The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter
BY BEATRIX POTTER
THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT THE TAILOR OF GLOUCESTER THE TALE OF SQUIRREL NUTKIN THE TALE OF BENJAMIN BUNNY THE TALE OF TWO BAD MICE THE TALE OF MRS. TIGGY-WINKLE THE PIE AND THE PATTY-PAN THE TALE OF MR. JEREMY FISHER THE STORY OF A FIERCE BAD RABBIT THE STORY OF MISS MOPPET THE TALE OF TOM KITTEN THE TALE OF JEMIMA PUDDLE-DUCK THE ROLY-POLY PUDDING THE TALE OF THE FLOPSY BUNNIES THE TALE OF MRS. TITTLEMOUSE THE TALE OF TIMMY TIPTOES THE TALE OF MR. TOD THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND GINGER AND PICKLES
THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were— Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.
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 going out."
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 blackberries;
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 behind him.
And rushed into the toolshed, 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 toolshed, 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 around.
He found a door in a wall; but it was locked, and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath.
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 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 has heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny.
He went back towards the toolshed, 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 black-currant 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 blackbirds.
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 floor 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.
THE TAILOR OF GLOUCESTER
"I'll be at charges for a looking-glass; And entertain a score or two of tailors." [Richard III]
My Dear Freda:
Because you are fond of fairytales, and have been ill, I have made you a story all for yourself—a new one that nobody has read before.
And the queerest thing about it is—that I heard it in Gloucestershire, and that it is true—at least about the tailor, the waistcoat, and the "No more twist!" Christmas
In the time of swords and peri wigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets—when gentlemen wore ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta—there lived a tailor in Gloucester.
He sat in the window of a little shop in Westgate Street, cross-legged on a table from morning till dark.
All day long while the light lasted he sewed and snippetted, piecing out his satin, and pompadour, and lutestring; stuffs had strange names, and were very expensive in the days of the Tailor of Gloucester.
But although he sewed fine silk for his neighbours, he himself was very, very poor. He cut his coats without waste; according to his embroidered cloth, they were very small ends and snippets that lay about upon the table—"Too narrow breadths for nought—except waistcoats for mice," said the tailor.
One bitter cold day near Christmastime the tailor began to make a coat (a coat of cherry- coloured corded silk embroidered with pansies and roses) and a cream- coloured satin waistcoat for the Mayor of Gloucester.
The tailor worked and worked, and he talked to himself: "No breadth at all, and cut on the cross; it is no breadth at all; tippets for mice and ribbons for mobs! for mice!" said the Tailor of Gloucester.
When the snow-flakes came down against the small leaded window- panes and shut out the light, the tailor had done his day's work; all the silk and satin lay cut out upon the table.
There were twelve pieces for the coat and four pieces for the waistcoat; and there were pocket-flaps and cuffs and buttons, all in order. For the lining of the coat there was fine yellow taffeta, and for the button- holes of the waistcoat there was cherry-coloured twist. And everything was ready to sew together in the morning, all measured and sufficient—except that there was wanting just one single skein of cherry-coloured twisted silk.
The tailor came out of his shop at dark. No one lived there at nights but little brown mice, and THEY ran in and out without any keys!
For behind the wooden wainscots of all the old houses in Gloucester, there are little mouse staircases and secret trap-doors; and the mice run from house to house through those long, narrow passages.
But the tailor came out of his shop and shuffled home through the snow. And although it was not a big house, the tailor was so poor he only rented the kitchen.
He lived alone with his cat; it was called Simpkin.
"Miaw?" said the cat when the tailor opened the door, "miaw?"
The tailor replied: "Simpkin, we shall make our fortune, but I am worn to a ravelling. Take this groat (which is our last fourpence), and, Simpkin, take a china pipkin, but a penn'orth of bread, a penn'orth of milk, and a penn'orth of sausages. And oh, Simpkin, with the last penny of our fourpence but me one penn'orth of cherry-coloured silk. But do not lose the last penny of the fourpence, Simpkin, or I am undone and worn to a thread-paper, for I have NO MORE TWIST."
Then Simpkin again said "Miaw!" and took the groat and the pipkin, and went out into the dark.
The tailor was very tired and beginning to be ill. He sat down by the hearth and talked to himself about that wonderful coat.
"I shall make my fortune—to be cut bias—the Mayor of Gloucester is to be married on Christmas Day in the morning, and he hath ordered a coat and an embroidered waistcoat—"
Then the tailor started; for suddenly, interrupting him, from the dresser at the other side of the kitchen came a number of little noises—
Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip!
"Now what can that be?" said the Tailor of Gloucester, jumping up from his chair. The tailor crossed the kitchen, and stood quite still beside the dresser, listening, and peering through his spectacles.
"This is very peculiar," said the Tailor of Gloucester, and he lifted up the tea-cup which was upside down.
Out stepped a little live lady mouse, and made a courtesy to the tailor! Then she hopped away down off the dresser, and under the wainscot.
The tailor sat down again by the fire, warming his poor cold hands. But all at once, from the dresser, there came other little noises—
Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip!
"This is passing extraordinary!" said the Tailor of Gloucester, and turned over another tea-cup, which was upside down.
Out stepped a little gentleman mouse, and made a bow to the tailor!
And out from under tea-cups and from under bowls and basins, stepped other and more little mice, who hopped away down off the dresser and under the wainscot.
The tailor sat down, close over the fire, lamenting: "One-and-twenty buttonholes of cherry-coloured silk! To be finished by noon of Saturday: and this is Tuesday evening. Was it right to let loose those mice, undoubtedly the property of Simpkin? Alack, I am undone, for I have no more twist!"
The little mice came out again and listened to the tailor; they took notice of the pattern of that wonderful coat. They whispered to one another about the taffeta lining and about little mouse tippets.
And then suddenly they all ran away together down the passage behind the wainscot, squeaking and calling to one another as they ran from house to house.
Not one mouse was left in the tailor's kitchen when Simpkin came back. He set down the pipkin of milk upon the dresser, and looked suspiciously at the tea-cups. He wanted his supper of little fat mouse!
"Simpkin," said the tailor, "where is my TWIST?"
But Simpkin hid a little parcel privately in the tea-pot, and spit and growled at the tailor; and if Simpkin had been able to talk, he would have asked: "Where is my MOUSE?"
"Alack, I am undone!" said the Tailor of Gloucester, and went sadly to bed.
All that night long Simpkin hunted and searched through the kitchen, peeping into cupboards and under the wainscot, and into the tea-pot where he had hidden that twist; but still he found never a mouse!
The poor old tailor was very ill with a fever, tossing and turning in his four-post bed; and still in his dreams he mumbled: "No more twist! no more twist!"
What should become of the cherry- coloured coat? Who should come to sew it, when the window was barred, and the door was fast locked?
Out-of-doors the market folks went trudging through the snow to buy their geese and turkeys, and to bake their Christmas pies; but there would be no dinner for Simpkin and the poor old tailor of Gloucester.
The tailor lay ill for three days and nights; and then it was Christmas Eve, and very late at night. And still Simpkin wanted his mice, and mewed as he stood beside the four-post bed.
But it is in the old story that all the beasts can talk in the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the morning (though there are very few folk that can hear them, or know what it is that they say).
When the Cathedral clock struck twelve there was an answer—like an echo of the chimes—and Simpkin heard it, and came out of the tailor's door, and wandered about in the snow.
From all the roofs and gables and old wooden houses in Gloucester came a thousand merry voices singing the old Christmas rhymes—all the old songs that ever I heard of, and some that I don't know, like Whittington's bells.
Under the wooden eaves the starlings and sparrows sang of Christmas pies; the jackdaws woke up in the Cathedral tower; and although it was the middle of the night the throstles and robins sang; and air was quite full of little twittering tunes.
But it was all rather provoking to poor hungry Simpkin.
From the tailor's ship in Westgate came a glow of light; and when Simpkin crept up to peep in at the window it was full of candles. There was a snippeting of scissors, and snappeting of thread; and little mouse voices sang loudly and gaily:
"Four-and-twenty tailors Went to catch a snail, The best man amongst them Durst not touch her tail; She put out her horns Like a little kyloe cow. Run, tailors, run! Or she'll have you all e'en now!"
