TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter

The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter

< BACK    NEXT >





"I'll be at charges for a looking-glass;

And entertain a score or two of tailors."

[Richard III]

My Dear Freda:

Because you are fond of failytales, and have been ill, I

have made you a story all for yourself--a new one that

nobody has read before.

And the queerest thing about it is--that I heard it in

Gloucestershire, and that it is true--at least about the

tailor, the waistcoat, and the

"No more twist!"


In the time of swords and peri wigs

and full-skirted coats with flowered

lappets--when gentlemen wore

ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of

paduasoy and taffeta--there lived a

tailor in Gloucester.

He sat in the window of a little

shop in Westgate Street, cross-legged

on a table from morning till dark.

All day long while the light lasted

he sewed and snippetted, piecing out

his satin, and pompadour, and

lutestring; stuffs had strange names,

and were very expensive in the days of

the Tailor of Gloucester.

But although he sewed fine silk for

his neighbours, he himself was very,

very poor. He cut his coats without

waste; according to his embroidered

cloth, they were very small ends and

snippets that lay about upon the

table--"Too narrow breadths for

nought--except waistcoats for mice,"

said the tailor.

One bitter cold day near

Christmastime the tailor began to

make a coat (a coat of cherry-

coloured corded silk embroidered

with pansies and roses) and a cream-

coloured satin waistcoat for the

Mayor of Gloucester.

The tailor worked and worked, and

he talked to himself: "No breadth at

all, and cut on the cross; it is no

breadth at all; tippets for mice and

ribbons for mobs! for mice!" said the

Tailor of Gloucester.

When the snow-flakes came down

against the small leaded window-

panes and shut out the light, the tailor

had done his day's work; all the silk

and satin lay cut out upon the table.

There were twelve pieces for the

coat and four pieces for the waistcoat;

and there were pocket-flaps and cuffs

and buttons, all in order. For the

lining of the coat there was fine

yellow taffeta, and for the button-

holes of the waistcoat there was

cherry-coloured twist. And everything

was ready to sew together in the

morning, all measured and

sufficient--except that there was

wanting just one single skein of

cherry-coloured twisted silk.

The tailor came out of his shop at

dark. No one lived there at nights but

little brown mice, and THEY ran in and

out without any keys!

For behind the wooden wainscots

of all the old houses in Gloucester,

there are little mouse staircases and

secret trap-doors; and the mice run

from house to house through those

long, narrow passages.

But the tailor came out of his shop

and shuffled home through the snow.

And although it was not a big house,

the tailor was so poor he only rented

the kitchen.

He lived alone with his cat; it was

called Simpkin.

"Miaw?" said the cat when the

tailor opened the door, "miaw?"

The tailor replied: "Simpkin, we

shall make our fortune, but I am

worn to a ravelling. Take this groat

(which is our last fourpence), and,

Simpkin, take a china pipkin, but a

penn'orth of bread, a penn'orth of

milk, and a penn'orth of sausages.

And oh, Simpkin, with the last penny

of our fourpence but me one

penn'orth of cherry-coloured silk. But

do not lose the last penny of the

fourpence, Simpkin, or I am undone

and worn to a thread-paper, for I


Then Simpkin again said "Miaw!"

and took the groat and the pipkin,

and went out into the dark.

The tailor was very tired and

beginning to be ill. He sat down by the

hearth and talked to himself about

that wonderful coat.

"I shall make my fortune--to be

cut bias--the Mayor of Gloucester is

to be married on Christmas Day in the

morning, and he hath ordered a coat

and an embroidered waistcoat--"

Then the tailor started; for

suddenly, interrupting him, from the

dresser at the other side of the kitchen

came a number of little noises--

Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip!

"Now what can that be?" said the

Tailor of Gloucester, jumping up from

his chair. The tailor crossed the

kitchen, and stood quite still beside

the dresser, listening, and peering

through his spectacles.

"This is very peculiar," said the

Tailor of Gloucester, and he lifted up

the tea-cup which was upside down.

Out stepped a little live lady mouse,

and made a courtesy to the tailor!

Then she hopped away down off the

dresser, and under the wainscot.

The tailor sat down again by the

fire, warming his poor cold hands.

But all at once, from the dresser, there

came other little noises--

Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip!

"This is passing extraordinary!"

said the Tailor of Gloucester, and

turned over another tea-cup, which

was upside down.

Out stepped a little gentleman

mouse, and made a bow to the tailor!

And out from under tea-cups and

from under bowls and basins, stepped

other and more little mice, who

hopped away down off the dresser

and under the wainscot.

The tailor sat down, close over the

fire, lamenting: "One-and-twenty

buttonholes of cherry-coloured silk!

To be finished by noon of Saturday:

and this is Tuesday evening. Was it

right to let loose those mice,

undoubtedly the property of Simpkin?

Alack, I am undone, for I have no

more twist!"

The little mice came out again and

listened to the tailor; they took notice

of the pattern of that wonderful coat.

They whispered to one another about

the taffeta lining and about little

mouse tippets.

And then suddenly they all ran

away together down the passage

behind the wainscot, squeaking and

calling to one another as they ran

from house to house.

Not one mouse was left in the

tailor's kitchen when Simpkin came

back. He set down the pipkin of milk

upon the dresser, and looked

suspiciously at the tea-cups. He

wanted his supper of little fat mouse!

