The Tale of
by Beatrix Potter
Once upon a time, there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.
They lived with their mother in a cozy den, 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 road, but don’t go into Mr. Gregg’s garden.”
“Your father had an accident there. He was put into a pie by Mrs. Gregg. Now run along, and don’t get into trouble. I am going out.”
Then old Mrs. Rabbit took both a basket and her umbrella, and she went through the woods to the baker’s.
She bought a loaf of brown bread, and five raisin buns.
Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, who were all good little bunnies, went down the road together, to gather blackberries.
But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight to Mr. Gregg’s garden, and he squeezed under the gate!
First, he ate some lettuce, and then some French beans. And then he ate some radishes.
But then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.
When he went around the end of a group of cucumber plants, who should he meet but Mr. Gregg?
Mr. Gregg was on his hands and knees, planting lots of young cabbages.
When he saw Peter, he jumped up and ran after the bunny, waving a rake and calling out, “Stop, thief!”
Peter was terribly frightened. He rushed all over the garden, because he had forgotten the way back to the gate.
He lost one shoe among the cabbages, and the other one among the potatoes.
After losing his shoes, he ran on four legs and went even faster. I think that he might have gotten away from Mr. Gregg.
But unfortunately, Peter ran into a gooseberry net and was stuck in it.
He was caught by the large buttons on his jacket. It was a blue jacket with brass buttons, which were quite new.
Poor little Peter thought that he was done for, now, and he cried big tears.
But his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows.
They flew to him with great excitement, and they asked him to keep trying really hard to get loose.
Then Mr. Gregg came up to Peter with a basket, which he meant to pop on top of Peter to catch him.
Luckily, Peter wriggled out, just in time! But he was sorry that he had to leave his nice new jacket behind him.
He rushed into the toolshed, and he jumped into a large watering can.
It would have been a good thing to hide in, if there wasn’t so much water in it.
Mr. Gregg, following the bunny quickly, was quite sure that Peter was somewhere in the toolshed, maybe hidden under a flowerpot.
He began to turn them all over carefully, looking under each one. Soon, poor Peter sneezed, “Achoo!” because he was so wet.
Then, in no time at all, Mr. Gregg was after him again, and this time, the farmer tried to put his foot down on top of Peter.
But Peter was too quick for him, and he jumped out of a window, knocking over three plants as he was getting away.
Peter finally sat down to rest. He was very much out of breath, and he was trembling with fear, as he had truly been in great danger.
As he gathered his thoughts, he knew that he didn’t really have any idea which way to go next. He was also very damp from sitting in the watering can.
After a little while, he began to wander around, going “lippity, lippity,” not very fast, and he was looking all over the place to find a good way to escape.
He found a door in a wall, but it was locked, and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath it.
He saw an old mouse, who was running in and out over the stone doorstep, carrying peas and beans to her family in the woods.
Peter asked her the way to the gate, but she had such a large pea in her mouth that she couldn’t answer him.
She could only shake her head at him. Poor Peter began to cry again.
Then he tried to find his way straight across the garden, but he became more and more confused.
Soon, he came to a pond where Mr. Gregg always 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 had heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny. He knew that cats were not friendly to bunnies!
He went back towards the toolshed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard the noise of a hoe in the garden.
It went, “scritch, scratch, scratch, scritch.”
Peter scurried underneath the bushes, but when nothing happened, he came out and climbed up onto a wheelbarrow and peeped over it.
The first thing he saw was Mr. Gregg, who was hoeing onions.
Farmer Gregg’s back was turned towards Peter, and beyond him was the gate!
Peter got down very quietly off of the wheelbarrow, and he started running as fast as he could go, along a straight trail behind some large bushes.
Mr. Gregg saw him at the corner, but Peter didn’t care. He slipped underneath the gate, and he was safe, at last, in the woods outside the garden.
Mr. Gregg hung up both Peter’s little jacket and his shoes, to act as a scarecrow to frighten away the blackbirds.
Peter never stopped running, and he never looked behind him, until he got safely home to the big fir tree.
He was so tired that he flopped down on the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit den, and he shut his eyes.
His mother was busy cooking, and 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 couple of weeks!
I am sorry to say that Peter was not feeling very well during the evening.
His mother put him to bed and made some soothing tea, giving him a dose of it to help him sleep better!
“One teaspoonful to be taken at bedtime,” she said, smiling warmly at Peter.
But, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper!