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1983

Cousins

Jeff and Jodie are finishing up a farm display, singing, “Country morning!  Cows and sheep begin to stretch their legs.  While they munch the grass, a country lass feeds the hens and then collects the eggs!”  After their song, Jeff asks if there is anything else that Jodie needs help with.  Jodie reaches down and hands Jeff a mirror, explaining that it has a crack in the frame, and asks Jeff to take it apart.

As Jeff walks away with the mirror, Jodie looks at the display and remarks to us, “Together, I think we did a good job with this display.  What do you think?”

Then a mouse wearing a plaid shirt, blue overalls, and a straw hat appears next to Jodie.  The mouse looks around at the display, and then says, in a male voice, “Without a pond, this farm is grim!  You all forgot ducks like to swim.”

“Swim?” Jodie remarks, and then, realizing her mistake, says, “Ah, I forgot to put a pond in!  That was pretty silly of me.  Thanks, Muffy.”

“Put the lake here, it’s made to measure,” the mouse says.  “And talking to you, ma’am, has been a pleasure.”  The mouse then disappears behind the display.

Jodie is left a bit puzzled.  She turns to us and asks, “Funny… did Muffy seem a bit strange to you?”

By now, Jeff has finished removing the mirror from its frame.  Jeff wonders out loud where he should put the mirror.  The mouse pops up next to Jeff and suggests, “Lay it flat in your display.  A pond it will be, where the ducks can play!”

Jeff responds, “Good idea!” and then walks towards the display.  He then remarks to Jodie that something is wrong with Muffy.  Jodie agrees with him.  They both look at the mouse, who waves at them.  Jodie suggests that maybe the mouse in the Children’s Department isn’t Muffy.

The mouse, seeing this, remarks, “City folk should be polite.  But staring somehow doesn’t seem right.”

Jeff and Jodie’s suspicions are confirmed, as they both remark, “That’s not Muffy,” and walk up to the counter.

Jodie breaks the ice, saying, “Excuse me?  We don’t mean to stare, but… who are you?”

The mouse explains, “Sorry if I caused alarm.  I’m Muffy’s cousin from the farm!”

Jodie is surprised, because Muffy hadn’t said anything about her cousin’s coming to visit.  The mouse remarks that he sent a letter, but it must have gone astray.  Jodie welcomes him to the store in any case, and introduces herself.  The mouse kisses her hand.  She then introduces the mouse to Jeff.  Jeff and the mouse shake hands.

The mouse then introduces himself, saying, “Mortimer’s my name, but be a sport.  Use my nickname, Mort, for short.”

Jeff remarks that Muffy is going to be excited that her cousin is here.  Jodie suggests that they go and find her.  She tells Mort to wait in the Children’s Department while she and Jeff look for Muffy.  They leave and head towards the food department, because that’s usually where Muffy is.

Mort turns to us and remarks, “I do declare, they’re very nice.  I like people who like mice.”

Later, Muffy is walking through the Children’s Department, singing a song to herself.  Mort hears her coming and remarks, “Sounds like Muffy’s very near.  Let’s play a trick when she gets here.”  He then stands behind the mirror frame as Muffy walks up.

Muffy looks in what she thinks is the mirror, remarking, “Oh, what a beautiful sight to look upon,” as Mort copies her movements.  She notices that something is unusual, and remarks, “Something strange is going on!”  She then waves at the mirror, and Mort waves back.  She begins jumping around, and Mort does likewise.  She then shouts, “BOO!” at the mirror.

Mort is momentarily taken aback, and then says, “Boo to you, too!”

Muffy is very surprised by that response, and says, “A ghost is there who looks like me!  This isn’t fair!”

Mort quickly explains things, saying, “It’s not a ghost!  It’s only me, your cousin!  Part of your family.  Because our moms are sisters, I’ve some brand new blisters.  For I have walked a long, long way to say hello to you today!”

Muffy is delighted to see her cousin, remarking that it’s been a long time since they had seen each other.  They both say to each other, “Long time, no see!  How wonderful for you and me!”

