Infomotions, Inc.The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin / Potter, Beatrix, 1866-1943



Author: Potter, Beatrix, 1866-1943
Title: The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): nutkin; squirrels; trademark; refund; archive; brown; literary; access; donations; old brown
Contributor(s): Houghton, Louise Seymour, 1838-1920 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 4,219 words (really short) Grade range: 10-12 (high school) Readability score: 50 (average)
Identifier: etext14872
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Title: The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

Author: Beatrix Potter

Release Date: February 2, 2005 [EBook #14872]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE TALE OF SQUIRREL NUTKIN ***




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Proofreading Team.







THE TALE OF
SQUIRREL NUTKIN

BY
BEATRIX POTTER

_Author of_
"_The Tale of Peter Rabbit_"

[Illustration]

FREDERICK WARNE

[Illustration]

FREDERICK WARNE




1903 by Frederick Warne & Co.

Printed and bound in Great Britain by
William Clowes Limited, Beccles and London




A STORY FOR NORAH

[Illustration]

This is a Tale about a tail--a tail that belonged to a little red
squirrel, and his name was Nutkin.

He had a brother called Twinkleberry, and a great many cousins: they lived
in a wood at the edge of a lake.

[Illustration]

In the middle of the lake there is an island covered with trees and nut
bushes; and amongst those trees stands a hollow oak-tree, which is the
house of an owl who is called Old Brown.

[Illustration]

One autumn when the nuts were ripe, and the leaves on the hazel bushes
were golden and green--Nutkin and Twinkleberry and all the other little
squirrels came out of the wood, and down to the edge of the lake.

[Illustration]

They made little rafts out of twigs, and they paddled away over the water
to Owl Island to gather nuts.

Each squirrel had a little sack and a large oar, and spread out his tail
for a sail.

[Illustration]

They also took with them an offering of three fat mice as a present for
Old Brown, and put them down upon his door-step.

Then Twinkleberry and the other little squirrels each made a low bow, and
said politely--

"Old Mr. Brown, will you favour us with permission to gather nuts upon
your island?"

[Illustration]

But Nutkin was excessively impertinent in his manners. He bobbed up and
down like a little red _cherry_, singing--

    "Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tote!
     A little wee man, in a red red coat!
     A staff in his hand, and a stone in his throat;
     If you'll tell me this riddle, I'll give you a groat."

Now this riddle is as old as the hills; Mr. Brown paid no attention
whatever to Nutkin.

He shut his eyes obstinately and went to sleep.

[Illustration]

The squirrels filled their little sacks with nuts, and sailed away home in
the evening.

[Illustration]

But next morning they all came back again to Owl Island; and Twinkleberry
and the others brought a fine fat mole, and laid it on the stone in front
of Old Brown's doorway, and said--

"Mr. Brown, will you favour us with your gracious permission to gather
some more nuts?"

[Illustration]

But Nutkin, who had no respect, began to dance up and down, tickling old
Mr. Brown with a _nettle_ and singing--

    "Old Mr. B! Riddle-me-ree!
     Hitty Pitty within the wall,
     Hitty Pitty without the wall;
     If you touch Hitty Pitty,
     Hitty Pitty will bite you!"

Mr. Brown woke up suddenly and carried the mole into his house.

[Illustration]

He shut the door in Nutkin's face. Presently a little thread of blue
_smoke_ from a wood fire came up from the top of the tree, and Nutkin
peeped through the key-hole and sang--

    "A house full, a hole full!
     And you cannot gather a bowl-full!"



[Illustration]

The squirrels searched for nuts all over the island and filled their
little sacks.

But Nutkin gathered oak-apples--yellow and scarlet--and sat upon a
beech-stump playing marbles, and watching the door of old Mr. Brown.

[Illustration]

On the third day the squirrels got up very early and went fishing; they
caught seven fat minnows as a present for Old Brown.

They paddled over the lake and landed under a crooked chestnut tree on Owl
Island.

