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Glory in the Highest

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One Sunday afternoon, Arthur and Humphrey were engaged in some important ecclesiastical business, keeping the usual close eye on their fellow mice from their vantage point on the vicarage windowsill.

"This episode has been brilliant," said Arthur, face pressed against the window so he could see the television. "The church in it looks just like ours."

"Hrm?" said Humphrey, who had been dozing.

"Songs of Praise, old chap," said Arthur, turning to him. Then he paused for a moment. "We should invite them to come here!"

"I was just about to suggest that," Humphrey said quickly, sitting up.

"You were?" replied Arthur, only sounding a little incredulous.

"Of course," said Humphrey. "And we should get started right away. No time like the present."

Arthur decided it was easiest not to quibble.

They clambered down the wall, only stopping momentarily for Humphrey to point out a splendid example of a variegated leaf, and made their way across the churchyard to where all of the others were relaxing.

"Attention, attention!" called Humphrey, but the general mischief continued unabated. The only response came from Sampson, who opened one eye, swished his tail, and then went back to sleep.

Arthur cupped his paws around his mouth and yelled, "We've got a plan!"

This produced a slight reduction in the general hubbub. Arthur decided that would have to be good enough.

"We think our church would be perfect to host an episode of Songs of Praise," he said.

"And we want to extend an invitation to that nice Aled chap to visit us as soon as possible," added Humphrey.

At the mention of that Aled chap, several of the older mice cooed and shuffled closer.

"It would give us a chance to prove to people that mice can make a Positive Contribution to Society," he continued.

This prompted several mutters about the general excellence of mousekind, especially in comparison to rats. A lone voice disagreed, but everyone ignored this as it came from Sampson's direction.

"I think," said a very small mouse currently being sat on by his older brother, "that it would be good for us all to be reminded of our Christian values."

Humphrey nodded. "It could be a Deep and Meaningful Experience for our community."

The other mice were less philosophical.

"Is this going to involve any work on our part?"

"Do you think they'll provide us with cheese for our trouble?"

"I want Wensleydale."

Humphrey harrumphed, and got halfway into the first sentence of a speech about the Mercenary Lifestyle and its Negative Effects before Arthur elbowed him into silence.

"I'm sure they'll bring a proper catering service with them," Arthur said. "They're professionals." There was some nodding at this. If anything could be said about people whose profession was making television, it was that they were professionals.

By now, Humphrey had reconsidered his tactics. "We will have the opportunity to bask in the Glittering Lights of Fame."

"And you'd get to see your home on television," added Arthur. A murmur went around the assembled crowd.

"So it's settled," declared Humphrey, sensing this was a moment to be seized. "We shall write to the BBC."

The other mice took this as the cue to stop paying attention, which left Arthur and Humphrey to sort the only outstanding matter: which of them would write the letter.

"As the most literary-minded among us, this task should fall to me," said Humphrey, puffing out his chest.

"As the most competent speller among us, I think I should do it," countered Arthur.

A heated debate then ensued, in which some unflattering things were said, but it was eventually resolved in Humphrey's favour because he was the only one who knew where the pencil had gone. Arthur mumbled something about this outcome being unfair because Humphrey had hidden the pencil on purpose, but fortunately Humphrey was scurrying into the church at the time and couldn't hear him, so they didn't start arguing again.

Thus they were able to put aside their differences and work together, and eventually managed to produce a finished letter:

Deer Aled Jones,

We the mice of St John's wud like to invite you and your frends at Songs of Preys to our luvely little church in Wortlethorp. There are many green plants wich provide a picturesque setting and the roof only leeks slightly now that it has been retiled. We have a hardwerking choir of local boys as well as a troop of mice who can lern to sing "Make Me a Channel of Your Peas" in tune as long as you give us a week's notice Also there are some brass rubbings which are kept nice and cleen by us mice wich you cud have a look at. They wud probly shine well on teevee and give peeple a thrill.

Wee think your viewers wud find our church very intrestin and spiritshul etc so you shud defuntly come and recawd mayk do an episode heer. It cud increase your viewers in multipul animal demograffics becus not only are we mice but we also have a church cat (dont worry he is tame and will not eet any of us on camerra)

Pleaze let us kno as soon as possibul so we can tell the parson We are shure he will be happee to lern of our plan.

Thank you for your time and sea you soon,
Humphrey & Arthur

When it was done, they stood back to inspect their handiwork.

"That's actually not bad," Arthur said, leaning his head to one side.

"I have a natural talent for the epistolary arts," said Humphrey.

Having decided that it passed muster, they went to find Sampson. He was still lying in a sunny patch of grass, fast asleep. They agreed that he looked very peaceful in his well-earned rest and that he deserved to be woken gently.

Arthur climbed on Humphrey's shoulders and leaned close to Sampson's ear, being very careful not to accidentally tug on his fur and disturb him. Then, when he was ready, Arthur took a deep breath and did his best impression of an irate dog barking.

Sampson shot up in the air, screeching at the top of his voice. Of course, as cats always do, he landed on his feet. Where his feet landed happened to be on the top of the two mice.

Extricating themselves, Humphrey and Arthur muttered about certain cats not being very considerate of other animals' well-being. In response Sampson muttered about certain mice and how he could easily eat them if a big shock happened to make him forget his vows. Fortunately nobody was injured and so the muttering didn't last long, which meant the mice could explain their plan and show Sampson the letter. It certainly made an impression on him.

"What's that squidgy thing?" he asked, laying his paw next to the blob in the top right corner of the home-made envelope.

"It's a representation of the queen's face in profile," said Humphrey, looking proud.

"It's a stamp," said Arthur.

Privately, Sampson thought it looked more like a turnip that had been dropped down three flights of stairs, but he kept that to himself. "And you want me to take this to the postbox?"

"The sooner you go, the sooner you'll be back," said Humphrey, nodding.

"The sooner I go, the sooner I'll be out of earshot," muttered Sampson, and then sloped off with the envelope held carefully between his teeth.

The heavy lifting now done, Humphrey and Arthur sat down on the grass to watch Sampson's retreating form. He was having some difficulty carrying the letter, but that was the trouble with cats. Just not as competent as mice.

"I do hope they reply quickly," said Humphrey, rearranging his tail on his lap. "I'll have all sorts of preparations to make."

"The demands of leadership are neverending," said Arthur, now leaning back and gazing at the slowly drifting clouds.

"And yet somehow satisfying." Humphrey lay down and let out a deep sigh. "I'm jolly glad I thought of all this."

Arthur ignored him. He'd just found a cloud that looked like Swiss cheese.