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If you take a particular turning on the path as it heads out across the meadow beyond Mrs. Podge's garden, you'll find yourself, after a short time, climbing a small rise. You emerge soon after from the forested slope and if you've been lucky and are indeed on the right path, you'll see ahead of you, without fail, the tall old oak tree where Oliver Owl, Ph.D., resides. Of course, if you have come this far, you are most likely hiking in the daylight hours, so Professor Owl will be resting inside his hideaway, a cozy set of rooms in the uppermost part of the tree. If asked, the professor would insist that he had been reading in his beloved library room, but more likely he would have been napping.
Normally, from his vantage point, Oliver has the best view of the goings-on in Pleasant Meadow. Curiously, he is able to see things from his perch that are practically invisible to one standing at ground level. This is assuredly why it is so rare ever to glimpse any of the bustlings of the Hazelnut clan, in spite of the substantiality of their rather grand house (for mice), Hazelnut Hall. Only once, in all my ramblings through that area of the countryside was I ever fortunate enough to see it.
It was on the occasion of a late autumn hike. I'd been searching for the inevitable colorful leaves to gather up to scatter across my dining table at home, to bring a bit of autumn home, as it were. It was a warm day for fall and I hadn't found the need to refresh myself with the thermos of hot tea I carried with me on these hikes. But I was feeling in need of a rest, and perhaps a bite of my fruitcake, so found a comfortable spot just near the edge of the forest, leaning, as fate would have it, against the huge trunk of Oliver Owl's old oak tree. I was more fatigued than I had thought and before I could even unwrap my snack, I was lulled into a very relaxed state by the birdsong and fresh breeze. Soon my eyes closed and I drifted close to sleep.
I was awakened, who knows how much later, by a curious tickling sensation across my outstretched ankles. Opening my eyes to brush away what I suspected were dry leaves blowing across my legs, I saw a small gray mouse, inexplicably dressed in striped trousers and bright blue shirt, disappearing in what appeared to be a tiny door at the base of the very tree against which I sat...