Tale of SQUIRREL NUTKINpage 2 / 4
"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.
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!"
The squirrels searched for nuts 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.
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.
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.
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 dockleaf, 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.
The other squirrels hunted up and down the nut bushes; but Nutkin gathered robin's pin-cushions off a briar bush, and stuck them full of pine-needle pins.