Sam later comes through the Children’s Department on his rounds, singing to himself.  As he walks by Muffy, he says, “Hi, Muffy!” and Muffy waves back at him.  He then walks by Mort, and says, “Hi, Muffy!” and Mort waves back.  He soon realizes that something is unusual, commenting, as he rubs his eyes, “I guess my eyes my eyes are giving me a little trouble.  I look behind me here, and I see double!”

Mort is surprised, remarking, “Double?  Trouble?  Now that’s a rhyme!  Does he talk like us all the time?”

“Only when he’s in a spot,” Muffy explains.  “He’s nice, though.  You’ll like him a lot!”

Sam is now even more confused.  “I guess my ears aren’t working too well, either.  Now I’m even beginning to hear double!”

Muffy calls Sam over and introduces Mort to him.  Sam understands now.  They all then hear Jeff and Jodie in the distance, calling for Muffy.  Mort quickly realizes that they don’t know that Muffy knows that he’s here, and they go off to tell them, as Muffy promises a tour of the store afterward.

After everyone leaves, Sam comments, with a chuckle, “Well, I guess we’ve now got two little critters running around the place!”

Over at Muffy’s house, we hear the sound of a cat as Muffy and Mort hurriedly enter.  Muffy apologizes for what happened, saying, “I’m really sorry about all that!”

Mort replies, breathlessly, “Well, next time, warn me there’s a cat!”

“Penelope just likes to play,” Muffy explains.  “She got excited when you ran away!”

Mort then looks around Muffy’s place, remarking, “Is this your house?  It’s very small.  Not much room for two at all!  I like my barn.  It’s big and old.”

Muffy counters with, “Yeah, with lots of cracks that let in the cold!”

Mort continues, explaining how, in the country, one can see the stars at night, and that there is no noise from cars.  “I’ll take the country any day,” he says, “But it’s good to see you anyway.”

Muffy is similarly happy to see him, even though they disagree on certain things.  As she walks over to her piano, she suggests that they sing a song, in order to help them better get along.

Mort pulls out a banjo, and they begin to sing, “We’ll always be friendly cousins, although we don’t agree!”  They then present arguments about why they like living where they do, and counter each other’s arguments about why the other likes where they live, questioning who is right and who is wrong.

Later, back in the Children’s Department, Mort is telling Jeff and Sam a story about the farm.  Muffy, meanwhile, is at the other end of the counter, looking very unhappy.  Jodie notices this, and asks Muffy about it, remarking that she looks like she lost her best friend.

“Almost,” says Muffy.  “We’re cousins, but we’re far apart.  We like different things, for a start.  Sam and Jeff just think he’s great, so I just might as well sit here and wait.”

Jodie explains to Muffy that just because they like Mort doesn’t mean that they don’t like her, and that they’re probably being extra nice to him in an effort to make him feel at home.  She convinces Muffy to join in the fun.

Meanwhile, Mort and Sam are discussing square dancing as Jodie and Muffy come over.  Mort asks Muffy if she has ever done a real square dance, to which Muffy replies that she doesn’t get to do so very often, due to not getting the chance.  Jodie then tells Mort that they all do a dance that Muffy started, and so they call it “The Muffy”.  Sam quickly turns the conversation back toward square dancing, much to Muffy’s shock.

Sam suggests that Jeff would like the country.  Jeff agrees.  Jeff remarks that it must be quiet and peaceful due to fewer cars and people than in the city.  Mort disagrees, explaining that the country has lots of noise, too.  He explains in song: “Some folks think the country’s quiet.  Them that do should come and try it.  Combines rumble and tractors roar, bees can bumble and mice will snore.  But the sound that the farmers admire is the noise that’s made by the barnyard choir!”  Everyone joins in, singing about the sounds that cows, ducks, horses, sheep, and hens make.

Next, Veronica Donnville tells the story of Rusty the Rooster.  Rusty wants to go for a walk, but the hen, the sheep, and the cow are too busy to go with him.  Rusty is unhappy because everyone on the farm has a job except for him, so he finds a corner of the barn and goes to sleep.  The next morning, Rusty wakes up at his usual early hour, but, having no job, goes back to sleep until he is awakened by the sounds of the other farm animals, who are upset that they haven’t been fed yet because the farmer is still asleep.  They all blame Rusty, because he didn’t crow in the morning.  The other animals quickly corrected Rusty, explaining that his job was to wake the farmer up.  Now knowing that he also had an important job, Rusty hopped up and crowed from the top of the barn.