Then without a pause the little mouse voices went on again:
"Sieve my lady's oatmeal, Grind my lady's flour, Put it in a chestnut, Let it stand an hour—"
"Mew! Mew!" interrupted Simpkin, and he scratched at the door. But the key was under the tailor's pillow; he could not get in.
The little mice only laughed, and tried another tune—
"Three little mice sat down to spin, Pussy passed by and she peeped in. What are you at, my fine little men? Making coats for gentlemen. Shall I come in and cut off yours threads? Oh, no, Miss Pussy, You'd bite off our heads!"
"Mew! scratch! scratch!" scuffled Simpkin on the window-sill; while the little mice inside sprang to their feet, and all began to shout all at once in little twittering voices: "No more twist! No more twist!" And they barred up the window-shutters and shut out Simpkin.
Simpkin came away from the shop and went home considering in his mind. He found the poor old tailor without fever, sleeping peacefully.
Then Simpkin went on tip-toe and took a little parcel of silk out of the tea-pot; and looked at it in the moonlight; and he felt quite ashamed of his badness compared with those good little mice!
When the tailor awoke in the morning, the first thing which he saw, upon the patchwork quilt, was a skein of cherry-coloured twisted silk, and beside his bed stood the repentant Simpkin!
The sun was shining on the snow when the tailor got up and dressed, and came out into the street with Simpkin running before him.
"Alack," said the tailor, "I have my twist; but no more strength—nor time—than will serve to make me one single buttonhole; for this is Christmas Day in the Morning! The Mayor of Gloucester shall be married by noon—and where is his cherry- coloured coat?"
He unlocked the door of the little shop in Westgate Street, and Simpkin ran in, like a cat that expects something.
But there was no one there! Not even one little brown mouse!
But upon the table—oh joy! the tailor gave a shout—there, where he had left plain cuttings of silk—there lay the most beautiful coat and embroidered satin waistcoat that ever were worn by a Mayor of Gloucester!
Everything was finished except just one single cherry-coloured buttonhole, and where that buttonhole was wanting there was pinned a scrap of paper with these words—in little teeny weeny writing—
NO MORE TWIST.
And from then began the luck of the Tailor of Gloucester; he grew quite stout, and he grew quite rich.
He made the most wonderful waistcoats for all the rich merchants of Gloucester, and for all the fine gentlemen of the country round.
Never were seen such ruffles, or such embroidered cuffs and lappets! But his buttonholes were the greatest triumph of it all.
The stitches of those buttonholes were so neat—SO neat—I wonder how they could be stitched by an old man in spectacles, with crooked old fingers, and a tailor's thimble.
The stitches of those buttonholes were so small—SO small—they looked as if they had been made by little mice!
THE TALE OF SQUIRREL NUTKIN
[A Story for Norah]
This is a Tale about a tail—a tail that belonged to a little red squirrel, and his name was Nutkin.
He had a brother called Twinkleberry, and a great many cousins: they lived in a wood at the edge of a lake.
In the middle of the lake there is an island covered with trees and nut bushes; and amongst those trees stands a hollow oak-tree, which is the house of an owl who is called Old Brown.
One autumn when the nuts were ripe, and the leaves on the hazel bushes were golden and green— Nutkin and Twinkleberry and all the other little squirrels came out of the wood, and down to the edge of the lake.
They made little rafts out of twigs, and they paddled away over the water to Owl Island to gather nuts.
Each squirrel had a little sack and a large oar, and spread out his tail for a sail.
They also took with them an offering of three fat mice as a present for Old Brown, and put them down upon his door-step.
Then Twinkleberry and the other little squirrels each made a low bow, and said politely—
"Old Mr. Brown, will you favour us with permission to gather nuts upon your island?"
But Nutkin was excessively impertinent in his manners. He bobbed up and down like a little red CHERRY, singing—
"Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tote! A little wee man, in a red red coat! A staff in his hand, and a stone in his throat; If you'll tell me this riddle, I'll give you a groat."
Now this riddle is as old as the hills; Mr. Brown paid no attention whatever to Nutkin.
He shut his eyes obstinately and went to sleep.
The squirrels filled their little sacks with nuts, and sailed away home in the evening.
But next morning they all came back again to Owl Island; and Twinkleberry and the others brought a fine fat mole, and laid it on the stone in front of Old Brown's doorway, and said—
"Mr. Brown, will you favour us with your gracious permission to gather some more nuts?"
But Nutkin, who had no respect, began to dance up and down, tickling old Mr. Brown with a NETTLE and singing—
"Old Mr. B! Riddle-me-ree! Hitty Pitty within the wall, Hitty Pitty without the wall; If you touch Hitty Pitty, Hitty Pitty will bite you!"
Mr. Brown woke up suddenly and carried the mole into his house.
He shut the door in Nutkin's face. Presently a little thread of blue SMOKE from a wood fire came up from the top of the tree, and Nutkin peeped through the key-hole and sang—
"A house full, a hole full! And you cannot gather a bowl-full!"
The squirrels searched for nuts all over the island and filled their little sacks.
But Nutkin gathered oak-apples— yellow and scarlet—and sat upon a beech-stump playing marbles, and watching the door of old Mr. Brown.
On the third day the squirrels got up very early and went fishing; they caught seven fat minnows as a present for Old Brown.
They paddled over the lake and landed under a crooked chestnut tree on Owl Island.
Twinkleberry and six other little squirrels each carried a fat minnow; but Nutkin, who had no nice manners, brought no present at all. He ran in front, singing—
"The man in the wilderness said to me, 'How may strawberries grow in the sea?' I answered him as I thought good— 'As many red herrings as grow in the wood."'
But old Mr. Brown took no interest in riddles—not even when the answer was provided for him.
On the fourth day the squirrels brought a present of six fat beetles, which were as good as plums in PLUM-PUDDING for Old Brown. Each beetle was wrapped up carefully in a dockleaf, fastened with a pine-needle- pin.
But Nutkin sang as rudely as ever—
"Old Mr. B! riddle-me-ree! Flour of England, fruit of Spain, Met together in a shower of rain; Put in a bag tied round with a string, If you'll tell me this riddle, I'll give you a ring!"
Which was ridiculous of Nutkin, because he had not got any ring to give to Old Brown.
The other squirrels hunted up and down the nut bushes; but Nutkin gathered robin's pin-cushions off a briar bush, and stuck them full of pine-needle-pins.
On the fifth day the squirrels brought a present of wild honey; it was so sweet and sticky that they licked their fingers as they put it down upon the stone. They had stolen it out of a bumble BEES' nest on the tippity top of the hill.
But Nutkin skipped up and down, singing—
"Hum-a-bum! buzz! buzz! Hum-a-bum buzz! As I went over Tipple-tine I met a flock of bonny swine; Some yellow-nacked, some yellow backed! They were the very bonniest swine That e'er went over the Tipple-tine."
Old Mr. Brown turned up his eyes in disgust at the impertinence of Nutkin.
But he ate up the honey!
The squirrels filled their little sacks with nuts.
But Nutkin sat upon a big flat rock, and played ninepins with a crab apple and green fir-cones.
On the sixth day, which was Saturday, the squirrels came again for the last time; they brought a new-laid EGG in a little rush basket as a last parting present for Old Brown.
But Nutkin ran in front laughing, and shouting—
"Humpty Dumpty lies in the beck, With a white counterpane round his neck, Forty doctors and forty wrights, Cannot put Humpty Dumpty to rights!"
Now old Mr. Brown took an interest in eggs; he opened one eye and shut it again. But still he did not speak.
Nutkin became more and more impertinent—
"Old Mr. B! Old Mr. B! Hickamore, Hackamore, on the King's kitchen door; All the King's horses, and all the King's men, Couldn't drive Hickamore, Hackamore, Off the King's kitchen door!"
Nutkin danced up and down like a SUNBEAM; but still Old Brown said nothing at all.
Nutkin began again—
"Authur O'Bower has broken his band, He comes roaring up the land! The King of Scots with all his power, Cannot turn Arthur of the Bower!"
Nutkin made a whirring noise to sound like the WIND, and he took a running jump right onto the head of Old Brown! . . .
Then all at once there was a flutterment and a scufflement and a loud "Squeak!"
The other squirrels scuttered away into the bushes.
When they came back very cautiously, peeping round the tree— there was Old Brown sitting on his door-step, quite still, with his eyes closed, as if nothing had happened.
