XI: “Lîc Sumr-Tmpists Cem Hiz Tirz”

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Rat pt ǎt a nīt litl brǎn pw, gript Tod frmli bî ɖ scruf v ɖ nec, n gev a gret hôst n a pl; n ɖ wōtr-logd Tod cem p slǒli bt śrli ovr ɖ éj v ɖ houl, tl at last h std sef n sǎnd in ɖ hōl, strīct wɖ mud n wīd t b śr, n wɖ ɖ wōtr strīmñ of him, bt hapi n hî-spiṛtd az v old, nǎ ɖt h faund himslf wns mor in ɖ hǎs v a frend, n dojñz n iveźnz wr ovr, n h cd le asd a dsgîz ɖt wz unwrɖi v hiz pziśn n wontd sć a lot v livñ p t.

“Ǒ, Rati!” h craid. “I’v bn ʈru sć tîmz sins I sw y last, y c’nt ʈnc! Sć trîlz, sć suf̣rñz, n ol so nobli bòrn! Ɖen sć isceps, sć dsgîzz sć subṭfyjz, n ol so clevrli pland n carid ǎt! Bn in prizn – got ǎt v it, v cors! Bn ʈroun intu a cnal – swam aśor! Stoul a hors – sold him fr a larj sum v muni! Humbugd evrbdi – md ’m ol d xacli ẃt I wontd! Ǒ, I AM a smart Tod, n no mstec! Ẃt d y ʈnc mî last xplôt wz? Jst hold on tl I tel y — ”“Tod,” sd ɖ Wōtŗat, grevli n frmli, “y g of upsterz at wns, n tec of ɖt old cotn rag ɖt lcs az f it mt formrli hv b’loñd t sm wośr-wmn, n clīn yrslf ʈuṛli, n pt on sm v mî cloɖz, n trî n cm dǎn lcñ lîc a jntlmn f y CN; fr a mor śabi, bdragld, dsrepytbl-lcñ objict ɖn y r I nvr set îz on in mî hol lîf! Nǎ, stop swaġrñ n arğwñ, n b of! I’l hv smʈñ t se t y lêtr!”

Tod wz at frst inclînd t stop n d sm tōcñ bac at him. H hd hd inuf v biyñ ordrd abt ẃn h wz in prizn, n hir wz ɖ ʈñ biyñ bgun ol ovr agn, apaṛntli; n bî a Rat, tù! Hvr, h còt sît v himslf in ɖ lcñglas ovr ɖ hatstand, wɖ ɖ rusti blac bonit prćt rêciśli ovr wn î, n h ćenjd hiz mînd n wnt vri qcli n humbli upsterz t ɖ Rat’s dresñrūm. Ɖr h hd a ʈura woś n bruś-up, ćenjd hiz cloɖz, n std fr a loñ tîm bfr ɖ glas, contmpletñ himslf wɖ prîd n pleźr, n ʈncñ ẃt utr idịts ol ɖ ppl mst hv bn t hv evr mstecn him fr wn momnt fr a wośr-wmn.

Bî ɖ tîm h cem dǎn agn lunćn wz on ɖ tebl, n vri glad Tod wz t si it, fr h hd bn ʈru sm trayñ xpirịnsz n hd tecn mć hard x’sîz sins ɖ xḷnt brecfst pṛvîdd fr him bî ɖ jipsi. Ẃl ɖe ét Tod tld ɖ Rat ol hiz advnćrz, dwelñ ćīfli on hiz ǒn clevrnis, n prezns v mînd in imrjnsiz, n cunñ in tît plesz; n rɖr mcñ ǎt ɖt h hd bn hvñ a ge n hîli-culrd xpirịns. Bt ɖ mor h tōct n bostd, ɖ mor grev n sîḷnt ɖ Rat bcem.

Ẃn at last Tod hd tōct himslf t a standstil, ɖr wz sîḷns fr a ẃl; n ɖen ɖ Rat sd, “Nǎ, Todi, I d’nt wont t gv y pen, aftr ol y’v bn ʈru olrdi; bt, sirịsli, d’nt y si ẃt an ōfl as y’v bn mcñ v yrslf? On yr ǒn admiśn y hv bn hancuft, impriznd, starvd, ćest, teṛfaid ǎt v yr lîf, insultd, jird at, n igṇmińsli fluñ intu ɖ wōtr – bî a wmn, tù! Ẃr’z ɖ aḿzmnt in ɖt? Ẃr dz ɖ fun cm in? N ol bcz y mst nīdz g n stìl a motrcar. Y nǒ ɖt y’v nvr hd enʈñ bt trubl fṛm motrcarz fṛm ɖ momnt y frst set îz on wn. Bt f y WL b mixt p wɖ ɖm – az y jenṛli r, fîv minits aftr y’v startd – ẃ STÌL ɖm? B a cripl, f y ʈnc it’s xîtñ; b a bancrupt, fr a ćenj, f y’v set yr mînd on it: bt ẃ ćūz t b a convict? Ẃn r y gwñ t b snṣbl, n ʈnc v yr frendz, n trî n b a credit t ɖm? D y s’poz it’s eni pleźr t m, fr instns, t hír animlz seyñ, az I g abt, ɖt I’m ɖ ćap ɖt cīps cumṗni wɖ jelbrdz?”

