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The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter

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[For the Real Little Lucie of Newlands]

Once upon a time there was a little

girl called Lucie, who lived at a farm

called Little-town. She was a good

little girl--only she was always losing

her pocket-handkerchiefs!

One day little Lucie came into the

farm-yard crying--oh, she did cry so!

"I've lost my pocket-handkin! Three

handkins and a pinny! Have YOU seen

them, Tabby Kitten?"

The Kitten went on washing her white paws;

so Lucie asked a speckled hen--

"Sally Henny-penny, have YOU

found three pocket-handkins?"

But the speckled hen ran into a

barn, clucking--

"I go barefoot, barefoot, barefoot!"

And then Lucie asked Cock Robin

sitting on a twig. Cock Robin looked

sideways at Lucie with his bright black eye,

and he flew over a stile and away.

Lucie climbed upon the stile and

looked up at the hill behind Little-

town--a hill that goes up--up--into

the clouds as though it had no top!

And a great way up the hillside she

thought she saw some white things

spread upon the grass.

Lucie scrambled up the hill as fast

as her short legs would carry her; she

ran along a steep path-way--up and

up--until Little-town was right away

down below--she could have

dropped a pebble down the chimney!

Presently she came to a spring,

bubbling out from the hillside.

Some one had stood a tin can upon

a stone to catch the water--but the

water was already running over, for

the can was no bigger than an egg-

cup! And where the sand upon the

path was wet--there were footmarks

of a VERY small person.

Lucie ran on, and on.

The path ended under a big rock.

The grass was short and green, and

there were clothes-props cut from

bracken stems, with lines of plaited

rushes, and a heap of tiny clothes

pins--but no pocket-handkerchiefs!

But there was something else--a

door! straight into the hill; and inside

it some one was singing--

"Lily-white and clean, oh!

With little frills between, oh!

Smooth and hot-red rusty spot

Never here be seen, oh!"

Lucie knocked-once-twice, and

interrupted the song. A little

frightened voice called out "Who's that?"

Lucie opened the door: and what

do you think there was inside the

hill?--a nice clean kitchen with a

flagged floor and wooden beams--

just like any other farm kitchen. Only

the ceiling was so low that Lucie's

head nearly touched it; and the pots

and pans were small, and so was

everything there.

There was a nice hot singey smell;

and at the table, with an iron in her

hand, stood a very stout short person

staring anxiously at Lucie.

Her print gown was tucked up, and

she was wearing a large apron over

her striped petticoat. Her little black

nose went sniffle, sniffle, snuffle, and

her eyes went twinkle, twinkle; and

underneath her cap-where Lucie

had yellow curls-that little person


"Who are you?" said Lucie. "Have

you seen my pocket-handkins?"

The little person made a bob-

curtsey--"Oh yes, if you please'm; my

name is Mrs. Tiggy-winkle; oh yes if

you please'm, I'm an excellent clear-

starcher!" And she took something

out of the clothesbasket, and spread it

on the ironing-blanket.

"What's that thing?" said Lucie-

"that's not my pocket-handkin?"

"Oh no, if you please'm; that's a

little scarlet waist-coat belonging to

Cock Robin!"

And she ironed it and folded it, and

put it on one side.

Then she took something else off a

clothes-horse--"That isn't my pinny?"

said Lucie.

"Oh no, if you please'm; that's a

damask table-cloth belonging to

Jenny Wren; look how it's stained with

currant wine! It's very bad to wash!"

said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.

Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's nose went

sniffle sniffle snuffle, and her eyes

went twinkle twinkle; and she fetched

another hot iron from the fire.

"There's one of my pocket-

handkins!" cried Lucie--"and there's

my pinny!"

Mrs. Tiggy-winkle ironed it, and

goffered it, and shook out the frills.

"Oh that IS lovely!" said Lucie.

"And what are those long yellow

things with fingers like gloves?"

"Oh that's a pair of stockings

belonging to Sally Henny-penny--look

how she's worn the heels out with

scratching in the yard! She'll very soon

go barefoot!" said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.

"Why, there's another hankersniff--

but it isn't mine; it's red?"

"Oh no, if you please'm; that one

belongs to old Mrs. Rabbit; and it DID

so smell of onions! I've had to wash it

separately, I can't get out that smell."

"There's another one of mine," said Lucie.

"What are those funny little white things?"

"That's a pair of mittens belonging

to Tabby Kitten; I only have to iron

them; she washes them herself."

"There's my last pocket-handkin!"

said Lucie.

"And what are you dipping into the

basin of starch?"

"They're little dicky shirt-fronts

belonging to Tom Titmouse--most

terrible particular!" said Mrs. Tiggy-

winkle. "Now I've finished my ironing;

I'm going to air some clothes."

"What are these dear soft fluffy

things?" said Lucie.

"Oh those are woolly coats

belonging to the little lambs at Skelghyl."

"Will their jackets take off?" asked Lucie.

"Oh yes, if you please'm; look at the

sheep-mark on the shoulder. And

here's one marked for Gatesgarth,

and three that come from Little-town.

They're ALWAYS marked at washing!"

said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.

And she hung up all sorts and sizes

of clothes--small brown coats of

mice; and one velvety black moleskin

waist-coat; and a red tail-coat with

no tail belonging to Squirrel Nutkin;

and a very much shrunk blue jacket

belonging to Peter Rabbit; and a

petticoat, not marked, that had gone

lost in the washing--and at last the

basket was empty!

Then Mrs. Tiggy-winkle made

tea--a cup for herself and a cup for

Lucie. They sat before the fire on a

bench and looked sideways at one

another. Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's hand,

holding the tea-cup, was very very

brown, and very very wrinkly with the

soap-suds; and all through her gown

and her cap, there were HAIRPINS

sticking wrong end out; so that Lucie

didn't like to sit too near her.

When they had finished tea, they

tied up the clothes in bundles; and

Lucie's pocket-handkerchiefs were

folded up inside her clean pinny, and

fastened with a silver safety-pin.

And then they made up the fire

with turf, and came out and locked

the door, and hid the key under the


Then away down the hill trotted

Lucie and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle with the

bundles of clothes!

All the way down the path little

animals came out of the fern to meet

them; the very first that they met

were Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny!

And she gave them their nice clean

clothes; and all the little animals and

birds were so very much obliged to

dear Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.

So that at the bottom of the hill

when they came to the stile, there was

nothing left to carry except Lucie's

one little bundle.

Lucie scrambled up the stile with

the bundle in her hand; and then she

turned to say "Good-night," and to

thank the washer-woman.--But what

a VERY odd thing! Mrs. Tiggy-winkle

had not waited either for thanks or

for the washing bill!

She was running running running

up the hill--and where was her white

frilled cap? and her shawl? and her

gown-and her petticoat?

And HOW small she had grown--

and HOW brown--and covered with


Why! Mrs. Tiggy-winkle was

nothing but a HEDGEHOG!

* * * * * *

(Now some people say that little Lucie

had been asleep upon the stile--but then

how could she have found three clean

pocket-handkins and a pinny, pinned with a

silver safety-pin?

And besides--I have seen that door into

the back of the hill called Cat Bells--and

besides _I_ am very well acquainted with dear

Mrs. Tiggy-winkle!)




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