ɖ Wîld Wŭd, ẃć le bfr him lo n ʈreṭnñ, lîc a blac rīf in sm stil suɖn sì.

Ɖr wz nʈñ t alarm him at frst entri. Twigz cracld undr hiz fīt, logz tript him, funġsz on stumps rzmbld caric̣ćrz, n startld him fr ɖ momnt bî ɖer lîcnis t smʈñ fmiłr n far awe; bt ɖt wz ol fun, n xîtñ. It léd him on, n h peṇtretd t ẃr ɖ lît wz les, n triz crǎćt nirr n nirr, n houlz md ugli mǎɖz at him on îɖr sîd.

Evrʈñ wz vri stil nǎ. Ɖ dusc advanst on him steḍli, rapidli, gaɖ̇rñ in bhnd n bfr; n ɖ lît sīmd t b drenñ awe lîc fludwōtr.

Ɖen ɖ fesz bgan.

It wz ovr hiz śoldr, n indistñtli, ɖt h frst ʈt h sw a fes; a litl īvl wéjśept fes, lcñ ǎt at him fṛm a houl. Ẃn h trnd n cnfruntd it, ɖ ʈñ hd vaniśt.

H qcnd hiz pes, telñ himslf ćirf̣li nt t bgin imajnñ ʈñz, or ɖr wd b simpli no end t it. H pást anɖr houl, n anɖr, n anɖr; n ɖen – yes! – no! – yes! srtnli a litl naro fes, wɖ hard îz, hd flaśt p fr an instnt fṛm a houl, n wz gn. H heztetd – brêst himslf p fr an ef̣t n stroud on. Ɖen sudnli, n az f it hd bn so ol ɖ tîm, evri houl, far n nir, n ɖr wr hundṛdz v ɖm, sīmd t pzes its fes, cmñ n gwñ rapidli, ol fixñ on him glansz v malis n hetrid: ol hard-aid n īvl n śarp.

F h cd onli gt awe fṛm ɖ houlz in ɖ bancs, h ʈt, ɖr wd b no mor fesz. H swuñ of ɖ paʈ n plunjd intu ɖ untrodn plesz v ɖ wŭd.

Ɖen ɖ ẃiṣlñ bgan.

Vri fent n śril it wz, n far bhnd him, ẃn frst h hŕd it; bt smhǎ it md him huri fwd. Ɖen, stl vri fent n śril, it sǎndd far ahd v him, n md him heẓtet n wont t g bac. Az h hōltd in indisiźn it brouc ǎt on îɖr sîd, n sīmd t b còt p n pást on ʈrt ɖ hol leñʈ v ɖ wŭd t its farɖist limit. Ɖe wr p n alrt n redi, evidntli, huevr ɖe wr! N h – h wz alon, n unarmd, n far fṛm eni hlp; n ɖ nît wz clozñ in.

Ɖen ɖ paṭrñ bgan.

H ʈt it wz onli fōlñ līvz at frst, so slît n delic̣t wz ɖ sǎnd v it. Ɖen az it grù it tc a reğlr riɖm, n h ń it fr nʈñ els bt ɖ pat-pat-pat v litl fīt stl a vri loñ we of. Wz it in frunt or bhnd? It sīmd t b frst wn, n ɖen ɖ uɖr, ɖen bʈ. It grù n it mulṭplaid, tl fṛm evri qortr az h lisnd añśsli, līnñ ɖs we n ɖt, it sīmd t b clozñ in on him. Az h std stil t harcn, a rabit cem runñ hard twdz him ʈru ɖ triz. H wêtd, xpctñ it t slacn pes, or t swrv fṛm him intu a difṛnt cors. Instd, ɖ animl olmst bruśt him az it daśt past, hiz fes set n hard, hiz îz stẹrñ. “Gt ǎt v ɖs, y fūl, gt ǎt!” ɖ Mol hŕd him mutr az h swuñ rnd a stump n dis’pird dǎn a frendli buro.