* * * * * * * *
BUT NUTKIN WAS IN HIS WAISTCOAT POCKET!
This looks like the end of the story; but it isn't.
Old Brown carried Nutkin into his house, and held him up by the tail, intending to skin him; but Nutkin pulled so very hard that his tail broke in two, and he dashed up the staircase, and escaped out of the attic window.
And to this day, if you meet Nutkin up a tree and ask him a riddle, he will throw sticks at you, and stamp his feet and scold, and shout—
THE TALE OF BENJAMIN BUNNY
[For the Children of Sawrey from Old Mr. 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 lived Benjamin's aunt and his cousins—Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.
Old Mrs. Rabbit was a widow; she earned her living by knitting rabbit-wool mittens and muffatees (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 camomile!"
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 footmarks 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 doorsteps 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 lolly-pops!
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 greenhouse, 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 greenhouse, 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 footmarks were too ridiculously little!
Also he could not understand how the cat could have managed to shut herself up INSIDE the greenhouse, 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 bunches of herbs and the rabbit- tobacco.
THE TALE OF TWO BAD MICE
[For W.M.L.W., the Little Girl Who Had the Doll's House]
Once upon a time there was a very beautiful doll's-house; it was red brick with white windows, and it had real muslin curtains and a front door and a chimney.
It belonged to two Dolls called Lucinda and Jane; at least it belonged to Lucinda, but she never ordered meals.
Jane was the Cook; but she never did any cooking, because the dinner had been bought ready-made, in a box full of shavings.
There were two red lobsters and a ham, a fish, a pudding, and some pears and oranges.
They would not come off the plates, but they were extremely beautiful.
One morning Lucinda and Jane had gone out for a drive in the doll's perambulator. There was no one in the nursery, and it was very quiet. Presently there was a little scuffling, scratching noise in a corner near the fireplace, where there was a hole under the skirting-board.
Tom Thumb put out his head for a moment, and then popped it in again. Tom Thumb was a mouse.
A minute afterwards, Hunca Munca, his wife, put her head out, too; and when she saw that there was no one in the nursery, she ventured out on the oilcloth under the coal-box.
The doll's-house stood at the other side of the fire-place. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca went cautiously across the hearthrug. They pushed the front door—it was not fast.
Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca went upstairs and peeped into the dining-room. Then they squeaked with joy!
Such a lovely dinner was laid out upon the table! There were tin spoons, and lead knives and forks, and two dolly-chairs—all SO convenient!
Tom Thumb set to work at once to carve the ham. It was a beautiful shiny yellow, streaked with red.
The knife crumpled up and hurt him; he put his finger in his mouth.
"It is not boiled enough; it is hard. You have a try, Hunca Munca."
Hunca Munca stood up in her chair, and chopped at the ham with another lead knife.
"It's as hard as the hams at the cheesemonger's," said Hunca Munca.
The ham broke off the plate with a jerk, and rolled under the table.
"Let it alone," said Tom Thumb; "give me some fish, Hunca Munca!"
Hunca Munca tried every tin spoon in turn; the fish was glued to the dish.
Then Tom Thumb lost his temper. He put the ham in the middle of the floor, and hit it with the tongs and with the shovel—bang, bang, smash, smash!
The ham flew all into pieces, for underneath the shiny paint it was made of nothing but plaster!
Then there was no end to the rage and disappointment of Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca. They broke up the pudding, the lobsters, the pears and the oranges.
As the fish would not come off the plate, they put it into the red-hot crinkly paper fire in the kitchen; but it would not burn either.
Tom Thumb went up the kitchen chimney and looked out at the top— there was no soot.
While Tom Thumb was up the chimney, Hunca Munca had another disappointment. She found some tiny canisters upon the dresser, labelled— Rice—Coffee—Sago—but when she turned them upside down, there was nothing inside except red and blue beads.
Then those mice set to work to do all the mischief they could—especially Tom Thumb! He took Jane's clothes out of the chest of drawers in her bedroom, and he threw them out of the top floor window.
But Hunca Munca had a frugal mind. After pulling half the feathers out of Lucinda's bolster, she remembered that she herself was in want of a feather bed.
With Tom Thumbs's assistance she carried the bolster downstairs, and across the hearth-rug. It was difficult to squeeze the bolster into the mouse- hole; but they managed it somehow.
Then Hunca Munca went back and fetched a chair, a book-case, a bird- cage, and several small odds and ends. The book-case and the bird- cage refused to go into the mousehole.
Hunca Munca left them behind the coal-box, and went to fetch a cradle.
Hunca Munca was just returning with another chair, when suddenly there was a noise of talking outside upon the landing. The mice rushed back to their hole, and the dolls came into the nursery.
What a sight met the eyes of Jane and Lucinda! Lucinda sat upon the upset kitchen stove and stared; and Jane leant against the kitchen dresser and smiled—but neither of them made any remark.
The book-case and the bird-cage were rescued from under the coal- box—but Hunca Munca has got the cradle, and some of Lucinda's clothes.
She also has some useful pots and pans, and several other things.
The little girl that the doll's-house belonged to, said,—"I will get a doll dressed like a policeman!"
But the nurse said,—"I will set a mouse-trap!"
So that is the story of the two Bad Mice,—but they were not so very very naughty after all, because Tom Thumb paid for everything he broke.
He found a crooked sixpence under the hearth-rug; and upon Christmas Eve, he and Hunca Munca stuffed it into one of the stockings of Lucinda and Jane.
And very early every morning— before anybody is awake—Hunca Munca comes with her dust-pan and her broom to sweep the Dollies' house!
THE TALE OF MRS. TIGGY-WINKLE
[For the Real Little Lucie of Newlands]
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Lucie, who lived at a farm called Little-town. She was a good little girl—only she was always losing her pocket-handkerchiefs!
One day little Lucie came into the farm-yard crying—oh, she did cry so! "I've lost my pocket-handkin! Three handkins and a pinny! Have YOU seen them, Tabby Kitten?"
The Kitten went on washing her white paws; so Lucie asked a speckled hen—
"Sally Henny-penny, have YOU found three pocket-handkins?"
But the speckled hen ran into a barn, clucking—
"I go barefoot, barefoot, barefoot!"
And then Lucie asked Cock Robin sitting on a twig. Cock Robin looked sideways at Lucie with his bright black eye, and he flew over a stile and away.
Lucie climbed upon the stile and looked up at the hill behind Little- town—a hill that goes up—up—into the clouds as though it had no top!
And a great way up the hillside she thought she saw some white things spread upon the grass.
Lucie scrambled up the hill as fast as her short legs would carry her; she ran along a steep path-way—up and up—until Little-town was right away down below—she could have dropped a pebble down the chimney!
Presently she came to a spring, bubbling out from the hillside.
Some one had stood a tin can upon a stone to catch the water—but the water was already running over, for the can was no bigger than an egg- cup! And where the sand upon the path was wet—there were footmarks of a VERY small person.
Lucie ran on, and on.
The path ended under a big rock. The grass was short and green, and there were clothes-props cut from bracken stems, with lines of plaited rushes, and a heap of tiny clothes pins—but no pocket-handkerchiefs!
But there was something else—a door! straight into the hill; and inside it some one was singing—
"Lily-white and clean, oh! With little frills between, oh! Smooth and hot-red rusty spot Never here be seen, oh!"
Lucie knocked-once-twice, and interrupted the song. A little frightened voice called out "Who's that?"
Lucie opened the door: and what do you think there was inside the hill?—a nice clean kitchen with a flagged floor and wooden beams— just like any other farm kitchen. Only the ceiling was so low that Lucie's head nearly touched it; and the pots and pans were small, and so was everything there.
There was a nice hot singey smell; and at the table, with an iron in her hand, stood a very stout short person staring anxiously at Lucie.
Her print gown was tucked up, and she was wearing a large apron over her striped petticoat. Her little black nose went sniffle, sniffle, snuffle, and her eyes went twinkle, twinkle; and underneath her cap-where Lucie had yellow curls-that little person had PRICKLES!
"Who are you?" said Lucie. "Have you seen my pocket-handkins?"
The little person made a bob- curtsey—"Oh yes, if you please'm; my name is Mrs. Tiggy-winkle; oh yes if you please'm, I'm an excellent clear- starcher!" And she took something out of the clothesbasket, and spread it on the ironing-blanket.
"What's that thing?" said Lucie- "that's not my pocket-handkin?"
