The Original Peter Rabbit Books By BEATRIX POTTER A LIST OF THE TITLES [*indicates included here]
*The Tale of Peter Rabbit The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin The Tailor of Gloucester *The Tale of Benjamin Bunny *The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle *The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse *The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck *The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit *The Tale of Two Bad Mice The Tale of Tom Kitten The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse *The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes *The Tale of Mr. Tod *The Tale of Pigling Bland *The Roly Poly Pudding *The Pie and the Patty-pan *Ginger and Pickles *The Story of Miss Moppet Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes The Tale of Little Pig Robinson??
THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT BY BEATRIX POTTER
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, to the baker's. She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns.
FLOPSY, Mopsy, and Cottontail, 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 gold-fish; she sat very, very still, but now and then the tip of her tail twitched as if it were alive. Peter thought it best to go away without speaking to her; he had heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny.
HE went back towards the tool-shed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard the noise of a hoe—scr-r-ritch, scratch, scratch, scritch. Peter
scuttered underneath the bushes. But presently, as nothing happened, he came out, and climbed upon a wheelbarrow, and peeped over. The first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor hoeing onions. His back was turned towards Peter, and beyond him was the gate!
PETER got down very quietly off the wheelbarrow, and started running as fast as he could go, along a straight walk behind some 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 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, 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 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 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 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 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.
THE TALE OF THE FLOPSY BUNNIES
FOR ALL LITTLE FRIENDS OF MR. McGREGOR & PETER & 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.
They certainly had a very soporific effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!
WHEN Benjamin Bunny grew up, he married his Cousin Flopsy. They had a large family, and they were very improvident and cheerful.
I do not remember the separate names of their children; they were generally called the "Flopsy Bunnies."
AS there was not always quite enough to eat,— Benjamin used to borrow cabbages from Flopsy's brother, Peter Rabbit, who kept a nursery garden.
SOMETIMES Peter Rabbit had no cabbages to spare.
WHEN this happened, the Flopsy Bunnies went across the field to a rubbish heap, in the ditch outside Mr. McGregor's garden.
MR. McGREGOR'S rubbish heap was a mixture. There were jam pots and paper bags, and mountains of chopped grass from the mowing machine (which always tasted oily), and some rotten vegetable marrows and an old boot or two. One day—oh joy!—there were a quantity of overgrown lettuces, which had "shot" into flower.
THE Flopsy Bunnies simply stuffed lettuces. By degrees, one after another, they were overcome with slumber, and lay down in the mown grass.
Benjamin was not so much overcome as his children. Before going to sleep he was sufficiently wide awake to put a paper bag over his head to keep off the flies.
THE little Flopsy Bunnies slept delightfully in the warm sun. From the lawn beyond the garden came the distant clacketty sound of the mowing machine. The blue- bottles buzzed about the wall, and a little old mouse picked over the rubbish among the jam pots.
(I can tell you her name, she was called Thomasina Tittlemouse, a woodmouse with a long tail.)
SHE rustled across the paper bag, and awakened Benjamin Bunny.
The mouse apologized profusely, and said that she knew Peter Rabbit.
WHILE she and Benjamin were talking, close under the wall, they heard a heavy tread above their heads; and suddenly Mr. McGregor emptied out a sackful of lawn mowings right upon the top of the sleeping Flopsy Bunnies! Benjamin shrank down under his paper bag. The mouse hid in a jam pot.
THE little rabbits smiled sweetly in their sleep under the shower of grass; they did not awake because the lettuces had been so soporific.
They dreamt that their mother Flopsy was tucking them up in a hay bed.
Mr. McGregor looked down after emptying his sack. He saw some funny little brown tips of ears sticking up through the lawn mowings. He stared at them for some time.
PRESENTLY a fly settled on one of them and it moved.
Mr. McGregor climbed down on to the rubbish heap—
"One, two, three, four! five! six leetle rabbits!" said he as he dropped them into his sack. The Flopsy Bunnies dreamt that their mother was turning them over in bed. They stirred a little in their sleep, but still they did not wake up.