Ɖ paṭrñ incrist tl it sǎndd lîc sudn hêl on ɖ drî līfcarpit spred arnd him. Ɖ hol wŭd sīmd runñ nǎ, runñ hard, huntñ, ćesñ, clozñ in rnd smʈñ or – smbdi? In panic, h bgan t run tù, emlisli, h ń nt ẃiɖr. H ran p agnst ʈñz, h fél ovr ʈñz n intu ʈñz, h dartd undr ʈñz n dojd rnd ʈñz. At last h tc refyj in ɖ dīp darc holo v an old bìćtrī, ẃć ofrd śltr, cnsilmnt – phps īvn sefti, bt hu cd tel? Enhǎ, h wz tù tîrd t run eni frɖr, n cd onli snugl dǎn intu ɖ drî līvz ẃć hd driftd intu ɖ holo n hop h wz sef fr a tîm. N az h le ɖr pantñ n tremḅlñ, n lisnd t ɖ ẃiṣlñz n ɖ paṭrñz ǎtsd, h ń it at last, in ol its fŭlnis, ɖt dred ʈñ ẃć uɖr litl dwelrz in fīld n hejro hd incǎntrd hir, n noun az ɖer darcist momnt – ɖt ʈñ ẃć ɖ Rat hd venli traid t śīld him fṛm – ɖ Terr v ɖ Wîld Wŭd!

Mntm ɖ Rat, worm n cumf̣tbl, dozd bî hiz fîrsîd. Hiz pepr v haf-finiśt vrsz slipt fṛm hiz ni, hiz hed fél bac, hiz mǎʈ opnd, n h wondrd bî ɖ vrdnt bancs v drīmrivrz. Ɖen a col slipt, ɖ fîr cracld n snt p a sprt v flem, n h wouc wɖ a start. Rmemḅrñ ẃt h hd bn ingejd upn, h rīćt dǎn t ɖ flor fr hiz vrsz, pord ovr ɖm fr a minit, n ɖen lct rnd fr ɖ Mol t asc him f h ń a gd rîm fr smʈñ or uɖr.

Bt ɖ Mol wz nt ɖr.

H lisnd fr a tîm. Ɖ hǎs sīmd vri qayt.

Ɖen h cōld “Mǒli!” sevṛl tîmz, n, rsivñ no ansr, got p n wnt ǎt intu ɖ hōl.

Ɖ Mol’z cap wz misñ fṛm its acustmd peg. Hiz g’lośz, ẃć olwz le bî ɖ umbreḷstand, wr olso gn.

Ɖ Rat left ɖ hǎs, n cerf̣li xamind ɖ mudi srfis v ɖ grǎnd ǎtsd, hopñ t fînd ɖ Mol’z tracs. Ɖr ɖe wr, śr inuf. Ɖ g’lośz wr ny, jst bòt fr ɖ wintr, n ɖ pimplz on ɖer sǒlz wr freś n śarp. H cd si ɖ imprints v ɖm in ɖ mud, runñ alñ stret n prṗsfl, līdñ d’rect t ɖ Wîld Wŭd.

Ɖ Rat lct vri grev, n std in dīp ʈt fr a minit or tū. Ɖen h ri-entrd ɖ hǎs, strapt a blt rnd hiz weist, śuvd a bres v pistlz intu it, tc p a stǎt cujl ɖt std in a cornr v ɖ hōl, n set of fr ɖ Wîld Wŭd at a smart pes.

It wz olrdi gtñ twdz dusc ẃn h rīćt ɖ frst frinj v triz n plunjd wɖt hezteśn intu ɖ wŭd, lcñ añśsli on îɖr sîd fr eni sîn v hiz frend. Hir n ɖr wicid litl fesz popt ǎt v houlz, bt vaniśt imīɉtli at sît v ɖ valṛs animl, hiz pistlz, n ɖ gret ugli cujl in hiz grasp; n ɖ ẃiṣlñ n paṭrñ, ẃć h hd hŕd qt plenli on hiz frst entri, daid awe n sīst, n ol wz vri stil. H md hiz we manf̣li ʈru ɖ leñʈ v ɖ wŭd, t its frɖist éj; ɖen, forsecñ ol paɖz, h set himslf t tṛvrs it, l’borịsli wrcñ ovr ɖ hol grǎnd, n ol ɖ tîm cōlñ ǎt ćirf̣li, “Mǒli, Mǒli, Mǒli! Ẃr r y? It’s m – it’s old Rat!”