"Oh no, if you please'm; that's a little scarlet waist-coat belonging to Cock Robin!"
And she ironed it and folded it, and put it on one side.
Then she took something else off a clothes-horse—"That isn't my pinny?" said Lucie.
"Oh no, if you please'm; that's a damask table-cloth belonging to Jenny Wren; look how it's stained with currant wine! It's very bad to wash!" said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.
Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's nose went sniffle sniffle snuffle, and her eyes went twinkle twinkle; and she fetched another hot iron from the fire.
"There's one of my pocket- handkins!" cried Lucie—"and there's my pinny!"
Mrs. Tiggy-winkle ironed it, and goffered it, and shook out the frills.
"Oh that IS lovely!" said Lucie.
"And what are those long yellow things with fingers like gloves?"
"Oh that's a pair of stockings belonging to Sally Henny-penny—look how she's worn the heels out with scratching in the yard! She'll very soon go barefoot!" said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.
"Why, there's another hankersniff— but it isn't mine; it's red?"
"Oh no, if you please'm; that one belongs to old Mrs. Rabbit; and it DID so smell of onions! I've had to wash it separately, I can't get out that smell."
"There's another one of mine," said Lucie.
"What are those funny little white things?"
"That's a pair of mittens belonging to Tabby Kitten; I only have to iron them; she washes them herself."
"There's my last pocket-handkin!" said Lucie.
"And what are you dipping into the basin of starch?"
"They're little dicky shirt-fronts belonging to Tom Titmouse—most terrible particular!" said Mrs. Tiggy- winkle. "Now I've finished my ironing; I'm going to air some clothes."
"What are these dear soft fluffy things?" said Lucie.
"Oh those are woolly coats belonging to the little lambs at Skelghyl."
"Will their jackets take off?" asked Lucie.
"Oh yes, if you please'm; look at the sheep-mark on the shoulder. And here's one marked for Gatesgarth, and three that come from Little-town. They're ALWAYS marked at washing!" said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.
And she hung up all sorts and sizes of clothes—small brown coats of mice; and one velvety black moleskin waist-coat; and a red tail-coat with no tail belonging to Squirrel Nutkin; and a very much shrunk blue jacket belonging to Peter Rabbit; and a petticoat, not marked, that had gone lost in the washing—and at last the basket was empty!
Then Mrs. Tiggy-winkle made tea—a cup for herself and a cup for Lucie. They sat before the fire on a bench and looked sideways at one another. Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's hand, holding the tea-cup, was very very brown, and very very wrinkly with the soap-suds; and all through her gown and her cap, there were HAIRPINS sticking wrong end out; so that Lucie didn't like to sit too near her.
When they had finished tea, they tied up the clothes in bundles; and Lucie's pocket-handkerchiefs were folded up inside her clean pinny, and fastened with a silver safety-pin.
And then they made up the fire with turf, and came out and locked the door, and hid the key under the door-sill.
Then away down the hill trotted Lucie and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle with the bundles of clothes!
All the way down the path little animals came out of the fern to meet them; the very first that they met were Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny!
And she gave them their nice clean clothes; and all the little animals and birds were so very much obliged to dear Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.
So that at the bottom of the hill when they came to the stile, there was nothing left to carry except Lucie's one little bundle.
Lucie scrambled up the stile with the bundle in her hand; and then she turned to say "Good-night," and to thank the washer-woman.—But what a VERY odd thing! Mrs. Tiggy-winkle had not waited either for thanks or for the washing bill!
She was running running running up the hill—and where was her white frilled cap? and her shawl? and her gown-and her petticoat?
And HOW small she had grown— and HOW brown—and covered with PRICKLES!
Why! Mrs. Tiggy-winkle was nothing but a HEDGEHOG! * * * * * *
(Now some people say that little Lucie had been asleep upon the stile—but then how could she have found three clean pocket-handkins and a pinny, pinned with a silver safety-pin?
And besides—I have seen that door into the back of the hill called Cat Bells—and besides I am very well acquainted with dear Mrs. Tiggy-winkle!)
THE PIE AND THE PATTY-PAN
Pussy-cat sits by the fire—how should she be fair? In walks the little dog—says "Pussy are you there? How do you do Mistress Pussy? Mistress Pussy, how do you do?" "I thank you kindly, little dog, I fare as well as you!" [Old Rhyme]
Once upon a time there was a Pussy-cat called Ribby, who invited a little dog called Duchess to tea.
"Come in good time, my dear Duchess," said Ribby's letter, "and we will have something so very nice. I am baking it in a pie-dish—a pie-dish with a pink rim. You never tasted anything so good! And YOU shall eat it all! I will eat muffins, my dear Duchess!" wrote Ribby.
"I will come very punctually, my dear Ribby," wrote Duchess; and then at the end she added—"I hope it isn't mouse?"
And then she thought that did not look quite polite; so she scratched out "isn't mouse" and changed it to "I hope it will be fine," and she gave her letter to the postman.
But she thought a great deal about Ribby's pie, and she read Ribby's letter over and over again.
"I am dreadfully afraid it WILL be mouse!" said Duchess to herself—"I really couldn't, COULDN'T eat mouse pie. And I shall have to eat it, because it is a party. And MY pie was going to be veal and ham. A pink and white pie-dish! and so is mine; just like Ribby's dishes; they were both bought at Tabitha Twitchit's."
Duchess went into her larder and took the pie off a shelf and looked at it.
"Oh what a good idea! Why shouldn't I rush along and put my pie into Ribby's oven when Ribby isn't there?"
Ribby in the meantime had received Duchess's answer, and as soon as she was sure that the little dog would come—she popped HER pie into the oven. There were two ovens, one above the other; some other knobs and handles were only ornamental and not intended to open. Ribby put the pie into the lower oven; the door was very stiff.
"The top oven bakes too quickly," said Ribby to herself.
Ribby put on some coal and swept up the hearth. Then she went out with a can to the well, for water to fill up the kettle.
Then she began to set the room in order, for it was the sitting-room as well as the kitchen.
When Ribby had laid the table she went out down the field to the farm, to fetch milk and butter.
When she came back, she peeped into the bottom oven; the pie looked very comfortable.
Ribby put on her shawl and bonnet and went out again with a basket, to the village shop to buy a packet of tea, a pound of lump sugar, and a pot of marmalade.
And just at the same time, Duchess came out of HER house, at the other end of the village.
Ribby met Duchess half-way down the street, also carrying a basket, covered with a cloth. They only bowed to one another; they did not speak, because they were going to have a party.
As soon as Duchess had got round the corner out of sight—she simply ran! Straight away to Ribby's house!
Ribby went into the shop and bought what she required, and came out, after a pleasant gossip with Cousin Tabitha Twitchit.
Ribby went on to Timothy Baker's and bought the muffins. Then she went home.
There seemed to be a sort of scuffling noise in the back passage, as she was coming in at the front door. But there was nobody there.
Duchess in the meantime, had slipped out at the back door.
"It is a very odd thing that Ribby's pie was NOT in the oven when I put mine in! And I can't find it anywhere; I have looked all over the house. I put MY pie into a nice hot oven at the top. I could not turn any of the other handles; I think that they are all shams," said Duchess, "but I wish I could have removed the pie made of mouse! I cannot think what she has done with it? I heard Ribby coming and I had to run out by the back door!"
Duchess went home and brushed her beautiful black coat; and then she picked a bunch of flowers in her garden as a present for Ribby; and passed the time until the clock struck four.
Ribby—having assured herself by careful search that there was really no one hiding in the cupboard or in the larder—went upstairs to change her dress.
She came downstairs again, and made the tea, and put the teapot on the hob. She peeped again into the BOTTOM oven, the pie had become a lovely brown, and it was steaming hot.
She sat down before the fire to wait for the little dog. "I am glad I used the BOTTOM oven," said Ribby, "the top one would certainly have been very much too hot."
Very punctually at four o'clock, Duchess started to go to the party.
At a quarter past four to the minute, there came a most genteel little tap-tappity. "Is Mrs. Ribston at home?" inquired Duchess in the porch.
"Come in! and how do you do, my dear Duchess?" cried Ribby. "I hope I see you well?"
"Quite well, I thank you, and how do YOU do, my dear Ribby?" said Duchess. "I've brought you some flowers; what a delicious smell of pie!"
