The Tale of Two Bad Mice
 

Once upon a time there was a very
beautiful doll's-house; it was red
brick with white windows, and it had
real muslin curtains and a front door
and a chimney.

It belonged to two Dolls called
Lucinda and Jane; at least it belonged
to Lucinda, but she never ordered
meals.

Jane was the Cook; but she never
did any cooking, because the dinner
had been bought ready-made, in a
box full of shavings.

There were two red lobsters and a
ham, a fish, a pudding, and some
pears and oranges.

They would not come off the plates,
but they were extremely beautiful.

One morning Lucinda and Jane had
gone out for a drive in the doll's
perambulator. There was no one in
the nursery, and it was very quiet.
Presently there was a little scuffling,
scratching noise in a corner near the
fireplace, where there was a hole
under the skirting-board.

Tom Thumb put out his head for a
moment, and then popped it in again.
Tom Thumb was a mouse.

A minute afterwards, Hunca
Munca, his wife, put her head out,
too; and when she saw that there was
no one in the nursery, she ventured
out on the oilcloth under the coal-box.

The doll's-house stood at the other
side of the fire-place. Tom Thumb
and Hunca Munca went cautiously
across the hearthrug. They pushed
the front door--it was not fast.

Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca
went upstairs and peeped into the
dining-room. Then they squeaked
with joy!

Such a lovely dinner was laid out
upon the table! There were tin
spoons, and lead knives and forks,
and two dolly-chairs--all so
convenient!

Tom Thumb set to work at once to
carve the ham. It was a beautiful
shiny yellow, streaked with red.

The knife crumpled up and hurt
him; he put his finger in his mouth.

"It is not boiled enough; it is hard.
You have a try, Hunca Munca."

Hunca Munca stood up in her
chair, and chopped at the ham with
another lead knife.

"It's as hard as the hams at the
cheesemonger's," said Hunca Munca.

The ham broke off the plate with a
jerk, and rolled under the table.

"Let it alone," said Tom Thumb;
"give me some fish, Hunca Munca!"

Hunca Munca tried every tin spoon
in turn; the fish was glued to the dish.

Then Tom Thumb lost his temper.
He put the ham in the middle of the
floor, and hit it with the tongs and
with the shovel--bang, bang, smash,
smash!

The ham flew all into pieces, for
underneath the shiny paint it was
made of nothing but plaster!

Then there was no end to the rage
and disappointment of Tom Thumb
and Hunca Munca. They broke up the
pudding, the lobsters, the pears and
the oranges.

As the fish would not come off the
plate, they put it into the red-hot
crinkly paper fire in the kitchen; but it
would not burn either.

Tom Thumb went up the kitchen
chimney and looked out at the top--
there was no soot.

While Tom Thumb was up the
chimney, Hunca Munca had another
disappointment. She found some tiny
canisters upon the dresser, labelled--
Rice--Coffee--Sago--but when she
turned them upside down, there was
nothing inside except red and blue
beads.

Then those mice set to work to do
all the mischief they could--especially
Tom Thumb! He took Jane's clothes
out of the chest of drawers in her
bedroom, and he threw them out of
the top floor window.

But Hunca Munca had a frugal
mind. After pulling half the feathers
out of Lucinda's bolster, she
remembered that she herself was in
want of a feather bed.

With Tom Thumbs's assistance she
carried the bolster downstairs, and
across the hearth-rug. It was difficult
to squeeze the bolster into the mouse-
hole; but they managed it somehow.

Then Hunca Munca went back and
fetched a chair, a book-case, a bird-
cage, and several small odds and
ends. The book-case and the bird-
cage refused to go into the mousehole.

Hunca Munca left them behind the
coal-box, and went to fetch a cradle.

Hunca Munca was just returning
with another chair, when suddenly
there was a noise of talking outside
upon the landing. The mice rushed
back to their hole, and the dolls came
into the nursery.

What a sight met the eyes of Jane
and Lucinda! Lucinda sat upon the
upset kitchen stove and stared; and
Jane leant against the kitchen dresser
and smiled--but neither of them
made any remark.

The book-case and the bird-cage
were rescued from under the coal-
box--but Hunca Munca has got the
cradle, and some of Lucinda's
clothes.

She also has some useful pots and
pans, and several other things.

The little girl that the doll's-house
belonged to, said,--"I will get a doll
dressed like a policeman!"

But the nurse said,--"I will set a
mouse-trap!"

So that is the story of the two Bad
Mice,--but they were not so very very
naughty after all, because Tom
Thumb paid for everything he broke.

He found a crooked sixpence under
the hearth-rug; and upon Christmas
Eve, he and Hunca Munca stuffed it
into one of the stockings of Lucinda
and Jane.

And very early every morning--
before anybody is awake--Hunca
Munca comes with her dust-pan and
her broom to sweep the Dollies' house!