[Illustration]

Twinkleberry and six other little squirrels each carried a fat minnow; but
Nutkin, who had no nice manners, brought no present at all. He ran in
front, singing--

    "The man in the wilderness said to me,
    'How many strawberries grow in the sea?'
     I answered him as I thought good--
     'As many red herrings as grow in the wood.'"

But old Mr. Brown took no interest in riddles--not even when the answer
was provided for him.

[Illustration]

On the fourth day the squirrels brought a present of six fat beetles,
which were as good as plums in _plum-pudding_ for Old Brown. Each beetle
was wrapped up carefully in a dock-leaf, fastened with a pine-needle pin.

But Nutkin sang as rudely as ever--

     "Old Mr. B! riddle-me-ree
      Flour of England, fruit of Spain,
      Met together in a shower of rain;
      Put in a bag tied round with a string,
    If you'll tell me this riddle, I'll give you a ring!"


Which was ridiculous of Nutkin, because he had not got any ring to give to
Old Brown.

[Illustration]

The other squirrels hunted up and down the nut bushes; but Nutkin
gathered robin's pincushions off a briar bush, and stuck them full of
pine-needle pins.

[Illustration]

On the fifth day the squirrels brought a present of wild honey; it was so
sweet and sticky that they licked their fingers as they put it down upon
the stone. They had stolen it out of a bumble _bees'_ nest on the tippitty
top of the hill.

But Nutkin skipped up and down, singing--

    "Hum-a-bum! buzz! buzz! Hum-a-bum buzz!
      As I went over Tipple-tine
      I met a flock of bonny swine;
    Some yellow-nacked, some yellow backed!
      They were the very bonniest swine
      That e'er went over Tipple-tine."

[Illustration]

Old Mr. Brown turned up his eyes in disgust at the impertinence of Nutkin.

But he ate up the honey!

[Illustration]

The squirrels filled their little sacks with nuts.

But Nutkin sat upon a big flat rock, and played ninepins with a crab apple
and green fir-cones.

[Illustration]

On the sixth day, which was Saturday, the squirrels came again for the
last time; they brought a new-laid _egg_ in a little rush basket as a last
parting present for Old Brown.

But Nutkin ran in front laughing, and shouting--

    "Humpty Dumpty lies in the beck,
     With a white counterpane round his neck,
     Forty doctors and forty wrights,
     Cannot put Humpty Dumpty to rights!"

[Illustration]

Now old Mr. Brown took an interest in eggs; he opened one eye and shut it
again. But still he did not speak.

[Illustration]

Nutkin became more and more impertinent--

      "Old Mr. B! Old Mr. B!
    Hickamore, Hackamore, on the King's kitchen door;
    All the King's horses, and all the King's men,
    Couldn't drive Hickamore, Hackamore,
    Off the King's kitchen door."

Nutkin danced up and down like a _sunbeam_; but still Old Brown said
nothing at all.

[Illustration]

Nutkin began again--

    "Arthur O'Bower has broken his band,
     He comes roaring up the land!
     The King of Scots with all his power,
     Cannot turn Arthur of the Bower!"

Nutkin made a whirring noise to sound like the _wind_, and he took a
running jump right onto the head of Old Brown!...

Then all at once there was a flutterment and a scufflement and a loud
"Squeak!"

The other squirrels scuttered away into the bushes.

[Illustration]

When they came back very cautiously, peeping round the tree--there was Old
Brown sitting on his door-step, quite still, with his eyes closed, as if
nothing had happened.

       *       *       *       *       *

_But Nutkin was in his waistcoat pocket!_

[Illustration]

This looks like the end of the story; but it isn't.

[Illustration]

Old Brown carried Nutkin into his house, and held him up by the tail,
intending to skin him; but Nutkin pulled so very hard that his tail broke
in two, and he dashed up the staircase and escaped out of the attic
window.

[Illustration]

And to this day, if you meet Nutkin up a tree and ask him a riddle, he
will throw sticks at you, and stamp his feet and scold, and shout--

"Cuck-cuck-cuck-cur-r-r-cuck-k-k!"


THE END





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