H hd peśntli huntd ʈru ɖ wŭd fr an aur or mor, ẃn at last t hiz jô h hŕd a litl anṣrñ crî. Gîdñ himslf bî ɖ sǎnd, h md hiz we ʈru ɖ gaɖ̇rñ darcnis t ɖ ft v an old bìćtrī, wɖ a houl in it, n fṛm ǎt v ɖ houl cem a fībl vôs, seyñ “Rati! Z ɖt riyli y?”

Ɖ Rat crept intu ɖ holo, n ɖr h faund ɖ Mol, xōstd n stl tremḅlñ. “Ǒ Rat!” h craid, “I’v bn so frîtnd, y c’nt ʈnc!”

“Ǒ, I qt unḍstand,” sd ɖ Rat suɖñli. “Y śd’nt riyli hv gn n dn it, Mol. I dd mî bst t cīp y fṛm it. W rivrbancrz, w hardli evr cm hir bî ǎrslvz. F w hv t cm, w cm in cuplz, at līst; ɖen w’r jenṛli ol rît. Bsdz, ɖr r a hundṛd ʈñz wn hz t nǒ, ẃć w unḍstand ol abt n y d’nt, az yt. I mīn paswrdz, n sînz, n seyñz ẃć hv pǎr n ifct, n plants y cari in yr pocit, n vrsz y rpit, n dojz n trics y practis; ol simpl inuf ẃn y nǒ ɖm, bt ɖ’v got t b noun f y’r smōl, or y’l fînd yrslf in trubl. V cors f y wr Bajr or Otr, it wd b qt anɖr matr.”

“Śrli ɖ brev Mr. Tod wd’nt mînd cmñ hir bî himslf, wd h?” inqîrd ɖ Mol.

“Old Tod?” sd ɖ Rat, lafñ harṭli. “H wd’nt śo hiz fes hir alon, nt fr a hol hatfl v goldn giniz, Tod wd’nt.”

Ɖ Mol wz gretli ćird bî ɖ sǎnd v ɖ Rat’s cerlis laftr, az wel az bî ɖ sît v hiz stic n hiz glīmñ pistlz, n h stopt śiṿrñ n bgan t fīl boldr n mor himslf agn.

“Nǎ ɖen,” sd ɖ Rat prezntli, “w riyli mst pl ǎrslvz tgɖr n mc a start fr hom ẃl ɖr’z stl a litl lît left. It wl nvr d t spend ɖ nît hir, y unḍstand. Tù cold, fr wn ʈñ.”

“Dir Rati,” sd ɖ pur Mol, “I’m dredf̣li sori, bt I’m simpli ded bìt n ɖt’s a solid fact. Y MST let m rest hir a ẃl longr, n gt mî streñʈ bac, f I’m t gt hom at ol.”

“Ǒ, ol rît,” sd ɖ gd-nećrd Rat, “rest awe. It’s priti nirli pić darc nǎ, enhǎ; n ɖr òt t b a bit v a mūn lêtr.”

So ɖ Mol got wel intu ɖ drî līvz n strećt himslf ǎt, n prezntli dropt of intu slīp, ɖo v a brocn n trubld sort; ẃl ɖ Rat cuvrd himslf p, tù, az bst h mt, fr wormʈ, n le peśntli wêtñ, wɖ a pistl in hiz pw.

Ẃn at last ɖ Mol wouc p, mć rfreśt n in hiz yźl spirits, ɖ Rat sd, “Nǎ ɖen! I’l jst tec a lc ǎtsd n si f evrʈñ’z qayt, n ɖen w riyli mst b of.”

H wnt t ɖ entṛns v ɖer rtrit n pt hiz hed ǎt. Ɖen ɖ Mol hŕd him seyñ qaytli t himslf, “Hlo! hlo! hir – z – a – g!”

