The Tale of Peter Rabbit
- Beatrix Potter
Onceupon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were-- Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.
Theylived with their Mother in asand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.
"Now,my dears," said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, "you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor."
"Nowrun along, and don't get into mischief. I am going out."Thenold Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella, and went through the wood to the baker's. She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns.
Flopsy,Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries;
ButPeter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden, and squeezed under the gate!
Firsthe ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes;
Andthen, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.
Butround the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!
Mr.McGregor was on his hands and knees planting out young cabbages, but he jumped up and ran after Peter, waving a rake and calling out, "Stop thief."
Peterwas most dreadfully frightened; he rushed all over the garden, for he had forgotten the way back to the gate.
Helost one of his shoes among the cabbages, and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.
Afterlosing them, he ran on four legs and went faster, so that I think he might have got away altogether if hehad not unfortunately run into a gooseberry net, and got caught by the large buttons on his jacket. It was ablue jacket with brass buttons, quite new.
Petergave himself up for lost, and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows,who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself.
Mr.McGregor came up with a sieve, which he intended to pop upon the top of Peter; but Peter wriggled outjust in time, leaving his jacket behind him.
Andrushed into the toolshed, and jumped into a can. It would have been a beautiful thing to hide in, if it hadnot had so much water in it.
Mr.McGregor was quite sure that Peter was somewhere in the toolshed, perhaps hidden underneath a flower-pot. He began to turn them over carefully, looking under each.
PresentlyPeter sneezed-- "Kertyschoo!" Mr. McGregor was after him in no time,
Andtried to put his foot upon Peter, who jumped out of a window, upsetting three plants. The windowwas too small for Mr. McGregor, and he was tired of running after Peter. He went back to his work.
Petersat down to rest; he was out of breath and trembling with fright, and he had not the least idea whichway to go. Also he was very damp with sitting in that can.
Aftera time he began to wander about, going lippity--lippity--not very fast, and looking all around.
Hefound a door in a wall; but it was locked, and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath.
Anold mouse was running in and out over the stone doorstep, carrying peas and beans to her family in thewood. Peter asked her the way to the gate, but she had such a large pea in her mouth that she could not answer. She only shook her head at him. Peter began to cry.
Thenhe tried to find his way straight across the garden, but he became more and more puzzled.Presently, he came to a pond where Mr. McGregor filled his water-cans. A white cat was staring at somegoldfish; she sat very, very still, but now and then the tip of her tail twitched as if it were alive. Peterthought it best to go away without speaking to her; he has heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny.
He went back towards the toolshed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard the noise of a hoe--scr-r-ritch, scratch, scratch, scritch. Peter scuttered underneath the bushes. But presently, as nothing happened, hecame out, and climbed upon a wheelbarrow, and peeped over. The first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor'shoeing onions. His back was turned towards Peter, and beyond him was the gate!
Peter got down very quietly off the wheelbarrow and started running as fast as he could go, along a straightwalk behind some black-currant bushes.
Mr.McGregor caught sight of him at the corner, but Peter did not care. He slipped underneath the gate, andwas safe at last in the wood outside the garden.
Mr.McGregor hung up the little jacket and the shoes for a scare-crow to frighten the blackbirds.
Peternever stopped running or looked behind him till he got home to the big fir-tree.
Hewas so tired that he flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit-hole, and shut hiseyes. His mother was busy cooking; she wondered what he had done with his clothes. It was the second littlejacket and a pair of shoes that Peter had lost in a fortnight!
Iam sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.
Hismother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter!
"Onetable-spoonful to be taken at bed-time."
ButFlopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.