The main street of Green River bustled with activity as the stage for Ratigan's rally was being set up by Waul's cat gang, near the Sheriff's office. No one noticed Tiger slip by with three mice that morning, there was too much to focus on. The polls were going to open the following day, and everyone was eager to hear what plans Ratigan had in store for the town.
Having been up until his usual late hours, Tony needed to be shaken awake by Bridget after she got out of bed and got dressed and ready.
"Tony, wake up," she said, "Yer gonna miss the rally."
Tony groaned and rubbed his eyes, having gotten about five hours of sleep. The events of the night before slowly crept into his mind. He looked as Bridget went to pick up her picketing sign reading "Equal Pay for Equal Work" on one side and "Legalize Woman's Suffrage" on the other.
"If Ratigan's gonna be our new Mayor, I want me voice heard after all," she said, "But he seems like such a sincere and charming man, I bet he'll be listenin'."
Tony rubbed his temples.
"Ya know what Bridge? Sometimes politicians like ta pretend they're that way, till ya vote 'em into office and they go ahead and do what they want."
Bridget tilted her head, "You ain't normally the one to talk politics. Usually I'd be thrilled yer showin' an interest even if ya don't agree with me, but, don't you like Ratigan?"
Tony heaved a sigh. He hated keeping secrets. And he was afraid if he told Bridget the truth about Ratigan, she'd want to go out and do something about it, and get herself into trouble. But then again, he thought, wasn't that what Nellie thought he'd do if she told him? Tony could be rational when he needed to be. So could Bridget.
"Let's just say you hear a lot of stuff workin' as a bartender. And I know fer a fact Ratigan and Waul are up to no good. But, if I tell ya the details, you've gotta swear yer not gonna go get yerself into trouble. Ya gotta just not act any different. You can't tell nobody."
Bridget gave a look of concern, "What is it that ya heard, Tony?"
"Swear yer not gonna say nothin' to anybody first."
Hesitantly, Bridget nodded, "I swear."
"Alright then, here it goes," he began, "You see first off, Ratigan was a big shot criminal back in England. After Basil of Baker Street knocked him offa Big Ben everyone thought he was dead, but somehow, he lived and he teamed up wit' Waul and they came here to take over the town."
Bridget searched her mind, remembering having met Basil in New York, and the name Ratigan
"He's that, Ratigan?" she asked in surprise, "Why he was runnin' rampant in London, I used to read about it in the papers back in New York."
"Yeah that's him, and well anyways
Filly and Olivia, they got too close to da truth and well
that raft thing, it wasn't no accident."
how do you know that?"
"I know it cuz Tanya overheard them sayin' they did it."
Bridget was in shock, "Why, we can't let them get away with that! We can't let him become mayor! We gotta get together and do something!"
"Calm down Bridget, calm down," Tony hushed her, suddenly almost expecting to see Fidget or Chula spying through the window, "They got too many cats on their side. But we're workin' on doing something."
"You and who else?"
"Well uh, ya see Nellie Brie knew all along, and she wrote to Basil telling him Ratigan was here, and now he's here in Green River. Ya gotta keep it a secret, he's got a plan that'll fix everything."
"And what's your part in the plan?" Bridget asked.
"Okay, Tanya, Miss Kitty and I are supposed ta watch the rally and let Basil know what happened. Right now Basil's off with Nellie and Tiger searchin' the river, to try and see exactly what happened to the kids."
"I want in on yer group, I have to do something about it," Bridget insisted.
"I'm not sure it's safe," Tony said, "I mean
think about Aisling. What if something goes wrong? They'd get rid of us both, and she'd be left wit' no one."
Bridget looked to the side, "I still wanna be apart of this. As long as those thugs are in town she's not safe, nor is anyone else. We know they'll kill children if they need to."
"Okay fine, I'll talk ta Nellie and Basil about it," Tony said, "In da meantime you're comin' to the rally anyways, lets just make sure we both keep a good eye on it."
"It'll be hard to be enthusiastic now that I know what a dirty scoundrel Ratigan is."
"But you hafta try, you can't let anybody know that you're in on his secret," Tony said, "Go ahead and do what you were gonna do. Bring your sign, tell him women should be allowed to vote. He may even listen to ya just to please the crowd."
There was a knock on the bedroom door, and little Aisling opened it.
"Are we going somewhere?" she asked.
Bridget picked her up, "We're goin' to a rally. Daddy will look after ye while I got me sign up, but we'll both be payin' good attention to it."
"Good thing I got you, eh Bridge?" Tony said, knowing that if he had to look after Aisling he wasn't going to get to see much of the rally, "Just stick wit' me Ash, and don't run off nowheres."
A band of trumpets, tubas and trombones played and confetti was poured from the windows above as the rally began. The stage was set up in an alley beside the sheriff's station. The crowd was gathering. Miss Kitty watched from the end of the wooden sidewalk, trying to hide her look of disgust at the spectacle. That would be the hardest part for those in the know about Ratigan. She spotted Tony as he arrived with his family, Bridget pushing her way aggressively to the front of the crowd. She seemed fired up, as usual. Miss Kitty couldn't yet guess that there was something more to the extra flare she was showing that morning.
