Green River, Utah. 1890
"Wake up Olivia, we're finally here." came the thick Scottish accent of Hiram Flaversham, stirring his young daughter awake as she leaned against him, the two of them riding beneath a wagon with their belongings in a smaller mouse-sized replica.
It had been a long journey to the land of opportunity, where the streets were paved with cheese. Here he would find his fortune in the toy business, and make a better life for his daughter, far away from any danger. Even with Ratigan dead (though no body was recovered, chillingly enough), after having suffered such an ordeal, Hiram could never have peace of mind living in London again. He didn't feel safe. Perhaps it was the nagging thought that maybe, somehow, Ratigan was alive; though he would never admit to that fear, even to himself. He had to believe Ratigan was dead, for the sake of his daughter. How else could he calm her fears when she woke up at night screaming, having dreams that her father had been taken from her again? He had to stay strong for them both.
Hiram didn't want to live in a city again, with its crime and danger from cats. Luckily enough, once they'd arrived at Castle Garden in New York and became American citizens, three young mice outside, looking to be no older than sixteen or so, offered them passage to an old mining town in the West, said to be a place where mice were safe from cats and crime thanks to Sheriff Wylie Burp, and a vacant shop where Hiram could live and restart his toy business. He said he worked for a real estate agent, wanting to sell properties out west to anyone fresh off the boats. Hiram took them up on the offer, paying them most of his money in exchange for a wagon ride to Green River. Though having barely a penny to his name now, Hiram was optimistic. They were leaving Ratigan behind once and for all and starting anew. What had happened in London would now just be a bad memory. He only wished his wife were alive to see them through the journey.
Olivia yawned and stretched her body. She'd grown a lot in the past year, but she still wore her coat and a skirt down to her kneecaps, with a hat and a red bow tucked behind her right ear.
"Oh, we're finally here? I can't wait to see it!" she said, pressing her nose to the glass as the desert scenery passed them by.
Soon they came up to an old prison where a hound dog in a cowboy hat rested lazily on a chair. Then as they traveled down the dusty main street came an array of shops and homes, a schoolhouse, and a saloon, all of which had mouse equivalents located underneath them.
"It looks like such a lovely little town," Olivia said happily. She'd never lived anywhere but a city.
"Aye, we'll be happy and safe here."
"We're comin' to our stop folks," said the driver, one of the three lads who'd given them the shop, who wore glasses and a flat cap, "I have it on good authority dat the wagon'll be here for a while, but ya better unload your stuff fast because when it's gone, it's gone."
The other two mice on either side looked to be little more than vagabonds; an overweight mouse with black hair and a scrawny looking mouse with a pointy nose.
The human driver stopped the wagon, the horses kicking up dust as they stopped in front of an inn. Beneath that were mouse-sized shops hidden under the sidewalks. One read "Mousekewitz Fine Violins" on the front, the other was vacant.
"There it is Olivia, our new home," Hiram said with a warm smile, opening the door and unrolling a rope ladder to the ground, "Grab some bags. It'll take us a while to unpack all the toys, and we need to do it before the humans notice."
The bulk of their belongings were up on top of the wagon, with the human luggage. It could take hours to get it all down, and Hiram hoped he had that much time. Olivia put a bag around her shoulder and began the climb downward.
"It's hot out here, daddy," she remarked.
"I know, we'll be missin' the fog of London, but we'll soon grow to love it here."
"Alright boys, let's help with the luggage," said the driver.
"We better get paid extra for all that work," the fat one grunted.
"Eh you're just lazy, Roc. It's pitiful, really," said the other.
Olivia hopped down to the ground followed shortly by her father as the three of them bickered up above. Curious, Olivia walked forward into the dusty street, getting a full view of the sleepy little town they were about to call home. Hiram didn't take notice, carrying a large bag of tools with him and heading for the vacant shop with the keys jingling in his pocket.
"As nice as the town looks, I was expectin' something a wee bit more lively…" Olivia said, putting her hands on her hips, "I hope we're not bein' ripped off. How're we gonna get good business here?"
Olivia had thought all along that the offer had been too good to be true. A trip across the country and a new home for just 80 pounds, not even exchanged for American dollars yet. She didn't want to jump to conclusions, but it seemed a bit fishy nonetheless. Basil had taught her to be very mindful of things like that. Not to let any detail escape her. If she was going to achieve her dream of being a detective when she grew up she knew she'd need to start now.
Her train of thought was broken by the sound of galloping footsteps. She turned around, and to her horror, an enormous orange cat had come around a corner from inside an alley, bounding toward her at top speed. Olivia let out a shriek, but she was frozen in terror, standing in the middle of the street.
"Olivia!" her father shouted, dropping his bags at the porch and running for her.
But the cat wasn't slowing down for anything, and Olivia was right in its path. Hiram finally reached Olivia and wrapped his arms around her, sheltering her as the cat got closer, and she buried her face in his chest.
