They clicked their thimbles to mark the time, but none of the songs pleased 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 thimbles, and little mouse voices singing—
“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 moonlight; and he felt quite ashamed of his badness compared with those good little mice!
When the tailor awoke in the morning, 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!
“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 chimney 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 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 something.
But there was no one there! Not even one little brown mouse!
The boards were swept 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.
There were roses and pansies upon the facings of the coat; and the waistcoat was worked with poppies and corn-flowers.
Everything was finished except just one single cherry-coloured button-hole, and where that button-hole was wanting there was pinned a scrap of paper with these words—in little teeny weeny writing—