Nǎ, it wz a vri cumf̣tñ pônt in Tod’z caṛctr ɖt h wz a ʈuṛli gd-hartd animl n nvr mîndd biyñ jwd bî ɖoz hu wr hiz riyl frendz. N īvn ẃn most set upn a ʈñ, h wz olwz ebl t si ɖ uɖr sîd v ɖ qsćn. So olɖo, ẃl ɖ Rat wz tōcñ so sirịsli, h cept seyñ t himslf ḿtiṇsli, “Bt it WZ fun, ɖo! Ōfl fun!” n mcñ strenj s’prest nôzz insd him, c-i-c-c-c, n pūp-p-p, n uɖr sǎndz rzmḅlñ stîfld snorts, or ɖ oṗnñ v soḍwōtr botlz, yt ẃn ɖ Rat hd qt finiśt, h hīvd a dīp sai n sd, vri nîsli n humbli, “Qt rît, Rati! Hǎ SǍND y olwz r! Yes, I’v bn a cnsitd old as, I cn qt si ɖt; bt nǎ I’m gwñ t b a gd Tod, n nt d it eni mor. Az fr motrcarz, I’v nt bn at ol so cīn abt ɖm sins mî last ducñ in ɖt rivr v yrz. Ɖ fact z, ẃl I wz haññ on t ɖ éj v yr houl n gtñ mî breʈ, I hd a sudn îdīa – a riyli briłnt îdīa – cnctd wɖ motrbots – ɖr, ɖr! d’nt tec on so, old ćap, n stamp, n upset ʈñz; it wz onli an îdīa, n w w’nt tōc eni mor abt it nǎ. W’l hv ǎr cofi, N a smoc, n a qayt ćat, n ɖen I’m gwñ t strol qaytli dǎn t Tod Hōl, n gt intu cloɖz v mî ǒn, n set ʈñz gwñ agn on ɖ old lînz. I’v hd inuf v advnćrz. I śl līd a qayt, stedi, rspctbl lîf, poṭrñ abt mî proṗti, n impruvñ it, n dwñ a litl lanscep garḍnñ at tîmz. Ɖr wl olwz b a bit v dinr fr mî frendz ẃn ɖe cm t si m; n I śl cīp a poniśêz t jog abt ɖ cuntri in, jst az I yst t in ɖ gd old dez, bfr I got restlis, n wontd t D ʈñz.”

“Strol qaytli dǎn t Tod Hōl?” craid ɖ Rat, gretli xîtd. “Ẃt r y tōcñ abt? D y mīn t se y hv’nt HŔD?”

“Hŕd ẃt?” sd Tod, trnñ rɖr pel. “G on, Rati! Qc! D’nt sper m! Ẃt hv’nt I hŕd?”

“D y mīn t tel m,” śǎtd ɖ Rat, ʈumpñ wɖ hiz litl fist upn ɖ tebl, “ɖt y’v hŕd nʈñ abt ɖ Stots n Wīzlz?”

Ẃt, ɖ Wîld Wŭdrz?” craid Tod, tremḅlñ in evri lim. “No, nt a wrd! Ẃt hv ɖe bn dwñ?”

“ – N hǎ ɖ’v bn n tecn Tod Hōl?” cntinyd ɖ Rat.

Tod līnd hiz elboz on ɖ tebl, n hiz ćin on hiz pwz; n a larj tir wld p in ć v hiz îz, oṿfloud n splaśt on ɖ tebl, plop! plop!

“G on, Rati,” h mrmrd prezntli; “tel m ol. Ɖ wrst z ovr. I am an animl agn. I cn ber it.”

“Ẃn y – got – intu ɖt – ɖt – trubl v yrz,” sd ɖ Rat, slǒli n impresivli; “I mīn, ẃn y – dis’pird fṛm ssayti fr a tîm, ovr ɖt misunḍstandñ abt a – a mśīn, y nǒ – ”

Tod mirli nodd.

“Wel, it wz a gd dīl tōct abt dǎn hir, naćṛli,” cntinyd ɖ Rat, “nt onli alñ ɖ rivrsîd, bt īvn in ɖ Wîld Wŭd. Animlz tc sîdz, az olwz hapnz. Ɖ Rivrbancrz stuc p fr y, n sd y hd bn infṃsli trītd, n ɖr wz no justis t b hd in ɖ land nawdez. Bt ɖ Wîld Wŭd animlz sd hard ʈñz, n srvd y rît, n it wz tîm ɖs sort v ʈñ wz stopt. N ɖe got vri coci, n wnt abt seyñ y wr dn fr ɖs tîm! Y wd nvr cm bac agn, nvr, nvr!”

Tod nodd wns mor, cīpñ sîḷns.

“Ɖt’s ɖ sort v litl bīsts ɖe r,” ɖ Rat wnt on. “Bt Mol n Bajr, ɖe stuc ǎt, ʈru ʈic n ʈin, ɖt y wd cm bac agn sn, smhǎ. Ɖe dd’nt nǒ xacli hǎ, bt smhǎ!”

Tod bgan t sit p in hiz ćer agn, n t smrc a litl.

“Ɖe arğd fṛm hisṭri,” cntinyd ɖ Rat. “Ɖe sd ɖt no criminl lwz hd evr bn noun t privel agnst ćīc n plōẓbiḷti sć az yrz, cmbînd wɖ ɖ pǎr v a loñ prs. So ɖe arenjd t muv ɖer ʈñz in t Tod Hōl, n slīp ɖr, n cīp it erd, n hv it ol redi fr y ẃn y trnd p. Ɖe dd’nt ges ẃt wz gwñ t hapn, v cors; stl, ɖe hd ɖer sspiśnz v ɖ Wîld Wŭd animlz. Nǎ I cm t ɖ most penfl n trajic part v mî stori. Wn darc nît – it wz a VRI darc nît, n blowñ hard, tù, n renñ simpli cats n dogz – a band v wīzlz, armd t ɖ tīʈ, crept sîḷntli p ɖ carijdrîv t ɖ frunt entṛns. Simlteńsli, a bodi v despṛt ferits, advansñ ʈru ɖ cićngardn, pzest ɖmslvz v ɖ bacyard n of̣sz; ẃl a cumṗni v scrṃśñ stots hu stuc at nʈñ okpaid ɖ cnsrṿtri n ɖ biłdrūm, n hld ɖ Frenć windoz oṗnñ on t ɖ lōn.

