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Authors: Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (2 page)

BOOK: The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
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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.

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 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.

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.

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."

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

But he ate up the honey!

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.

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!"

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

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.

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