Back in the Children’s Department, Jeff imagines that Mort has a wonderful time on the farm.  He then wonders what it’s like to be a farmer and work in a barn.  He admits that he doesn’t know much about farming, but he knows that he would have fun.  Jeff then imagines what it would be like to be a farmer, dancing brilliantly between chores.

As Jeff explains that he likes imagining himself in different places and that he also likes it in the store, Muffy and Mort arrive, arguing with each other.

“Enough!  I’ve had enough!” shouts Muffy.

“Now, Muffy, don’t get in a huff!” says Mort.

Muffy snaps back, “Why not?  I think you have your nerve.  You treat me worse than I deserve!”

“You started it, if you recall,” argues Mort.  “I don’t know why I came at all!”

Jeff interrupts them in order to find out what they’re fighting about.  Muffy explains that everything that she does is wrong, while Mort announces his intent to go back to the farm.  Jodie also wants to know what all of the commotion is about.  Muffy explains that Mort doesn’t like the city.  Mort agrees, explaining that the country is better.

Muffy is incensed, remarking, “See, it’s awful here and it’s better there.  So what’s so great about country air?”

“Well, you think that the city’s fine!” snaps Mort.  “And I’m tired of listening to you whine!”

After a few exchanges, Mort remarks that this is no way to treat a guest, to which Muffy responds that guests should not act like a pest.  That’s the last straw for both of them, as they both declare, “We’re friends no more.  In fact, we’re through.  I never want to talk to you!”

Following a quiz, Jeff and Jodie are working with Mort and Muffy to help patch things up.  Jodie explains to Muffy that Mort is her cousin, and that they should be friends, despite liking different things.  Jodie also postulates that perhaps Mort talks about the country a lot because he is homesick, and that everything is a new experience for him.  She also asks Muffy if she’s really been as patient and understanding as she could be.  Meanwhile, Jeff explains to Mort that the country is his home, and he should like it, but that he should also try to see the good in other places, and how much fun it is to see other places and things.  He also asks Mort how he would feel if Muffy came to his farm and complained about everything.  He then asks how he thinks that Muffy feels about it.

Jeff and Jodie then explain in song about the mistakes that each made, and bring them to a reconciliation.  Each takes responsibility for their part in causing the fight, and they share a hug.

Sam, not knowing that Muffy and Mort had a fight, comes into the Children’s Department in the middle of the hug, and remarks, “Well, well, well, well, well, well, well!  Look at that, would ya?  Two good friends.  I’ll bet they’ve never had a cross word between them!  Heh heh heh.  Yep, real pals, aren’t they?”

Jeff and Jodie quickly react to Sam’s remarks, causing Sam to wonder if he’s said something wrong.

Mort reassures him, “Of course not, because we both agree!”

“The best of friends we’ll always be!” says Muffy.

Everyone then sings the “Country Mouse, City Mouse” song again, explaining all of the lessons that everyone has learned.  They also teach Mort how to dance the Muffy


Quizzes:

  • Can you name these animals?  (A hen, a cow, an elephant, and a sheep.)  Which animal does not belong on the farm?  (The elephant.  A line of elephants starts marching by, leaving TXL to wonder if it’s an elephant farm.)
  • The farm animals are back: the hen, two cows, and the sheep.  Which animals might be cousins?  (The two cows.)
  • Here is an egg.  Which egg does the animal belong to?  (The hen.  The egg then hatches, and a line of elephants emerges.)
  • What job did Hattie the hen have?  (Laying eggs.)  What about Matilda the cow?  (Giving milk.)
  • What animal is this?  (A sheep.)  Would you like to peep at a heap of sheep?  (There is a pyramid of six sheep, being held up by one strong sheep.)
  • Which animal sounds like this?  (The cow.)  What is the cow trying to tell us?  (The elephants return.)

Nursery Rhyme:

Little Boy Blue
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