"Huh? Uh oh!" the cat gave a frightened look when he saw the father and daughter in his path, and he skidded to a stop, kicking up dust and sending the little mouse boy on his back flying through the air with a scream, hitting the ground and sliding toward Olivia's feet.
When the dust cleared, Olivia coughed and sneezed, before opening her eyes, first looking up at the towering cat, and then at the dust-covered young mouse on the ground.
"You alright Fie?" the cat asked.
The little mouse coughed and sat up, taking off his neckerchief and wiping his eyes, "I'm alright Tiger…just some scrapes."
"What? Y'mean yer…friends with that cat?" Olivia asked in astonishment.
Hiram looked up at Tiger. The cat hadn't made a move to eat them yet at least.
"Uh, heh heh…it's a long story," Tiger said, "I'm sorry for scarin' you. I don't eat mice, I'm a vegetarian. You must be new in town."
"And he's my bestest friend. Well, besides Tony of course," the mouse stood up, dusting himself off. He looked up at the wagon, and then over toward the vacant shop, "Are you guys moving in over there?"
"Aye, that we are laddie." said Hiram, still trying to grasp the concept of a friendly cat.
"Then you're our new next door neighbors! I'm Fievel, Fievel Mousekewitz."
"Fievel? I've never heard a name like that before. What nationality is that?" Olivia asked.
"It's Russian, that's where my family came from before we went to America. What's your name?"
"Olivia Flaversham," she said, holding her hand out.
Fievel shook her hand. When she pulled away she found he'd gotten dust all over her hand, which she wiped on her coat.
"Let me tell my Papa you're here, maybe we can help you get moved in," Fievel offered.
"That would be very kind of you," Hiram said.
The two of them watched as Fievel darted for the front door of the violin shop, waiting along with Tiger, who was panting from the run.
"So, a vegetarian cat?" Olivia asked, "What were you doin' runnin' down the street like that eh?"
"Oh uh, well you see Fievel's been trying to help me lose weight, so I'll look good for my girlfriend. I was gonna try to make it over the train tracks with one jump, but I needed a running start."
"He rides on your back?" Olivia giggled, remembering what it was like to ride on Toby the dog back in London.
There was a commotion from inside the house just then; apparently Fievel's mother was none to happy to see him tracking dirt through the house while looking for his father. The door opened, and Fievel and his father were both angrily shooed outside while his mother took a broom and tried to clean up the mess.
"Sorry that took so long," Fievel said bashfully, "Um, this is my Papa."
The two of them walked over to the wagon as the three city mice made their way down a rope ladder from the roof carrying bags. Fievel glanced at them. He could have sworn the three looked vaguely familiar to him.
"So you're our new neighbors! Pleased to meet you, I'm Bernard Mousekewitz." the heavy-set old mouse said, shaking hands with Hiram.
"I'm Hiram Flaversham, and this is my daughter Olivia."
"She looks like she's around my son's age."
Olivia gave a shy smile, looking from Bernard to Fievel.
"Yes, your son is an…interesting lad," Hiram observed.
"Ah vell you know, boys vill be boys ah? Maybe Fievel would like to be a gentleman and show Olivia around town vhile ve get your things unpacked."
"You can count on me!" Fievel said proudly, straightening his hat, "I'll keep her in safe hands."
"Oh will ye now?" Olivia giggled, staring at his poofy blue hat. She found it to be rather silly-looking on him, but at the same time cute.
"We've got Tiger as a body guard, and I'm a sheriff-in-training. Wylie Burp says I'm gonna be a great sheriff one day, and I'm gonna keep this town clean. No ornery varmint's gonna get past me."
"I don't doubt she'll be safe with you," Hiram chuckled, though still feeling a bit odd about leaving his daughter with a cat.
"Run along Fievel, but be back by sundown, and play safe. Don't leave ze town limits," his father ordered.
Tiger got down on the ground and Fievel climbed his long orange fur.
"I will Papa. Come on up, Olivia, there's plenty of room."
"Yer not gonna try an' jump over the train tracks with meh are ye?"
"Not if you don't want us to. Even though it's real fun," Fievel gave a smile.
Olivia climbed onto Tiger's back, sitting behind Fievel. She gave a slightly startled squeak and held onto Fievel as the big cat began to quickly trot back down the street on all fours, before giggling apologetically and loosening her grip.
"Not a very big town. Is there anythin' to do for fun here?" Olivia asked.
"Yeah, there is, though you kinda have to use your imagination," Fievel admitted.
"At least boring is safe. My father and I moved here from London so we could be safe."
"Is that where your accent is from?" Fievel asked, "I noticed you talk kinda, well, different I guess."
"It's Scottish. My father's from Scotland an' I talk like he does," Olivia replied with a small blush, "I can't help it; I know I probably sound funny to ye."