"Simpkin," said the tailor, "where is

my TWIST?"

But Simpkin hid a little parcel

privately in the tea-pot, and spit and

growled at the tailor; and if Simpkin

had been able to talk, he would have

asked: "Where is my MOUSE?"

"Alack, I am undone!" said the

Tailor of Gloucester, and went sadly

to bed.

All that night long Simpkin hunted

and searched through the kitchen,

peeping into cupboards and under the

wainscot, and into the tea-pot where

he had hidden that twist; but still he

found never a mouse!

The poor old tailor was very ill with

a fever, tossing and turning in his

four-post bed; and still in his dreams

he mumbled: "No more twist! no

more twist!"

What should become of the cherry-

coloured coat? Who should come to

sew it, when the window was barred,

and the door was fast locked?

Out-of-doors the market folks went

trudging through the snow to buy

their geese and turkeys, and to bake

their Christmas pies; but there would

be no dinner for Simpkin and the poor

old tailor of Gloucester.

The tailor lay ill for three days and

nights; and then it was Christmas Eve,

and very late at night. And still

Simpkin wanted his mice, and mewed

as he stood beside the four-post bed.

But it is in the old story that all the

beasts can talk in the night between

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in

the morning (though there are very

few folk that can hear them, or know

what it is that they say).

When the Cathedral clock struck

twelve there was an answer--like an

echo of the chimes--and Simpkin

heard it, and came out of the tailor's

door, and wandered about in the snow.

From all the roofs and gables and

old wooden houses in Gloucester

came a thousand merry voices singing

the old Christmas rhymes--all the old

songs that ever I heard of, and some

that I don't know, like Whittington's bells.

Under the wooden eaves the

starlings and sparrows sang of

Christmas pies; the jackdaws woke up

in the Cathedral tower; and although

it was the middle of the night the

throstles and robins sang; and air was

quite full of little twittering tunes.

But it was all rather provoking to

poor hungry Simpkin.

From the tailor's ship in Westgate

came a glow of light; and when

Simpkin crept up to peep in at the

window it was full of candles. There

was a snippeting of scissors, and

snappeting of thread; and little mouse

voices sang loudly and gaily:

"Four-and-twenty tailors

Went to catch a snail,

The best man amongst them

Durst not touch her tail;

She put out her horns

Like a little kyloe cow.

Run, tailors, run!

Or she'll have you all e'en now!"

Then without a pause the little

mouse voices went on again:

"Sieve my lady's oatmeal,

Grind my lady's flour,

Put it in a chestnut,

Let it stand an hour--"

"Mew! Mew!" interrupted Simpkin,

and he scratched at the door. But the

key was under the tailor's pillow; he

could not get in.

The little mice only laughed, and

tried another tune--

"Three little mice sat down to spin,

Pussy passed by and she peeped in.

What are you at, my fine little men?

Making coats for gentlemen.

Shall I come in and cut off yours threads?

Oh, no, Miss Pussy,

You'd bite off our heads!"

"Mew! scratch! scratch!" scuffled

Simpkin on the window-sill; while the

little mice inside sprang to their feet,

and all began to shout all at once in

little twittering voices: "No more

twist! No more twist!" And they

barred up the window-shutters and

shut out Simpkin.

Simpkin came away from the shop

and went home considering in his

mind. He found the poor old tailor

without fever, sleeping peacefully.

Then Simpkin went on tip-toe and

took a little parcel of silk out of the

tea-pot; and looked at it in the

moonlight; and he felt quite ashamed

of his badness compared with those

good little mice!

When the tailor awoke in the

morning, the first thing which he saw,

upon the patchwork quilt, was a skein

of cherry-coloured twisted silk, and

beside his bed stood the repentant


The sun was shining on the snow

when the tailor got up and dressed,

and came out into the street with

Simpkin running before him.

"Alack," said the tailor, "I have my

twist; but no more strength--nor

time--than will serve to make me one

single buttonhole; for this is

Christmas Day in the Morning! The

Mayor of Gloucester shall be married

by noon--and where is his cherry-

coloured coat?"

He unlocked the door of the little

shop in Westgate Street, and Simpkin

ran in, like a cat that expects something.

But there was no one there! Not

even one little brown mouse!

But upon the table--oh joy! the

tailor gave a shout--there, where he

had left plain cuttings of silk--there

lay the most beautiful coat and

embroidered satin waistcoat that ever

were worn by a Mayor of Gloucester!

Everything was finished except just

one single cherry-coloured buttonhole,

and where that buttonhole was

wanting there was pinned a scrap of

paper with these words--in little

teeny weeny writing--


And from then began the luck of

the Tailor of Gloucester; he grew quite

stout, and he grew quite rich.

He made the most wonderful

waistcoats for all the rich merchants

of Gloucester, and for all the fine

gentlemen of the country round.

Never were seen such ruffles, or

such embroidered cuffs and lappets!

But his buttonholes were the greatest

triumph of it all.

The stitches of those buttonholes

were so neat--SO neat--I wonder

how they could be stitched by an old

man in spectacles, with crooked old

fingers, and a tailor's thimble.

The stitches of those buttonholes

were so small--SO small--they looked

as if they had been made by little mice!




Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter




Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 





Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA