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Full text of "The tailor of Gloucester"

POTTER 



THE TAILOR 
OF GLOUCESTER 



THE TAILOR OF 
GLOUCESTER 



B 




LIT 

Author oj 
he Tale of Peter Rabbit" etc. 

2 1997 



OISE/UT 



'I'LL BE 
AND ENTERTAIN A SCORE OR TWO OF TAILORS." 

Richard III 



LONDON 

FREDERICK WARNE & CO., LTD. 
AND NEW YORK 

[All rights reserved^ 



Copyright in all Countries 

signatory to the Berne Convention 

FREDERICK WARNE & Co., LTD. 

LONDON, ^ENGLAND 




05115 



Printed for the Publishers 

by Jarrold & Sons Ltd., Norwich 

1535-264 




DEAR FREDA, 

Because you are fond of fairy- 
tales, and have been ill, I have 
made you a story all for yourself 
a new one that nobody has read 
before. 

And the queerest thing about it 
is that I heard it in Gloucester- 
shire, and that it is true at least 
about the tailor, the waistcoat, and 
the 

"JV0 more twist!" 

Christmas, 1901 



THE TAILOR 
OF GLOUCESTER 

IN the time of swords and periwigs 
and full-skirted coats with flowered 
lappets when gentlemen wore ruffles, 
and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy 
and taffeta there lived a tailor in 
Gloucester. 

He sat in the window of a little 
shop in Westgate Street, cross-legged 
on a table, from morning till dark. 

All day long while the light lasted he 
sewed and snippeted, piecing out his 
satin and pompadour, and lutestring; 
stuffs had strange names, and were 
very expensive in the days of the 
Tailor of Gloucester. 



io The Tailor of Gloucester 

But although he sewed fine silk for 
his neighbours, he himself was very, 
very poor a little old man in spec- 
tacles, with a pinched face, old crooked 
fingers, and a suit of thread-bare 
clothes. 

He cut his coats without waste, 
according to his embroidered cloth; 
they were very small ends and snippets 
that lay about upon the table "Too 
narrow breadths for nought except 
waistcoats for mice," said the tailor. 

One bitter cold day near Christmas- 
time the tailor began to make a coat 
a coat of cherry-coloured corded 
silk embroidered with pansies and roses, 
and a cream coloured satin waistcoat 
trimmed with gauze and green 



The Tailor of Gloucester 1 3 

worsted chenille for the Mayor of 
Gloucester. 

The tailor worked and worked, and 
he talked to himself. He measured 
the silk, and turned it round and 
round, and trimmed it into shape with 
his shears; the table was all littered 
with cherry-coloured snippets. 

"No breadth at all, and cut on the 
cross; it is no breadth at all; tippets 
for mice and ribbons for mobs ! for 
mice!" said the Tailor of Gloucester. 

When the snow-flakes came down 
against the small leaded window-panes 
and shut out the light, the tailor had 
done his day's work; all the silk and 
satin lay cut out upon the table. 

There were twelve pieces for the 



14 The Tailor of Gloucester 

coat and four pieces for the waistcoat ; 
and there were pocket flaps and cuffs, 
and buttons all in order. For the 
lining of the coat there was fine yellow 
taffeta ; and for the button-holes of the 
waistcoat, there was cherry-coloured 
twist. And everything was ready to 
sew together in the morning, all mea- ^ 
sured and sufficient except that there 
was wanting just one single skein of 
cherry-coloured twisted silk. 

The tailor came out of his shop at 
dark, for he did not sleep there at 
nights; he fastened the window and 
locked the door, and took away the 
key. No one lived there at night but 
little brown mice, and they run in and 
out without any keys ! 



The Tailor of Gloucester 17 

For behind the wooden wainscots of 
all the old houses in Gloucester, there 
are little mouse staircases and secret 
trap-doors; and the mice run from house 
to house through those long narrow 
passages; they can run all over the 
town without going into the streets. 

But the tailor came out of his shop, 
and shuffled home through the snow. 
He lived quite near by in College Court, 
next the doorway to College Green; 
and although it was not a big house, 
the tailor was so poor he only rented 
the kitchen. 

He lived alone with his cat; it was 
called Simpkin. 

Now all day long while the tailor 
was out at work, Simpkin kept house 



1 8 The Tailor of Gloucester 

by himself; and he also was fond of 
the mice, though he gave them no 
satin for coats ! 

"Miaw?" said the cat when the 
tailor opened the door. "Miaw?" 

