Hamilton stood as tall as he could, as to appear more put together and proper, (Hamilton was always a very proper mouse). He wanted to appear as if he belonged here, among these people, who seemed to have something “he” did not, therefore he strove to do his best to appear to be “Something” even if he was not precisely sure “what” that something was.
The “where” in question was an art gallery. Hamilton had been invited. He clutched his invitation carefully in one paw, he really should have put it away into his pocket, but he was worried he would somehow develop a hole or subspace time rift that would suddenly whisk his invitation away to places unknown. Hamilton realized this was silly, but somehow it was true, that placing anything in his pockets seemed to always have this particular outcome. He was always losing things he was “certain” he had put in one of his various pockets. Thus, he held onto his invitation, convinced that someone, sometime, was going to demand proof that he was allowed to be here.
Hamilton gazed about him in wonder. His eyes quite wide for such a small mouse, as they drank in the many colors and textures around him. A large painting caught and held his attention. It was a still life of various cheeses propped decorously on a mid-eighteen century table, giving all the appearance of having been placed there during the bustle and hustle of a busy mouse-filled kitchen as cooks scurried, hither and yon to prepare a meal for a large family or gathering.
Hamilton imagined he could hear the various banging pots and raised voices as they clamored for this spice or that knife. He could almost smell the sharp tang of cheddar in the air, could just about feel the creamy softness of a brie placed just off to the side, awaiting the guests that would feast soon upon it.
Hamilton wandered closer, forgetting to appear proper, forgetting just about everything, but the wonder he felt whenever he immersed himself in something new. Hamilton was a mouse who loved to imagine things. He loved to imagine how people lived, how they felt, how they did all the amazing things he learned about. Hamilton loved to learn more than anything. Art, he was learning, was almost as good as a book.
Wanting to explore more paintings Hamilton glanced over to locate the next painting, but found he could scarcely see more than the very smallest corner of it, as there was such a crowd gathered around that small space, that Hamilton wondered what could be so interesting to so many mice at once. He listened to the people on the fringes, and what they said only made him all the more intrigued.
“Scandalous! Absolutely Scandalous! I am amazed they allowed it to even be hung!” Whispered one matronly mouse to another likewise matronly dressed mouse of similar looking years, who nodded her head sharply at the other, adding her own commentary “Can you imagine ? It’s just too horrible for words!” She privately wondered if she could get to the coffee shop before it closed, and if she would get there before the other mouse, appropriately named, Agnus, got there first and gave up all the best bits of gossip, before she could.
A grandfatherly mouse of some years, if his gray whiskers could be any indication, sniffed impertinently and twisted his nose in a pantomime of deep disgust, making sure his disgust was being properly observed for best impact by other choice and observant mice, once he was assured that others were, in fact listening, he continued “Someone aught to be told, such a thing should not have been allowed to be exhibited!” Hamilton moved as close as he could get without being in imminent danger of being trampled, or barring that, his tail being stepped upon by some random stomper.
Unexpectedly several mice moved aside, allowing just enough space for Hamilton to slip through to the front, where he could clearly see the painting that seemed to be causing such commotion. The sight that met his eyes was somewhat shocking, but not for the same reasons it was shocking to everyone else. It was shocking to Hamilton, because he did not find it shocking at all. In fact, he found it rather lovely. Of course he could tell why it was shocking to everyone else, but to him..it was not even a little, but then, he was not your normal mouse.
Hamilton studied the painting. It was a forest scene. He could see that the painter had done an excellent job making the tree look realistic, and by itself, it would have been a mighty fine addition to the work, unfortunately, the couple painted in the center of the painting tended to steal the focus from such lovely detail, the couple, clearly they were a couple, were dressed in elaborate medieval costuming. The colors were quite bright and cheerful, enormous attention had gone into each and every fold of clothing.
The cause of the commotion had nothing at all to do with the clothing, no one could fault one single line of that gorgeous, sumptuous fabric, or the hand that had drawn it so expertly upon them. No, what caused the commotion was much more to do with the couple themselves. Hamilton looked at them closely. The fox was actually quite dapper in his rust fur, with his jaunty tail perched just over his shoulder as he leaned ever so slightly over his companion. His face was in side-view and was partially obscured by the face of the young lady, the young lady he was kissing, the beautiful brown furred and bright whiskered female mouse, he was kissing with complete abandon.
The commotion was, as Hamilton suspected, over the simple and not so simple subject of love, and not just any love. A love that was by mouse society considered the deepest of taboos. Cross cultural love. Love that was by mouse-kind considered completely and utterly inconceivable. Hamilton rolled his eyes. Sometimes he was deeply ashamed to be a mouse in a society that could not accept those who were different. He was not so much a rebel, as he was simply more aware of, well, more, than most mice ever allowed themselves the luxury to be.
Hamilton had been places in his life. Places where having food and a place to sleep was a luxury. Hamilton had seen poverty, had watched people die right in front of him, had known with deep and searing regret, that somehow who you chose to love in this world mattered less, than the fact that you had loved at all. Hamilton had seen things, and they had educated him beyond what his own mouse-kind could, or would ever allow themselves to consider, for even a moment. This knowledge was what made Hamilton feel like an outsider everywhere he went.
Shaking his head Hamilton moved away, he was just not interested in arguing with a mass of people who were never going to pause long enough to consider anything beyond their own noses. As he emerged from the crowd he stumbled, quite literally over, another mouse. As he felt himself fall forward he attempted, as best he could, to not flatten the person with whom he had fallen “over”. “Ouch,” the other mouse squeaked.
