THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
By Beatrix Potter
Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits,
and their names were—
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
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
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
And rushed into the tool-shed, 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 tool-shed, 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
He found a door in a wall; but it was locked, and
there was no room for a fat little rabbit to
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 gold-fish, 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
He went back towards the tool-shed, 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 blackcurrant 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
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 foor 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.
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