T OMMY TODKINS was sometimes a good boy and sometimes a bad boy; and when he was a bad boy he was a very bad boy. On stormy days his mother used to say to him, "Now, Tommy, don't go out on the street until it stops raining."
"But I want to go," said Tommy.
"No, you would get wet and be sick, I'm afraid," replied his mother, "and besides Mr. Micrawble might catch you."
Yet when Tommy was a bad boy he would go out on the street in spite of what his mother said, no matter if it did rain; and one day, sure enough, Mr. Micrawble caught him and popped him in a bag upside down and carried him off.
As soon as Mr. Micrawble reached home he pulled Tommy out of the bag and felt of his arms and legs. "You're rather lean," said he. "However, you're all the meat I've got for supper and it's high time I had you boiling in the pot—but dear me! I've forgotten to get the potatoes and turnips and other vegetables. You'd not taste good alone."
Then he called to Mrs. Micrawble, "Sally! Here, I say, Sally!"
So Mrs. Micrawble came and asked, "What do you want, my dear?"
"Oh, I've caught a little boy for supper," replied Mr. Micrawble, "but I've forgotten the vegetables. Look after him, will you, while I go for them?"
"All right," said Mrs. Micrawble, and off he went.
Then Tommy Todkins said to Mrs. Micrawble, "Does Mr. Micrawble always have little boys for supper?"
"Yes, mostly," answered Mrs. Micrawble; "for if the little boys are bad enough and get in his way he's sure to catch them."
"And don't you have anything else but boy-meat—no pudding?" Tommy inquired.
"Ah! I love pudding," said Mrs. Micrawble; "but it's very seldom, indeed, that I get it."
"Why! my mother is making a pudding this very day," said Tommy, "and she'd give you some of it if I asked her. Shall I run and get some?"
"Now, that's a thoughtful boy," responded Mrs. Micrawble. "You can go, only don't stay long, and be sure to get back for supper."
So Tommy ran home as fast as he could go, but he did not think it was safe to return with the pudding for Mrs. Micrawble. Many a long day passed and Tommy was as good as good could be, and never went out to play on rainy days. However, it was very hard to be always good, and finally he ventured out one wet afternoon, and, as luck would have it, Mr. Micrawble happened along and picked Tommy Todkins up and carried him off once more in his bag.
When Mr. Micrawble got home and shook Tommy out of the bag and had a look at him he said, "Ah, you're the youngster that served me and my wife such a shabby trick a while ago, and left us without any supper. Well, you shan't do that again. Here, get under the sofa, and I'll sit on it and watch till the pot boils for you."
So poor Tommy Todkins had to crawl under the sofa, and Mr. Micrawble sat on it and waited for the pot to boil; and he waited and he waited and he waited, but still the pot did not boil. Then Mrs. Micrawble went out to chop some wood for the fire, and Mr. Micrawble fell asleep.
"Now, I must get away from here," said Tommy to himself when he heard Mr. Micrawble snoring, and he crept out from under the sofa and was stepping softly along toward the door when he saw Mrs. Micrawble coming across the yard with her arms full of wood. He was too late to escape in that direction and he looked around for a place to hide. The door of the brick oven at the side of the fireplace was open, and by standing on a chair he got up to it and crawled in. Then he pulled the door closed, but the door creaked and awakened Mr. Micrawble.
"What was that I heard?" said Mr. Micrawble, and he looked under the sofa to see if Tommy was still there. "Sally, my dear Sally!" he called just as his wife came in with the wood, "that boy has gone!"
"Well, I have been in the yard all the time," said Mrs. Micrawble, "and he couldn't have come from the house without my seeing him. Perhaps he went upstairs."
"Yes," said Mr. Micrawble, "he must have gone upstairs. We will go up and find him."
But as soon as Tommy Todkins heard their footsteps going up the stairs he climbed out of the oven and hurried home. After that he did not go onto the street to play when it stormed, and Mr. Micrawble never caught him again.