MR. McGREGOR tied up the sack and left it on the wall.
He went to put away the mowing machine.
WHILE he was gone, Mrs. Flopsy Bunny (who had remained at home) came across the field.
She looked suspiciously at the sack and wondered where everybody was?
THEN the mouse came out of her jam pot, and Benjamin took the paper bag off his head, and they told the doleful tale.
Benjamin and Flopsy were in despair, they could not undo the string.
But Mrs. Tittlemouse was a resourceful person. She nibbled a hole in the bottom corner of the sack.
THE little rabbits were pulled out and pinched to wake them.
Their parents stuffed the empty sack with three rotten vegetable marrows, an old blacking-brush and two decayed turnips.
THEN they all hid under a bush and watched for Mr. McGregor.
MR. McGREGOR came back and picked up the sack, and carried it off.
He carried it hanging down, as if it were rather heavy.
The Flopsy Bunnies followed at a safe distance.
THEY watched him go into his house.
And then they crept up to the window to listen.
MR. McGREGOR threw down the sack on the stone floor in a way that would have been extremely painful to the Flopsy Bunnies, if they had happened to have been inside it.
They could hear him drag his chair on the flags, and chuckle—
"One, two, three, four, five, six leetle rabbits!" said Mr. McGregor.
"EH? What's that? What have they been spoiling now?" enquired Mrs. McGregor.
"One, two, three, four, five, six leetle fat rabbits!" repeated Mr. McGregor, counting on his fingers—"one, two, three—"
"Don't you be silly; what do you mean, you silly old man?"
"In the sack! one, two, three, four, five, six!" replied Mr. McGregor.
(The youngest Flopsy Bunny got upon the window-sill.)
MRS. McGREGOR took hold of the sack and felt it. She said she could feel six, but they must be OLD rabbits, because they were so hard and all different shapes.
"Not fit to eat; but the skins will do fine to line my old cloak."
"Line your old cloak?" shouted Mr. McGregor—"I shall sell them and buy myself baccy!"
"Rabbit tobacco! I shall skin them and cut off their heads."
MRS. McGREGOR untied the sack and put her hand inside.
When she felt the vegetables she became very very angry. She said that Mr. McGregor had "done it a purpose."
AND Mr. McGregor was very angry too. One of the rotten marrows came flying through the kitchen window, and hit the youngest Flopsy Bunny.
It was rather hurt.
THEN Benjamin and Flopsy thought that it was time to go home.
SO Mr. McGregor did not get his tobacco, and Mrs. McGregor did not get her rabbit skins.
But next Christmas Thomasina Tittlemouse got a present of enough rabbit-wool to make herself a cloak and a hood, and a handsome muff and a pair of warm mittens.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF "SAMMY," THE INTELLIGENT PINK-EYED REPRESENTATIVE OF A PERSECUTED (BUT IRREPRESSIBLE) RACE. AN AFFECTIONATE LITTLE FRIEND. AND MOST ACCOMPLISHED THIEF!
THE ROLY-POLY PUDDING
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.
Mrs. 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 an 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 cup- board!"
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 up 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 busy lighting the candle to look into the chest.
They did not see him.
Anna Maria went down by way of the 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 cob- webs, and he was tied up in such very tight knots, he could not make anybody hear him.
Except a spider, which 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 blue-bottles. 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 spat, 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 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 wheel-barrow 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 lane from the corner, and I saw Mr. Samuel Whiskers and his wife on the run, with big bundles on a little wheel-barrow, which looked very 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 wheel-barrow!
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 grand-children and great great grand-children.
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 or 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 MR. TOD
I HAVE made many books about well-behaved people. Now, for a change, I am going to make a story about two disagreeable people, called Tommy Brock and Mr. Tod. Nobody could call Mr. Tod "nice." The rabbits could not bear him; they could smell him half a mile off. He was of a wandering habit and he had foxey whiskers; they never knew where he would be next.
One day he was living in a stick- house in the coppice, causing terror to the family of old Mr. Benjamin Bouncer. Next day he moved into a pollard willow near the lake, frightening the wild ducks and the water rats.