"Oh, what lovely flowers! Yes, it is mouse and bacon!"
"I think it wants another five minutes," said Ribby. "Just a shade longer; I will pour out the tea, while we wait. Do you take sugar, my dear Duchess?"
"Oh yes, please! my dear Ribby; and may I have a lump upon my nose?"
"With pleasure, my dear Duchess."
Duchess sat up with the sugar on her nose and sniffed—
"How good that pie smells! I do love veal and ham—I mean to say mouse and bacon—"
She dropped the sugar in confusion, and had to go hunting under the tea- table, so did not see which oven Ribby opened in order to get out the pie.
Ribby set the pie upon the table; there was a very savoury smell.
Duchess came out from under the table-cloth munching sugar, and sat up on a chair.
"I will first cut the pie for you; I am going to have muffin and marmalade," said Ribby.
"I think"—(thought Duchess to herself)—"I THINK it would be wiser if I helped myself to pie; though Ribby did not seem to notice anything when she was cutting it. What very small fine pieces it has cooked into! I did not remember that I had minced it up so fine; I suppose this is a quicker oven than my own."
The pie-dish was emptying rapidly! Duchess had had four helps already, and was fumbling with the spoon.
"A little more bacon, my dear Duchess?" said Ribby.
"Thank you, my dear Ribby; I was only feeling for the patty-pan."
"The patty-pan? my dear Duchess?"
"The patty pan that held up the pie-crust," said Duchess, blushing under her black coat.
"Oh, I didn't put one in, my dear Duchess," said Ribby; "I don't think that it is necessary in pies made of mouse."
Duchess fumbled with the spoon— "I can't find it!" she said anxiously.
"There isn't a patty-pan," said Ribby, looking perplexed.
"Yes, indeed, my dear Ribby; where can it have gone to?" said Duchess.
Duchess looked very much alarmed, and continued to scoop the inside of the pie-dish.
"I have only four patty-pans, and they are all in the cupboard."
Duchess set up a howl.
"I shall die! I shall die! I have swallowed a patty-pan! Oh, my dear Ribby, I do feel so ill!"
"It is impossible, my dear Duchess; there was not a patty-pan."
"Yes there WAS, my dear Ribby, I am sure I have swallowed it!"
"Let me prop you up with a pillow, my dear Duchess; where do you think you feel it?"
"Oh I do feel so ill ALL OVER me, my dear Ribby."
"Shall I run for the doctor?"
"Oh yes, yes! fetch Dr. Maggotty, my dear Ribby: he is a Pie himself, he will certainly understand."
Ribby settled Duchess in an armchair before the fire, and went out and hurried to the village to look for the doctor.
She found him at the smithy.
Ribby explained that her guest had swallowed a patty-pan.
Dr. Maggotty hopped so fast that Ribby had to run. It was most conspicuous. All the village could see that Ribby was fetching the doctor.
But while Ribby had been hunting for the doctor—a curious thing had happened to Duchess, who had been left by herself, sitting before the fire, sighing and groaning and feeling very unhappy.
"How COULD I have swallowed it! such a large thing as a patty-pan!"
She sat down again, and stared mournfully at the grate. The fire crackled and danced, and something sizz-z-zled!
Duchess started! She opened the door of the TOP oven;—out came a rich steamy flavour of veal and ham, and there stood a fine brown pie,— and through a hole in the top of the pie-crust there was a glimpse of a little tin patty-pan!
Duchess drew a long breath—
"Then I must have been eating MOUSE! . . . No wonder I feel ill. . . . But perhaps I should feel worse if I had really swallowed a patty-pan!" Duchess reflected—"What a very awkward thing to have to explain to Ribby! I think I will put MY pie in the back-yard and say nothing about it. When I go home, I will run round and take it away." She put it outside the back-door, and sat down again by the fire, and shut her eyes; when Ribby arrived with the doctor, she seemed fast asleep.
"I am feeling very much better," said Duchess, waking up with a jump.
"I am truly glad to hear it! He has brought you a pill, my dear Duchess!"
"I think I should feel QUITE well if he only felt my pulse," said Duchess, backing away from the magpie, who sidled up with something in his beak.
"It is only a bread pill, you had much better take it; drink a little milk, my dear Duchess!"
"I am feeling very much better, my dear Ribby," said Duchess. "Do you not think that I had better go home before it gets dark?"
"Perhaps it might be wise, my dear Duchess."
Ribby and Duchess said good-bye affectionately, and Duchess started home. Half-way up the lane she stopped and looked back; Ribby had gone in and shut her door. Duchess slipped through the fence, and ran round to the back of Ribby's house, and peeped into the yard.
Upon the roof of the pig-stye sat Dr. Maggotty and three jackdaws. The jackdaws were eating piecrust, and the magpie was drinking gravy out of a patty-pan.
Duchess ran home feeling uncommonly silly!
When Ribby came out for a pailful of water to wash up the tea-things, she found a pink and white pie-dish lying smashed in the middle of the yard.
Ribby stared with amazement— "Did you ever see the like! so there really WAS a patty-pan? . . . But MY patty-pans are all in the kitchen cupboard. Well I never did! . . . Next time I want to give a party—I will invite Cousin Tabitha Twitchit!"
THE TALE OF MR. JEREMY FISHER
[For Stephanie from Cousin B.]
Once upon a time there was a frog called Mr. Jeremy Fisher; he lived in a little damp house amongst the buttercups at the edge of a pond.
The water was all slippy-sloppy in the larder and in the back passage.
But Mr. Jeremy liked getting his feet wet; nobody ever scolded him, and he never caught a cold!
He was quite pleased when he looked out and saw large drops of rain, splashing in the pond—
"I will get some worms and go fishing and catch a dish of minnows for my dinner," said Mr. Jeremy Fisher. "If I catch more than five fish, I will invite my friends Mr. Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise and Sir Isaac Newton. The Alderman, however, eats salad."
Mr. Jeremy put on a mackintosh, and a pair of shiny galoshes; he took his rod and basket, and set off with enormous hops to the place where he kept his boat.
The boat was round and green, and very like the other lily-leaves. It was tied to a water-plant in the middle of the pond.
Mr. Jeremy took a reed pole, and pushed the boat out into open water. "I know a good place for minnows," said Mr. Jeremy Fisher.
Mr. Jeremy stuck his pole into the mud and fastened the boat to it.
Then he settled himself cross- legged and arranged his fishing tackle. He had the dearest little red float. His rod was a tough stalk of grass, his line was a fine long white horse-hair, and he tied a little wriggling worm at the end.
The rain trickled down his back, and for nearly an hour he stared at the float.
"This is getting tiresome, I think I should like some lunch," said Mr. Jeremy Fisher.
He punted back again amongst the water-plants, and took some lunch out of his basket.
"I will eat a butterfly sandwich, and wait till the shower is over," said Mr. Jeremy Fisher.
A great big water-beetle came up underneath the lily leaf and tweaked the toe of one of his galoshes.
Mr. Jeremy crossed his legs up shorter, out of reach, and went on eating his sandwich.
Once or twice something moved about with a rustle and a splash amongst the rushes at the side of the pond.
"I trust that is not a rat," said Mr. Jeremy Fisher; "I think I had better get away from here."
Mr. Jeremy shoved the boat out again a little way, and dropped in the bait. There was a bite almost directly; the float gave a tremendous bobbit!
"A minnow! a minnow! I have him by the nose!" cried Mr. Jeremy Fisher, jerking up his rod.
But what a horrible surprise! Instead of a smooth fat minnow, Mr. Jeremy landed little Jack Sharp, the stickleback, covered with spines!
The stickleback floundered about the boat, pricking and snapping until he was quite out of breath. Then he jumped back into the water.
And a shoal of other little fishes put their heads out, and laughed at Mr. Jeremy Fisher.
And while Mr. Jeremy sat disconsolately on the edge of his boat—sucking his sore fingers and peering down into the water—a MUCH worse thing happened; a really FRIGHTFUL thing it would have been, if Mr. Jeremy had not been wearing a mackintosh!
A great big enormous trout came up—ker-pflop-p-p-p! with a splash— and it seized Mr. Jeremy with a snap, "Ow! Ow! Ow!"—and then it turned and dived down to the bottom of the pond!
But the trout was so displeased with the taste of the mackintosh, that in less than half a minute it spat him out again; and the only thing it swallowed was Mr. Jeremy's galoshes.