The tailor replied "Simpkin, we 
shall make our fortune, but I am worn 
to a ravelling. Take this groat (which 
is our last fourpence) and Simpkin, 
take a china pipkin; buy a penn'orth 
of bread, a penn'orth of milk and a 
penn'orth of sausages. And oh, Simp- 
kin, with the last penny of our four- 
pence buy me one penn'orth of cherry- 
coloured silk. But do not lose the 
last penny of the fourpence, Simpkin, 
or I am undone and worn to a thread- 
paper, for I have NO MORE TWIST." 







20 



The Tailor of Gloucester 21 

Then Simpkin again said, " Miaw?" 
and took the groat and the pipkin, 
and went out into the dark. 

The tailor was very tired and begin- 
ning to be ill. He sat down by the 
hearth and talked to himself about 
that wonderful coat. 

"I shall make my fortune to be 
cut bias the Mayor of Gloucester is 
to be married on Christmas Day in 
the morning, and he hath ordered a 
coat and an embroidered waistcoat 
to be lined with yellow taffeta and 
the taffeta sufficeth; there is no more 
left over in snippets than will serve to 
make tippets for mice " 

Then the tailor started ; for sud- 
denly, interrupting him, from the 



22 The Tailor of Gloucester 

dresser at the other side of the kitchen 
came a number of little noises - 

Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip! 

"Now what can that be?" said the 
Tailor of Gloucester, jumping up from 
his chair. The dresser was covered 
with crockery and pipkins, willow 
pattern plates, and tea-cups and mugs. 

The tailor crossed the kitchen, and 
stood quite still beside the dresser, 
listening, and peering through his 
spectacles. Again from under a tea- 
cup, came those funny little noises 

Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip! 

"This is very peculiar," said the 
Tailor of Gloucester; and he lifted 
up the tea-cup which was upside 
down. 




2 4 



The Tailor of Gloucester 25 

Out stepped a little live lady mouse, 
and made a curtsey to the tailor ! Then 
she hopped away down off the dresser, 
and under the wainscot. 

The tailor sat down again by the 
fire, warming his poor cold hands, and 
mumbling to himself 

"The waistcoat is cut out from 
peach-coloured satin tambour stitch 
and rose-buds in beautiful floss silk. 
Was I wise to entrust my last four- 
pence to Simpkin? One-and- twenty 
button-holes of cherry-coloured twist!" 

But all at once, from the dresser, 
there came other little noises: 

Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip! 

"This is passing extraordinary!" 
said the Tailor of Gloucester, and 



26 The Tailor of Gloucester 

turned over another tea-cup, which 
was upside down. 

Out stepped a little gentleman 
mouse, and made a bow to the tailor ! 

And then from all over the dresser 
came a chorus of little tappings, all 
sounding together, and answering one 
another, like watch-beetles in an old 
worm-eaten window-shutter 

Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip! 

And out from under tea-cups and 
from under bowls and basins, stepped 
other and more little mice who hopped 
away down off the dresser and under 
the wainscot. 

The tailor sat down, close over the 
fire, lamenting " One-and-twenty 
button-holes of cherry-coloured silk! 




28 



The Tailor of Gloucester 29 

To be finished by noon of Saturday : 
and this is Tuesday evening. Was it 
right to let loose those mice, undoubt- 
edly the property of Simpkin? Alack, 
I am undone, for I have no more 
twist!" 

The little mice came out again, and 
listened to the tailor; they took notice 
of the pattern of that wonderful coat. 
They whispered to one another about 
the taffeta lining, and about little 
mouse tippets. 

And then all at once they all ran 
away together down the passage 
behind the wainscot, squeaking and 
calling to one another, as they ran 
from house to house; and not one 
mouse was left in the tailor's kitchen 



30 The Tailor of Gloucester 

when Simpkin came back with the 
pipkin of milk ! 

Simpkin opened the door and 
bounced in, with an angry "G-r-r- 
miaw!" like a cat that is vexed; for 
he hated the snow, and there was snow 
in his ears, and snow in his collar at 
the back of his neck. He put down 
the loaf and the sausages upon the 
dresser, and sniffed. 

"Simpkin," said the tailor, "where 
is my twist?" 

But Simpkin set down the pipkin 
of milk upon the dresser, and looked 
suspiciously at the tea-cups. He wanted 
his supper of little fat mouse ! 

"Simpkin," said the tailor, "where 
is my TWIST?" 