“Ɖ Mol n ɖ Bajr wr sitñ bî ɖ fîr in ɖ smocñrūm, telñ storiz n sspctñ nʈñ, fr it wz’nt a nît fr eni animlz t b ǎt in, ẃn ɖoz bludʈrsti vilnz brouc dǎn ɖ dorz n ruśt in upn ɖm fṛm evri sîd. Ɖe md ɖ bst fît ɖe cd, bt ẃt wz ɖ gd? Ɖe wr unarmd, n tecn bî s’prîz, n ẃt cn tū animlz d agnst hundṛdz? Ɖe tc n bìt ɖm svirli wɖ stics, ɖoz tū pur feʈfl crīćrz, n trnd ɖm ǎt intu ɖ cold n ɖ wet, wɖ mni insultñ n uncōld-fr rmarcs!”

Hir ɖ unfīlñ Tod brouc intu a snigr, n ɖen pld himslf tgɖr n traid t lc ptiklrli soḷm.

“N ɖ Wîld Wŭdrz hv bn livñ in Tod Hōl evr sins,” cntinyd ɖ Rat; “n gwñ on simpli enhǎ! Layñ in bed haf ɖ de, n brecfst at ol aurz, n ɖ ples in sć a mes (I’m tld) it’s nt fit t b sìn! Ītñ yr grub, n drincñ yr drinc, n mcñ bad jocs abt y, n sññ vulgr soñz, abt – wel, abt priznz n maɉstrets, n p’līsṃn; horid prsnl soñz, wɖ no hymr in ɖm. N ɖ’r telñ ɖ tredzpīpl n evrbdi ɖt ɖ’v cm t ste fr gd.”

“Ǒ, hv ɖe!” sd Tod gtñ p n sizñ a stic. “I’l joli sn si abt ɖt!”

“It’s no gd, Tod!” cōld ɖ Rat aftr him. “Y’d betr cm bac n sit dǎn; y’l onli gt intu trubl.”

Bt ɖ Tod wz of, n ɖr wz no holdñ him. H marćt rapidli dǎn ɖ rod, hiz stic ovr hiz śoldr, fymñ n muṭrñ t himslf in hiz angr, tl h got nir hiz frunt get, ẃn sudnli ɖr popt p fṛm bhnd ɖ pêlñz a loñ yelo ferit wɖ a gun.

“Hu cmz ɖr?” sd ɖ ferit śarpli.

“Stuf n nonsns!” sd Tod, vri angṛli. “Ẃt d y mīn bî tōcñ lîc ɖt t m? Cm ǎt v ɖt at wns, or I’l — ”

Ɖ ferit sd nvr a wrd, bt h bròt hiz gun p t hiz śoldr. Tod prūdntli dropt flat in ɖ rod, n BAÑ! a bŭlit ẃisld ovr hiz hed.

Ɖ startld Tod scrambld t hiz fīt n scamprd of dǎn ɖ rod az hard az h cd; n az h ran h hŕd ɖ ferit lafñ n uɖr horid ʈin litl lafs tecñ it p n cariyñ on ɖ sǎnd.

H wnt bac, vri crestfōḷn, n tld ɖ Wōtŗat.

“Ẃt dd I tel y?” sd ɖ Rat. “It’s no gd. Ɖ’v got sntriz postd, n ɖe r ol armd. Y mst jst wêt.”

Stl, Tod wz nt inclînd t gv in ol at wns. So h got ǎt ɖ bot, n set of rowñ p ɖ rivr t ẃr ɖ gardnfrunt v Tod Hōl cem dǎn t ɖ wōtrsîd.

Arîvñ wɖn sît v hiz old hom, h restd on hiz òrz n sveid ɖ land cōśsli. Ol sīmd vri pīsfl n dzrtd n qayt. H cd si ɖ hol frunt v Tod Hōl, glowñ in ɖ īvnñ súnśîn, ɖ pijinz seṭlñ bî tuz n ʈriz alñ ɖ stret lîn v ɖ rūf; ɖ gardn, a blêz v flǎrz; ɖ crìc ɖt léd p t ɖ bothǎs, ɖ litl wŭdn brij ɖt crost it; ol tranqil, uninhaḅtd, apaṛntli wêtñ fr hiz rtrn. H wd trî ɖ bothǎs frst, h ʈt. Vri weṛli h padld p t ɖ mǎʈ v ɖ crìc, n wz jst pasñ undr ɖ brij, ẃn … CRAŚ!

A gret ston, dropt fṛm abv, smaśt ʈru ɖ botm v ɖ bot. It fild n sanc, n Tod faund himslf struġlñ in dīp wōtr. Lcñ p, h sw tū stots līnñ ovr ɖ paṛpit v ɖ brij n woćñ him wɖ gret gli. “It wl b yr hed nxt tîm, Todi!” ɖe cōld ǎt t him. Ɖ indignnt Tod swam t śor, ẃl ɖ stots laft n laft, s’portñ ć uɖr, n laft agn, tl ɖe nirli hd tū fits – ɖt z, wn fit ć, v cors.

Ɖ Tod rtrest hiz wiri we on ft, n rletd hiz dis’pôntñ xpirịnsz t ɖ Wōtŗat wns mor.

