The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy- Winkle

A little girl named Lucie lives on a farm called Little-town. She is a good little girl, but has lost three handkerchiefs and a pinafore. She questions Tabby Kitten and Sally Henny-penny about them, but they know nothing. Lucie mounts a stile and spies some white cloths lying in the grass high on a hill behind the farm. She scrambles up the hill along a steep path-way which ends under a big rock. She finds a little door in the hillside, and hears someone singing behind it:
Lily-white and clean, oh!
With little frills between, oh!
Smooth and hot – red rusty spot
Never here be seen, oh!
She knocks. A frightened voice cries out, “Who’s that?” Lucie opens the door, and discovers a low-ceilinged kitchen. Everything is tiny, even the pots and pans. At the table stands a short, stout person wearing a tucked-up print gown, an apron, and a striped petticoat. She is ironing. Her little black nose goes sniffle, sniffle, snuffle, and her eyes go twinkle, twinkle, and beneath her little white cap are prickles! She is Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, the animals’ laundress and “an excellent clear-starcher”. She keeps busy with her work. She irons and folds Cock Robin’s scarlet waistcoat and Jenny Wren’s table-cloth. Lucie finds her pinafore and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle irons it, and goffers it, and shakes out the frills. Lucie admires Mrs. Tiggy-winkle’s lovely work. Her three lost handkerchiefs have also been laundered.
Lucie finds Henny-penny’s yellow stockings and Tabby Kitten’s white mittens. Mrs. Tiggy-winkle only irons the white mittens because Tabby Kitten washes them herself. Mrs. Tiggy-winkle then airs the coats of the little lambs at Skelghyl, Garthsgate, and Little-town, and hangs up a number of other things including Squirrel Nutkin’s red tail-coat with no tail and Peter Rabbit’s blue jacket. Her work done, she makes tea – a cup for herself and a cup for Lucie.
The laundered clothing is tied up in bundles and Lucie’s handkerchiefs are neatly folded into her clean pinafore. They set off together down the path to return the fresh laundry to the little animals and birds in the neighbourhood. At the bottom of the hill, Lucie mounts the stile and turns to thank Mrs. Tiggy-winkle. “But what a very odd thing!” Mrs. Tiggy-winkle is “running running running up the hill”. Her cap, shawl, and print gown are nowhere to be seen. How small and brown she has grown – and covered with prickles! “Why! Mrs. Tiggy-winkle [is] nothing but a HEDGEHOG!”
The narrator tells the reader that some thought Lucie had fallen asleep on the stile and dreamed the encounter, but if so, then how could she have three clean handkerchiefs and a laundered pinafore? “Besides,” the narrator assures the reader, “I have seen that door into the back of the hill called Catbells – and besides I am very well acquainted with dear Mrs. Tiggy-winkle!”



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