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The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter

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[Nellie's Little Book]

Once upon a time there was

a woodmouse, and her name

was Mrs. Tittlemouse.

She lived in a bank under a hedge.

Such a funny house! There

were yards and yards of sandy

passages, leading to store-

rooms and nut cellars and

seed cellars, all amongst the

roots of the hedge.

There was a kitchen, a parlor,

a pantry, and a larder.

Also, there was Mrs. Tittle-

mouse's bedroom, where she

slept in a little box bed!

Mrs. Tittlemouse was a most

terribly tidy particular little

mouse, always sweeping and

dusting the soft sandy floors.

Sometimes a beetle lost its way

in the passages.

"Shuh! shuh! little dirty feet!"

said Mrs. Tittlemouse, clattering

her dustpan.

And one day a little old woman

ran up and down in a red spotty cloak.

"Your house is on fire, Mother

Ladybird! Fly away home to your


Another day, a big fat spider

came in to shelter from the rain.

"Beg pardon, is this not Miss Muffet's?"

"Go away, you bold bad spider!

Leaving ends of cobweb all over

my nice clean house!"

She bundled the spider out at a window.

He let himself down the hedge

with a long thin bit of string.

Mrs. Tittlemouse went on her

way to a distant storeroom, to

fetch cherrystones and thistle-

down seed for dinner.

All along the passage she

sniffed, and looked at the floor.

"I smell a smell of honey; is it

the cowslips outside, in the hedge?

I am sure I can see the marks of

little dirty feet."

Suddenly round a corner, she

met Babbitty Bumble--"Zizz,

Bizz, Bizzz!" said the bumble bee.

Mrs. Tittlemouse looked at her

severely. She wished that she had

a broom.

"Good-day, Babbitty Bumble; I

should be glad to buy some bees-

wax. But what are you doing

down here? Why do you always

come in at a window, and say,

Zizz, Bizz, Bizzz?" Mrs. Tittle-

mouse began to get cross.

"Zizz, Wizz, Wizzz!" replied

Babbitty Bumble in a peevish

squeak. She sidled down a passage,

and disappeared into a

storeroom which had been used

for acorns.

Mrs. Tittlemouse had eaten the

acorns before Christmas; the

storeroom ought to have been empty.

But it was full of untidy dry moss.

Mrs. Tittlemouse began to pull out the

moss. Three or four other bees put

their heads out, and buzzed fiercely.

"I am not in the habit of letting

lodgings; this is an intrusion!"

said Mrs. Tittlemouse.

"I will have them turned out

--" "Buzz! Buzz! Buzzz!"--"I

wonder who would help me?"

"Bizz, Wizz, Wizzz!"

--"I will not have Mr. Jackson;

he never wipes his feet."

Mrs. Tittlemouse decided to

leave the bees till after dinner.

When she got back to the parlor,

she heard some one coughing

in a fat voice; and there sat Mr.

Jackson himself.

He was sitting all over a

small rocking chair, twiddling his

thumbs and smiling, with his feet

on the fender.

He lived in a drain below the

hedge, in a very dirty wet ditch.

"How do you do, Mr. Jackson?

Deary me, you have got very wet!"

"Thank you, thank you,

thank you, Mrs. Tittlemouse!

I'll sit awhile and dry myself,"

said Mr. Jackson.

He sat and smiled, and the

water dripped off his coat

tails. Mrs. Tittlemouse went

round with a mop.

He sat such a while that he had

to be asked if he would take some dinner?

First she offered him cherry-

stones. "Thank you, thank you,

Mrs. Tittlemouse! No teeth, no

teeth, no teeth!" said Mr. Jackson.

He opened his mouth most

unnecessarily wide; he certainly had

not a tooth in his head.

Then she offered him thistle-

down seed--"Tiddly, widdly,

widdly! Pouff, pouff, puff." said

Mr. Jackson. He blew the thistle-

down all over the room.

"Thank you, thank you, thank

you, Mrs. Tittlemouse! Now what

I really--REALLY should like--

would be a little dish of honey!"

"I am afraid I have not got

any, Mr. Jackson!" said Mrs. Tittlemouse.

"Tiddly, widdly, widdly,

Mrs. Tittlemouse!" said the

smiling Mr. Jackson, "I can SMELL it;

that is why I came to call."

Mr. Jackson rose ponderously

from the table, and began

to look into the cupboards.

Mrs. Tittlemouse followed him with a dishcloth,

to wipe his large wet footmarks off the parlor floor.

When he had convinced himself

that there was no honey in the

cupboards, he began to walk

down the passage.

"Indeed, indeed, you will stick fast, Mr.Jackson!"

"Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs. Tittlemouse!"

First he squeezed into the pantry.

"Tiddly, widdly, widdly? No

honey? No honey, Mrs. Tittlemouse?"

There were three creepy-crawly

people hiding in the plate rack.

Two of them got away; but the

littlest one he caught.

Then he squeezed into the larder.

Miss Butterfly was tasting the

sugar; but she flew away out of

the window.

"Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs.

Tittlemouse; you seem to have

plenty of visitors!"

"And without any invitation!"

said Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse.

They went along the sandy

passage--"Tiddly, widdly--" "Buzz!

Wizz! Wizz!"

He met Babbitty round a corner,

and snapped her up, and put

her down again.

"I do not like bumble bees. They

are all over bristles," said Mr.

Jackson, wiping his mouth with

his coat sleeve.

"Get out, you nasty old toad!" shrieked Babbitty Bumble.

"I shall go distracted!" scolded Mrs. Tittlemouse.

She shut herself up in the nut

cellar while Mr. Jackson pulled out

the bees-nest. He seemed to have

no objection to stings.

When Mrs. Tittlemouse ventured

to come out--everybody

had gone away.

But the untidiness was something

dreadful--"Never did I see

such a mess--smears of honey;

and moss, and thistledown--and

marks of big and little dirty feet--

all over my nice clean house!"

She gathered up the moss

and the remains of the bees-wax.

Then she went out and

fetched some twigs, to partly

close up the front door.

"I will make it too small for

Mr. Jackson!"

She fetched soft soap, and

flannel, and a new scrubbing

brush from the storeroom.

But she was too tired to do any

more. First she fell asleep in

her chair, and then she went

to bed.

"Will it ever be tidy again?"

said poor Mrs. Tittlemouse.

Next morning she got up

very early and began a spring

cleaning which lasted a fort-night.

She swept, and scrubbed,

and dusted; and she rubbed

up the furniture with bees-wax,

and polished her little tin spoons.

When it was all beautifully

neat and clean, she gave a

party to five other little mice,

without Mr. Jackson.

He smelt the party and

came up the bank, but he

could not squeeze in at the door.

So they handed him out acorn cupfuls of honeydew

through the window, and he was not at all offended.

He sat outside in the sun, and said--"Tiddly, widdly, widdly!

Your very good health, Mrs. Tittlemouse!"




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