The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse
 

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
children!"

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!"