The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

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The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents



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The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

Copyright © 2001 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett

Chapter 1


They chased the dogs and bit the cats, they—

But there was more to it than that. As the amazing Maurice said, it was just a story about people and rats. And the difficult part of it was deciding who the people were, and who were the rats.

But Malicia Grim said it was a story about stories.

‘Everyone needs their little dreams.’ Maurice truly believed that, too. If you knew what it was that people really, really wanted, you very nearly controlled them.



What was the point of education, he thought, if people went out afterwards and used it?



Chapter 3

It’s hard to translate ‘sir’ into Rat. The rat word for ‘sir’ isn’t a word; it’s a sort of momentary crouch, indicating that, just at the moment, the crouching rat is prepared to accept that the other rat is the boss, but that he or she shouldn’t get funny about it.



Chapter 5

‘I know, I’ll shout “It’s me, Malicia!” and then give the secret knock, and that way you’ll know it’s me and you can give the secret knock back. OK?’

‘Why don’t we just say “Hello, we’re up here”?’ said Keith innocently.

Malicia sighed. ‘Don’t you have any sense of drama?’

‘You lied?’

‘I just told a story,’ said Malicia, calmly. ‘It was a good one, too. It was much more true than the truth would sound.’



‘Of course, it may be that the council and the Watch are in league with the rat-catchers, so we shouldn’t trust anyone. Really, haven’t you people ever read a book?’

‘She’s gone in the head, if you ask me. She’s one of those people like . . . actors. You know. Acting all the time. Not living in the real world at all. Like it’s all a big story. Dangerous Beans is a bit like that. Highly dangerous person, in my opinion.’

‘He’s a very kind and thoughtful rat!’

‘Ah, yes, but the trouble is, see, that he thinks everyone else is like him. People like that are bad news, kid. And our lady friend, she thinks life works like a fairy-tale.’

‘Well, that’s harmless, isn’t it?’ said Keith.

Yeah, but in fairy-tales, when someone dies . . . it’s just a word.’

Chapter 6

There were big adventures and small adventures, Mr Bunnsy knew. You didn’t get told what size they were going to be before you started. Sometimes you could have a big adventure even when you were standing still.



She obviously thought that it was no good looking inconspicuous unless people could see that you were being inconspicuous. People in the street actually stopped to watch her as she sidled along walls and scuttled from one doorway to another. Maurice and Keith strolled along after her. No-one paid them any attention.
Chapter 8 This is what thinking does for you, he thought. It gets you into trouble. Even when you know other people can think for themselves, you start thinking for them too.
‘This isn’t a story,’ said Keith as patiently as he could. ‘That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Real life isn’t a story. There isn’t some kind of . . . of magic that keeps you safe and makes crooks look the other way and not hit you too hard and tie you up next to a handy knife and not kill you.’

‘If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.’

‘And what if your story doesn’t work?’

‘You keep changing it until you find one that does.’



Chapter 10 He wasn’t exactly lost, because cats never got lost. He merely didn’t know where everything else was.
‘It’s just like crop circles. No matter how many aliens own up to making them, there are always a few diehards who believe that humans go out with garden rollers in the middle of the night—’
Chapter 11

‘I suppose there isn’t a Big Cat in the Sky, is there?’


Maurice nodded. One good thing about being a cat, apart from the extra lives, was that the theology was a lot simpler.



‘A good plan isn’t one where someone wins, it’s where nobody thinks they’ve lost.’

‘Are you trying to show contempt of the Law?’ demanded Sergeant Doppelpunkt.

‘Well, I’m not trying to conceal it, mister.’



‘Aha!’ said Malicia. ‘That proves it! We all know what happens when a mysterious orphan turns up and challenges someone big and powerful, don’t we? It’s like being the third and youngest son of a king. He can’t help but win!’

She looked triumphantly at the crowd. But the crowd looked doubtful. They hadn’t read as many stories as Malicia, and were rather attracted to the experience of real life, which is that when someone small and righteous takes on someone big and nasty he is grilled bread product, very quickly.

Chapter 12

‘Maurice, this isn’t right,’ said Dangerous Beans. ‘Surely it is better to appeal to the common bond between intelligent species than—’

‘I don’t know about intelligent species. We’re dealing with humans here,’ said Maurice. ‘Do you know about wars? Very popular with humans. They fight other humans. Not hugely big on common bonding.’



The thing about stories is that you have to pick the ones that last.



Author’s Note

I think I have read, in the past few months, more about rats than is good for me. Most of the true stuff – or, at least, the stuff that people say is true – is so unbelievable that I didn’t include it in case readers thought I’d made it up.

Rat kings really exist. How they come into existence is a mystery; in this book Malicia mentions a couple of the theories. I am indebted to Dr Jack Cohen for a more modern and depressing one, which is that down the ages some cruel and inventive people have had altogether too much time on their hands.

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