The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies
 

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.