The Tailor of Gloucester 33 

But Simpkin hid a little parcel pri- 
vately in the tea-pot, and spit and 
growled at the tailor ; and if Simpkin 
had been able to talk, he would have 
asked: "Where is my MOUSE?" 

"Alack, I am undone!" said the 
Tailor of Gloucester, and went sadly 
to bed. 

All that night long Simpkin hunted 
and searched through the kitchen, 
peeping into cupboards and under the 
wainscot, and into the tea-pot where 
he had hidden that twist; but still he 
found never a mouse! 

Whenever the tailor muttered and 
talked in his sleep, Simpkin said " Miaw- 
ger-r-w-s-s-ch ! " and made strange 
horrid noises, as cats do at night. 



34 The Tailor of Gloucester 

For the poor old tailor was very ill 
with a fever, tossing and turning in 
his four-post bed; and still in his 
dreams he mumbled "No more twist ! 
no more twist ! " 

All that day he was ill, and the next 
day, and the next; and what should 
become of the cherry-coloured coat? 
In the tailor's shop in Westgate Street 
the embroidered silk and satin lay cut 
put upon the table one-and-twenty 
button-holes and who should come 
to sew them, when the window was 
barred, and the door was fast locked? 

But that does not hinder the little 
brown mice; they run in and out 
without any keys through all the old 
houses in Gloucester! 






The Tailor of Gloucester 37 

Out of doors the market folks went 
trudging through the snow to buy their 
geese and turkeys, and to bake their 
Christmas pies; but there would be 
no Christmas dinner for Simpkin and 
the poor old Tailor of Gloucester. 

The tailor lay ill for three days and 
nights ; and then it was Christmas Eve ? 
and very late at night. The moon 
climbed up over the roofs and chim- 
neys, and looked down over the gate- 
way into College Court. There were 
no lights in the windows, nor any sound 
in the houses ; all the city of Gloucester 
was fast asleep under the snow. 

And still Simpkin wanted his mice, 
and mewed as he stood beside the 
four-post bed. 



38 The Tailor of Gloucester 

But it is in the old story that all the 
beasts can talk, in the night between 
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 
the morning (though there are very 
few folk that can hear them, or know 
what it is that they say). 

When the Cathedral clock struck 
twelve there was an answer like an 
echo of the chimes and Simpkin 
heard it, and came out of the tailor's 
door, and wandered about in the snow. 

From all the roofs and gables and 
old wooden houses in Gloucester 
came a thousand merry voices singing 
the old Christmas rhymes all the old 
songs that ever I heard of, and some 
that I don't know, like Whittington's 
bells. 




39 



' 





The Tailor of Gloucester 41 

First and loudest the cocks cried 
out: "Dame, get up, and bake your 
pies!" 

"Oh, dilly, dilly, dilly!" sighed 
Simpkin. 

And now in a garret there were 
lights and sounds of dancing, and cats 
came from over the way. 

"Hey, diddle, diddle, the cat and 
the fiddle! All the cats in Gloucester 
except me," said Simpkin. 

Under the wooden eaves the starlings 
and sparrows sang of Christmas pies ; 
the jack-daws woke up in the Cathe- 
dral tower; and although it was the 
middle of the night the throstles and 
robins sang ; the air was quite full of 
little twittering tunes. 



42 The Tailor of Gloucester 

But it was all rather provoking to 
poor hungry Simpkin! 

Particularly he was vexed with some 
little shrill voices from behind a wooden 
lattice. I think that they were bats, 
because they always have very small 
voices especially in a black frost, 
when they talk in their sleep, like the 
Tailor of Gloucester. 

They said something mysterious 
that sounded like 

" Buz, quoth the blue fly ; hum, quoth the bee ; 
Buz and hum they cry, and so do we!" 

and Simpkin went away shaking his 
ears as if he had a bee in his bonnet. 

From the tailor's shop in Westgate 
came a glow of light ; and when Simp- 
kin crept up to peep in at the window 




43 




44 



The Tailor of Gloucester 45 

it was full of candles. There was a 
snippeting of scissors, and snappeting 
of thread; and little mouse voices 
sang loudly and gaily 

" Four-and- twenty tailors 
Went to catch a snail, 
The best man amongst them 
Durst not touch her tail ; 
She put out her horns 
Like a little kyloe cow, 
Run, tailors, run ! or she'll have you all e'en 

now!" 

Then without a pause the little 
mouse voices went on again 
"Sieve my lady's oatmeal, 
Grind my lady's flour, 
Put it in a chestnut, 

Let it stand an hour " 

"Mew! Mew!" interrupted Simp- 
kin, and he scratched at the door. 