In winter and early spring he might generally be found in an earth amongst the rocks at the top of Bull Banks, under Oatmeal Crag.
He had half a dozen houses, but he was seldom at home.
The houses were not always empty when Mr. Tod moved OUT; because sometimes Tommy Brock moved IN; (without asking leave).
Tommy Brock was a short bristly fat waddling person with a grin; he grinned all over his face. He was not nice in his habits. He ate wasp nests and frogs and worms; and he waddled about by moonlight, digging things up.
His clothes were very dirty; and as he slept in the day-time, he always went to bed in his boots. And the bed which he went to bed in, was generally Mr. Tod's.
Now Tommy Brock did occasionally eat rabbit-pie; but it was only very little young ones occasionally, when other food was really scarce. He was friendly with old Mr. Bouncer; they agreed in disliking the wicked otters and Mr. Tod; they often talked over that painful subject.
Old Mr. Bouncer was stricken in years. He sat in the spring sunshine outside the burrow, in a muffler; smoking a pipe of rabbit tobacco.
He lived with his son Benjamin Bunny and his daughter-in-law Flopsy, who had a young family. Old Mr. Bouncer was in charge of the family that afternoon, because Benjamin and Flopsy had gone out.
The little rabbit-babies were just old enough to open their blue eyes and kick. They lay in a fluffy bed of rabbit wool and hay, in a shallow burrow, separate from the main rabbit hole. To tell the truth—old Mr. Bouncer had forgotten them.
He sat in the sun, and conversed cordially with Tommy Brock, who was passing through the wood with a sack and a little spud which he used for digging, and some mole traps. He complained bitterly about the scarcity of pheasants' eggs, and accused Mr. Tod of poaching them. And the otters had cleared off all the frogs while he was asleep in winter—"I have not had a good square meal for a fortnight, I am living on pig-nuts. I shall have to turn vegetarian and eat my own tail!" said Tommy Brock.
It was not much of a joke, but it tickled old Mr. Bouncer; because Tommy Brock was so fat and stumpy and grinning.
So old Mr. Bouncer laughed; and pressed Tommy Brock to come inside, to taste a slice of seed-cake and "a glass of my daughter Flopsy's cowslip wine." Tommy Brock squeezed himself into the rabbit hole with alacrity.
Then old Mr. Bouncer smoked another pipe, and gave Tommy Brock a cabbage leaf cigar which was so very strong that it made Tommy Brock grin more than ever; and the smoke filled the burrow. Old Mr. Bouncer coughed and laughed; and Tommy Brock puffed and grinned.
And Mr. Bouncer laughed and coughed, and shut his eyes because of the cabbage smoke . . . . . . . . . .
When Flopsy and Benjamin came back—old Mr. Bouncer woke up. Tommy Brock and all the young rabbit-babies had disappeared!
Mr. Bouncer would not confess that he had admitted anybody into the rabbit hole. But the smell of badger was undeniable; and there were round heavy footmarks in the sand. He was in disgrace; Flopsy wrung her ears, and slapped him.
Benjamin Bunny set off at once after Tommy Brock.
There was not much difficulty in tracking him; he had left his foot- mark and gone slowly up the winding footpath through the wood. Here he had rooted up the moss and wood sorrel. There he had dug quite a deep hole for dog darnel; and had set a mole trap. A little stream crossed the way. Benjamin skipped lightly over dry-foot; the badger's heavy steps showed plainly in the mud.
The path led to a part of the thicket where the trees had been cleared; there were leafy oak stumps, and a sea of blue hyacinths—but the smell that made Benjamin stop, was not the smell of flowers!
Mr. Tod's stick house was before him and, for once, Mr. Tod was at home. There was not only a foxey flavour in proof of it—there was smoke coming out of the broken pail that served as a chimney.
Benjamin Bunny sat up, staring; his whiskers twitched. Inside the stick house somebody dropped a plate, and said something. Benjamin stamped his foot, and bolted.
He never stopped till he came to the other side of the wood. Apparently Tommy Brock had turned the same way. Upon the top of the wall, there were again the marks of badger; and some ravellings of a sack had caught on a briar.
Benjamin climbed over the wall, into a meadow. He found another mole trap newly set; he was still upon the track of Tommy Brock. It was getting late in the afternoon. Other rabbits were coming out to enjoy the evening air. One of them in a blue coat by himself, was busily hunting for dandelions.—"Cousin Peter! Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit!" shouted Benjamin Bunny.
The blue coated rabbit sat up with pricked ears—
"Whatever is the matter, Cousin Benjamin? Is it a cat? or John Stoat Ferret?"
"No, no, no! He's bagged my family—Tommy Brock—in a sack —have you seen him?"
"Tommy Brock? how many, Cousin Benjamin?"
"Seven, Cousin Peter, and all of them twins! Did he come this way? Please tell me quick!"
"Yes, yes; not ten minutes since . . . . he said they were caterpillars; I did think they were kicking rather hard, for caterpillars."
"Which way? which way has he gone, Cousin Peter?"
"He had a sack with something 'live in it; I watched him set a mole trap. Let me use my mind, Cousin Benjamin; tell me from the beginning." Benjamin did so.
"My Uncle Bouncer has displayed a lamentable want of discretion for his years;" said Peter reflectively, "but there are two hopeful circumstances. Your family is alive and kicking; and Tommy Brock has had refreshment. He will probably go to sleep, and keep them for breakfast." "Which way?" "Cousin Benjamin, compose yourself. I know very well which way. Because Mr. Tod was at home in the stick-house he has gone to Mr. Tod's other house, at the top of Bull Banks. I partly know, because he offered to leave any message at Sister Cottontail's; he said he would be passing." (Cottontail had married a black rabbit, and gone to live on the hill).
Peter hid his dandelions, and accompanied the afflicted parent, who was all of a twitter. They crossed several fields and began to climb the hill; the tracks of Tommy Brock were plainly to be seen. He seemed to have put down the sack every dozen yards, to rest.
"He must be very puffed; we are close behind him, by the scent. What a nasty person!" said Peter.
The sunshine was still warm and slanting on the hill pastures. Half way up, Cottontail was sitting in her doorway, with four or five half- grown little rabbits playing about her; one black and the others brown.
Cottontail had seen Tommy Brock passing in the distance. Asked whether her husband was at home she replied that Tommy Brock had rested twice while she watched him.
He had nodded, and pointed to the sack, and seemed doubled up with laughing.—"Come away, Peter; he will be cooking them; come quicker!" said Benjamin Bunny.
They climbed up and up;—"He was at home; I saw his black ears peeping out of the hole." "They live too near the rocks to quarrel with their neighbours. Come on Cousin Benjamin!"
When they came near the wood at the top of Bull Banks, they went cautiously. The trees grew amongst heaped up rocks; and there, beneath a crag—Mr. Tod had made one of his homes. It was at the top of a steep bank; the rocks and bushes overhung it. The rabbits crept up carefully, listening and peeping.
This house was something between a cave, a prison, and a tumble- down pig-stye. There was a strong door, which was shut and locked.
The setting sun made the window panes glow like red flame; but the kitchen fire was not alight. It was neatly laid with dry sticks, as the rabbits could see, when they peeped through the window.
Benjamin sighed with relief.
But there were preparations upon the kitchen table which made him shudder. There was an immense empty pie-dish of blue willow pattern, and a large carving knife and fork, and a chopper.
At the other end of the table was a partly unfolded tablecloth, a plate, a tumbler, a knife and fork, salt- cellar, mustard and a chair—in short, preparations for one person's supper.
No person was to be seen, and no young rabbits. The kitchen was empty and silent; the clock had run down. Peter and Benjamin flattened their noses against the window, and stared into the dusk.
Then they scrambled round the rocks to the other side of the house. It was damp and smelly, and over- grown with thorns and briars.
The rabbits shivered in their shoes.
"Oh my poor rabbit babies! What a dreadful place; I shall never see them again!" sighed Benjamin.
