"Too narrow breadths for nought—except waistcoats for mice."

Type Human
Gender Male
Age Elderly
Family Unknown
Friends Simpkin
Rivals Unknown
Occupation Tailor
Residence House in College Court, Gloucester
Interests Unknown

The Tailor is introduced in The Tailor of Gloucester.


The Tailor is a little old man who wears glasses, has old crooked fingers, and wears a suit of thread-bare clothes because he is very, very poor. He lives in the House in College Court neighborhood of Gloucester and has a Shop in Westgate Street. He lives with his cat, Simpkin.


The Tailor of Gloucester

The Tailor sits in the window of a little Shop in Westgate Street in the town of Gloucester every day from early morning until dark, sewing fine clothes for the town's residents. The Tailor is a little old man who wear glasses, has old crooked fingers, and wears a suit of thread-bare clothes because he is very, very poor. He hardly wastes any fabric, leaving only very small snippets of cloth that are too small to use for anything except as waistcoats for Mice. One cold day near Christmastime, the Tailor starts making a coat for the Mayor to wear for his wedding on noon on Christmas Day. The coat is made of cherry-colored corded silk embroidered with pansies and roses and a cream-colored satin waistcoat trimmed with gauze and green worsted chenille. The Tailor works diligently and talks to himself while he works. He measures the silk and trims it into shape with his shears and the table becomes filled with cherry-colored snippets. When the Tailor finishes his work for the day, he leaves the Shop to a House in College Court. The Tailor is so poor that he can only afford to rent the house's kitchen, where he lives with his cat, Simpkin. Later that night, the Tailor sends Simpkin out with a groat (coin) which is the last of their fourpence (a coin worth 4 pennies) and a china pipkin (cooking pot)to buy a penny's worth of bread, a penny's worth of milk, and a penny's worth of sausages. The Tailor tells Simpkin to use the last penny to buys penny's worth of cherry-colored silk. He tells Simpkin to make sure he doesn't lose the last penny because he doesn't have any more twist for the coat. The Tailor is very tired and begins to get ill. He sits down by the fireplace and talks to himself about the coat, saying that he has just enough taffeta for the coat. Suddenly, he hears a number of little sounds coming from the dresser, which is filled with teacups, mugs, pots, and bowls. The tailor walks across the kitchen and stands still beside the dresser and he hears the little sounds again and decides to pick up an upside-down teacup. Suddenly, out steps a little lady mouse who curtseys to the Tailor, hops off the dresser, and under the wall. The Tailor goes back to the fireplace and sits back down to warm his cold hands. But, all at once, he hears other little noises coming from the dresser. The Tailor turns over another teacup and out steps a little gentleman mouse who bows to the tailor. All of a sudden, a chorus of little tappings come from all over the dresser, all sounding together and answering one another. Out from under other teacups and bowls step out more little Mice who also hop off the dresser and into the wall. The Tailor sits back down by the fireplace and wonders if he was wrong in letting all the little Mice loose because they probably belong to Simpkin. He mutters to himself about the coat, saying it must be finished by noon on Saturday. When Simpkin returns, he looks suspiciously at the teacups; then the Tailor asks him where the twist is but Simpkin is upset with him for letting the mice go, so he hides a little parcel privately in the teapot. The Tailor goes to bed feeling sad and discouraged. The poor, old tailor becomes very ill with a fever, tossing and turning in his bed and dreaming about not having any more twist. He is still ill the next day and the next day and the next and is unable to go to the little Shop in Westgate Street to work on the coat. A few days later the Tailor wakes up without without a fever and finds Simpkin standing next to his bed and a skein of cherry-colored twisted silk. The Tailor quickly gets dressed and leaves for the Shop but worries that although now he has twist, he doesn't have enough time to make the coat because it's already Christmas morning; there is only enough time for him to make a button hole. The Tailor unlocks the door to his Shop and finds a beautiful coat, more beautiful than any coat that the Mayor has ever worn. The Tailor shouts in excitement. The coat is finished except for a single button hole. In place of the button hole, the Tailor finds a note with tiny writing that says there is no more twist. After that day, the Tailor's luck changes and he becomes quite rich. He starts making the most wonderful waistcoats for all the rich merchants of Gloucester and for all the fine gentlemen in the entire country. He makes beautiful ruffles, embroidered cuffs, and lappets! But his button holes are the greatest triumph of all. The stitches of those button holes are so neat and small that people wonder how they could be stitched by an old man in glasses, with crooked old fingers, and a tailor's thimble. The stitches of those button holes are so small that they look as if they are made by little Mice.