Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter X. Peter Rabbit Almost Decides to Return Home
I have no doubt that you've been told How timid folks are sometimes bold. Peter Rabbit.
In all his life Peter Rabbit had never been so disappointed. Here he was in the Old Pasture, about which he had dreamed and thought so long, and in reaching which he had had such a narrow escape from Hooty the Owl, and yet he was unhappy. The fact is, Peter was more unhappy than he could remember ever to have been before. Not only was he unhappy, but he was in great fear, and the worst of it was he was in fear of an enemy who could go wherever he could go himself.
You see, it was this way: Peter had expected to find some enemies in the Old Pasture. He had felt quite sure that fierce old Mr. Goshawk was to be watched for, and perhaps Mr. Redtail and one or two others of the Hawk family. He knew that Granny and Reddy Fox had lived there once upon a time and might come back if things got too unpleasant for them on the Green Meadows, now that Old Man Coyote had made his home there. But Peter didn't worry about any of these dangers. He was used to them, was Peter. He had been dodging them ever since he could remember, A friendly bramble-bush, a little patch of briars, or an old stone wall near was all that Peter needed to feel perfectly safe from these enemies, But now he was in danger wherever he went, for he had an enemy who could go everywhere he could, and it seemed to Peter that this enemy was following him all the time. Who was it? Why, it was a great big old Rabbit with a very short temper, who, because he had lived there for a long time, felt that he owned the Old Pasture and that Peter had no right there.
Now, In spite of all his trouble, Peter had seen enough of the Old Pasture to think it a very wonderful place, a very wonderful place indeed. He had seen just enough to want to see more. You know how very curious Peter is. It seemed to him that he just couldn't go back to the dear Old Briar-patch on the Green Meadows until he had seen everything to be seen in the Old Pasture. So he couldn't make up his mind to go back home, but stayed and stayed, hoping each day that the old gray Rabbit would get tired of hunting for him, and would let him alone.
But the old gray Rabbit didn't do anything of the kind. He seemed to take the greatest delight in waiting until Peter thought that he had found a corner of the Old Pasture where he would be safe, and then in stealing there when Peter was trying to take a nap, and driving him out. Twice Peter had tried to fight, but the old gray Rabbit was too big for him. He knocked all the wind out of poor Peter with a kick from his big hind legs, and then with his sharp teeth he tore Peter's coat.
Poor Peter! His coat had already been badly torn by the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl, and Old Mother Nature hadn't had time to mend it when he fought with the old gray Rabbit. After the second time Peter didn't try to fight again. He just tried to keep out of the way. And he did, too. But in doing it he lost so much sleep and he had so little to eat that he grew thin and thin and thinner, until, with his torn clothes, he looked like a scarecrow.
And still he hated to give in When there was still so much to see. "Persistence, I was taught, will win, And so I will persist," said he.
And he did persist day after day, until at last he felt that he really must give it up. He had stretched out wearily on a tiny sunning-bank in the farthest corner of the Old Pasture, and had just about made up his mind that he would go back that very night to the dear Old Briar-patch on the Green Meadows, when a tiny rustle behind him made him jump to his feet with his heart in his mouth. But instead of the angry face of the old gray Rabbit he saw--what do you think? Why, two of the softest, gentlest eyes peeping at him from behind a big fern.