They crept up to the bedroom window. It was closed and bolted like the kitchen. But there were signs that this window had been recently open; the cobwebs were disturbed, and there were fresh dirty footmarks upon the window-sill.
The room inside was so dark, that at first they could make out nothing; but they could hear a noise —a slow deep regular snoring grunt. And as their eyes became accustomed to the darkness, they perceived that somebody was asleep on Mr. Tod's bed, curled up under the blanket.—"He has gone to bed in his boots," whispered Peter.
Benjamin, who was all of a twitter, pulled Peter off the window-sill.
Tommy Brock's snores continued, grunty and regular from Mr. Tod's bed. Nothing could be seen of the young family.
The sun had set; an owl began to hoot in the wood. There were many unpleasant things lying about, that had much better have been buried; rabbit bones and skulls, and chickens' legs and other horrors. It was a shocking place, and very dark.
They went back to the front of the house, and tried in every way to move the bolt of the kitchen window. They tried to push up a rusty nail between the window sashes; but it was of no use, especially without a light.
They sat side by side outside the window, whispering and listening.
In half an hour the moon rose over the wood. It shone full and clear and cold, upon the house amongst the rocks, and in at the kitchen window. But alas, no little rabbit babies were to be seen!
The moonbeams twinkled on the carving knife and the pie dish, and made a path of brightness across the dirty floor.
The light showed a little door in a wall beside the kitchen fireplace— a little iron door belonging to a brick oven, of that old-fashioned sort that used to be heated with faggots of wood.
And presently at the same moment Peter and Benjamin noticed that whenever they shook the window— the little door opposite shook in answer. The young family were alive; shut up in the oven!
Benjamin was so excited that it was a mercy he did not awake Tommy Brock, whose snores continued solemnly in Mr. Tod's bed.
But there really was not very much comfort in the discovery. They could not open the window; and although the young family was alive—the little rabbits were quite incapable of letting themselves out; they were not old enough to crawl.
After much whispering, Peter and Benjamin decided to dig a tunnel. They began to burrow a yard or two lower down the bank. They hoped that they might be able to work between the large stones under the house; the kitchen floor was so dirty that it was impossible to say whether it was made of earth or flags.
They dug and dug for hours. They could not tunnel straight on account of stones; but by the end of the night they were under the kitchen floor. Benjamin was on his back, scratching upwards. Peter's claws were worn down; he was outside the tunnel, shuffling sand away. He called out that it was morning—sunrise; and that the jays were making a noise down below in the woods.
Benjamin Bunny came out of the dark tunnel, shaking the sand from his ears; he cleaned his face with his paws. Every minute the sun shone warmer on the top of the hill. In the valley there was a sea of white mist, with golden tops of trees showing through.
Again from the fields down below in the mist there came the angry cry of a jay—followed by the sharp yelping bark of a fox!
Then those two rabbits lost their heads completely. They did the most foolish thing that they could have done. They rushed into their short new tunnel, and hid themselves at the top end of it, under Mr. Tod's kitchen floor.
Mr. Tod was coming up Bull Banks, and he was in the very worst of tempers. First he had been upset by breaking the plate. It was his own fault; but it was a china plate, the last of the dinner service that had belonged to his grandmother, old Vixen Tod. Then the midges had been very bad. And he had failed to catch a hen pheasant on her nest; and it had contained only five eggs, two of them addled. Mr. Tod had had an unsatisfactory night.
As usual, when out of humour, he determined to move house. First he tried the pollard willow, but it was damp; and the otters had left a dead fish near it. Mr. Tod likes nobody's leavings but his own.
He made his way up the hill; his temper was not improved by noticing unmistakable marks of badger. No one else grubs up the moss so wantonly as Tommy Brock.
Mr. Tod slapped his stick upon the earth and fumed; he guessed where Tommy Brock had gone to. He was further annoyed by the jay bird which followed him persistently. It flew from tree to tree and scolded, warning every rabbit within hearing that either a cat or a fox was coming up the plantation. Once when it flew screaming over his head— Mr. Tod snapped at it, and barked.