“Wel, ẂT dd I tel y?” sd ɖ Rat vri crosli. “N, nǎ, lc hir! Si ẃt y’v bn n dn! Lost m mî bot ɖt I wz so fond v, ɖt’s ẃt y’v dn! N simpli ruind ɖt nîs sūt v cloɖz ɖt I lent y! Riyli, Tod, v ol ɖ trayñ animlz – I wundr y manij t cīp eni frendz at ol!”

Ɖ Tod sw at wns hǎ roñli n fūliśli h hd actd. H admitd hiz errz n roñ-heddnis n md a fl apoḷji t Rat fr luzñ hiz bot n spôlñ hiz cloɖz. N h waund p bî seyñ, wɖ ɖt franc slf-srendr ẃć olwz dsarmd hiz frendz’ criṭsizm n wún ɖm bac t hiz sîd, “Rati! I si ɖt I hv bn a hedstroñ n a wilfl Tod! Hnsfʈ, b’liv m, I wl b humbl n sbmisiv, n wl tec no ax́n wɖt yr cînd advîs n fl apruvl!”

“F ɖt z riyli so,” sd ɖ gd-nećrd Rat, olrdi apizd, “ɖen mî advîs t y z, cnsiḍrñ ɖ lêtnis v ɖ aur, t sit dǎn n hv yr supr, ẃć wl b on ɖ tebl in a minit, n b vri peśnt. Fr I am cnvinst ɖt w cn d nʈñ untl w hv sìn ɖ Mol n ɖ Bajr, n hŕd ɖer lêtist nyz, n hld confṛns n tecn ɖer advîs in ɖs dificlt matr.”

“Ǒ, ā, yes, v cors, ɖ Mol n ɖ Bajr,” sd Tod, lîtli. “Ẃt’s bcm v ɖm, ɖ dir feloz? I hd fgotn ol abt ɖm.”

“Wel me y asc!” sd ɖ Rat rproćf̣li. “Ẃl y wr rîdñ abt ɖ cuntri in xpnsiv motrcarz, n gaḷpñ prǎdli on bludhorsz, n brecfstñ on ɖ fat v ɖ land, ɖoz tū pur dvotd animlz hv bn campñ ǎt in ɖ opn, in evri sort v weɖr, livñ vri ruf bî de n layñ vri hard bî nît; woćñ ovr yr hǎs, ptrolñ yr bǎnḍriz, cīpñ a constnt î on ɖ stots n ɖ wīzlz, scīmñ n planñ n cntrîvñ hǎ t gt yr proṗti bac fr y. Y d’nt dzrv t hv sć tru n loyl frendz, Tod, y d’nt, riyli. Sm de, ẃn it’s tù lêt, y’l b sori y dd’nt valy ɖm mor ẃl y hd ɖm!”

“I’m an ungretfl bīst, I nǒ,” sobd Tod, śedñ bitr tirz. “Let m g ǎt n fînd ɖm, ǎt intu ɖ cold, darc nît, n śer ɖer hardśps, n trî n pruv bî — Hold on a bit! Śrli I hŕd ɖ ćnc v diśz on a tre! Supr’z hir at last, hre! Cm on, Rati!”

Ɖ Rat rmembrd ɖt pur Tod hd bn on priznfér fr a cnsidṛbl tîm, n ɖt larj alawnsz hd ɖrfr t b md. H foloud him t ɖ tebl acordñli, n hspitbli incurijd him in hiz gaḷnt ef̣ts t mc p fr past priveśnz.

Ɖe hd jst finiśt ɖer mīl n rzymd ɖer armćerz, ẃn ɖr cem a hevi noc at ɖ dor.

Tod wz nrṿs, bt ɖ Rat, nodñ m’stirịsli at him, wnt stret p t ɖ dor n opnd it, n in wōct Mr. Bajr.

H hd ol ɖ apiṛns v wn hu fr sm nîts hd bn cept awe fṛm hom n ol its litl cumf̣ts n cnvińnsz. Hiz śuz wr cuvrd wɖ mud, n h wz lcñ vri ruf n tūzld; bt ɖen h hd nvr bn a vri smart man, ɖ Bajr, at ɖ bst v tîmz. H cem soḷmli p t Tod, śc him bî ɖ pw, n sd, “Welcm hom, Tod! Alas! ẃt am I seyñ? Hom, indd! Ɖs z a pur hom-cmñ. Unhapi Tod!” Ɖen h trnd hiz bac on him, sat dǎn t ɖ tebl, drù hiz ćer p, n hlpt himslf t a larj slîs v cold pî.

Tod wz qt alarmd at ɖs vri sirịs n portnṭs stîl v grītñ; bt ɖ Rat ẃisprd t him, “Nvr mînd; d’nt tec eni notis; n d’nt se enʈñ t him jst yt. H’z olwz rɖr lo n dspondnt ẃn h’z wontñ hiz vitlz. In haf an aur’z tîm h’l b qt a difṛnt animl.”

So ɖe wêtd in sîḷns, n prezntli ɖr cem anɖr n a lîtr noc. Ɖ Rat, wɖ a nod t Tod, wnt t ɖ dor n uśrd in ɖ Mol, vri śabi n unwośt, wɖ bits v hei n strw sticñ in hiz fŕ.

“Hre! Hir’z old Tod!” craid ɖ Mol, hiz fes bīmñ. “Fansi hvñ y bac agn!” N h bgan t dans rnd him. “W nvr dremt y wd trn p so sn! Ẃ, y mst hv manijd t iscep, y clevr, injīńs, intelijnt Tod!”

Ɖ Rat, alarmd, pld him bî ɖ elbo; bt it wz tù lêt. Tod wz pufñ n swelñ olrdi.

“Clevr? Ǒ, no!” h sd. “I’m nt riyli clevr, acordñ t mî frendz. I’v onli brocn ǎt v ɖ strongist prizn in Ñgḷnd, ɖt’s ol! N capćrd a relwe tren n iscept on it, ɖt’s ol! N dsgîzd mslf n gn abt ɖ cuntri humbugñ evrbdi, ɖt’s ol! Ǒ, no! I’m a stypid as, I am! I’l tel y wn or tū v mî litl advnćrz, Mol, n y śl juj fr yrslf!”

“Wel, wel,” sd ɖ Mol, muvñ twdz ɖ suprtebl; “s’pozñ y tōc ẃl I īt. Nt a bît sins brecfst! Ǒ mî! Ǒ mî!” N h sat dǎn n hlpt himslf libṛli t cold bīf n piclz.

Tod stradld on ɖ harʈrug, ʈrust hiz pw intu hiz trǎzrpocit n pld ǎt a hanfl v silvr. “Lc at ɖt!” h craid, dspleyñ it. “Ɖt’s nt so bad, z it, fr a fy minits’ wrc? N hǎ d y ʈnc I dn it, Mol? Horsdīlñ! Ɖt’s hǎ I dn it!”

“G on, Tod,” sd ɖ Mol, imnsli inṭrestd.

“Tod, d b qayt, plīz!” sd ɖ Rat. “N d’nt y eg him on, Mol, ẃn y nǒ ẃt h z; bt plīz tel s az sn az poṣbl ẃt ɖ pziśn z, n ẃt’s bst t b dn, nǎ ɖt Tod z bac at last.”

“Ɖ pziśn’z abt az bad az it cn b,” rplaid ɖ Mol grumṗli; “n az fr ẃt’s t b dn, ẃ, blest f I nǒ! Ɖ Bajr n I hv bn rnd n rnd ɖ ples, bî nît n bî de; olwz ɖ sem ʈñ. Sntriz postd evrẃr, gunz pǒct ǎt at s, stonz ʈroun at s; olwz an animl on ɖ lc-ǎt, n ẃn ɖe si s, mî! hǎ ɖe d laf! Ɖt’s ẃt anôz m most!”

“It’s a vri dificlt sićueśn,” sd ɖ Rat, rflectñ dīpli. “Bt I ʈnc I si nǎ, in ɖ depʈs v mî mînd, ẃt Tod riyli òt t d. I wl tel y. H òt t — ”

“No, h òt’nt!” śǎtd ɖ Mol, wɖ hiz mǎʈ fl. “Nʈñ v ɖ sort! Y d’nt unḍstand. Ẃt h òt t d z, h òt t — ”

“Wel, I ś’nt d it, enwe!” craid Tod, gtñ xîtd. “I’m nt gwñ t b ordrd abt bî y feloz! It’s mî hǎs w’r tōcñ abt, n I nǒ xacli ẃt t d, n I’l tel y. I’m gwñ t — ”

Bî ɖs tîm ɖe wr ol ʈri tōcñ at wns, at ɖ top v ɖer vôsz, n ɖ nôz wz simpli def̣nñ, ẃn a ʈin, drî vôs md itslf hŕd, seyñ, “B qayt at wns, ol v y!” n instntli evrwn wz sîḷnt.

It wz ɖ Bajr, hu, hvñ finiśt hiz pî, hd trnd rnd in hiz ćer n wz lcñ at ɖm svirli. Ẃn h sw ɖt h hd s’krd ɖer atnśn, n ɖt ɖe wr evidntli wêtñ fr him t adres ɖm, h trnd bac t ɖ tebl agn n rīćt ǎt fr ɖ ćīz. N so gret wz ɖ rspct cmandd bî ɖ solid qoḷtz v ɖt admṛbl animl, ɖt nt anɖr wrd wz utrd untl h hd qt finiśt hiz rpast n bruśt ɖ crumz fṛm hiz niz. Ɖ Tod fiɉtd a gd dīl, bt ɖ Rat hld him frmli dǎn.

Ẃn ɖ Bajr hd qt dn, h got p fṛm hiz sīt n std bfr ɖ fîrples, rflectñ dīpli. At last h spouc.

“Tod!” h sd svirli. “Y bad, trublsm litl animl! R’nt y aśemd v yrslf? Ẃt d y ʈnc yr faɖr, mî old frend, wd hv sd f h hd bn hir tnît, n hd noun v ol yr gwñz-on?”

Tod, hu wz on ɖ sofa bî ɖs tîm, wɖ hiz legz p, rold ovr on hiz fes, śecn bî sobz v cntriśn.

“Ɖr, ɖr!” wnt on ɖ Bajr, mor cîndli. “Nvr mînd. Stop crayñ. W’r gwñ t let bîgonz b bîgonz, n trî n trn ovr a ny līf. Bt ẃt ɖ Mol sz z qt tru. Ɖ stots r on gard, at evri pônt, n ɖe mc ɖ bst sntinlz in ɖ wrld. It’s qt yslis t ʈnc v atacñ ɖ ples. Ɖ’r tù stroñ fr s.”

“Ɖen it’s ol ovr,” sobd ɖ Tod, crayñ intu ɖ sof̣cŭśnz. “I śl g n inlist fr a soljr, n nvr si mî dir Tod Hōl eni mor!”

“Cm, ćir p, Todi!” sd ɖ Bajr. “Ɖr r mor wez v gtñ bac a ples ɖn tecñ it bî storm. I hv’nt sd mî last wrd yt. Nǎ I’m gwñ t tel y a gret sīcrit.”

Tod sat p slǒli n draid hiz îz. Sīcrits hd an imns atrax́n fr him, bcz h nvr cd cīp wn, n h injoid ɖ sort v unhaloud ʈril h xpirịnst ẃn h wnt n tld anɖr animl, aftr hvñ feʈf̣li promist nt t.

“Ɖr – z – an – unḍgrǎnd – pasij,” sd ɖ Bajr, impresivli, “ɖt līdz fṛm ɖ rivrbanc, qt nir hir, rît p intu ɖ midl v Tod Hōl.”

“Ǒ, nonsns! Bajr,” sd Tod, rɖr eṛli. “Y’v bn liṣnñ t sm v ɖ yarnz ɖe spin in ɖ publichǎzz abt hir. I nǒ evri inć v Tod Hōl, insd n ǎt. Nʈñ v ɖ sort, I d aśur y!”

“Mî yuñ frend,” sd ɖ Bajr, wɖ gret sveṛti, “yr faɖr, hu wz a wrɖi animl – a lot wrɖịr ɖn sm uɖrz I nǒ – wz a ptiklr frend v mîn, n tld m a gret dīl h wd’nt hv dremt v telñ y. H dscuvrd ɖt pasij – h dd’nt mc it, v cors; ɖt wz dn hundṛdz v yirz bfr h evr cem t liv ɖr – n h rperd it n clīnd it ǎt, bcz h ʈt it mt cm in ysfl sm de, in ces v trubl or denjr; n h śoud it t m. “D’nt let mî sun nǒ abt it,” h sd. “H’z a gd bô, bt vri lît n voḷtîl in caṛctr, n simpli canot hold hiz tuñ. F h’z evr in a riyl fix, n it wd b v ys t him, y me tel him abt ɖ sīcrit pasij; bt nt bfr.”“

Ɖ uɖr animlz lct hard at Tod t si hǎ h wd tec it. Tod wz inclînd t b sulci at frst; bt h brîtnd p imīɉtli, lîc ɖ gd felo h wz.

“Wel, wel,” h sd; “phps I am a bit v a tōcr. A popylr felo sć az I am – mî frendz gt rnd m – w ćaf, w sparcl, w tel witi storiz – n smhǎ mî tuñ gts wagñ. I hv ɖ gift v convseśn. I’v bn tld I òt t hv a salõ, ẃtvr ɖt me b. Nvr mînd. G on, Bajr. Hǎ’z ɖs pasij v yrz gwñ t hlp s?”

“I’v faund ǎt a ʈñ or tū lêtli,” cntinyd ɖ Bajr. “I got Otr t dsgîz himslf az a swīp n cōl at ɖ bac dor wɖ bruśz ovr hiz śoldr, ascñ fr a job. Ɖr’z gwñ t b a big banqit tmoro nît. It’s smbdi’z brʈde – ɖ Ćīf Wīzl’z, I b’liv – n ol ɖ wīzlz wl b gaɖrd tgɖr in ɖ dînñhōl, ītñ n drincñ n lafñ n cariyñ on, sspctñ nʈñ. No gunz, no sordz, no stics, no armz v eni sort ẃtvr!”

“Bt ɖ sntinlz wl b postd az yźl,” rmarct ɖ Rat.

“Xacli,” sd ɖ Bajr; “ɖt z mî pônt. Ɖ wīzlz wl trust intîrli t ɖer xḷnt sntinlz. N ɖt z ẃr ɖ pasij cmz in. Ɖt vri ysfl tunl līdz rît p undr ɖ butlr’z pantri, nxt t ɖ dînñhōl!”

“Ahā! ɖt sqīci bord in ɖ butlr’z pantri!” sd Tod. “Nǎ I unḍstand it!”

“W śl crīp ǎt qaytli intu ɖ butlr’z pantri – ” craid ɖ Mol.

“ – wɖ ǎr pistlz n sordz n stics – ” śǎtd ɖ Rat.

“ – n ruś in upn ɖm,” sd ɖ Bajr.

“ – n ẃac ’m, n ẃac ’m, n ẃac ’m!” craid ɖ Tod in xṭsi, runñ rnd n rnd ɖ rūm, n jumpñ ovr ɖ ćerz.

“Vri wel, ɖen,” sd ɖ Bajr, rzymñ hiz yźl drî manr, “ǎr plan z setld, n ɖr’z nʈñ mor fr y t argy n sqobl abt. So, az it’s gtñ vri lêt, ol v y g rît of t bed at wns. W wl mc ol ɖ nesṣri arenjmnts in ɖ cors v ɖ mornñ tmoro.”

Tod, v cors, wnt of t bed dytifli wɖ ɖ rest – h ń betr ɖn t rfyz – ɖo h wz fīlñ mć tù xîtd t slīp. Bt h hd hd a loñ de, wɖ mni ivnts crǎdd intu it; n śīts n blancits wr vri frendli n cumf̣tñ ʈñz, aftr plen strw, n nt tù mć v it, spred on ɖ ston flor v a dráfti sél; n hiz hed hd nt bn mni secndz on hiz pilo bfr h wz snorñ haṗli. Naćṛli, h dremt a gd dīl; abt rodz ɖt ran awe fṛm him jst ẃn h wontd ɖm, n cnalz ɖt ćest him n còt him, n a barj ɖt sêld intu ɖ banqtñhōl wɖ hiz wīc’s wośñ, jst az h wz gvñ a dinrparti; n h wz alon in ɖ sīcrit pasij, pśñ onẉdz, bt it twistd n trnd rnd n śc itslf, n sat p on its end; yt smhǎ, at ɖ last, h faund himslf bac in Tod Hōl, sef n trîumfnt, wɖ ol hiz frendz gaɖrd rnd abt him, rṇstli aśurñ him ɖt h riyli wz a clevr Tod.

