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The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter

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[For All Little Friends of

Mr. McGregor and Peter and Benjamin]

It is said that the effect of eating

too much lettuce is "soporific."

I have never felt sleepy after eating

lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.

They certainly had a very soporific

effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!

When Benjamin Bunny grew up,

he married his Cousin Flopsy.

They had a large family, and they

were very improvident and cheerful.

I do not remember the separate

names of their children; they were

generally called the "Flopsy Bunnies."

As there was not always quite

enough to eat,--Benjamin used to

borrow cabbages from Flopsy's

brother, Peter Rabbit, who kept a

nursery garden.

Sometimes Peter Rabbit had no

cabbages to spare.

When this happened, the Flopsy

Bunnies went across the field to a

rubbish heap, in the ditch outside

Mr. McGregor's garden.

Mr. McGregor's rubbish heap

was a mixture. There were jam

pots and paper bags, and mountains

of chopped grass from the

mowing machine (which always

tasted oily), and some rotten

vegetable marrows and an old boot

or two. One day--oh joy!--there

were a quantity of overgrown lettuces,

which had "shot" into flower.

The Flopsy Bunnies simply

stuffed lettuces. By degrees, one

after another, they were overcome

with slumber, and lay down in the

mown grass.

Benjamin was not so much

overcome as his children. Before

going to sleep he was sufficiently

wide awake to put a paper bag

over his head to keep off the flies.

The little Flopsy Bunnies slept

delightfully in the warm sun.

From the lawn beyond the garden

came the distant clacketty sound

of the mowing machine. The blue-

bottles buzzed about the wall,

and a little old mouse picked over

the rubbish among the jam pots.

(I can tell you her name, she

was called Thomasina Tittle-mouse,

a woodmouse with a long tail.)

She rustled across the paper bag,

and awakened Benjamin Bunny.

The mouse apologized profusely,

and said that she knew Peter Rabbit.

While she and Benjamin were

talking, close under the wall, they

heard a heavy tread above their

heads; and suddenly Mr. McGregor

emptied out a sackful of

lawn mowings right upon the top

of the sleeping Flopsy Bunnies!

Benjamin shrank down under his

paper bag. The mouse hid in a

jam pot.

The little rabbits smiled sweetly

in their sleep under the shower of

grass; they did not awake because

the lettuces had been so soporific.

They dreamt that their mother

Flopsy was tucking them up in a

hay bed.

Mr. McGregor looked down

after emptying his sack. He saw

some funny little brown tips of

ears sticking up through the lawn

mowings. He stared at them for

some time.

Presently a fly settled on one of

them and it moved.

Mr. McGregor climbed down on

to the rubbish heap--

"One, two, three, four! five! six

leetle rabbits!" said he as he

dropped them into his sack. The

Flopsy Bunnies dreamt that their

mother was turning them over in

bed. They stirred a little in their

sleep, but still they did not wake up.

Mr. McGregor tied up the sack

and left it on the wall.

He went to put away the mowing machine.

While he was gone, Mrs. Flopsy

Bunny (who had remained at

home) came across the field.

She looked suspiciously at the sack

and wondered where everybody was?

Then the mouse came out of her

jam pot, and Benjamin took the

paper bag off his head, and they

told the doleful tale.

Benjamin and Flopsy were in despair,

they could not undo the string.

But Mrs. Tittlemouse was a

resourceful person. She nibbled a

hole in the bottom corner of the sack.

The little rabbits were pulled

out and pinched to wake them.

Their parents stuffed the empty

sack with three rotten vegetable

marrows, an old blackingbrush

and two decayed turnips.

Then they all hid under a bush

and watched for Mr. McGregor.

Mr. McGregor came back and

picked up the sack, and carried it off.

He carried it hanging down, as

if it were rather heavy.

The Flopsy Bunnies followed at

a safe distance.

They watched him go into his house.

And then they crept up to

the window to listen.

Mr. McGregor threw down the

sack on the stone floor in a way

that would have been extremely

painful to the Flopsy Bunnies, if

they had happened to have been

inside it.

They could hear him drag his

chair on the flags, and chuckle--

"One, two, three, four, five, six

leetle rabbits!" said Mr. McGregor.

"Eh? What's that? What have

they been spoiling now?" enquired

Mrs. McGregor.

"One, two, three, four, five, six

leetle fat rabbits!" repeated Mr.

McGregor, counting on his fingers

--"one, two, three--"

"Don't you be silly: what do you

mean, you silly old man?"

"In the sack! one, two, three,

four, five, six!" replied Mr. McGregor.

(The youngest Flopsy Bunny got

upon the windowsill.)

Mrs. McGregor took hold of the

sack and felt it. She said she could

feel six, but they must be OLD rabbits,

because they were so hard

and all different shapes.

"Not fit to eat; but the skins will

do fine to line my old cloak."

"Line your old cloak?" shouted

Mr. McGregor--"I shall sell them

and buy myself baccy!"

"Rabbit tobacco! I shall skin

them and cut off their heads."

Mrs. McGregor untied the

sack and put her hand inside.

When she felt the vegetables

she became very very angry.

She said that Mr. McGregor

had "done it a purpose."

And Mr. McGregor was very

angry too. One of the rotten

marrows came flying through

the kitchen window, and hit

the youngest Flopsy Bunny.

It was rather hurt.

Then Benjamin and Flopsy thought

that it was time to go home.

So Mr. McGregor did not get his

tobacco, and Mrs. McGregor did

not get her rabbit skins.

But next Christmas Thomasina

Tittlemouse got a present of

enough rabbit wool to make herself

a cloak and a hood, and a

handsome muff and a pair of

warm mittens.




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