Mr. Jeremy bounced up to the surface of the water, like a cork and the bubbles out of a soda water bottle; and he swam with all his might to the edge of the pond.
He scrambled out on the first bank he came to, and he hopped home across the meadow with his mackintosh all in tatters.
"What a mercy that was not a pike!" said Mr. Jeremy Fisher. "I have lost my rod and basket; but it does not much matter, for I am sure I should never have dared to go fishing again!"
He put some sticking plaster on his fingers, and his friends both came to dinner. He could not offer them fish, but he had something else in his larder.
Sir Isaac Newton wore his black and gold waistcoat.
And Mr. Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise brought a salad with him in a string bag.
And instead of a nice dish of minnows, they had a roasted grasshopper with lady-bird sauce, which frogs consider a beautiful treat; but I think it must have been nasty!
THE STORY OF A FIERCE BAD RABBIT
This is a fierce bad Rabbit; look at his savage whiskers and his claws and his turned-up tail.
This is a nice gentle Rabbit. His mother has given him a carrot.
The bad Rabbit would like some carrot.
He doesn't say "Please." He takes it!
And he scratches the good Rabbit very badly.
The good Rabbit creeps away and hides in a hole. It feels sad.
This is a man with a gun.
He sees something sitting on a bench. He thinks it is a very funny bird!
He comes creeping up behind the trees.
And then he shoots—BANG!
This is what happens—
But this is all he finds on the bench when he rushes up with his gun.
The good Rabbit peeps out of its hole . . .
. . . and it sees the bad Rabbit tearing past—without any tail or whiskers!
THE STORY OF MISS MOPPET
This is a Pussy called Miss Moppet; she thinks she has heard a mouse!
This is the Mouse peeping out behind the cupboard and making fun of Miss Moppet. He is not afraid of a kitten.
This is Miss Moppet jumping just too late; she misses the Mouse and hits her own head.
She thinks it is a very hard cupboard!
The Mouse watches Miss Moppet from the top of the cupboard.
Miss Moppet ties up her head in a duster and sits before the fire.
The Mouse thinks she is looking very ill. He comes sliding down the bellpull.
Miss Moppet looks worse and worse. The Mouse comes a little nearer.
Miss Moppet holds her poor head in her paws and looks at him through a hole in the duster. The Mouse comes VERY close.
And then all of a sudden—Miss Moppet jumps upon the Mouse!
And because the Mouse has teased Miss Moppet—Miss Moppet thinks she will tease the Mouse, which is not at all nice of Miss Moppet.
She ties him up in the duster and tosses it about like a ball.
But she forgot about that hole in the duster; and when she untied it— there was no Mouse!
He has wriggled out and run away; and he is dancing a jig on top of the cupboard!
THE TALE OF TOM KITTEN
[Dedicated to All Pickles, —Especially to Those That Get upon My Garden Wall]
Once upon a time there were three little kittens, and their names were Mittens, Tom Kitten, and Moppet.
They had dear little fur coats of their own; and they tumbled about the doorstep and played in the dust.
But one day their mother—Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit—expected friends to tea; so she fetched the kittens indoors, to wash and dress them, before the fine company arrived.
First she scrubbed their faces (this one is Moppet).
Then she brushed their fur (this one is Mittens).
Then she combed their tails and whiskers (this is Tom Kitten).
Tom was very naughty, and he scratched.
Mrs. Tabitha dressed Moppet and Mittens in clean pinafores and tuckers; and then she took all sorts of elegant uncomfortable clothes out of a chest of drawers, in order to dress up her son Thomas.
Tom Kitten was very fat, and he had grown; several buttons burst off. His mother sewed them on again.
When the three kittens were ready, Mrs. Tabitha unwisely turned them out into the garden, to be out of the way while she made hot buttered toast.
"Now keep your frocks clean, children! You must walk on your hind legs. Keep away from the dirty ash- pit, and from Sally Henny Penny, and from the pigsty and the Puddle- ducks."
Moppet and Mittens walked down the garden path unsteadily. Presently they trod upon their pinafores and fell on their noses.
When they stood up there were several green smears!
"Let us climb up the rockery and sit on the garden wall," said Moppet.
They turned their pinafores back to front and went up with a skip and a jump; Moppet's white tucker fell down into the road.
Tom Kitten was quite unable to jump when walking upon his hind legs in trousers. He came up the rockery by degrees, breaking the ferns and shedding buttons right and left.
He was all in pieces when he reached the top of the wall.
Moppet and Mittens tried to pull him together; his hat fell off, and the rest of his buttons burst.
While they were in difficulties, there was a pit pat, paddle pat! and the three Puddle-ducks came along the hard high road, marching one behind the other and doing the goose step— pit pat, paddle pat! pit pat, waddle pat!
They stopped and stood in a row and stared up at the kittens. They had very small eyes and looked surprised. Then the two duck-birds, Rebeccah and Jemima Puddle-duck, picked up the hat and tucker and put them on.
Mittens laughed so that she fell off the wall. Moppet and Tom descended after her; the pinafores and all the rest of Tom's clothes came off on the way down.
"Come! Mr. Drake Puddle-duck," said Moppet. "Come and help us to dress him! Come and button up Tom!"
Mr. Drake Puddle-duck advanced in a slow sideways manner and picked up the various articles.
But he put them on HIMSELF! They fitted him even worse than Tom Kitten.
"It's a very fine morning!" said Mr. Drake Puddle-duck.
And he and Jemima and Rebeccah Puddle-duck set off up the road, keeping step—pit pat, paddle pat! pit pat, waddle pat!
Then Tabitha Twitchit came down the garden and found her kittens on the wall with no clothes on.
She pulled them off the wall, smacked them, and took them back to the house.
"My friends will arrive in a minute, and you are not fit to be seen; I am affronted," said Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit.
She sent them upstairs; and I am sorry to say she told her friends that they were in bed with the measles— which was not true.
Quite the contrary; they were not in bed: NOT in the least.
Somehow there were very extra— ordinary noises overhead, which disturbed the dignity and repose of the tea party.
And I think that some day I shall have to make another, larger book, to tell you more about Tom Kitten!
As for the Puddle-ducks—they went into a pond.
The clothes all came off directly, because there were no buttons.
And Mr. Drake Puddle-duck, and Jemima and Rebeccah, have been looking for them ever since.
THE TALE OF JEMIMA PUDDLE-DUCK
[A Farmyard Tale for Ralph and Betsy]
What a funny sight it is to see a brood of ducklings with a hen!
Listen to the story of Jemima Puddle-duck, who was annoyed because the farmer's wife would not let her hatch her own eggs.
Her sister-in-law, Mrs. Rebeccah Puddle-duck, was perfectly willing to leave the hatching to someone else— "I have not the patience to sit on a nest for twenty-eight days; and no more have you, Jemima. You would let them go cold; you know you would!"
"I wish to hatch my own eggs; I will hatch them all by myself," quacked Jemima Puddle-duck.
She tried to hide her eggs; but they were always found and carried off.
Jemima Puddle-duck became quite desperate. She determined to make a nest right away from the farm.
She set off on a fine spring afternoon along the cart road that leads over the hill.
She was wearing a shawl and a poke bonnet.
When she reached the top of the hill, she saw a wood in the distance.
She thought that it looked a safe quiet spot.
Jemima Puddle-duck was not much in the habit of flying. She ran downhill a few yards flapping her shawl, and then she jumped off into the air.
She flew beautifully when she had got a good start.
She skimmed along over the treetops until she saw an open place in the middle of the wood, where the trees and brushwood had been cleared.
Jemima alighted rather heavily and began to waddle about in search of a convenient dry nesting place. She rather fancied a tree stump amongst some tall foxgloves.
But—seated upon the stump, she was startled to find an elegantly dressed gentleman reading a newspaper. He had black prick ears and sandy colored whiskers.
"Quack?" said Jemima Puddle- duck, with her head and her bonnet on the one side—"Quack?"
The gentleman raised his eyes above his newspaper and looked curiously at Jemima—
"Madam, have you lost your way?" said he. He had a long bushy tail which he was sitting upon, as the stump was somewhat damp.
Jemima thought him mighty civil and handsome. She explained that she had not lost her way, but that she was trying to find a convenient dry nesting place.
"Ah! is that so? Indeed!" said the gentleman with sandy whiskers, looking curiously at Jemima. He folded up the newspaper and put it in his coattail pocket.
