The Tale of Peter Rabbit
 

Once upon a time there were
four little Rabbits, and their names
were--
      Flopsy,
            Mopsy,
                  Cotton-tail,
                        and Peter.

They lived with their Mother in a
sand-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."

"Now run along, and don't get into
mischief. I am going out."

Then old 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;

But Peter, who was very naughty,
ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's
garden, and squeezed under the gate!

First he ate some lettuces and some
French beans; and then he ate some
radishes;

And then, feeling rather sick, he
went to look for some parsley.

But round 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."

Peter was most dreadfully
frightened; he rushed all over the
garden, for he had forgotten the way
back to the gate.

He lost one of his shoes among the
cabbages, and the other shoe
amongst the potatoes.

After losing them, he ran on four
legs and went faster, so that I think he
might have got away altogether if he
had not unfortunately run into a
gooseberry net, and got caught by the
large buttons on his jacket. It was a
blue jacket with brass buttons, quite new.

Peter gave 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 out
just in time, leaving his jacket behind him.

And rushed into the toolshed, and
jumped into a can. It would have been
a beautiful thing to hide in, if it had
not 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.

Presently Peter sneezed--
"Kertyschoo!" Mr. McGregor was after
him in no time,

And tried to put his foot upon
Peter, who jumped out of a window,
upsetting three plants. The window
was too small for Mr. McGregor, and
he was tired of running after Peter. He
went back to his work.

Peter sat down to rest; he was out
of breath and trembling with fright,
and he had not the least idea which
way to go. Also he was very damp
with sitting in that can.

After a time he began to wander
about, going lippity--lippity--not
very fast, and looking all around.

He found a door in a wall; but it
was locked, and there was no room
for a fat little rabbit to squeeze
underneath.

An old mouse was running in and
out over the stone doorstep, carrying
peas and beans to her family in the
wood. 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.

Then he 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 some
goldfish; she sat very, very still, but
now and then the tip of her tail
twitched as if it were alive. Peter
thought 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, he
came out, and climbed upon a
wheelbarrow, and peeped over. The
first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor
hoeing 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 straight
walk behind some black-currant bushes.

Mr. McGregor caught sight of him
at the corner, but Peter did not care.
He slipped underneath the gate, and
was 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.

Peter never stopped running or
looked behind him till he got home to
the big fir-tree.

He was so tired that he flopped
down upon the nice soft sand on the
floor of the rabbit-hole, and shut his
eyes. His mother was busy cooking;
she wondered what he had done with
his clothes. It was the second little
jacket and pair of shoes that Peter
had lost in a fortnight!

I am sorry to say that Peter was not
very well during the evening.

His mother put him to bed, and
made some camomile tea; and she
gave a dose of it to Peter!

"One table-spoonful to be taken at
bed-time."

But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail
had bread and milk and blackberries
for supper.