“Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs. Tittlemouse!” said the smiling Mr. Jackson, “I can smell it; that is why I came to call.”
Mr. Jackson rose ponderously from the table, and began to look into the cupboards.
Mrs. Tittlemouse followed him with a dish-cloth, to wipe his large wet footmarks off the parlour floor.
[Illustration: Wiping up footmarks]
[Illustration: Walking down the passage]
When he had convinced himself that there was no honey in the cupboards, he began to walk down the passage.
“Indeed, indeed, you will stick fast, Mr. Jackson!”
“Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs. Tittlemouse!”
First he squeezed into the pantry.
“Tiddly, widdly, widdly? no honey? no honey, Mrs. Tittlemouse?”
There were three creepy-crawly people hiding in the plate-rack. Two of them got away; but the littlest one he caught.
[Illustration: Creepy-crawly people]
[Illustration: Butterfly tasting the sugar]
Then he squeezed into the larder. Miss Butterfly was tasting the sugar; but she flew away out of the window.
“Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs. Tittlemouse; you seem to have plenty of visitors!”
“And without any invitation!” said Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse.
They went along the sandy passage—“Tiddly widdly—” “Buzz! Wizz! Wizz!”
He met Babbitty round a corner, and snapped her up, and put her down again.
“I do not like bumble bees. They are all over bristles,” said Mr. Jackson, wiping his mouth with his coat-sleeve.
“Get out, you nasty old toad!” shrieked Babbitty Bumble.
“I shall go distracted!” scolded Mrs. Tittlemouse.
[Illustration: Confronting the Bee]
[Illustration: Shut into the nut-cellar]
She shut herself up in the nut-cellar while Mr. Jackson pulled out the bees-nest. He seemed to have no objection to stings.
When Mrs. Tittlemouse ventured to come out—everybody had gone away.
But the untidiness was something dreadful—“Never did I see such a mess—smears of honey; and moss, and thistledown—and marks of big and little dirty feet—all over my nice clean house!”
She gathered up the moss and the remains of the beeswax.
Then she went out and fetched some twigs, to partly close up the front door.
“I will make it too small for Mr. Jackson!”
[Illustration: Closing up the front door]
[Illustration: Too tired]
She fetched soft soap, and flannel, and a new scrubbing brush from the storeroom. But she was too tired to do any more. First she fell asleep in her chair, and then she went to bed.
“Will it ever be tidy again?” said poor Mrs. Tittlemouse.
Next morning she got up very early and began a spring cleaning which lasted a fortnight.
She swept, and scrubbed, and dusted; and she rubbed up the furniture with beeswax, and polished her little tin spoons.