Jemima complained of the superfluous hen.
"Indeed! How interesting! I wish I could meet with that fowl. I would teach it to mind its own business!
"But as to a nest—there is no difficulty: I have a sackful of feathers in my woodshed. No, my dear madam, you will be in nobody's way. You may sit there as long as you like," said the bushy long-tailed gentleman.
He led the way to a very retired, dismal-looking house amongst the foxgloves.
It was built of faggots and turf, and there were two broken pails, one on top of another, by way of a chimney.
"This is my summer residence; you would not find my earth—my winter house—so convenient," said the hospitable gentleman.
There was a tumbledown shed at the back of the house, made of old soap boxes. The gentleman opened the door and showed Jemima in.
The shed was almost quite full of feathers—it was almost suffocating; but it was comfortable and very soft.
Jemima Puddle-duck was rather surprised to find such a vast quantity of feathers. But it was very comfortable; and she made a nest without any trouble at all.
When she came out, the sandy- whiskered gentleman was sitting on a log reading the newspaper—at least he had it spread out, but he was looking over the top of it.
He was so polite that he seemed almost sorry to let Jemima go home for the night. He promised to take great care of her nest until she came back again the next day.
He said he loved eggs and ducklings; he should be proud to see a fine nestful in his woodshed.
Jemima Puddle-duck came every afternoon; she laid nine eggs in the nest. They were greeny white and very large. The foxy gentleman admired them immensely. He used to turn them over and count them when Jemima was not there.
At last Jemima told him that she intended to begin to sit next day—"and I will bring a bag of corn with me, so that I need never leave my nest until the eggs are hatched. They might catch cold," said the conscientious Jemima.
"Madam, I beg you not to trouble yourself with a bag; I will provide oats. But before you commence your tedious sitting, I intend to give you a treat. Let us have a dinner party all to ourselves!
"May I ask you to bring up some herbs from the farm garden to make a savory omelet? Sage and thyme, and mint and two onions, and some parsley. I will provide lard for the stuff—lard for the omelet," said the hospitable gentleman with sandy whiskers.
Jemima Puddle-duck was a simpleton: not even the mention of sage and onions made her suspicious.
She went round the farm garden, nibbling off snippets of all the different sorts of herbs that are used for stuffing roast duck.
And she waddled into the kitchen and got two onions out of a basket.
The collie dog Kep met her coming out, "What are you doing with those onions? Where do you go every afternoon by yourself, Jemima Puddle-duck?"
Jemima was rather in awe of the collie; she told him the whole story.
The collie listened, with his wise head on one side; he grinned when she described the polite gentleman with sandy whiskers.
He asked several questions about the wood and about the exact position of the house and shed.
Then he went out, and trotted down the village. He went to look for two foxhound puppies who were out at walk with the butcher.
Jemima Puddle-duck went up the cart road for the last time, on a sunny afternoon. She was rather burdened with bunches of herbs and two onions in a bag.
She flew over the wood, and alighted opposite the house of the bushy long-tailed gentleman.
He was sitting on a log; he sniffed the air and kept glancing uneasily round the wood. When Jemima alighted he quite jumped.
"Come into the house as soon as you have looked at your eggs. Give me the herbs for the omelet. Be sharp!"
He was rather abrupt. Jemima Puddle-duck had never heard him speak like that.
She felt surprised and uncomfortable.
While she was inside she heard pattering feet round the back of the shed. Someone with a black nose sniffed at the bottom of the door, and them locked it.
Jemima became much alarmed.
A moment afterward there were most awful noises—barking, baying, growls and howls, squealing and groans.
And nothing more was ever seen of that foxy-whiskered gentleman.
Presently Kep opened the door of the shed and let out Jemima Puddle- duck.
Unfortunately the puppies rushed in and gobbled up all the eggs before he could stop them.
He had a bite on his ear, and both the puppies were limping.
Jemima Puddle-duck was escorted home in tears on account of those eggs.
She laid some more in June, and she was permitted to keep them herself: but only four of them hatched.
Jemima Puddle-duck said that it was because of her nerves; but she had always been a bad sitter.
THE ROLY-POLY PUDDING
[In Remembrance of "Sammy," the Intelligent Pink-Eyed Representative of a Persecuted (But Irrepressible) Race. An Affectionate Little Friend, and Most Accomplished Thief!]
Once upon a time there was an old cat, called Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit, who was an anxious parent. She used to lose her kittens continually, and whenever they were lost they were always in mischief!
On baking day she determined to shut them up in a cupboard.
She caught Moppet and Mittens, but she could not find Tom.
Mrs. Tabitha went up and down all over the house, mewing for Tom Kitten. She looked in the pantry under the staircase, and she searched the best spare bedroom that was all covered up with dust sheets. She went right upstairs and looked into the attics, but she could not find him anywhere.
It was an old, old house, full of cupboards and passages. Some of the walls were four feet thick, and there used to be queer noises inside them, as if there might be a little secret staircase. Certainly there were odd little jagged doorways in the wainscot, and things disappeared at night— especially cheese and bacon.
Mrs. Tabitha became more and more distracted and mewed dreadfully.
While their mother was searching the house, Moppet and Mittens had got into mischief.
The cupboard door was not locked, so they pushed it open and came out.
They went straight to the dough which was set to rise in a pan before the fire.
They patted it with their little soft paws—"Shall we make dear little muffins?" said Mittens to Moppet.
But just at that moment somebody knocked at the front door, and Moppet jumped into the flour barrel in a fright.
Mittens ran away to the dairy and hid in an empty jar on the stone shelf where the milk pans stand.
The visitor was a neighbor, Mrs. Ribby; she had called to borrow some yeast.
Mr. Tabitha came downstairs mewing dreadfully—"Come in, Cousin Ribby, come in, and sit ye down! I'm in sad trouble, Cousin Ribby," said Tabitha, shedding tears. "I've lost my dear son Thomas; I'm afraid the rats have got him." She wiped her eyes with her apron.
"He's a bad kitten, Cousin Tabitha; he made a cat's cradle of my best bonnet last time I came to tea. Where have you looked for him?"
"All over the house! The rats are too many for me. What a thing it is to have an unruly family!" said Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit.
"I'm not afraid of rats; I will help you to find him; and whip him, too! What is all that soot in the fender?"
"The chimney wants sweeping— Oh, dear me, Cousin Ribby—now Moppet and Mittens are gone!
"They have both got out of the cupboard!"
Ribby and Tabitha set to work to search the house thoroughly again. They poked under the beds with Ribby's umbrella and they rummaged in cupboards. They even fetched a candle and looked inside a clothes chest in one of the attics. They could not find anything, but once they heard a door bang and somebody scuttered downstairs.
"Yes, it is infested with rats," said Tabitha tearfully. "I caught seven young ones out of one hole in the back kitchen, and we had them for dinner last Saturday. And once I saw the old father rat—an enormous old rat— Cousin Ribby. I was just going to jump upon him, when he showed his yellow teeth at me and whisked down the hole.
"The rats get upon my nerves, Cousin Ribby," said Tabitha.
Ribby and Tabitha searched and searched. They both heard a curious roly-poly noise under the attic floor. But there was nothing to be seen.
They returned to the kitchen. "Here's one of your kittens at least," said Ribby, dragging Moppet out of the flour barrel.
They shook the flour off her and set her down on the kitchen floor. She seemed to be in a terrible fright.
"Oh! Mother, Mother," said Moppet, "there's been an old woman rat in the kitchen, and she's stolen some of the dough!"
The two cats ran to look at the dough pan. Sure enough there were marks of little scratching fingers, and a lump of dough was gone!
"Which way did she go, Moppet?"
But Moppet had been too much frightened to peep out of the barrel again.
Ribby and Tabitha took her with them to keep her safely in sight, while they went on with their search.
They went into the dairy.
The first thing they found was Mittens, hiding in an empty jar.
They tipped over the jar, and she scrambled out.
"Oh, Mother, Mother!" said Mittens—
"Oh! Mother, Mother, there has been an old man rat in the dairy—a dreadful 'normous big rat, Mother; and he's stolen a pat of butter and the rolling pin."
Ribby and Tabitha looked at one another.
"A rolling pin and butter! Oh, my poor son Thomas!" exclaimed Tabitha, wringing her paws.