Hamilton found himself staring at the ceiling above him, he wondered for a fleeting moment how the birds that were encircling his head, has gotten into the museum. Then before this thought was completed he watched as the 3 birds became just one bird, and that bird then became something rather more like a great blue feather. A big blue feather that was bobbing over his head, as if it could hear music no one else could. “Hello, sir?, are you alright?” the feather appeared to be speaking to him. It had a rather lovely musical quality to it, despite it’s being a feather. “Oh, dear,..Braxley, I think you have really done it this time young man!” the feather was suddenly replaced by a face, a very lovely, very bright white fur and brilliant blue eyed face. Hamilton was liking this feather more and more every minute.
“Do you need a doctor?” the mouse inquired, with such concern upon her face that Hamilton immediately sought to ease her mind. Sitting up abruptly and feeling the threat of the birds returning, Hamilton placed his paw on the floor to brace himself, encountering another paw, a very small, very smooth paw, Hamilton looked down..and wondered confused, where this other hand had come from. “Are you alright?, Please don’t try to stand, you have had quite a fall. I am so very sorry., I knew Braxley was growing bored, but I assumed he would know better than to sit down among such a large crowd of people. I lost sight of him and was growing quite alarmed when, alas, you found him..in a rather unfortunate, but no less appreciated fashion. I am Miss Templeton, his tutor.” Hamilton attempted to shake his head back into something more logical and reality based, he focused his attention more carefully on the beautiful mouse before him. “I.um..I am quite glad to see, er..that the young mouse, er..Braxley is unharmed, Miss Templeton and..Braxley, is it?”
“Yes, Braxley,” she nodded at the little ginger colored mouse of about 4 years of age, who wisely had moved several paces away, just in case Hamilton was of an angry disposition. Braxley was fond of trying new things, things that often resulted in angry adult mice, mice that generally were correct in their anger, considering that most of Braxley’s explorations had something to do with loosening, untying, releasing, unlatching and generally changing the normal and often carefully planned preventing of something else happening for a very good reason, a reason that all too often Braxley endeavored to discover the reasoning of, on his own, instead of asking, as Braxley secretly enjoyed, very much, the ensuing drama that his explorations created, though, he did admit, he did not enjoy so much the resulting punishments from such.
Hamilton studied the young mouse, and thought he might have the measure of him. “Hello,” He said, carefully speaking directly at Braxley, calmly and without any sign of anger. He figured Braxley was waiting for him to yell and Hamilton decided, quite correctly, that the opposite would be a better approach. “I think perhaps you might have gotten hurt Braxley, were I a bigger mouse than I am.” I think perhaps it wiser for a fine little mouse, such as yourself, to find a more safe location for which to mouse-watch, in future. Don’t you?” “Besides” he grinned, the best place to hear people and not be seen, is under a buffet table with a long tablecloth on it!” He winked carefully, so that the lady mouse would not see him, “Being an adventurer, can be hungry work, so being near food is always a plus.” Hamilton got to his feet and continued speaking softly and only to Braxley.
Braxley moved a step closer and grinned a hesitant smile back. “People always say interesting things, when they do not know I am listening, I want to know stuff. All kinds.” Hamilton pretended to consider this new information, “Seems to me, that that is a very good way to learn things, but..” he pretended to consider longer..”Sometimes, it is better to ask someone who understands about adventure, what the best way something aught to be done. That way, you learn, and no one gets real mad, and little mice don’t get hurt, or miss dinner!” Braxley looked startled to find that Hamilton knew about the missed meals, this was a mouse who understood him, and so it was that Braxley listened to the advice of an adult for the very first time, and didn’t stubbornly refuse to do it his own way. For the very first time, Braxley decided this was an adult who knew something about something.
He was so distracted by what Hamilton had said, that he barely squeaked a murmur of objection as Miss Templeton took him firmly by the paw “ I really must get Braxley back to his parents” Miss Templeton explained. “They will be quite frantic by now” She paused and smiled into Hamilton’s eyes. The blue feather still bobbing like a living bird above her head. “Despite the circumstance, it was ever so lovely to have met you, Mr?”
“Hamilton, my name is Hamilton Clendon” said Hamilton. “I am a librarian at the Colton County Library.” He did not know why..but he was suddenly feeling frantic. He was not sure, but something inside him was loathe to let her get away. It was quite unlike him to behave this way, moving with her instead of letting her leave. He had even elbowed some unknown vole out of the way as a means of keeping up. “Do you, do you come here often?” He heard himself saying. Do you come here often? The voice in his head groaned. Did you seriously just say that cheesy line? Hamilton felt himself flush and gulped. He was quite certain he was making a right Titmouse of himself, but some compulsion refused to stop his tongue. “That is to say, the Museum, do you visit the museum often”. Miss Templeton, paused and smiled back, they were getting lost in the crowd now and Hamilton’s efforts of keeping up began to flounder, there were just too many people and too little space. “ Most every Saturday, Mr Hamilton. I attend the art classes”
He would have responded to that, but the crowd gave him no further time and closed ranks upon him as families jostled and patrons peered about in all directions. Looking down he realized he had dropped his invitation. There, it had fallen a few feet away. He moved to pick it up and encountered another item that had also appeared to have fallen nearby, a fan, with blue feathers. “I wonder” he muttered to himself, picking both items up. Turning the dainty blue fan over he was rewarded with the name “Olivia Templeton” along the bottom in black paint. Suddenly, Hamilton felt ever so much better. “Olivia” he whispered quietly.