"Aw hehe, not at all," Fievel giggled. Truth be told, he liked her accent. He'd really never heard a girl his age with a Scottish accent.
"You don't talk like your father."
"No, I guess I've been in America for a long enough time," Fievel said.
"Anyway yer supposed at be showin' me around town, Mr. Sheriff."
"Oh yeah! Um, what do you wanna see first?"
"Actually it's really hot out here an' I could use somethin' to drink, where do ye get yer water here?"
"Oh! I'll take you, it's right down the street. Let's go to the water tower, Tiger."
"Maybe there we can rest a while," Tiger huffed, stopping to wipe his forehead.
"Think of how skinny you're gonna be after showing me and Olivia around all the time."
"Right, I'll think about that. I've just got to concentrate on Miss Kitty," Tiger said, picking up speed as the tall wooden water tower came into view, held up by scaffolding and mounted onto a wooden platform.
As they arrived, Olivia wondered how they were supposed to get water from someplace up so high. But her questions were answered when she spotted a leak in the tank, where water droplets fell and formed a puddle in the dirt. There was even some grass growing around the puddle, the first greenery she'd seen since they'd crossed the Rocky Mountains. When Tiger came to a stop, she jumped off and walked over to the stream of water. She looked down, and smiled at her reflection. Then, she blinked, looking towards the train tracks as a train pulled in.
"Do any other mice come here, Fievel? Do they ride the train?" she was watching the train with interest. She could see the small box under it, holding new arrivals.
Fievel climbed down to the ground, and Tiger climbed onto the platform and curled up in the shade.
"Every now and then, though not as much as before. My family came in with a big group from New York. Before that it was pretty deserted. There's still not a lot of humans here."
She was enjoying the company of the other mouse, and quite content to learn all she could about Green River from him. She sat down on the wooden platform, and patted the spot next to her, inviting him to sit. "Is there anyone I should watch out for in the town? Any ... nasty characters?"
Fievel sat down next to her.
"Things have been pretty peaceful around here since Cat R. Waul was run out of town. I'd just watch out for strangers. And only trust Tiger or Miss Kitty when it comes to cats, because there's this mean cat named Sweet William that still hangs around town with his gang. But don't worry, me and Wylie know how to keep him in line."
"Sweet William? Hehe, that's not a very scary name."
"He's not a very scary cat, even though he wants to be," Fievel said, holding his hands out and catching a water drop in them, slurping it up.
Olivia watched him, and did the same, giggling when it splashed into her face a bit. The drink was refreshing though, and much needed.
"Who was Cat R. Waul?" she asked.
"He was an evil old cat that tried to turn every mouse in this town into a mouseburger. He tricked all of us into moving here from New York and told us all the cats in this town were nice, but it was all part of his plan."
"Oh my, an' how did ye ever put a stop to 'im?"
"Well, luckily I was eavesdropping on him and I found out about the plan. I got Wylie Burp to train Tiger so we could all three show Cat R. Waul who's boss. We ran his gang out of town in a big slingshot fight. If it wasn't for me there wouldn't be any mice in this town."
"You did all that?" Olivia wondered if he was just trying to impress her.
"Yep," Fievel gave a satisfied grin, folding his arms behind his head as he leaned against a wooden post, "I'm kind of a hero, I guess."
"Tiger, is he tellin' the truth?"
Tiger yawned and stretched, "Hm? About Waul? Oh yeah, that happened."
"Wow," Olivia breathed, "I guess I really am in good hands then."
"Just stick with me, Olivia," Fievel said, borrowing a line from his old friend Tony.
The loud train whistle blew again as Olivia stared back into her own reflection, watching it ripple every time a droplet splashed down from above.
"Fievel, is this right here the 'Green River' the town's named after?" she asked with a smirk.
They were in the middle of the desert after all, and she'd been wondering why it was named for a river.
"Nah. The real Green River is outside of town. But we aren't supposed to go out that far."
"That's a shame, I'd really love to go see the river."
"Hmm…" Fievel stroked his chin, looking over at Tiger, "Tiger, would you keep it a secret?"
"Keep what a secret?" Olivia asked.
Tiger thought it over, "Sure thing Fie, I won't tell your folks, and I'll make sure nothing happens. Even though I hate water."
"What are you talkin' about?" Olivia tilted her head.
"We're not supposed to go down by the river, but as long as you don't tell your Papa, I have something to show you down there. We'll have a lot of fun."
"Really? Okay, I'll keep it a secret," Olivia said quietly, looking around to make sure they weren't being spied on.
"It'll be a surprise," Fievel giggled, getting up and walking over to Tiger.
Tiger groaned, "Wait a minute, we're walking all the way there right now?"
"Come on, you can rest for a long time when we get there."
Tiger stretched and then got down low, "Alright, hop on. Next stop, the Green River."
Olivia excitedly climbed up first, eager to see what kind of surprise this strange boy with the silly hat and the funny name had in store.