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the tale of timmy tiptoes.
by beatrix potter.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
ONCE upon a time there was a little fat comfortable grey squirrel,
called Timmy Tiptoes. He had a nest thatched with leaves in the top of a
tall tree; and he had a little squirrel wife called Goody.
TIMMY TIPTOES sat out, enjoying the breeze; he whisked his tail and
chuckled--"Little wife Goody, the nuts are ripe; we must lay up a store
for winter and spring." Goody Tiptoes was busy pushing moss under the
thatch--"The nest is so snug, we shall be sound asleep all winter."
"Then we shall wake up all the thinner, when there is nothing to eat in
spring-time," replied prudent Timothy.
WHEN Timmy and Goody Tiptoes came to the nut thicket, they found other
squirrels were there already.
Timmy took off his jacket and hung it on a twig; they worked away
quietly by themselves.
EVERY day they made several journeys and picked quantities of nuts. They
carried them away in bags, and stored them in several hollow stumps near
the tree where they had built their nest.
WHEN these stumps were full, they began to empty the bags into a hole
high up a tree, that had belonged to a wood-pecker; the nuts rattled
"How shall you ever get them out again? It is like a money-box!" said
"I shall be much thinner before spring-time, my love," said Timmy
Tiptoes, peeping into the hole.
THEY did collect quantities--because they did not lose them! Squirrels
who bury their nuts in the ground lose more than half, because they
cannot remember the place.
The most forgetful squirrel in the wood was called Silvertail. He began
to dig, and he could not remember. And then he dug again and found some
nuts that did not belong to him; and there was a fight. And other
squirrels began to dig,--the whole wood was in commotion!
UNFORTUNATELY, just at this time a flock of little birds flew by, from
bush to bush, searching for green caterpillars and spiders. There were
several sorts of little birds, twittering different songs.
The first one sang--"Who's bin digging-up MY nuts? Who's-been-digging-up
And another sang--"Little bita bread and-NO-cheese! Little bit-a-bread
THE squirrels followed and listened. The first little bird flew into the
bush where Timmy and Goody Tiptoes were quietly tying up their bags, and
it sang--"Who's-bin digging-up MY nuts? Who's been digging-up MY-nuts?"
Timmy Tiptoes went on with his work without replying; indeed, the little
bird did not expect an answer. It was only singing its natural song, and
it meant nothing at all.
BUT when the other squirrels heard that song, they rushed upon Timmy
Tiptoes and cuffed and scratched him, and upset his bag of nuts. The
innocent little bird which had caused all the mischief, flew away in a
Timmy rolled over and over, and then turned tail and fled towards his
nest, followed by a crowd of squirrels shouting--"Who's-been digging-up
THEY caught him and dragged him up the very same tree, where there was
the little round hole, and they pushed him in. The hole was much too
small for Timmy Tiptoes' figure. They squeezed him dreadfully, it was a
wonder they did not break his ribs. "We will leave him here till he
confesses," said Silvertail Squirrel, and he shouted into the hole--
TIMMY TIPTOES made no reply; he had tumbled down inside the tree, upon
half a peck of nuts belonging to himself. He lay quite stunned and
GOODY TIPTOES picked up the nut bags and went home. She made a cup of
tea for Timmy; but he didn't come and didn't come.
Goody Tiptoes passed a lonely and unhappy night. Next morning she
ventured back to the nut-bushes to look for him; but the other unkind
squirrels drove her away.
She wandered all over the wood, calling--
"Timmy Tiptoes! Timmy Tiptoes! Oh, where is Timmy Tiptoes?"
IN the meantime Timmy Tiptoes came to his senses. He found himself
tucked up in a little moss bed, very much in the dark, feeling sore; it
seemed to be under ground. Timmy coughed and groaned, because his ribs
hurted him. There was a chirpy noise, and a small striped Chipmunk
appeared with a night light, and hoped he felt better?
It was most kind to Timmy Tiptoes; it lent him its nightcap; and the
house was full of provisions.
THE Chipmunk explained that it had rained nuts through the top of the
tree--"Besides, I found a few buried!" It laughed and chuckled when it
heard Timmy's story. While Timmy was confined to bed, it 'ticed him to
eat quantities--"But how shall I ever get out through that hole unless I
thin myself? My wife will be anxious!" "Just another nut--or two nuts;
let me crack them for you," said the Chipmunk. Timmy Tiptoes grew fatter
NOW Goody Tiptoes had set to work again by herself. She did not put any
more nuts into the woodpecker's hole, because she had always doubted how
they could be got out again. She hid them under a tree root; they
rattled down, down, down. Once when Goody emptied an extra big bagful,
there was a decided squeak; and next time Goody brought another bagful,
a little striped Chipmunk scrambled out in a hurry.
"IT is getting perfectly full-up down-stairs; the sitting-room is full,
and they are rolling along the passage; and my husband, Chippy Hackee,
has run away and left me. What is the explanation of these showers of
"I am sure I beg your pardon; I did not not know that anybody lived
here," said Mrs. Goody Tiptoes; "but where is Chippy Hackee? My husband,
Timmy Tiptoes, has run away too." "I know where Chippy is; a little bird
told me," said Mrs. Chippy Hackee.
SHE led the way to the woodpecker's tree, and they listened at the hole.
Down below there was a noise of nut crackers, and a fat squirrel voice
and a thin squirrel voice were singing together--
"My little old man and I fell out,
How shall we bring this matter about?
Bring it about as well as you can,
And get you gone, you little old man!"
"You could squeeze in, through that little round hole," said Goody
Tiptoes. "Yes, I could," said the Chipmunk, "but my husband, Chippy
Down below there was a noise of cracking nuts and nibbling; and then the
fat squirrel voice and the thin squirrel voice sang--
"For the diddlum day
Day diddle dum di!
Day diddle diddle dum day!"
THEN Goody peeped in at the hole, and called down--"Timmy Tiptoes! Oh
fie, Timmy Tiptoes!" And Timmy replied, "Is that you, Goody Tiptoes?
He came up and kissed Goody through the hole; but he was so fat that he
could not get out.
Chippy Hackee was not too fat, but he did not want to come; he stayed
down below and chuckled.
AND so it went on for a fortnight; till a big wind blew off the top of
the tree, and opened up the hole and let in the rain.
Then Timmy Tiptoes came out, and went home with an umbrella.
BUT Chippy Hackee continued to camp out for another week, although it
AT last a large bear came walking through the wood. Perhaps he also was
looking for nuts; he seemed to be sniffing around.
CHIPPY HACKEE went home in a hurry!
AND when Chippy Hackee got home, he found he had caught a cold in his
head; and he was more uncomfortable still.
And now Timmy and Goody Tiptoes keep their nut-store fastened up with a
AND whenever that little bird sees the Chipmunks, he
sings--"Who's-been-digging-up MY-nuts? Who's been digging-up MY-nuts?"
But nobody ever answers!