“Ẃt’s p, Rati?” asct ɖ Mol.

“SNO z p,” rplaid ɖ Rat brīfli; “or rɖr, DǍN. It’s snowñ hard.”

Ɖ Mol cem n crǎćt bsd him, n, lcñ ǎt, sw ɖ wŭd ɖt hd bn so dredfl t him in qt a ćenjd aspect. Houlz, holoz, pūlz, pitfōlz, n uɖr blac meṇsz t ɖ wêférr wr vaṇśñ fast, n a glīmñ carpit v feyri wz sprññ p evrẃr, ɖt lct tù delic̣t t b trodn upn bî ruf fīt. A fîn pǎdr fild ɖ er n c’rest ɖ ćīc wɖ a tngl in its tuć, n ɖ blac boulz v ɖ triz śoud p in a lît ɖt sīmd t cm fṛm b’lo.

“Wel, wel, it c’nt b hlpt,” sd ɖ Rat, aftr ponḍrñ. “W mst mc a start, n tec ǎr ćans, I s’poz. Ɖ wrst v it z, I d’nt xacli nǒ ẃr w r. N nǎ ɖs sno mcs evrʈñ lc so vri difṛnt.”

It dd indd. Ɖ Mol wd nt hv noun ɖt it wz ɖ sem wŭd. Hvr, ɖe set ǎt brevli, n tc ɖ lîn ɖt sīmd most proṃsñ, holdñ on t ć uɖr n pritndñ wɖ invinsbl ćirflnis ɖt ɖe rec̣gnîzd an old frend in evri freś tri ɖt grimli n sîḷntli grītd ɖm, or sw oṗnñz, gaps, or paɖz wɖ a fmiłr trn in ɖm, in ɖ mnoṭni v ẃît spes n blac trītruncs ɖt rfyzd t vẹri.

An aur or tū lêtr – ɖe hd lost ol cǎnt v tîm – ɖe pld p, dspiṛtd, wiri, n hoplisli at sì, n sat dǎn on a fōḷn trītrunc t rcuvr ɖer breʈ n cnsidr ẃt wz t b dn. Ɖe wr ecñ wɖ ftīg n bruzd wɖ tumblz; ɖe hd fōḷn intu sevṛl houlz n got wet ʈru; ɖ sno wz gtñ so dīp ɖt ɖe cd hardli drag ɖer litl legz ʈru it, n ɖ triz wr ʈicr n mor lîc ć uɖr ɖn evr. Ɖr sīmd t b no end t ɖs wŭd, n no bginñ, n no difṛns in it, n, wrst v ol, no we ǎt.

“W c’nt sit hir vri loñ,” sd ɖ Rat. “W śl hv t mc anɖr pś fr it, n d smʈñ or uɖr. Ɖ cold z tù ōfl fr enʈñ, n ɖ sno wl sn b tù dīp fr s t wêd ʈru.” H pīrd abt him n cnsidrd. “Lc hir,” h wnt on, “ɖs z ẃt ocŕz t m. Ɖr’z a sort v del dǎn hir in frunt v s, ẃr ɖ grǎnd sīmz ol hili n humpi n huṃci. W’l mc ǎr we dǎn intu ɖt, n trî n fînd sm sort v śltr, a cev or houl wɖ a drî flor t it, ǎt v ɖ sno n ɖ wind, n ɖr w’l hv a gd rest bfr w trî agn, fr w’r bʈ v s priti ded bìt. Bsdz, ɖ sno me līv of, or smʈñ me trn p.”

So wns mor ɖe got on ɖer fīt, n strugld dǎn intu ɖ del, ẃr ɖe huntd abt fr a cev or sm cornr ɖt wz drî n a pṛtx́n fṛm ɖ cīn wind n ɖ ẃrlñ sno. Ɖe wr invstgetñ wn v ɖ huṃci bits ɖ Rat hd spocn v, ẃn sudnli ɖ Mol tript p n fél fwd on hiz fes wɖ a sqīl.

