It was another cold, rainy day in London. As Sherlock Holmes readied himself for another case at his residence on 221 Baker Street, below the floorboards his mouse counterpart, Basil of Baker Street, perused the newspapers in search of a case of his own. His partner, Dr. David Q. Dawson, was over for his daily spot of tea, when Basil's newest addition to his household unlocked the front door and entered; reporter Nellie Brie, fresh off the boat from America and still doing her best to adjust to life in England. She had just been out for a while to get some fresh air and run an errand, opening the door and shaking her umbrella off before placing it in a basket beside the door. She carried a long rectangular package under her arm.
"Ah, welcome back Ms. Brie," Dawson greeted her, "I trust all went well?"
"It did, yes," she said, removing her coat and hanging it up on a coat rack, "I'm not used to all this rain though. I guess that's London for you, hm?"
Nellie walked into the living room, past Basil, who had yet to look up from his newspaper. She grinned at him; this was typical. She knew he loved her, but, he was a workaholic first and foremost. Nellie then ripped open the package, while staring up at the picture Basil kept over his fireplace.
"Honestly, must we have a big portrait of that despicable sewer rat staring down at us in our living room all the time?" Nellie asked, gazing up at Basil's mantelpiece above the fireplace where Ratigan's portrait sat grinning, with a new picture in her hands; a sketch her former assistant Vartan Mookian had done of himself, Basil and Nellie, which she'd just picked up from a framing shop.
Basil lowered his newspaper and gave Nellie an annoyed glare, "I like it there."
"The rat tried to kill us both, along with Fievel and Olivia, and you still want to keep his portrait up here?" Nellie persisted.
"That has nothing to do with it, Nellie," Basil explained, "I keep that picture there, along with the bell, so that I can look up at that mantelpiece whenever I wish, and be filled with pride because I overcame that madman."
Nellie sighed, "Could we at least move it to another room? I wasn't asking you to get rid of it. Please? This drawing really means a lot to me..."
Dawson had learned not to get involved in their bickering since she arrived only two months ago, but in this case he thought she had a point. Dawson found her to be a charming young woman as soon as he laid eyes on her, and she was one of the only individuals he'd met who could actually match wits with Basil. They seemed the perfect match, but that didn't mean they never had their share of arguments. Basil was, after all, a rather difficult mouse to live with. Nellie, for her part, had her own particular needs as well. It was precisely because their personalities were so similar that conflicts sometimes arose.
"Now Basil, try to be reasonable," Dawson interjected, perhaps against his better judgment, "By the looks of things she's asked very little when it comes to interior decoration around here. Not to mention, that portrait of Ratigan always did send chills down my spine."
Basil's gaze turned from his trusted friend to his beloved Nellie, who looked to him, biting her lower lip with pleading eyes.
"Oh…alright," Basil relented, "I'll have the portrait moved to my study then. After all, this is your home too now."
Nellie smiled, "It's not like I'm asking you to paint the walls pink, I just want to make it a little less drab in here. I think you'll come to like this change."
"You're probably correct," Basil agreed, turning his attention back to the newspaper, "One must make concessions when living with another, as I'm afraid I'm quite unaccustomed to doing."
Nellie removed the portrait of Ratigan and placed it on the ground, before hanging the sketch up in its place, straightening it on the wall and then stepping back to look at it with her hands on her hips. The picture showed Basil and Nellie sitting cozy on a sofa, the one from the room Nellie had rented from Miss Kitty in Green River, with Vartan leaning on the back of the sofa from behind.
"I wonder how that boy is faring out in the American west," Nellie said.
"I'm sure the chap is fine," said Basil, having a bite of a cheese crumpet, "It was nice of him to mail you those sketches for your memoir wasn't it?"
"Yes, it was," Nellie's eyes drifted back to her typewriter, and she sat back down in front of it, "You know I thought the London Gazette would have gotten back to me by now. Here I am, the only reporter with the scoop on your final battle with Ratigan, and they're hesitating to hire me? What gives?"
"They'll be kicking themselves when The Illustrated London Mouse signs you on instead then, trust me," Basil said, referring to the very paper he was reading.
