Today Jemima will lead the way around Esthwaite Water to the west and head north to Hawkshead as she tells us the Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse. You will recognize the archway below in Hawkshead from Beatrix's drawing in today's story. The interior drawings were of Dr. and Mrs. Bolton's house. Dr. Bolton played golf with Mr. Heelis on a course they had built in Sawrey for their own use, and Mrs. Bolton received vegetables from Sawrey each week and sent back laundry. That is a bag of golf clubs Johnny Town-Mouse is carrying on the book's cover photo. The house-maid who discovers Timmy Willie in the basket is Mrs. Rogerson who worked for the Potter family when they stayed at Ees Wyke. . . .
Here's our map so you can keep track of where we are. . . .
Hawkshead is where William Heelis, Beatrix's husband, had his law office. The building is now used as a museum of Beatrix's paintings. . . .
We're ready, Jemima. Lead the way. . . .
The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse
As Told by Jemima Puddle-Duck
Quack! Quack! Good morning everyone! We have a bit of a waddle up to Hawkshead, which will give me plenty of time to tell you about my friend, Timmy Willie’s visit to Hawkshead last summer. Quack! Of course, he had not planned to go to town. He was merely eating the peas he found in a hamper by the garden gate, which like Peter Rabbit’s lettuces, had a soporific effect. . . .
Timmy Willie woke up as he bounced about in the hamper. Soon he found himself in Hawkshead being carried into the kitchen where the cook screamed bloody murder (pardon my language--QUACK!) upon seeing little Timmy Willie. . . .
It was all that he could do to escape to the newest hole. . . .
…where he landed on a dining table surrounded by mice with long tails wearing white ties. . . .
In no time at all they put him at ease and he joined their dinner party. . . .
Finally, the youngsters returned from getting the dessert after much noise upstairs, laughing as they exclaimed they’d been chased by the cat which caused Timmy Willie some consternation. . . .
When offered the softest pillow to sleep on, Timmy Willie was sure it smelt of cat and elected to sleep under the fender, safe, albeit uncomfortable. . . .
He was feeling quite miserable the next day. After a few days Johnny Town-Mouse noticed Timmy Willie was getting thinner and questioned him. He inquired about where he’d come from. Timmy Willie told him about his peaceful nest in a sunny bank and all the other lovely things. . . .
They were interrupted by the cat and took refuge in the coal cellar where Johnny Town-Mouse suggested Timmy Willie should return home. This is when Timmy Willie learned that the hamper was returned, empty, to the farm every Saturday. . . .
So Timmy Willie told all his new friends goodbye and climbed back into the hamper for his ride home. . . .
Johnny Town-Mouse had half-promised to visit Timmy Willie in the country, but as the winter came and went, and Timmy Willie had almost forgotten about his visit to town, who should come walking up his path--none other than Johnny Town-Mouse, carrying his tail to keep it out of the mud. . . .
Feeling rather contrary Johnny Town-Mouse noted that it was a little damp as they sat down to herb pudding. . . .
When Timmy Willie went to fetch more milk, Johnny Town-Mouse was startled by a frightful noise. It is only a cow, Timmy Willie assured him—nothing to be worried about unless they lie down on you, of course. . . .
When Johnny Town-Mouse was startled by another loud noise Timmy Willie had to explain about the lawn-mower. . . .
Despite all these things Timmy Willie was sure Johnny Town-Mouse would never want to live in the city again. Why just look at the plentiful food for a little mouse. . . .
Johnny Town-Mouse, however, was not convinced and returned to the city in the next hamper. . . .
Quack! Ms. Potter said it best: “One place suits one person, another place suits another person. For my part I prefer to live in the country, like Timmy Willie.". . . .
Beatrix's 1918 story is based on the Aesop fable, "TheTown Mouse and the Country Mouse." In her tale the order of the visits between the town mouse and the country mouse are reversed. This would be the last story for her to paint her illustrations due to her failing eyesight. She ends the story stating her own preference--country over city. In 1942 she said, "It sometimes happens that a town child is more alive to the fresh beauty of the country than a child who is country born. My brother and I were born in London. . .But our descent -- our interest and our joy were in the north country." You can read more about the background of this story here.
You can listen to Beatrix's version here. . . .
Or you can watch an animated version here. . . .
This is Johnny Town-Mouse's solo in the Royal Ballet performance in the film The Tales of Beatrix Potter . . . .
My practice drawings this month. . . .
I sketched it. . . .
Then painted it. . . .
Peter Rabbit's Little Guide to Life shares the lesson learned from today's story. . . .
"A well-mannered host puts his dinner guests at ease, acquaints newcomers with the rest of the company and encourages civil conversation. Courteous guests should eschew making controversial statements and asking inappropriate questions. Do not, for example, suggest that field mice are superior to urban rodents."
Did you notice which of Beatrix's illustrations was depicted in the first photo above?
Do you have a preference for the city or the country?
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