by Laura Thomas -
Wesley’s teeth chattered as he hunkered down under the damp newspaper. He heard the familiar grumblings of hunger as he pulled the threadbare waistcoat tighter across his round belly.
“Wesley Mouse, is that you under there?” A shrill voice interrupted his attempt to sleep. “What are you doing out here in the snow?”
Wesley yawned and shivered at the same time as he noticed the alley was now covered in a blanket of white. He watched the lamplighters as they brightened the chilly winter evening. “How did you know it was me, Jack?”
The skinny white mouse shrugged. “What other mouse in the city of London wears bright red knitted slippers? I saw them sticking out from under your newspaper from the main street.”
Wesley stood up and stretched. “I heard mouse rumors that you were going to follow your dream and find a nice little village at the coast.”
Jack led Wesley toward a hot chestnut stand at the end of the alley. “Here, friend. We’ll enjoy a glow of warmth and a fallen chestnut. I have so much to tell you, but first we need some food in our bellies. Although you certainly don’t look like you’re starving!”
Wesley scowled. “I’ve been on my own for weeks, Jack. Yes, I have managed to find scraps to survive on, but what I wouldn’t give to have a real Christmas dinner this year.”
“Scram, rodents!” a deafening shout came from the chestnut seller above them followed by a swipe with a prickly broom. Wesley and Jack slid along the packed snow in the main street, narrowly missing a horse’s hooves as it pulled a squeaky carriage.
“Follow me!” Jack shouted. Wesley puffed and panted trying to keep up as he scurried between bustling long dresses and coats of Christmas shoppers on the pavement. They finally stopped at the old stone church with the steeple that soared into the sky.
“What are we doing here?” Wesley asked as he doubled over to catch his breath. “Mouse rumor has it this place is really scary. I would never, ever go inside. You know what’s down in the cellar, don’t you?”
Jack put his hands on his hips. “Yep. ‘Ye Olde Mouse House.’ This is the reason I came back. I have to find out for myself what goes on in there. On my travels I heard so many mouse rumors, most of them fibs and fables. One wealthy mouse dared me to come and investigate for myself. He’ll pay me a reward for my trouble. A lifetime supply of cheese!”
Wesley’s mouth dropped open. “Wow! So much cheese…” He licked his lips. “But Ye Old Mouse House? Jack. You can’t go there...