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Bagpuss Holmes

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Once upon a time, there was a small mouse called John who didn't have a home.

Mike the Toad was John's best friend. Mike the Toad liked to sit on his sunny park bench playing ditties on his banjo.

“Hello John,” said Mike. “I'm surprised to see you here.”

“Yes,” said John. “Me too.”

“What happened? I thought you were working over at the Mouse Mill. Didn't you have a job there milling?”

“Yes,” John told him, “But I got milled.”

“Oh,” said Mike. “That sounds horrid.”

John agreed it was. He still had dreams where he fell into the cogs. It was why he had to leave the Mouse Mill and now he had no home.

“Who would have me in their mousehole now? I'll always be alone.”

“Of course you won't,” said Mike. “Tell you what, I'll play a song on my banjo. Then whoever comes to listen, we'll ask them if they'll be your new friend and take you home.”

John agreed, and Mike the Toad played his banjo. His first song was called Three Blind Mice.

“I'm not blind,” complained John. “And there's only one of me.”

“Hush,” said Mike the Toad. “A rag doll is coming up.”

John went quiet. He might like to live with a rag doll. Especially a pretty one like this. She was wearing a skirt full of kittens and had soft long hair.

“Oh, what a beautiful song!” said the rag doll, with a nervous smile.

“Thank you,” said Mike. “Rag doll, I have a question. Would you like to live with my friend, John the Mouse? He fell into a mill and doesn't have any place to go.”

The rag doll shook her head. “I'm so sorry. I'm blindly in love with someone else and don't want to ruin my chances if I take a strange mouse home. Now, I must get back to the morgue to make him black coffee, two sugars.”

And she skipped away.

“That wasn't much good,” said John.

“Well, we'll just try again,” said Mike, and the next song he played was Frère Jacques.

“I don't have brothers,” complained John. “Only one sister. And she's not called Jacques.”

“Hush,” said Mike the Toad. “A mechanical bird is coming up.”

John went quiet. He might like to live with a mechanical bird. Especially an important looking one like this. The bird was wearing an impressive three piece suit and had a rather long beak.

“What a interesting musical round,” said the mechanical bird, staring at them without smiling.

“Thank you,” said Mike the Toad. “Mechanical bird, I have a question. Would you like to live with my friend, John the Mouse? He fell into a mill and doesn't have any place to go.”

The mechanical bird shook his head. “I offer my apologies. My work is important and leaves me little time to adopt stray mice, no matter how pathetic or clumsy or small they may be. Now, I must get back to my office. I must control some CCTV cameras to monitor this situation.”

And he strode away, twirling his umbrella.

“That was even less good,” said John. “Also, that bird was rude.”

“Well, we'll just try one more time,” said Mike. And with all his heart, to help his friend, he played the noise that a Blackberry Bold 9700 makes as it is switched on.

“Is that one of your usual ditties?” complained John. “It doesn't sound like it.”

“Hush,” said Mike the Toad. “A mouse is coming up.”

John went quiet. He might like to live with another mouse. Especially a rather tall, dangerous looking one like this. The mouse was wearing a dark coat and had a riding crop, which he was using to hit a corpse which he dragged behind him on a trolley.

“Was that you making that filthy racket?” said the rather tall mouse. “Shut up, would you. I can't hear myself think.”

“Uh... thank you?” said Mike. “Rather tall mouse, I have a question. Would you like to live with my friend, John the Mouse? He fell into a mill and doesn't have any place to go.”

The rather tall mouse looked sharply at John. “A chocolate digestive milling accident, I presume? You were tipping in the seed, when one of your whiskers caught?”

“That's amazing!” admitted John. “Yes, how did you know?”

“You have crumbs on your fur. Obviously oat-based. Your left second whisker has a visible kink. Simple, really. Anyone could have deduced it.”

“No, they couldn't,” said John the Mouse. “Really, that was fantastic.”

The rather tall mouse seemed surprised. “That's not what mice normally say.”

“What do mice normally say?”

“They say they hope a cat eats me,” said the rather tall mouse, and he looked a little sad.

“So is that a yes?” asked Mike the Toad. “Can my friend John live with you?”

The rather tall mouse winked at John. “The name is Bagpuss Holmes. The address is 221B Cheese Street.” And he pushed his trolley away.

“You see, John,” said Mike. “I said you'd find a home and new friend.”

“Thank you, Mike,” said John. “Now I have a home and a new friend. And I will no longer be alone.”