The Tale Of Benjamin Bunny




One morning a little rabbit
sat on a bank.

He pricked his ears and
listened to the trit-trot,
trit-trot of a pony.

A gig was coming along the
road; it was driven by Mr.
McGregor, and beside him sat
Mrs. McGregor in her best
bonnet.

As soon as they had passed,
little Benjamin Bunny
slid down into the road, and
set off--with a hop, skip and
a jump--to call upon his relations,
who lived in the wood at
the back of Mr. McGregor's
garden.

That wood was full of
rabbit holes; and in the
neatest sandiest hole of all,
cousins--Flopsy, Mopsy,
Cotton-tail and Peter.

Old Mrs. Rabbit was a
widow; she earned her living
by knitting rabbit-wool mittens
and muffetees (I once bought
a pair at a bazaar). She also
sold herbs, and rosemary tea,
and rabbit-tobacco (which is
what WE call lavender).

Little Benjamin did not
very much want to see
his Aunt.

He came round the back of
the fir-tree, and nearly tumbled
upon the top of his Cousin
Peter.

Peter was sitting by himself.
He looked poorly,
and was dressed in a red cotton
pocket-handkerchief.

"Peter,"--said little Benjamin,
in a whisper--"who has
got your clothes?"

Peter replied--"The scarecrow
in Mr. McGregor's
garden," and described how he
had been chased about the
garden, and had dropped his
shoes and coat.

Little Benjamin sat down beside
his cousin, and assured him
that Mr. McGregor had gone
out in a gig, and Mrs. McGregor
also; and certainly for the day,
because she was wearing her
best bonnet.

Peter said he hoped that
it would rain.

At this point, old Mrs.
Rabbit's voice was heard inside
the rabbit hole calling--
"Cotton-tail! Cotton-tail!
fetch some more chamomile!"

Peter said he thought he
might feel better if he went
for a walk.

They went away hand in
hand, and got upon the
flat top of the wall at the bottom
of the wood. From here they
looked down into Mr. McGregor's
garden. Peter's coat
and shoes were plainly to be
seen upon the scarecrow,
topped with an old tam-o-
shanter of Mr. McGregor's.

Little Benjamin said,
"It spoils people's clothes
to squeeze under a gate; the
proper way to get in, is to
climb down a pear tree."

Peter fell down head first;
but it was of no consequence,
as the bed below was newly
raked and quite soft.

IT had been sown with lettuces.

They left a great many odd
little foot-marks all over the
bed, especially little Benjamin,
who was wearing clogs.

Little Benjamin said that
the first thing to be done
was to get back Peter's clothes,
in order that they might be
able to use the pocket handkerchief.

They took them off the scarecrow.
There had been rain
during the night; there was
water in the shoes, and the
coat was somewhat shrunk.

Benjamin tried on the tam-
o-shanter, but it was too big
for him.

Then he suggested that
they should fill the pocket-
handkerchief with onions, as
a little present for his Aunt.

Peter did not seem to be
enjoying himself; he kept
hearing noises.

Benjamin, on the contrary,
was perfectly at
home, and ate a lettuce leaf.
He said that he was in the
habit of coming to the garden
with his father to get lettuces
for their Sunday dinner.

(The name of little Benjamin's
papa was old Mr. Benjamin
Bunny.)

The lettuces certainly were
very fine.

Peter did not eat anything;
he said he should
like to go home. Presently he
dropped half the onions.

Little Benjamin said that
it was not possible to get
back up the pear-tree, with a
load of vegetables. He led
the way boldly towards the
other end of the garden. They
went along a little walk on
planks, under a sunny red-
brick wall.

The mice sat on their door-
steps cracking cherry-stones,
they winked at Peter Rabbit
and little Benjamin Bunny.

Presently Peter let the
pocket-handkerchief go again.

They got amongst flower-
pots, and frames and
tubs; Peter heard noises worse
than ever, his eyes were as big
as lollipops!

He was a step or two in
front of his cousin, when he
suddenly stopped.

This is what those little
rabbits saw round that
corner!

Little Benjamin took one
look, and then, in half a minute
less than no time, he hid himself
and Peter and the onions
underneath a large basket. . . .

The cat got up and stretched
herself, and came and
sniffed at the basket.

Perhaps she liked the smell
of onions!

Anyway, she sat down upon
the top of the basket.

She sat there for FIVE HOURS.

I cannot draw you a picture
of Peter and Benjamin underneath
the basket, because it
was quite dark, and because
the smell of onions was fearful;
it made Peter Rabbit and little
Benjamin cry.

The sun got round behind
the wood, and it was quite late
in the afternoon; but still the
cat sat upon the basket.

At length there was a pitter-
patter, pitter-patter, and
some bits of mortar fell from
the wall above.

The cat looked up and saw
old Mr. Benjamin Bunny
prancing along the top of the
wall of the upper terrace.

He was smoking a pipe of
rabbit-tobacco, and had a little
switch in his hand.

He was looking for his son.

Old Mr. Bunny had no
opinion whatever of cats.

He took a tremendous jump
off the top of the wall on to
the top of the cat, and cuffed
it off the basket, and kicked it
into the garden-house, scratching
off a handful of fur.

The cat was too much surprised
to scratch back.

When old Mr. Bunny had
driven the cat into the
green-house, he locked the
door.

Then he came back to the
basket and took out his son
Benjamin by the ears, and
whipped him with the little switch.

Then he took out his nephew
Peter.

Then he took out the handkerchief
of onions, and
marched out of the garden.

When Mr. McGregor returned
about half an hour later,
he observed several
things which perplexed him.

It looked as though some
person had been walking all
over the garden in a pair of
clogs--only the foot-marks
were too ridiculously little!

Also he could not understand
how the cat could have
managed to shut herself up
Inside the green-house, locking
the door upon the OUTSIDE.

When Peter got home,
his mother forgave him,
because she was so glad to see
that he had found his shoes
and coat. Cotton-tail and
Peter folded up the pocket-
handkerchief, and old Mrs.
rabbit strung up the onions
and hung them from the
kitchen ceiling, with the
rabbit-tobacco.

To learn more about Beatrix Potter, please visit
The Elizabeth Nesbitt Room: The Illustrators Project



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