46 The Tailor of Gloucester 

But the key was under the tailor's 
pillow; he could not get in. 

The little mice only laughed, and 
tried another tune 

"Three little mice sat down to spin, 
Pussy passed by and she peeped in. 
What are you at, my fine little men? 
Making coats for gentlemen. 
Shall I come in and cut off your threads? 
Oh, no, Miss Pussy, you'd bite off our heads!" 

"Mew! Mew!" cried Simpkin. 
"Hey diddle dinketty?" answered 
the little mice 

" Hey diddle dinketty, poppetty pet ! 
The merchants of London they wear scarlet ; 
Silk in the collar, and gold in the hem, 
So merrily march the merchantmen!" 

They clicked their thimbles to mark 
the time, but none of the songs pleased 




4 8 



The Tailor of Gloucester 4.9 

Simpkin; he sniffed and mewed at 
the door of the shop. 

"And then I bought 
A pipkin and a popkin, 
A slipkin and a slopkin, 
All for one farthing - 

and upon the kitchen dresser ! " added 
the rude little mice. 

" Mew ! scratch ! scratch ! " scuffled 
Simpkin on the window-sill ; while the 
little mice inside sprang to their feet, 
and all began to shout at once in little 
twittering voices: "No more twist! 
No more twist!" And they barred 
up the window shutters and shut out 
Simpkin. 

But still through the nicks in the 
shutters he could hear the click of 



50 The Tailor of Gloucester 

thimbles, and little mouse voices sing- 
ing 

"No more twist! No more twist!" 

Simpkin came away from the shop 
and went home, considering in his 
mind. He found the poor old tailor 
without fever, sleeping peacefully. 

Then Simpkin went on tip-toe and 
took a little parcel of silk out of the 
tea-pot, and looked at it in the moon- 
light ; and he felt quite ashamed of his 
badness compared with those good 
little mice! 

When the tailor awoke in the morn- 
ing, the first thing which he saw upon 
the patchwork quilt, was a skein of 
cherry-coloured twisted silk, and beside 
his bed stood the repentant Simpkin! 



The Tailor of Gloucester 53 

"Alack, I am worn to a ravelling," 
said the Tailor of Gloucester, "but I 
have my twist!" 

The sun was shining on the snow 
when the tailor got up and dressed, 
and came out into the street with 
Simpkin running before him. 

The starlings whistled on the chim- 
ney stacks, and the throstles and 
robins sang but they sang their own 
little noises, not the words they had 
sung in the night. 

"Alack," said the tailor, "I have 
my twist; but no more strength nor 
time than will serve to make me 
one single button-hole; for this is 
Christmas Day in the Morning ! The 
Mayor of Gloucester shall be married 



54 The Tailor of Gloucester 

by noon and where is his cherry- 
coloured coat?" 

He unlocked the door of the little 
shop in Westgate Street, and Simpkin 
ran in, like a cat that expects some- 
thing. 

But there was no one there ! Not 
even one little brown mouse ! 

The boards were swept and clean; 
the little ends of thread and the little 
silk snippets were all tidied away, and 
gone from off the floor. 

But upon the table oh, joy! the 
tailor gave a shout there, where he 
had left plain cuttings of silk there 
lay the most beautifullest coat and 
embroidered satin waistcoat that ever 
were worn by a Mayor of Gloucester. 




55 



56 The Tailor of Gloucester 

There were roses and pansies upon 
the facings of the coat ; and the waist- 
coat was worked with poppies and 
corn-flowers. 

Everything was finished except just 
one single cherry-coloured button-hole, 
and where that button-hole was want- 
ing there was pinned a scrap of paper 
with these words in little teeny 
weeny writing 

NO MORE TWIST 

And from then began the luck of 
the Tailor of Gloucester; he grew 
quite stout, and he grew quite rich. 

He made the most wonderful waist- 
coats for all the rich merchants of 
Gloucester, and for all the fine gentle- 
men of the country round. 




57 



The Tailor of Gloucester 59 

Never were seen such ruffles, or 
such embroidered cuffs and lappets ! 
But his button-holes were the greatest 
triumph of it all. 

The stitches of those button-holes 
were so neat so neat I wonder how 
they could be stitched by an old man 
in spectacles, with crooked old fingers, 
and a tailor's thimble. 

The stitches of those button-holes 
were so small so small they looked 
as if they had been made by little 
mice! 

THE END 



I 



Potter, B* 

The tailor of Gloucester. 



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