Before Millicent ran out of wool, which was most seldom, her life was simple, sedate and solitary.
Millicent was a house-mouse who preferred the privacy and comfort of her cosy home. She avoided going out as much as possible. She was short sighted, and always had plenty of knitting to do.
She knitted for all her neighbours and for anyone who asked. She would knit for you as well.
Whenever she finished knitting something, she would write a neat, little letter in sepia ink on pink, mouse-made paper to inform whoever she had knitted for, that it was ready.
The mice living nearby often made fun of her at their monthly mouse-meetings, parties, and rotary rodent-reunions, whilst Millicent was still at home, calmly knitting by candlelight. But when they received their letters, and knew that their scarves, socks, tail-warmers or gloves were ready, they were content.
At times they would bump into each other at Millicent's front door. Then they would try to make excuses for being there. It was silly really because they all knew. She was, after all, a very kind mouse. They were a little embarrassed because of the jokes they made about her, although they never admitted it.
One day however, as already mentioned, Millicent ran out of wool.
As there was no one she felt she could ask, and as the idea of having nothing to do made her feel rather useless and sad, she decided to put on her navy knitted coat and go to buy the wool herself.
And this is how she met Maguire.
Maguire O'Neal was a field-mouse who, like Millicent, liked to keep to himself. He was a strong, healthy mouse who had an Irish accent and sung harvest songs at the top of his voice.
The mice of the neighbourhood would never have associated Millicent with Maguire. To such a correct little community he seemed too boisterous and rural, whilst she seemed too prim and timid.
Maguire was a little younger than Millicent. He had heard some of the village jokes about her, and knew how she kept many of the local mice supplied with woollens. He had been curious to meet her for quite some time.
His chance came that very day as Millicent walked quickly by his field with her head shyly lowered as she nervously clasped her little shopping bag.
"It's a foin mornin' Miss Millicent," he said quite loudly through the hedgerow.
Millicent was so startled that she lost her balance.
"Yes, yes, it certainly is Mr. eh..."
"You can call me Miguira, Miss, and oim very pleased to meet you tuu," he added.
He carefully made his way through the hedgerow so as not to scare her. His tail was quite bald but he had smiling eyes, a bright red nose, fine teeth and glossy ears. He took a large breath, tipped his cap, then modestly clasped his hands together.
"Topo' d' mornin' to ye Miss Millicent. Now tell me den, can I be o' service to ye 't all?"
Well Maguire helped Millicent buy all the wool she needed.
Millicent knitted Maguire a nice scarf with a shamrock motive, then a pair of mouse mittens, two pairs of striped socks, an initialed cardigan, a waist-coat with two pockets, a made to measure, cream coloured night-cap topped with a discreet tassel, and even a fine pair of emerald-green pyjamas. In fact Millicent knitted for Maguire all the time.
The neighbours no longer made jokes about Millicent. They made mean, mousy remarks instead. They were vexed that she no longer had time to knit for them. And they were probably jealous.
Maguire showed Millicent all the splendour and wonders of the local countryside. This sometimes overwhelmed her so much that she had tears of happiness in her eyes. And Millicent gave Maguire the cosy home he had always dreamed of.
They had plenty of wool, plenty of wheat grains, and they were always very very happy together.
**It may have been thought that the original poems were not 'orientated' enough towards children, (which really means not 'written down' enough to them).
The animal series of water-colour illustrations were completed quite a long while ago for personal amusement. The 'doggerel' poems were written aferwards. Sixteen of the illustrations were published as cards. Others were also published on a personal gallery basis. A selection of them was also published in the form of two small books, ('The March Hare'. 'The Christmas Fox'). Dutch versions of these books were also published.
For the books, John Bush wrote new verses.
At one time the artist intended to write simple little stories for some of the main animal caricatures, but finally, for what it's worth, this is the only one he ever got round to doing.
Text and illustration © Mirino (PW). June, 2012