Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes

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The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes by Beatrix Potter - is a children's book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, and published by Frederick Warne & Co. in October 1911. Timmy Tiptoes is a squirrel believed to be a nut-thief by his fellows, and imprisoned by them in a hollow tree with the expectation that he will confess under confinement. Timmy is tended by Chippy Hackee, a friendly, mischievous chipmunk who has run away from his wife and is camping-out in the tree. Chippy urges the prisoner to eat the nuts stored in the tree, and Timmy does so but grows so fat he cannot escape the tree. He regains his freedom when a storm topples part of the tree. The tale contrasts the harmonious marriage of its title character with the less than harmonious marriage of the chipmunk. Plot The tale is set in a forest and begins with "once upon a time". Timmy Tiptoes is "a little fat comfortable grey squirrel" living in a nest thatched with leaves in the top of a tall tree with his little wife, Goody. Over the course of several days, the two collect nuts in their little sacks for the coming winter and spring, and store the nuts in hollow tree stumps near their home. Timmy wears a red jacket he removes while working, and his wife wears a pink dress and apron. When the stumps are full, the couple make use of a tree-hole that once belonged to a woodpecker. The nuts rattle "down - down - down inside", and Goody wonders how they will ever retrieve them. Timmy reminds her he will be much thinner by springtime and will be able to pass through the little hole. In an aside, the narrator tells the reader that the couple had great quantities of nuts because they never lost them, noting that most squirrels lose half their nuts because they cannot remember where they buried them. Silvertail is the most forgetful of squirrels in the wood, and, while trying to find his nuts, digs up another squirrel's hoard. A commotion erupts among the nutting squirrels, and, as ill luck would have it, a flock of birds fly by singing "Who's bin [sic] digging-up my nuts?" and "Little bit-a-bread and-no-cheese!" One bird finds a perch in the bush where Timmy is working and continues to sing about digging up nuts. The other squirrels take notice, suspect Timmy of robbing others of their hoards, rush upon him, scratch and cuff him, chase him up a tree, and stuff him with great difficulty through the woodpecker's hole. Silvertail suggests they leave him there until he confesses. Timmy lays "stunned and still" on the peck of nuts he has stored in the hollow tree while Goody searches fruitlessly for him. Eventually, Timmy stirs and discovers himself in a mossy little bed surrounded by ample provisions. Chippy Hackee, a small striped chipmunk, tends him with kindness, mentioning that it has been raining nuts through the top of tree and he has also "found a few buried". The chipmunk coaxes Timmy to eat the nuts and Timmy grows "fatter and fatter!"
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