The band stopped playing momentarily, as Cat R. Waul stepped out from behind the curtain they'd pinned to the two walls of the alley behind the mouse-sized stage.
"Ladies and gentlecreatures, I would like to extend to you the warmest of greetings on this early morning. I hope that after this rally and debate you will be able to choose your rightful mayoral candidate, and together we will forge our way to the future of this great city."
Mice clapped and cheered, before Waul held up his paw to silence them, and continued.
"Firstly, as Ratigan prepares to make his entrance, I've arranged some entertainment, from none other than the diva who's helping to make this town prosper again as news of her sultry and captivating voice spreads across the west like wildfire. Please give a round of applause to Miss Tanya Mousekewitz!"
There was clapping and whistling, as the silhouette of Tanya's slender figure appeared from behind the stage curtain. She stepped out, wearing a black saloon dress with red trim, and lacey stockings. Surveying the crowd, she did her best not to look nauseated by the song she was about to sing. She took a deep breath as the band played a familiar tune, one which Ratigan had composed himself, and sang.
"From the brain that made all your streets much safer
The head that made headlines in every newspaper
And wondrous things like the taming of Waul
That cunning display that made friends for us all.
Now comes the real tour de force.
Ambitious and generous, of course
His early deeds tended to poor mouse needs
But now that he's at it again,
An even grander plot has been simmering
In his great political brain!"
At this point, Chula, One-Eye, and the two orphan children chimed in, coming out from behind the curtains and singing along.
"Even nicer? You mean it?
Nicer than the orphans who's family's he found?
He is the best of the best around.
The rest fall behind!
The world's greatest political mind!"
Crowds then cheered as Ratigan made his entrance, emerging from the curtains dressed in his nicest suit. He waved and blew kisses to the crowd. A mother held her baby up to the stage, and Ratigan kneeled down, picked the baby up and kissed its cheek before handing it safely back to the mother. He then walked to the podium, grinning all the while, waiting for the cheers to die down.
"Ahem, and his opponent," Waul continued, "A last minute entry just to keep the election competitive, an upstart on the political scene
we have Deputy Fidget."
The crowd was silent as Fidget stepped through the curtains nervously. Tanya stepped off to the side of the stage and watched as he unceremoniously took his spot at the opposite podium.
"Uh, heh heh, I-I don't have my own theme song
" he said sheepishly.
"Very well then," Waul said, adjusting his monocle, "We will begin by having each candidate express what their plan will be if elected, then we'll be accepting questions from the crowd. Ratigan shall be starting us off."
"Thank you, Mr. Waul," Ratigan began, addressing the crowd, "Ah yes, wonderful denizens of Green River, I came to this humble town with the dream of making it a better place to live, to help it to grow and become a place of prosperity. As I mentioned in my previous speech, I came from London to America for the same reason most of you came here from New York. I wanted to start over, to begin a new life and find prosperity, and to help others in need. And now, Waul and I have found a way to do this. You see, just outside of town there is a mine, perhaps you may have heard of it. Jebediah's mine, yes?"
There were murmurs among the crowd. The initial discovery of the mine had gripped the mice of Green River in gold fever. It was still fresh in their minds.
"It had come to my attention that this mine, after gold was finally discovered in it two years ago, collapsed upon itself. However, my colleagues and I have been digging through the rubble, and we've been able to extract gold at a hurrying pace. Soon this will be the richest town on the map!"
There was cheering among the crowd.
"Though Waul and I currently have the deed to the mine in our names, our wealth will trickle down to every mouse in town down to the poorest, rest assured," Ratigan declared, "No longer will this by a dying town, no longer will we have to scrape by to make ends meet. If you vote for me, we will all be rich!"
The crowd roared in excitement, as Ratigan bowed and blew kisses.
"Very good, very good," said Waul, "Now then, Fidget, what would you do if elected mayor?"
Fidget scratched his chin, "I uh, hmm. Well
there'd be lotsa beer for everyone
and um, free peg legs for one-legged people. Which we could pay for by taxing the beer. And uh
I'd get rid of the age limit so everyone could drink beer. We'd all have Rodent's Delight from England. And uh, lackeys to bad guys would get a free health care and dental plan."
The crowd booed, and began throwing olives and grapes. Fidget hid behind his podium.
"Hey! I can't help it if I don't own a gold mine and have a catchy theme song! Cut me some slack!"
The booing continued, until Waul cleared his throat and stepped in, "Now now, let's stay civil here, shall we? Let your distaste for a candidate be known at the polls. Perhaps now that we've heard the vision of the future from both candidates, we'll let them answer some of your questions."
"What will you do for the poor?" someone shouted.