He approached his house very carefully, with a large rusty key. He sniffed and his whiskers bristled. The house was locked up, but Mr. Tod had his doubts whether it was empty. He turned the rusty key in the lock; the rabbits below could hear it. Mr. Tod opened the door cautiously and went in.
The sight that met Mr. Tod's eyes in Mr. Tod's kitchen made Mr. Tod furious. There was Mr. Tod's chair, and Mr. Tod's pie dish, and his knife and fork and mustard and salt cellar and his table-cloth that he had left folded up in the dresser—all set out for supper (or breakfast)—without doubt for that odious Tommy Brock.
There was a smell of fresh earth and dirty badger, which fortunately overpowered all smell of rabbit.
But what absorbed Mr. Tod's attention was a noise—a deep slow regular snoring grunting noise, coming from his own bed.
He peeped through the hinges of the half-open bedroom door. Then he turned and came out of the house in a hurry. His whiskers bristled and his coat-collar stood on end with rage.
For the next twenty minutes Mr. Tod kept creeping cautiously into the house, and retreating hurriedly out again. By degrees he ventured further in—right into the bedroom. When he was outside the house, he scratched up the earth with fury. But when he was inside—he did not like the look of Tommy Brock's teeth.
He was lying on his back with his mouth open, grinning from ear to ear. He snored peacefully and regularly; but one eye was not perfectly shut.
Mr. Tod came in and out of the bedroom. Twice he brought in his walking-stick, and once he brought in the coal-scuttle. But he thought better of it, and took them away.
When he came back after removing the coal-scuttle, Tommy Brock was lying a little more sideways; but he seemed even sounder asleep. He was an incurably indolent person; he was not in the least afraid of Mr. Tod; he was simply too lazy and comfortable to move.
Mr. Tod came back yet again into the bedroom with a clothes line. He stood a minute watching Tommy Brock and listening attentively to the snores. They were very loud indeed, but seemed quite natural.
Mr. Tod turned his back towards the bed, and undid the window. It creaked; he turned round with a jump. Tommy Brock, who had opened one eye—shut it hastily. The snores continued.
Mr. Tod's proceedings were peculiar, and rather uneasy, (because the bed was between the window and the door of the bedroom). He opened the window a little way, and pushed out the greater part of the clothes line on to the window sill. The rest of the line, with a hook at the end, remained in his hand.
Tommy Brock snored conscientiously. Mr. Tod stood and looked at him for a minute; then he left the room again.
Tommy Brock opened both eyes, and looked at the rope and grinned. There was a noise outside the window. Tommy Brock shut his eyes in a hurry.
Mr. Tod had gone out at the front door, and round to the back of the house. On the way, he stumbled over the rabbit burrow. If he had had any idea who was inside it, he would have pulled them out quickly.
His foot went through the tunnel nearly upon the top of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin, but fortunately he thought that it was some more of Tommy Brock's work.
He took up the coil of line from the sill, listened for a moment, and then tied the rope to a tree.
Tommy Brock watched him with one eye, through the window. He was puzzled.
Mr. Tod fetched a large heavy pailful of water from the spring, and staggered with it through the kitchen into his bedroom.
Tommy Brock snored industriously, with rather a snort.
Mr. Tod put down the pail beside the bed, took up the end of rope with the hook—hesitated, and looked at Tommy Brock. The snores were almost apoplectic; but the grin was not quite so big.
Mr. Tod gingerly mounted a chair by the head of the bedstead. His legs were dangerously near to Tommy Brock's teeth.
He reached up and put the end of rope, with the hook, over the head of the tester bed, where the curtains ought to hang.
(Mr. Tod's curtains were folded up, and put away, owing to the house being unoccupied. So was the counterpane. Tommy Brock was covered with a blanket only.) Mr. Tod standing on the unsteady chair looked down upon him attentively; he really was a first prize sound sleeper!
It seemed as though nothing would waken him—not even the flapping rope across the bed.