"They couldn't possibly doubt the story's veracity," Nellie went on, "I mean, you sent them a letter of recommendation, right?"
"I did indeed," Basil said, "Maybe we should go see the editor in person next time. Perhaps then my word would carry enough weight for them."
"Now there's an idea," Nellie said with a sarcastic chuckle, as she fitted a sheet of paper into the typewriter, "I mean I hate to seem like I'm riding on your coat tails, but if that's what it's going to take to finally get employed in this town then I don't know what else to do."
Dawson pitied Nellie Brie, she was a woman with such passion for her profession, and yet, at least he suspected, her gender meant she had a more difficult time being taken seriously by the newspaper publishers. It didn't even seem to matter that she'd built herself such a strong reputation in the United States. It had come to the point where, before the story became too old, she'd resorted to writing a book about Basil's final battle with Ratigan rather than trying to sell it as an article. As far as Dawson understood, as he hadn't been allowed to read the final manuscript yet, she expanded it by narrating the testimonies of other eyewitnesses in the third person like a novel, as well as including the story of how Basil and Nellie first met in 1886 during his secret trip to America. The first part was to be called Basil's American Tail, the second was to be Olivia Goes West.
"Anyway, once I get this book published and it sells like hotcakes, they won't be able to ignore me anymore," Nellie said with a tinge of bitterness as she began to type.
Nellir had her typewriter on a coffee table, and often sat in front of the fireplace with the two men, clacking away on the keys for hours upon hours on end, working on her memoir which she hoped might impress some newspaper editors in London. It was a sound Basil had become accustomed to, and she could not be bothered by anyone when on these writing binges.
Basil lowered his newspaper and watched as Nellie typed, with an expression of determination on her face. He'd become very good at reading her.
"There's no shame in letting me help you, Nellie," Basil remarked, "No one is going to judge you for that."
"I'll judge myself, and that's enough. I appreciate all you've done for me, Basil. Honestly without you I'd probably be on the streets. But I suppose I've always had this deep-seated need to be independent. I'm never going to be the common housewife type, even if we are financially comfortable without my having to work. But…I guess I need your help getting my foot in the door."
She admitted this last part only begrudgingly, continuing to type.
"You'll have my full support," Basil said, "You know I understand your drive. I could easily have lived off my parent's inheritance and done bugger all with my life afterwards, but I had a need to make the world better."
He dismissively tossed the newspaper aside, finding no potential cases inside. After having nabbed some burglars a week ago, work had dried up.
"That's why I love you, dear," Nellie said as she typed.
"I love you too," Basil replied, getting up from his seat, beginning to pace as he often did when out of things to occupy his racing mind, "Still, I feel I'm right in the same place I was before our final clash with Ratigan. Nothing excites me like it used to. No master criminals to match wits with. It's as if, well…as if my life's climax has already come to pass."
"Oh Basil, something will always come along," Nellie comforted him.
"It certainly did last time you felt this way," Dawson added.
"I doubt I'll be so lucky again," Basil said, sitting back down and grabbing his violin, "I must confess though, now that Nellie's here and Ratigan's done for, the prospect of retiring from detective work has been crossing my mind."
Nellie stopped typing and stared at Basil, as did Dawson.
"You can't really mean that," Nellie said.
"I could become a professor at Oxford, in practically any subject I wanted," Basil continued, playing a sorrowful melody on the violin that Bernard Mousekewitz had given him, "With you here now Nellie, this may well be the best time to retire. You remember why we waited four years to even live in the same country together."
"Because you didn't want me to become a target of Ratigan's schemes," Nellie answered, "But Basil, detective work is what you do best. Why, I couldn't imagine giving up journalism. What if England should need you again?"
"England will get on just fine, I can assure you," Basil said, "I could be brightening the minds of the next generation, perhaps even mentoring England's next great mouse detective."
Nellie frowned, "How old are you again Basil? Thirty-six is it? You may be ten years my senior but it's still a little early to start thinking about educating a replacement. You're still in your prime."
Basil let out a sigh and continued playing, "I don't know, I feel like my sterling career as a detective ought to end on a high note. Besides, as I've already mentioned, should I become a teacher our lives would be much safer."
Nellie was still unconvinced, "I don't want to be what stops you from continuing your life's work. I refuse to be held responsible for that. You know very well that I'm capable of handling myself, so quitting your profession just to protect me is no excuse. Neither is boredom for that matter. You're just going to have to lower your lofty standards, Basil of Baker Street, because for every high-profile crime of the century there are thousands of smaller crimes that require justice, ones that the police are ill-equipped to handle on their own. I know that you know this. Remember why you became a detective. There are mice out there who need you."
Basil stopped playing, and stared at the ceiling for a few long moments, as Nellie and Dawson watched him. He then suddenly got up out of his chair, and walked over to the coat hanger, taking his Inverness cape and deerstalker cap off of it and putting them on.
"Going somewhere, Basil?" Dawson asked.
"To the police station, Dawson, to inquire about any unsolved cases." Basil replied, "Should there be any of note, I'll return for the both of you."
Nellie smiled, "I'll be here, dear."
With that, Basil was out the door.
"You certainly have a way with words Ms. Brie," Dawson remarked, "I've rarely if ever been able to illicit such a drastic change of mind in Basil with one of my motivational speeches."
"Just got to know what makes him tick," Nellie said, getting back to her writing, "I meant it though, I'm not going to get between him and his job. I shouldn't be any more of a liability than you are."
"Quite, quite," Dawson replied, "It's my understanding that you've a few solved mysteries under your belt as it is. You should be a welcome addition to our team."
It was then that Ms. Judson came into the room.
"Basil? Oh now where did he wander off to this time?"
"The police station," Nellie answered.
She scoffed, "That man. You never know where he'll be or what mood he'll be in from one minute to the next. I was just going to tell him he's received some mail. Among other things, one of those delightful letters from Olivia and her friend in America."
"Ooh, I've been expecting another from them," Nellie said happily, "I wonder if Basil would be mad if I read it before he got back."
"I'd say go ahead, who knows when he'll be back. It's also addressed to you."
"Suppose I have a right to it then," Nellie said, as Mrs. Judson handed her the envelope.
"I do miss that dear girl," said Dawson, "I wonder if I should have come along to America with Basil. But it seems you did alright without me."
"I'd have liked that," said Nellie, carefully opening the letter and curling up in her chair to read it.
Dear Basil and Nellie,
Hello again, how are you? Fievel and I miss you a great deal here in Green River. Things have been just grand though since you left. Me daddy's getting on just fine with Fievel's family, and every Friday night we all have dinner together. Fievel's Papa and me daddy were talking about making a toy together that plays a violin all on its own to show off at the State Fair at the beginning of October. I hope people buy it, it sounds absolutely wonderful. Um, here Fievel wants to write the next half.
Nellie noticed a different handwriting as Fievel took over.
Hi Nellie, hi Basil. Anyway, Olivia and I have been having a blast together. Even though Tiger's busy a lot now because he's the sheriff I can still play with Olivia. We patrol the streets of Green River and solve mysteries or make sure there's no evil-doers in town. But it's been pretty safe. Guess what though. Olivia already told you our papas are gonna make a toy together and bring it to the fair? Well my sister Tanya is gonna sing at the fair too, her teacher Mr. Ironside is taking her with the school band. She's excited and nervous. But maybe it'll be her big break. I dunno. My Papa made me take violin lessons at school, so I will be playing when she sings. I'm not very good at it though. Well um, Olivia wants to write the ending.
Goodbye, Nellie and Basil. We can't wait to see you again, and we love you like family. Hope everything goes good I England, and that Nellie finds a job. Say hello to Mr. Dawson for me, I miss him too. Talk to you soon!
Fievel and Olivia
Nellie giggled, "They're adorable even in writing."
"Anything of interest?" Dawson asked.
"Just everyday stuff I guess," Nellie said, "You're welcome to read it. Olivia said to say hi to you."
Dawson smiled, "Bless her heart. I'll have a look."
Nellie handed him the paper, and turned her attention back to her typewriter. Only a few more chapters until she had a finished draft of her memoir.