The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

Illustration for bedtime story Beatrix Potter Tiggy Winkle
Lucie loses too many handkerchiefs - until she finds Mrs Tiggy-Winkle washing them!
The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

Beatrix Potter illustration of girl at farm for bedtime story Tiggy WinkleOnce 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?”

Beatrix Potter illustration of girl aand chickens for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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!”

Beatrix Potter illustration of girl and cushions in garden for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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 hill-side she thought she saw some white things spread upon the grass.

Beatrix Potter illustration of girl exploring forest path for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

Lucie scrambled up the hill as fast as her stout 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!

Beatrix Potter illustration of garden burrow and flowers for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

Presently she came to a spring, bubbling out from the hill-side.

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 foot-marks of a very small person.

Lucie ran on, and on.

Beatrix Potter illustration of girl waiting in forest for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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!”

Beatrix Potter illustration of girl opening door for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of girl and hedgehog talking for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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 had PRICKLES!

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog in hat and dress for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“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 a clothes-basket, and spread it on the ironing-blanket.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and girl at table for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog hanging teatowels for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and washing for bedtime story 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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and girl in dresses for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and stockings for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and girl washing towel for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“Why, there’s another handkersniff—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 the smell.”

“There’s another one of mine,” said Lucie.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and washing basket for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and ironing for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“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.”

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and clean shirts for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

“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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog hanging clothes on the line for bedtime story 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 tailcoat 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!

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog having tea with girl for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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 hair-pins sticking wrong end out; so that Lucie didn’t like to sit too near her.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and girl returning clean washing for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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 door-sill.

 

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and girl delivering clean clothes for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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!

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and swallows for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of hedgehog and girl walking hand in hand for bedtime story 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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of Lucie in washing for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

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?

Beatrix Potter illustration of bare hedgehog for bedtime story Tiggy Winkle

And how small she had grown—and how brown—and covered with PRICKLES!

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!) 

Children’s Short Story by Beatrix Potter

 

Illustrations by Beatrix Potter 

Header illustration adapted from illustration by Beatrix Potter 

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

 

Conversation 

1. Have you ever had a dream where, upon awakening, you were not sure whether it was true or not? 

2. Washing clothes used to take a very long time in the olden days. Do you know how we wash clothes now? Have you ever helped to wash the clothes? 

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