"A rolling pin?" said Ribby. "Did we not hear a roly-poly noise in the attic when we were looking into that chest?"
Ribby and Tabitha rushed upstairs again. Sure enough the roly-poly noise was still going on quite distinctly under the attic floor.
"This is serious, Cousin Tabitha," said Ribby. "We must send for John Joiner at once, with a saw."
Now, this is what had been happening to Tom Kitten, and it shows how very unwise it is to go up a chimney in a very old house, where a person does not know his way, and where there are enormous rats.
Tom Kitten did not want to be shut up in a cupboard. When he saw that his mother was going to bake, he determined to hide.
He looked about for a nice convenient place, and he fixed upon the chimney.
The fire had only just been lighted, and it was not hot; but there was a white choky smoke from the green sticks. Tom Kitten got upon the fender and looked up. It was a big old- fashioned fireplace.
The chimney itself was wide enough inside for a man to stand up and walk about. So there was plenty of room for a little Tom Cat.
He jumped right up into the fireplace, balancing himself upon the iron bar where the kettle hangs.
Tom Kitten took another big jump off the bar and landed on a ledge high up inside the chimney, knocking down some soot into the fender.
Tom Kitten coughed and choked with the smoke; he could hear the sticks beginning to crackle and burn in the fireplace down below. He made up his mind to climb right to the top, and get out on the slates, and try to catch sparrows.
"I cannot go back. If I slipped I might fall in the fire and singe my beautiful tail and my little blue jacket."
The chimney was a very big old- fashioned one. It was built in the days when people burnt logs of wood upon the hearth.
The chimney stack stood up above the roof like a little stone tower, and the daylight shone down from the top, under the slanting slates that kept out the rain.
Tom Kitten was getting very frightened! He climbed up, and up, and up.
Then he waded sideways through inches of soot. He was like a little sweep himself.
It was most confusing in the dark. One flue seemed to lead into another.
There was less smoke, but Tom Kitten felt quite lost.
He scrambled up and up; but before he reached the chimney top he came to a place where somebody had loosened a stone in the wall. There were some mutton bones lying about.
"This seems funny," said Tom Kitten. "Who has been gnawing bones up here in the chimney? I wish I had never come! And what a funny smell? It is something like mouse, only dreadfully strong. It makes me sneeze," said Tom Kitten.
He squeezed through the hole in the wall and dragged himself along a most uncomfortably tight passage where there was scarcely any light.
He groped his way carefully for several yards; he was at the back of the skirting board in the attic, where there is a little mark * in the picture.
All at once he fell head over heels in the dark, down a hole, and landed on a heap of very dirty rags.
When Tom Kitten picked himself up and looked about him, he found himself in a place that he had never seen before, although he had lived all his life in the house. It was a very small stuffy fusty room, with boards, and rafters, and cobwebs, and lath and plaster.
Opposite to him—as far away as he could sit—was an enormous rat.
"What do you mean by tumbling into my bed all covered with smuts?" said the rat, chattering his teeth.
"Please, sir, the chimney wants sweeping," said poor Tom Kitten.
"Anna Maria! Anna Maria!" squeaked the rat. There was a pattering noise and an old woman rat poked her head round a rafter.
All in a minute she rushed upon Tom Kitten, and before he knew what was happening. . .
. . . his coat was pulled off, and he was rolled up in a bundle, and tied with string in very hard knots.
Anna Maria did the tying. The old rat watched her and took snuff. When she had finished, they both sat staring at him with their mouths open.
"Anna Maria," said the old man rat (whose name was Samuel Whiskers), "Anna Maria, make me a kitten dumpling roly-poly pudding for my dinner."
"It requires dough and a pat of butter and a rolling pin," said Anna Maria, considering Tom Kitten with her head on one side.
"No," said Samuel Whiskers, "make it properly, Anna Maria, with breadcrumbs."
"Nonsense! Butter and dough," replied Anna Maria.
The two rats consulted together for a few minutes and then went away.
Samuel Whiskers got through a hole in the wainscot and went boldly down the front staircase to the dairy to get the butter. He did not meet anybody.
He made a second journey for the rolling pin. He pushed it in front of him with his paws, like a brewer's man trundling a barrel.
He could hear Ribby and Tabitha talking, but they were too busy lighting the candle to look into the chest.
They did not see him.
Anna Maria went down by way of skirting board and a window shutter to the kitchen to steal the dough.
She borrowed a small saucer and scooped up the dough with her paws.
She did not observe Moppet.
While Tom Kitten was left alone under the floor of the attic, he wriggled about and tried to mew for help.
But his mouth was full of soot and cobwebs, and he was tied up in such very tight knots, he could not make anybody hear him.
Except a spider who came out of a crack in the ceiling and examined the knots critically, from a safe distance.
It was a judge of knots because it had a habit of tying up unfortunate bluebottles. It did not offer to assist him.
Tom Kitten wriggled and squirmed until he was quite exhausted.
Presently the rats came back and set to work to make him into a dumpling. First they smeared him with butter, and then they rolled him in the dough.
"Will not the string be very indigestible, Anna Maria?" inquired Samuel Whiskers.
Anna Maria said she thought that it was of no consequence; but she wished that Tom Kitten would hold his head still, as it disarranged the pastry. She laid hold of his ears.
Tom Kitten bit and spit, and mewed and wriggled; and the rolling pin went roly-poly, roly; roly-poly, roly. The rats each held an end.
"His tail is sticking out! You did not fetch enough dough, Anna Maria."
"I fetched as much as I could carry," replied Anna Maria.
"I do not think"—said Samuel Whiskers, pausing to take a look at Tom Kitten—"I do NOT think it will be a good pudding. It smells sooty."
Anna Maria was about to argue the point when all at once there began to be other sounds up above—the rasping noise of a saw, and the noise of a little dog, scratching and yelping!
The rats dropped the rolling pin and listened attentively.
"We are discovered and interrupted, Anna Maria; let us collect our property—and other people's—and depart at once.
"I fear that we shall be obliged to leave this pudding.
"But I am persuaded that the knots would have proved indigestible, whatever you may urge to the contrary."
"Come away at once and help me to tie up some mutton bones in a counterpane," said Anna Maria. "I have got half a smoked ham hidden in the chimney."
So it happened that by the time John Joiner had got the plank up— there was nobody here under the floor except the rolling pin and Tom Kitten in a very dirty dumpling!
But there was a strong smell of rats; and John Joiner spent the rest of the morning sniffing and whining, and wagging his tail, and going round and round with his head in the hole like a gimlet.
Then he nailed the plank down again and put his tools in his bag, and came downstairs.
The cat family had quite recovered. They invited him to stay to dinner.
The dumpling had been peeled off Tom Kitten and made separately into a bag pudding, with currants in it to hide the smuts.
They had been obliged to put Tom Kitten into a hot bath to get the butter off.
John Joiner smelt the pudding; but he regretted that he had not time to stay to dinner, because he had just finished making a wheelbarrow for Miss Potter, and she had ordered two hen coops.
And when I was going to the post late in the afternoon—I looked up the land from the corner, and I saw Mr. Samuel Whiskers and his wife on the run, with big bundles on a little wheelbarrow, which looked very much like mine.
They were just turning in at the gate to the barn of Farmer Potatoes.
Samuel Whiskers was puffing and out of breath. Anna Maria was still arguing in shrill tones.
She seemed to know her way, and she seemed to have a quantity of luggage.
I am sure I never gave her leave to borrow my wheelbarrow!
They went into the barn and hauled their parcels with a bit of string to the top of the haymow.
After that, there were no more rats for a long time at Tabitha Twitchit's.
As for Farmer Potatoes, he has been driven nearly distracted. There are rats, and rats, and rats in his barn! They eat up the chicken food, and steal the oats and bran, and make holes in the meal bags.
And they are all descended from Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Whiskers— children and grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
There is no end to them!
Moppet and Mittens have grown up into very good rat-catchers.
They go out rat-catching in the village, and they find plenty of employment. They charge so much a dozen and earn their living very comfortably.
They hang up the rats' tails in a row on the barn door, to show how many they have caught—dozens and dozens of them.
But Tom Kitten has always been afraid of a rat; he never durst face anything that is bigger than—
THE TALE OF THE FLOPSY BUNNIES
[For All Little Friends of Mr. McGregor and Peter and Benjamin]
It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is "soporific."
I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.