“Ǒ mî leg!” h craid. “Ǒ mî pur śin!” n h sat p on ɖ sno n nrst hiz leg in bʈ hiz frunt pwz.

“Pur old Mol!” sd ɖ Rat cîndli.

“Y d’nt sīm t b hvñ mć luc tde, d y? Let’s hv a lc at ɖ leg. Yes,” h wnt on, gwñ dǎn on hiz niz t lc, “y’v cut yr śin, śr inuf. Wêt tl I gt at mî hanc̣ćif, n I’l tî it p fr y.”

“I mst hv tript ovr a hidn branć or a stump,” sd ɖ Mol mizṛbli. “Ǒ, mî! Ǒ, mî!”

“It’s a vri clīn cut,” sd ɖ Rat, xaṃnñ it agn atntivli. “Ɖt wz nvr dn bî a branć or a stump. Lcs az f it wz md bî a śarp éj v smʈñ in metl. Funi!” H pondrd aẃl, n xamind ɖ humps n slǒps ɖt srǎndd ɖm.

“Wel, nvr mînd ẃt dn it,” sd ɖ Mol, fgetñ hiz gramr in hiz pen. “It hrts jst ɖ sem, ẃtvr dn it.”

Bt ɖ Rat, aftr cerf̣li tayñ p ɖ leg wɖ hiz hanc̣ćif, hd left him n wz bizi screpñ in ɖ sno. H scraćt n śuvld n xplord, ol for legz wrcñ biẓli, ẃl ɖ Mol wêtd impeśntli, rmarcñ at inṭvlz, “Ǒ, CM on, Rat!”

Sudnli ɖ Rat craid “Hre!” n ɖen “Hūre-u-re-u-re-u-re!” n fél t x’ktñ a fībl jig in ɖ sno.

“Ẃt HV y faund, Rati?” asct ɖ Mol, stl nrsñ hiz leg.

“Cm n si!” sd ɖ dlîtd Rat, az h jigd on.

Ɖ Mol hobld p t ɖ spot n hd a gd lc.

“Wel,” h sd at last, slǒli, “I SI it rît inuf. Sìn ɖ sem sort v ʈñ bfr, lots v tîmz. Fmiłr objict, I cōl it. A dorscrepr! Wel, ẃt v it? Ẃ dans jigz arnd a dorscrepr?”

“Bt d’nt y si ẃt it MĪNZ, y – y dul-witd animl?” craid ɖ Rat impeśntli.

“V cors I si ẃt it mīnz,” rplaid ɖ Mol. “It simpli mīnz ɖt sm VRI cerlis n fgetfl prsn hz left hiz dorscrepr layñ abt in ɖ midl v ɖ Wîld Wŭd, JST ẃr it’s ŚR t trip EVRBDI p. Vri ʈtlis v him, I cōl it. Ẃn I gt hom I śl g n cmplen abt it t – t smbdi or uɖr, si f I d’nt!”

“Ǒ, dir! Ǒ, dir!” craid ɖ Rat, in dsper at hiz obtysnis. “Hir, stop arğwñ n cm n screp!” N h set t wrc agn n md ɖ sno flî in ol d’rex́nz arnd him.

Aftr sm frɖr tôl hiz ef̣ts wr rwordd, n a vri śabi dormat le xpozd t vy.

“Ɖr, ẃt dd I tel y?” xclemd ɖ Rat in gret trîumf.

“Abṣlutli nʈñ ẃtvr,” rplaid ɖ Mol, wɖ prfict truʈflnis. “Wel nǎ,” h wnt on, “y sīm t hv faund anɖr pìs v dmestic litr, dn fr n ʈroun awe, n I s’poz y’r prf̣cli hapi. Betr g ahd n dans yr jig rnd ɖt f y’v got t, n gt it ovr, n ɖen phps w cn g on n nt west eni mor tîm ovr rubiśhīps. Cn w ĪT a dormat? or slīp undr a dormat? Or sit on a dormat n slej hom ovr ɖ sno on it, y xasṗretñ rodnt?”

