“No? Would you rather go to bed? I will show you a most comfortable sofa pillow.”
The sofa pillow had a hole in it. Johnny Town-mouse quite honestly recommended it as the best bed, kept exclusively for visitors. But the sofa smelt of cat. Timmy Willie preferred to spend a miserable night under the fender.
It was just the same next day. An excellent breakfast was provided—for mice accustomed to eat bacon; but Timmy Willie had been reared on roots and salad. Johnny Town-mouse and his friends racketted about under the floors, and came boldly out all over the house in the evening. One particularly loud crash had been caused by Sarah tumbling downstairs with the tea-tray; there were crumbs and sugar and smears of jam to be collected, in spite of the cat.
Timmy Willie longed to be at home in his peaceful nest in a sunny bank. The food disagreed with him; the noise prevented him from sleeping. In a few days he grew so thin that Johnny Town-mouse noticed it, and questioned him. He listened to Timmy Willie’s story and inquired about the garden. “It sounds rather a dull place? What do you do when it rains?”
“When it rains, I sit in my little sandy burrow and shell corn and seeds from my Autumn store. I peep out at the throstles and blackbirds on the lawn, and my friend Cock Robin. And when the sun comes out again, you should see my garden and the flowers—roses and pinks and pansies—no noise except the birds and bees, and the lambs in the meadows.”
“There goes that cat again!” exclaimed Johnny Town-mouse. When they had taken refuge in the coal-cellar he resumed the conversation; “I confess I am a little disappointed; we have endeavoured to entertain you, Timothy William.”
“Oh yes, yes, you have been most kind; but I do feel so ill,” said Timmy Willie.
“It may be that your teeth and digestion are unaccustomed to our food; perhaps it might be wiser for you to return in the hamper.”
“Oh? Oh!” cried Timmy Willie.
“Why of course for the matter of that we could have sent you back last week,” said Johnny rather huffily—“did you not know that the hamper goes back empty on Saturdays?”
So Timmy Willie said good-bye to his new friends, and hid in the hamper with a crumb of cake and a withered cabbage leaf; and after much jolting, he was set down safely in his own garden.
Sometimes on Saturdays he went to look at the hamper lying by the gate, but he knew better than to get in again. And nobody got out, though Johnny Town-mouse had half promised a visit.
The winter passed; the sun came out again; Timmy Willie sat by his burrow warming his little fur coat and sniffing the smell of violets and spring grass. He had nearly forgotten his visit to town. When up the sandy path all spick and span with a brown leather bag came Johnny Town-mouse!
Timmy Willie received him with open arms. “You have come at the best of all the year, we will have herb pudding and sit in the sun.”