forTHE REAL LITTLE LUCIEOF NEWLANDS
Once 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?"
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!"
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.
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!
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.
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!"
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.
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!
"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....