“D – y – mīn – t – se,” craid ɖ xîtd Rat, “ɖt ɖs dormat dz’nt TEL y enʈñ?”

“Riyli, Rat,” sd ɖ Mol, qt petiśli, “I ʈnc w’v hd inuf v ɖs foli. Hu evr hŕd v a dormat TELÑ enwn enʈñ? Ɖe simpli d’nt d it. Ɖe r nt ɖt sort at ol. Dormats nǒ ɖer ples.”

“Nǎ lc hir, y – y ʈic-hedd bīst,” rplaid ɖ Rat, riyli angri, “ɖs mst stop. Nt anɖr wrd, bt screp – screp n scrać n dig n hunt rnd, ispeṣ́li on ɖ sîdz v ɖ huṃcs, f y wont t slīp drî n worm tnît, fr it’s ǎr last ćans!”

Ɖ Rat atact a snǒbanc bsd ɖm wɖ ardr, probñ wɖ hiz cujl evrẃr n ɖen digñ wɖ fyri; n ɖ Mol scrept biẓli tù, mor t oblîj ɖ Rat ɖn fr eni uɖr rīzn, fr hiz opińn wz ɖt hiz frend wz gtñ lît-hedd.

Sm ten minits’ hard wrc, n ɖ pônt v ɖ Rat’s cujl struc smʈñ ɖt sǎndd holo. H wrct tl h cd gt a pw ʈru n fīl; ɖen cōld ɖ Mol t cm n hlp him. Hard at it wnt ɖ tū animlz, tl at last ɖ rzult v ɖer lebrz std fl in vy v ɖ astoniśt n hiɖrtu increɉḷs Mol.

In ɖ sîd v ẃt hd sīmd t b a snǒbanc std a solid-lcñ litl dor, pentd a darc grīn. An ayn bel-pl huñ bî ɖ sîd, n b’lo it, on a smōl bras plet, nītli ingrevd in sqer capitl letrz, ɖe cd rīd bî ɖ ed v mūnlît MR. BAJR.

Ɖ Mol fél bcwdz on ɖ sno fṛm śir s’prîz n dlît. “Rat!” h craid in penitns, “y’r a wundr! A riyl wundr, ɖt’s ẃt y r. I si it ol nǎ! Y arğd it ǎt, step bî step, in ɖt wîz hed v yrz, fṛm ɖ vri momnt ɖt I fél n cut mî śin, n y lct at ɖ cut, n at wns yr mjestic mînd sd t itslf, “Dorscrepr!” N ɖen y trnd t n faund ɖ vri dorscrepr ɖt dn it! Dd y stop ɖr? No. Sm ppl wd hv bn qt saṭsfaid; bt nt y. Yr inṭlect wnt on wrcñ. “Let m onli jst fînd a dormat,” sz y t yrslf, “n mî ʈiyri z pruvd!” N v cors y faund yr dormat. Y’r so clevr, I b’liv y cd fînd enʈñ y lîct. “Nǎ,” sz y, “ɖt dor xists, az plen az f I sw it. Ɖr’z nʈñ els rmenz t b dn bt t fînd it!” Wel, I’v réd abt ɖt sort v ʈñ in bcs, bt I’v nvr cm acrs it bfr in riyl lîf. Y òt t g ẃr y’l b proprli aprīśietd. Y’r simpli westd hir, amñ s feloz. F I onli hd yr hed, Rati — ”

“Bt az y hv’nt,” inṭruptd ɖ Rat, rɖr uncîndli, “I s’poz y’r gwñ t sit on ɖ sno ol nît n TŌC? Gt p at wns n hañ on t ɖt bel-pl y si ɖr, n rñ hard, az hard az y cn, ẃl I hamr!”

Ẃl ɖ Rat atact ɖ dor wɖ hiz stic, ɖ Mol sprañ p at ɖ bel-pl, clućt it n swuñ ɖr, bʈ fīt wel of ɖ grǎnd, n fṛm qt a loñ we of ɖe cd fentli hír a dīp-tond bel rspond.