H slept tl a lêt aur nxt mornñ, n bî ɖ tîm h got dǎn h faund ɖt ɖ uɖr animlz hd finiśt ɖer brecfst sm tîm bfr. Ɖ Mol hd slipt of smẃr bî himslf, wɖt telñ enwn ẃr h wz gwñ t. Ɖ Bajr sat in ɖ armćer, rīdñ ɖ pepr, n nt cnsrnñ himslf in ɖ slîtist abt ẃt wz gwñ t hapn ɖt vri īvnñ. Ɖ Rat, on ɖ uɖr hand, wz runñ rnd ɖ rūm biẓli, wɖ hiz armz fl v wepnz v evri cnd, dstribytñ ɖm in for litl hīps on ɖ flor, n seyñ xîtdli undr hiz breʈ, az h ran, “Hir’z-a-sord-fr-ɖ-Rat, hir’z-a-sord-fr-ɖ-Mol, hir’z-a-sord-fr-ɖ-Tod, hir’z-a-sord-fr-ɖ-Bajr! Hir’z-a-pistl-fr-ɖ-Rat, hir’z-a-pistl-fr-ɖ-Mol, hir’z-a-pistl-fr-ɖ-Tod, hir’z-a-pistl-fr-ɖ-Bajr!” N so on, in a reğlr, riɖmicl we, ẃl ɖ for litl hīps graɉli grù n grù.

“Ɖt’s ol vri wel, Rat,” sd ɖ Bajr prezntli, lcñ at ɖ bizi litl animl ovr ɖ éj v hiz nyzpepr; “I’m nt blemñ y. Bt jst let s wns gt past ɖ stots, wɖ ɖoz dtstbl gunz v ɖerz, n I aśur y w ś’nt wont eni sordz or pistlz. W for, wɖ ǎr stics, wns w’r insd ɖ dînñhōl, ẃ, w śl clir ɖ flor v ol ɖ lot v ɖm in fîv minits. I’d hv dn ɖ hol ʈñ bî mslf, onli I dd’nt wont t dprîv y feloz v ɖ fun!”

“It’s az wel t b on ɖ sef sîd,” sd ɖ Rat rflectivli, poḷśñ a pistlbaṛl on hiz slīv n lcñ alñ it.

Ɖ Tod, hvñ finiśt hiz brecfst, pict p a stǎt stic n swuñ it vigṛsli, b’lebrñ imajinri animlz. “I’l lrn ’m t stìl mî hǎs!” h craid. “I’l lrn ’m, I’l lrn ’m!”

“D’nt se ‘lrn ’m,’ Tod,” sd ɖ Rat, gretli śoct. “It’s nt gd Ñgliś.”

“Ẃt r y olwz nagñ at Tod fr?” inqîrd ɖ Bajr, rɖr pīviśli. “Ẃt’s ɖ matr wɖ hiz Ñgliś? It’s ɖ sem ẃt I yz mslf, n f it’s gd inuf fr m, it òt t b gd inuf fr y!”

“I’m vri sori,” sd ɖ Rat humbli. “Onli I ƮNC it òt t b ‘tīć ’m,’ nt ‘lrn ’m’.”

“Bt w d’nt WONT t tīć ’m,” rplaid ɖ Bajr. “W wont t LRN ’m – lrn ’m, lrn ’m! N ẃt’s mor, w’r gwñ t D it, tù!”

“Ǒ, vri wel, hv it yr ǒn we,” sd ɖ Rat. H wz gtñ rɖr mudld abt it himslf, n prezntli h rtîrd intu a cornr, ẃr h cd b hŕd muṭrñ, “Lrn ’m, tīć ’m, tīć ’m, lrn ’m!” tl ɖ Bajr tld him rɖr śarpli t līv of.

Prezntli ɖ Mol cem tumḅlñ intu ɖ rūm, evidntli vri plizd wɖ himslf. “I’v bn hvñ sć fun!” h bgan at wns; “I’v bn gtñ a rîz ǎt v ɖ stots!”

“I hop y’v bn vri cerfl, Mol?” sd ɖ Rat añśsli.

“I śd hop so, tù,” sd ɖ Mol confidntli. “I got ɖ îdīa ẃn I wnt intu ɖ cićn, t si abt Tod’z brecfst biyñ cept hot fr him. I faund ɖt old wośr-wmn dress ɖt h cem hom in yesṭde, haññ on a tǎlhors bfr ɖ fîr. So I pt it on, n ɖ bonit az wel n ɖ śōl, n of I wnt t Tod Hōl, az bold az y plīz. Ɖ sntriz wr on ɖ lc-ǎt, v cors, wɖ ɖer gunz n ɖer ‘Hu cmz ɖr?’ n ol ɖ rest v ɖer nonsns. “Gd mornñ, jntlṃn!” sz I, vri rspctfl. “Wont eni wośñ dn tde?”

“Ɖe lct at m vri prǎd n stif n hōti, n sd, ‘G awe, wośr-wmn! W d’nt d eni wośñ on dyti.’ ‘Or eni uɖr tîm?’ sz I. Hǒ, hǒ, hǒ! Wz’nt I FUNI, Tod?”

“Pur, frivḷs animl!” sd Tod, vri lofṭli. Ɖ fact z, h flt xidñli jeḷs v Mol fr ẃt h hd jst dn. It wz xacli ẃt h wd hv lîct t hv dn himslf, f onli h hd ʈt v it frst, n hd’nt gn n oṿslept himslf.

