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The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter

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[For the Children of Sawrey from Old Mr. Bunny]

One morning a little rabbit sat on a bank.

He pricked his ears and listened to

the trit-trot, trit-trot of a pony.

A gig was coming along the road; it

was driven by Mr. McGregor, and

beside him sat Mrs. McGregor in her

best bonnet.

As soon as they had passed, little

Benjamin Bunny slid down into the

road, and set off--with a hop, skip,

and a jump--to call upon his

relations, who lived in the wood at the

back of Mr. McGregor's garden.

That wood was full of rabbit holes;

and in the neatest, sandiest hole of all

lived Benjamin's aunt and his

cousins--Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail,

and Peter.

Old Mrs. Rabbit was a widow; she

earned her living by knitting

rabbit-wool mittens and muffatees (I

once bought a pair at a bazaar). She

also sold herbs, and rosemary tea,

and rabbit-tobacco (which is what

we call lavender).

Little Benjamin did not very much

want to see his Aunt.

He came round the back of the fir-

tree, and nearly tumbled upon the top

of his Cousin Peter.

Peter was sitting by himself. He

looked poorly, and was dressed in a

red cotton pocket-handkerchief.

"Peter," said little Benjamin, in a

whisper, "who has got your clothes?"

Peter replied, "The scarecrow in Mr.

McGregor's garden," and described

how he had been chased about the

garden, and had dropped his shoes

and coat.

Little Benjamin sat down beside his

cousin and assured him that Mr.

McGregor had gone out in a gig, and

Mrs. McGregor also; and certainly for

the day, because she was wearing her

best bonnet.

Peter said he hoped that it would rain.

At this point old Mrs. Rabbit's voice

was heard inside the rabbit hole,

calling: "Cotton-tail! Cotton-tail! fetch

some more camomile!"

Peter said he thought he might feel

better if he went for a walk.

They went away hand in hand, and

got upon the flat top of the wall at the

bottom of the wood. From here they

looked down into Mr. McGregor's

garden. Peter's coat and shoes were

plainly to be seen upon the scarecrow,

topped with an old tam-o'-shanter of

Mr. McGregor's.

Little Benjamin said: "It spoils

people's clothes to squeeze under a

gate; the proper way to get in is to

climb down a pear-tree."

Peter fell down head first; but it

was of no consequence, as the bed

below was newly raked and quite soft.

It had been sown with lettuces.

They left a great many odd little

footmarks all over the bed, especially

little Benjamin, who was wearing clogs.

Little Benjamin said that the first

thing to be done was to get back

Peter's clothes, in order that they

might be able to use the pocket-


They took them off the scarecrow.

There had been rain during the night;

there was water in the shoes, and the

coat was somewhat shrunk.

Benjamin tried on the tam-o'-

shanter, but it was too big for him.

Then he suggested that they should

fill the pocket-handkerchief with

onions, as a little present for his Aunt.

Peter did not seem to be enjoying

himself; he kept hearing noises.

Benjamin, on the contrary, was

perfectly at home, and ate a lettuce

leaf. He said that he was in the habit

of coming to the garden with his father

to get lettuces for their Sunday dinner.

(The name of little Benjamin's papa

was old Mr. Benjamin Bunny.)

The lettuces certainly were very fine.

Peter did not eat anything; he said

he should like to go home. Presently

he dropped half the onions.

Little Benjamin said that it was not

possible to get back up the pear-tree

with a load of vegetables. He led the

way boldly towards the other end of

the garden. They went along a little

walk on planks, under a sunny, red

brick wall.

The mice sat on their doorsteps

cracking cherry-stones; they winked

at Peter Rabbit and little Benjamin Bunny.

Presently Peter let the pocket-

handkerchief go again.

They got amongst flower-pots, and

frames, and tubs. Peter heard noises

worse than ever; his eyes were as big

as lolly-pops!

He was a step or two in front of his

cousin when he suddenly stopped.

This is what those little rabbits saw

round that corner!

Little Benjamin took one look, and

then, in half a minute less than no

time, he hid himself and Peter and the

onions underneath a large basket. . . .

The cat got up and stretched herself,

and came and sniffed at the basket.

Perhaps she liked the smell of onions!

Anyway, she sat down upon the top

of the basket.

She sat there for FIVE HOURS.

I cannot draw you a picture of

Peter and Benjamin underneath the

basket, because it was quite dark, and

because the smell of onions was

fearful; it made Peter Rabbit and little

Benjamin cry.

The sun got round behind the

wood, and it was quite late in the

afternoon; but still the cat sat upon

the basket.

At length there was a pitter-patter,

pitter-patter, and some bits of mortar

fell from the wall above.

The cat looked up and saw old Mr.

Benjamin Bunny prancing along the

top of the wall of the upper terrace.

He was smoking a pipe of rabbit-tobacco,

and had a little switch in his hand.

He was looking for his son.

Old Mr. Bunny had no opinion

whatever of cats. He took a

tremendous jump off the top of the

wall on to the top of the cat, and

cuffed it off the basket, and kicked it

into the greenhouse, scratching off a

handful of fur.

The cat was too much surprised to

scratch back.

When old Mr. Bunny had driven the

cat into the greenhouse, he locked the door.

Then he came back to the basket

and took out his son Benjamin by the ears,

and whipped him with the little switch.

Then he took out his nephew Peter.

Then he took out the handkerchief of onions,

and marched out of the garden.

When Mr. McGregor returned

about half an hour later he observed

several things which perplexed him.

It looked as though some person

had been walking all over the garden

in a pair of clogs--only the footmarks

were too ridiculously little!

Also he could not understand how

the cat could have managed to shut

herself up INSIDE the greenhouse,

locking the door upon the OUTSIDE.

When Peter got home his mother

forgave him, because she was so glad

to see that he had found his shoes and

coat. Cotton-tail and Peter folded up

the pocket-handkerchief, and old Mrs.

Rabbit strung up the onions and hung

them from the kitchen ceiling, with

the benches of herbs and the rabbit-tobacco.




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