The Tale of Two Bad Mice


Beatrix Potter (1866–1943)
Finished artwork for The Tale of Two Bad Mice, February–June 1904
Watercolor and pen and ink
The National Trust: Hill Top and Beatrix Potter Collection
© National Trust / Robert Thrift


Philip: You will now hear a reading from The Tale of Two Bad Mice, read by the actor Richard Armitage:

The Dolls’ House stood at the other side of the fireplace. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca went cautiously across the hearth rug. 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's not boiled enough. It's 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 cheesemongers'', 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, but 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.