“Sm v ɖ stots trnd qt pnc,” cntinyd ɖ Mol, “n ɖ Sarjnt in ćarj, h sd t m, vri śort, h sd, ‘Nǎ run awe, mî gd wmn, run awe! D’nt cīp mî men îḍlñ n tōcñ on ɖer posts.’ ‘Run awe?’ sz I; ‘it w’nt b m ɖt’l b runñ awe, in a vri śort tîm fṛm nǎ!’”

“Ǒ MǑLI, hǎ cd y?” sd ɖ Rat, dsmeid.

Ɖ Bajr leid dǎn hiz pepr.

“I cd si ɖm pricñ p ɖer irz n lcñ at ć uɖr,” wnt on ɖ Mol; “n ɖ Sarjnt sd t ɖm, ‘Nvr mînd HR; ś dz’nt nǒ ẃt ś’z tōcñ abt’.”

“‘Ǒ! d’nt I?’ sd I. ‘Wel, let m tel y ɖs. Mî dōtr, ś wośz fr Mr. Bajr, n ɖt’l śo y ẃɖr I nǒ ẃt I’m tōcñ abt; n Y’L nǒ priti sn, tù! A hundṛd bludʈrsti bajrz, armd wɖ rîflz, r gwñ t atac Tod Hōl ɖs vri nît, bî we v ɖ paḍc. Six botlodz v Rats, wɖ pistlz n cutḷsz, wl cm p ɖ rivr n ifct a landñ in ɖ gardn; ẃl a pict bodi v Tǒdz, noun az ɖ Dîhardz, or ɖ Deʈ-or-Glori Tǒdz, wl storm ɖ orćd n cari evrʈñ bfr ɖm, yelñ fr venjns. Ɖr w’nt b mć left v y t woś, bî ɖ tîm ɖ’v dn wɖ y, unls y clir ǎt ẃl y hv ɖ ćans!’ Ɖen I ran awe, n ẃn I wz ǎt v sît I hid; n prezntli I cem crīpñ bac alñ ɖ dić n tc a pīp at ɖm ʈru ɖ hej. Ɖe wr ol az nrṿs n flustrd az cd b, runñ ol wez at wns, n fōlñ ovr ć uɖr, n evrwn gvñ ordrz t evrbdi els n nt liṣnñ; n ɖ Sarjnt cept sndñ of partiz v stots t distnt parts v ɖ grǎndz, n ɖen sndñ uɖr feloz t feć ’m bac agn; n I hŕd ɖm seyñ t ć uɖr, ‘Ɖt’s jst lîc ɖ wīzlz; ɖ’r t stop cumf̣tbli in ɖ banqtñhōl, n hv fīstñ n tosts n soñz n ol sorts v fun, ẃl w mst ste on gard in ɖ cold n ɖ darc, n in ɖ end b cut t pìsz bî bludʈrsti Bajrz!’”

“Ǒ, y sili as, Mol!” craid Tod, “Y’v bn n spôlt evrʈñ!”

“Mol,” sd ɖ Bajr, in hiz drî, qayt we, “I psiv y hv mor sns in yr litl fngr ɖn sm uɖr animlz hv in ɖ hol v ɖer fat bodiz. Y hv manijd xḷntli, n I bgin t hv gret hops v y. Gd Mol! Clevr Mol!”

Ɖ Tod wz simpli wîld wɖ jeḷsi, mor ispeṣ́li az h cd’nt mc ǎt fr ɖ lîf v him ẃt ɖ Mol hd dn ɖt wz so ptiklrli clevr; bt, forćṇtli fr him, bfr h cd śo tmpr or xpoz himslf t ɖ Bajr’z sarcazm, ɖ bel rañ fr lunćn.

It wz a simpl bt sstenñ mīl – bêcn n brōd bīnz, n a mac̣roni pŭdñ; n ẃn ɖe hd qt dn, ɖ Bajr setld himslf intu an armćer, n sd, “Wel, w’v got ǎr wrc cut ǎt fr s tnît, n it wl probbli b priti lêt bfr w’r qt ʈru wɖ it; so I’m jst gwñ t tec forti wincs, ẃl I cn.” N h drù a hanc̣ćif ovr hiz fes n wz sn snorñ.

Ɖ añśs n l’borịs Rat at wns rzymd hiz preṗreśnz, n startd runñ btwn hiz for litl hīps, muṭrñ, “Hir’z-a-blt-fr-ɖ-Rat, hir’z-a-blt-fr-ɖ-Mol, hir’z-a-blt-fr-ɖ-Tod, hir’z-a-blt-fr-ɖ-Bajr!” n so on, wɖ evri freś acūtrmnt h pṛdyst, t ẃć ɖr sīmd riyli no end; so ɖ Mol drù hiz arm ʈru Tod’z, léd him ǎt intu ɖ opn er, śuvd him intu a wicr ćer, n md him tel him ol hiz advnćrz fṛm bginñ t end, ẃć Tod wz onli tù wilñ t d. Ɖ Mol wz a gd lisnr, n Tod, wɖ nwn t ćec hiz stetmnts or t criṭsîz in an unfrendli spirit, rɖr let himslf g. Indd, mć ɖt h rletd b’loñd mor proprli t ɖ caṭgri v ẃt-mt-hv-hapnd-hd-I-onli-ʈt-v-it-in-tîm-instd-v-ten-minits-aftwdz. Ɖoz r olwz ɖ bst n ɖ rêsiist advnćrz; n ẃ śd ɖe nt b trūli ǎrz, az mć az ɖ smẃt inadiqt ʈñz ɖt riyli cm of?