Short Stories » The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Short Story By Beatrix Potter

A long time ago, there lived four little rabbits, with fancy names: Flopsy, Cotton-tail, Peter and Mopsy. They lived under a very big fir tree, in a sand-bank.

One day, old Mrs. Rabbit called the four little rabbits for a little talk. “Listen to me,” she said, “I know that you like to run and play all around the place, but I advise you not to go to Mr. McGregor’s garden. Do you know why?”

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter shook their heads.

“Your father was killed in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Mrs. McGregor put him in a pie,” mother rabbit said solemnly.

The four little rabbits looked as though they understood their mother’s message.

“Alright then, go and play, but don’t get into trouble. I have to go out now,” mother rabbit said. She took her umbrella and her basket, and set out to the baker’s. She had to buy a few currant buns and a loaf of brown bread.

Meanwhile, the four little bunnies, left on their own, began exploring their neighbourhood. Mopsy, Flopsy and Cotton-tail, being good bunnies, hopped down the lane to pick some blackberries. However, Peter, being very naughty, did exactly what was forbidden: He ran to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate. Not troubled by any thoughts of danger, he ate up some lettuce, and then some beans. Next came the radishes. Then, feeling a bit sick in his stomach, he looked for some parsley.

But, as he foraged for parsley, he had the misfortune of coming face to face with none other than Mr.McGregor himself, who had been planting out young cabbages. Presently, he ran after Peter waving his rake, and screaming, “Stop thief!”

Peter was terribly frightened and ran all over the garden looking for an exit. In his panic, he had forgotten where the gate was. Now, it should be said that he had been wearing shoes, and he lost both his shoes among the vegetables while he was running for his life. However, after losing his shoes, he ran on all four legs and went faster, but unfortunately, ran into a gooseberry net. He was wearing a blue jacket with large brass buttons, and the buttons got caught in the net.

Peter lost all hope of escaping Mr. McGregor’s wrath, and began sobbing uncontrollably. Some sparrows overheard the bunny’s sobs and flew to him. They urged him to try to escape and not to give up. In the meanwhile, Mr.McGregor approached Peter with a sieve, which he wanted to catch Peter with, but Peter wriggled out, leaving his jacket behind him.

Now free of his shoes and jacket, Peter scurried at full speed into the toolshed and jumped into a can. It would have saved him, had it not been full of water.

Meanwhile, Mr. McGregor, being quite sure of finding Peter in the toolshed, began to look for him there in all possible hiding places. Most unfortunately, right at that moment Peter sneezed ‘Kertyschoo!’

Mr. McGregor was soon upon him, but Peter managed to jump out of the window, which was too small for the big man to squeeze through.

Therefore, Mr. McGregor stopped his chase of Peter, having been tired of so much running around. He went back to his work.

Peter sat down and took a rest. He was out of breath, and was still trembling from fright. He still had no idea which way to go to escape the place. He was also very wet, having been in the can full of water. He ventured out of his hiding place and began to wander about, and met a mouse and a cat. Both did not help in any way. Anyway, he did not trust the cat. He had heard enough about cats from his cousin Benjamin Bunny.

He tried going back to the toolshed, and climbed upon a wheelbarrow. He saw Mr.McGregor hoeing onions. Luckily his back was turned towards Peter. Then, all of a sudden, Peter saw the gate beyond him!

So he climbed down very quietly from the wheelbarrow, and ran as fast as he could to the gate, slipped under it, and was safe at last outside the garden.

Meanwhile, Mr.McGregor found Peter’s jacket and shoes, and decided that they would be best for a scare-crow to scare off the birds.

Peter, safe outside the garden, did not stop running until he reached home under the big fir tree. He was so tired that he flopped down on the floor and closed his eyes. His mother was busy cooking, and wondered what he had done with his shoes and jacket. It was the second pair of shoes and jacket that Peter had lost in a fortnight!

Later she found that, well, Peter was not so fine, and had a flu. But Peter did not utter a word about his adventures. His mother put him to bed, made some chamomile tea and gave him a dose of it with the admonition “one table-spoonful to be taken at bed time!”

Mopsy, Flopsy and Cotton-tail, who had a significantly less exciting time than Peter, were fed with milk, bread and strawberries for supper.

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