Chapter One
Toby rested next to a fence in a strange alley, in a strange neighborhood, and in a strange area he had never seen before. Most mice by his age had learned of all the dangers that being out on a mouse’s own might present itself. But Toby had spent most of his learning years in a rather protected environment.
Toby was already missing the beautiful garden where he was raised as an orphan. The yard was protected by a community of animals that watched out for each other and had taught him the basics of gathering food and staying warm for the winter. His home had been a hollowed pumpkin that was nestled in a large collection of flower pots filled with tall flowering plants on a patio that gave him a sense of security.
But now he had received news that his long lost family could be living in a wildlife reserve field, and he desperately wanted to be reunited with his father, mother, and baby sister. If it was possible that they had escaped an attack by two vicious cats many months ago, his family might have taken refuge in this new land and Toby was determined to find them.
Toby hid along the fence lines of these new yards and studied the situation before he would move to the next yard. “Keep heading south,” he would whisper to himself to keep up his courage. “That is where the field is located.” When the clouds would part, the light from the full moon would help him see the best route to take to his next destination.
Suddenly, from above, Toby heard a voice. “Hey ya, kid. It’s okay; the coast is clear. Cross the driveway and get to the next fence. It’s safe, little buddy.” Toby recognized the voice of his friend from the garden, a plucky blue jay named Hawkeye. The jaunty bird had promised all the others in the yard that he would help the gray mouse journey safely to his new home.
“Thanks, Hawkeye,” and with that Toby darted as fast as possible over to the next fence. He was coming to the end of another block of houses. The mouse had lost count by now of how many rows of alleys he had passed trying to reach this secured area of land he had heard about.
“Am I even close to this new field, Hawkeye?” asked the exhausted little mouse.
The blue jay was perched on top of a yard’s fence. “Kid, you’ve only started. It will take you several days to reach this place. You’re going to have to be a little patient,” advised the bird. “What do ya say we try to make one more block and I’ll find you a nice safe place to rest for the night?”
“That sounds great. I need to eat, too,” the weary little mouse uttered with a sigh. “I am not used to all this traveling.”
That was true. Toby had found sanctuary in that nice private garden when he was a very young mouse in the early autumn of the year and never ventured forth beyond its tall, protective, brown cedar fence. He then had endured a long, harsh, cold winter and celebrated his first spring. But his pumpkin home was rotting and falling apart. Soon the people of the house were going to throw the decaying fruit into the trash heap. For a significant amount of time in his life, that yard had been his whole world. Toby had made close friends with a family of lizards, geckos, and even some birds. He was also inducted into the garden’s military security force by an old toad, Major Hornsby, who guarded the vegetable garden.
Toby’s attention focused again on a signal to be given by the bird that the coast was clear to move to the next alley. Hawkeye had flown across the dimly lit street to the entrance of the next alley and was perched on a blooming Bradford pear tree branch nearby. The bird gave Toby the signal, and the little gray mouse flew like the wind across the street and into the alley along the next fence line.
As Toby gradually moved his way through the grass, he came upon some garbage: soft drink cans, paper towels and, to his surprise, a large plastic bag with the smell of some type of potatoes that he recognized from the raised vegetable garden back home. Toby stopped for a m
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ISBN: 9781481731751
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