|"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."|
The Tale of Two Bad Mice was written by Beatrix Potter and first published in 1904.
A doll named Lucinda and lives in a very beautiful dollhouse with red bricks, white windows, real muslin curtains, and a chimney. Her cook, a doll named Jane, also lives in the dollhouse. Jane never cooks any food because the dinner had been bought ready-made. There are two red lobsters, a ham, a fish, a pudding, and some pears and oranges. They don't come off the plates but are extremely beautiful. One morning, when the nursery is empty and quiet, Lucinda and Jane decide to go out for a drive in the doll's carriage. Suddenly, there is a scratching noise in a corner near the fireplace, where there is a hole under the baseboard. A mouse named Tom Thumb sticks out his head and then pops it back inside the baseboard again. A minute later, his wife, Hunca Munca sticks her head out too. When she sees that there is no one in the nursery, she walks out. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca walk cautiously to the dollhouse and push the front door open. They walk upstairs, peek into the dining room and squeak with joy. A lovely dinner is laid out upon the table, complete with tin spoons, lead knives and forks, and two chairs. Tom Thumb goes to carve the ham right away but the knife crumples up and hurts him; he quickly put his finger in his mouth. He figures that the ham isn't boiled enough and asks Hunca Munca to give it a try. Hunca stands up in her chair and chops at the ham with another lead knife. The ham breaks off the plate and rolls under the table. Tom tells her to leave the ham alone and pass him some fish. Hunca Munca tries every tin spoon on the fish but it is glued to the dish. Tom Thumb loses his temper and he puts the ham in the middle of the floor and hits it with the tongs and with the shovel until the ham flies into pieces; underneath the shiny paint it was made of nothing but plaster. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca are so upset and disappointed that they break up the pudding, the lobsters, the pears, and the oranges. The fish wouldn't come off the plate so they put it into the red hot crinkly paper fire in the kitchen but it wouldn't burn either. Tom goes up the kitchen chimney and looks out at the top—-there is no soot. While Tom is up the chimney, Hunca has another disappointment. She finds some tiny canisters on the dresser, labelled Rice—Coffee—Sago but when she turns them upside down, there is nothing inside except red and blue beads. Then the mice, especially Tom, start to do all the mischief they can. Tom takes Jane's clothes out of the chest of drawers in her bedroom and he throws them out of the top floor window. While Hunca Munca pulls half the feathers out of Lucinda's pillow, she remembers that she herself wants a feather bed so, with Tom Thumb's help, she carries the pillow downstairs, across the floor, and into their Mousehole. Then Hunca goes back and fetches a chair, a bookcase, a birdcage, and several small odds and ends but the bookcase and the birdcage refused don't fit throughout the Mousehole so Hunca so Hunca leaves them behind the coal box and goes back to fetch a cradle. Hunca is returning with another chair, when suddenly there are voices outside. The mice rush back to their Mousehole and the dolls come into the nursery. Jane and Lucinda get back to the doll house and they can't believe their eyes. Lucinda stares at the messy kitchen while Jane leans against the kitchen dresser--neither of them say anything. They rescue the bookcase and the birdcage from under the coal box but they are missing the cradle, some of Lucinda's clothes, some pots and pans, and several other things. The Little Girl who owns the dollhouse tells her Nurse the she is going to get a doll dressed like a policeman and the Nurse responds that she will set a mousetrap. In the end, the two bad mice are not so naughty after all. Tom Thumb pays for everything he broke--he finds a coin under the rug and he and Hunca Munca stuff it into one of Lucinda and Jane's stockings on Chritmas Eve. And very early every morning, before anybody is awake, Hunca Munca comes out with her dustpan and her broom to sweep the dolls' house.