The Tale of Two Bad Mice

Beatrix Potter children's story illustration of Two Bad Mice
Two bad mice discover a doll's house is not real, and destroy everything inside!
The Tale of Two Bad Mice

Beatrix Potter illustration of Two Bad Mice with cakeOnce 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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of dolls house for Two Bad Mice

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

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of dolls talking for Two Bad Mice

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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of cold dinner for Two Bad Mice

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 fire-place, 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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of little black mouse for Two Bad Mice

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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice looking out window for Two Bad Mice

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.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice in dolls house for Two Bad Mice

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!

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice looking at dinner table for Two Bad Mice

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.”

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice eating dinner ham for Two Bad Mice

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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice sitting at dinner table for Two Bad Mice

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!”

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice dropping meal on floor for Two Bad Mice

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!

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice at the table and mess! for Two Bad Mice

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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice with fish in cupboard for Two Bad Mice

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

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse in chimney for Two Bad Mice

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.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse makng mess of sugar for Two Bad Mice

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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice in bed for Two Bad Mice

With Tom Thumb’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.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice in bed for Two Bad Mice

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 mouse-hole.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mice and bird in cage for Two Bad Mice

Hunca Munca left them behind the coal-box, and went to fetch a cradle.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse pushing basket for Two Bad Mice

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.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse carrying broom and gate for Two Bad Mice

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.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of dolls in nursery for Two Bad Mice
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.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse with baby for Two Bad Mice

She also has some useful pots and pans, and several other things.
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse with hand mirror for Two Bad Mice

The little girl that the doll’s-house belonged to, said,—”I will get a doll dressed like a policeman!”
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse and toy policeman for Two Bad Mice

But the nurse said,—”I will set a mouse-trap!”
Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse family for Two Bad Mice

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 hearthrug; and upon Christmas Eve, he and Hunca Munca stuffed it into one of the stockings of Lucinda and Jane.

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse family iin bedroom with dolls for Two Bad Mice

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

Beatrix Potter children's illustration of mouse with dustpan and broom for Two Bad Mice

Are you seeking more books like this? Read our review of the Ten Best Children’s Books About Feelings and Emotions

Short story for kids by Beatrix Potter
Original vintage illustrations by Beatrix Potter

Let’s Chat About The Stories ~ Ideas for Talking With Kids

Feelings 

1. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca were disappointed to discover that the food laid on the table wasn’t real. They then went and broke everything in a temper. What might they have done when they felt angry, instead of breaking things belonging to other people?

Empathy

2. How do you think the dolls felt when they came home to find everything in their little home ruined or stolen?

Responsibility

3. How do Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca take responsibility for the naughty things they did? Do you think this is enough to make it better? Why or why not?

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