"Oh why yes, the poor," Ratigan cleared his throat, "I will of course be giving to several tax-deductible charities, and under my leadership there shall be plenty for mice to feast on. The gold mine will bring back humans to the town, after we've taken our fair share, and with that, mice will be able to scavenge all they need. There will be cheese on every plate!"
The crowd cheered for a few moments as Ratigan bowed, before it was Fidget's turn.
"Eh, the poor. I guess I'll make beer cheaper so they can afford it."
On cue, the crowd booed again, with Fidget smirking, dodging a boot thrown in his direction.
"How about makin' it legal fer women to vote?" Bridget called out insistently, "What are yer positions on women's rights, Mr. Ratigan? Ah haven't heard ya say nothing about it yet."
"That's Professor Ratigan," Ratigan corrected, not liking the offensive tone in Bridget's voice, "I do of course value the opinions of the fairer sex, I think they ought to be listened to. And, as long as they're voting for me I suppose I don't mind them voting, heh heh. I do like your sign Miss
Toponi, is it? Under my leadership, women would be paid as much as men."
"I hope you'll be signing that into law as soon as you're takin' office," Bridget said, knowing that if elected he probably wouldn't be mayor for long, if Basil was successful.
"And Fidget, what are your views?" Waul asked.
"Women, voting? They're just gonna go for the more handsome candidate. Besides, they should be busy in the kitchen, not getting mixed up in politics."
Bridget's face went red with anger at this, as Tony rolled his eyes and Aisling looked on curiously. Another grape was thrown from the crowd at Fidget, hitting him in the face.
"Hey, who threw that?" Fidget demanded, beginning to question why he always let Ratigan put him up to things like this.
"Remember what I said about venting your anger at the polls," Waul cautioned.
Fidget angrily wiped his face as Ratigan asked, "Any more questions? Hm?"
"Ratigan, are you a mouse, or a rat?" one child asked.
Ratigan's eyes widened and his teeth clenched as he gripped the sides of the podium. Waul put on a worried look. But just when it looked like Ratigan was about to burst a blood vessel, he took a deep breath, and straightened his tie.
"I'm a mouse. Despite my robust physique, and my surname containing the word 'rat', I am most assuredly a mouse. Next question please."
"But you look an awful lot like a--"
"Next question!!" Ratigan snapped.
There was an uneasy silence for a few moments.
I mean Professor Ratigan," asked one mouse finally, "Can you assure us that we'll be safe from cat attacks, with Cat R. Waul as sheriff?"
"Oh, do you doubt Wylie Burp's choice?" Ratigan asked, "Wylie Burp saw that Waul was a changed cat, and entrusted him with the position of sheriff upon his retirement. He did this because he was convinced Waul could protect this town. And I, in partnership with Waul, will ensure that relations between cats and mice in this town remain friendly. Any cat which chooses to violate this friendship will be swiftly punished by the law. Eating a mouse will be treated as murder, and punishable by hanging. Although, one form of execution for mice might be being fed to a cat, if the crime was heinous enough to warrant that of course."
There were murmurs in the crowd but everyone seemed satisfied by this.
"H-hey, can I answer?" Fidget asked.
"Go right ahead," said Waul.
"I would um
do the same thing I guess. Except maybe a mouse being eaten here and there wouldn't be so bad
I mean a cat's gotta eat right? But um, I would make it illegal for people to feed their minions to cats."
The crowd booed. Ratigan in particular didn't like that last bit. Did Fidget
dislike being his lackey?
"Ahem, so in closing," Ratigan said, hoping to wrap things up, "A vote for me is a vote for the future prosperity of Green River. We will make this town great once again, we will return it to the way it was twenty years ago, when the gold mine built this town out of the desert. We'll bring the humans back which will mean food and shelter for us all, and there will be cheese on every plate! Unless of course you choose to vote for Fidget, in which case, at least being drunk will help you forget how miserable you would be."
The crowd chuckled as Fidget snarled.
"Ahem, and now
as you were singing
" Ratigan said.
Tanya had been leaning against one of the support beams to the stage, filing her nails, doing her best not to be sickened by Ratigan's speeches of lies up until this point, when she heard his cue and quickly rushed onto the stage, joined in the chorus by Waul and his henchmen.
We'll shout it!
No one can doubt what we know you can do.
You are kinder than even you.
You're one of a kind!
The world's greatest political mind!"
The curtains closed as the crowd cheered loudly. Fidget grumbled as he left his podium, and the crowd began to disperse. Tony carried Aisling in his arms, as he and Bridget made their way back. He looked over at Miss Kitty as he passed her.
"See ya tonight," he mouthed, so that no one would overhear.
Miss Kitty nodded in his direction.
"I'm comin' too, right?" Bridget whispered to Tony as they walked.
"Alright, just keep quiet about it will ya? We'll see if the Mousekewitz's will watch Ash fer us."
Bridget nodded, and they walked back down the road. Miss Kitty and Tanya would stay behind, in hopes of overhearing any post-rally banter. Tony only hoped he wouldn't be hearing an earful from Nellie and Basil after letting his wife in on their secret.