Mr. Tod descended safely from the chair, and endeavoured to get up again with the pail of water. He intended to hang it from the hook, dangling over the head of Tommy Brock, in order to make a sort of shower-bath, worked by a string, through the window.
But naturally being a thin-legged person (though vindictive and sandy whiskered)—he was quite unable to lift the heavy weight to the level of the hook and rope. He very nearly overbalanced himself.
The snores became more and more apoplectic. One of Tommy Brock's hind legs twitched under the blanket, but still he slept on peacefully.
Mr. Tod and the pail descended from the chair without accident. After considerable thought, he emptied the water into a wash-basin and jug. The empty pail was not too heavy for him; he slung it up wobbling over the head of Tommy Brock.
Surely there never was such a sleeper! Mr. Tod got up and down, down and up on the chair.
As he could not lift the whole pailful of water at once, he fetched a milk jug, and ladled quarts of water into the pail by degrees. The pail got fuller and fuller, and swung like a pendulum. Occasionally a drop splashed over; but still Tommy Brock snored regularly and never moved,—except one eye.
At last Mr. Tod's preparations were complete. The pail was full of water; the rope was tightly strained over the top of the bed, and across the window sill to the tree outside.
"It will make a great mess in my bedroom; but I could never sleep in that bed again without a spring cleaning of some sort," said Mr. Tod.
Mr. Tod took a last look at the badger and softly left the room. He went out of the house, shutting the front door. The rabbits heard his footsteps over the tunnel.
He ran round behind the house, intending to undo the rope in order to let fall the pailful of water upon Tommy Brock—
"I will wake him up with an unpleasant surprise," said Mr. Tod.
The moment he had gone, Tommy Brock got up in a hurry; he rolled Mr. Tod's dressing-gown into a bundle, put it into the bed beneath the pail of water instead of himself, and left the room also—grinning immensely.
He went into the kitchen, lighted the fire and boiled the kettle; for the moment he did not trouble himself to cook the baby rabbits.
When Mr. Tod got to the tree, he found that the weight and strain had dragged the knot so tight that it was past untying. He was obliged to gnaw it with his teeth. He chewed and gnawed for more than twenty minutes. At last the rope gave way with such a sudden jerk that it nearly pulled his teeth out, and quite knocked him over backwards.
Inside the house there was a great crash and splash, and the noise of a pail rolling over and over.
But no screams. Mr. Tod was mystified; he sat quite still, and listened attentively. Then he peeped in at the window. The water was dripping from the bed, the pail had rolled into a corner.
In the middle of the bed under the blanket, was a wet flattened SOMETHING—much dinged in, in the middle where the pail had caught it (as it were across the tummy). Its head was covered by the wet blanket and it was NOT SNORING ANY LONGER.
There was nothing stirring, and no sound except the drip, drop, drop drip of water trickling from the mattress.
Mr. Tod watched it for half an hour; his eyes glistened.
Then he cut a caper, and became so bold that he even tapped at the window; but the bundle never moved.
Yes—there was no doubt about it—it had turned out even better than he had planned; the pail had hit poor old Tommy Brock, and killed him dead!
"I will bury that nasty person in the hole which he has dug. I will bring my bedding out, and dry it in the sun," said Mr. Tod.
"I will wash the tablecloth and spread it on the grass in the sun to bleach. And the blanket must be hung up in the wind; and the bed must be thoroughly disinfected, and aired with a warming-pan; and warmed with a hot-water bottle."
"I will get soft soap, and monkey soap, and all sorts of soap; and soda and scrubbing brushes; and persian powder; and carbolic to remove the smell. I must have a disinfecting. Perhaps I may have to burn sulphur."
He hurried round the house to get a shovel from the kitchen— "First I will arrange the hole— then I will drag out that person in the blanket . . ."
He opened the door. . . .
Tommy Brock was sitting at Mr. Tod's kitchen table, pouring out tea from Mr. Tod's tea-pot into Mr. Tod's tea-cup. He was quite dry himself and grinning; and he threw the cup of scalding tea all over Mr. Tod.
Then Mr. Tod rushed upon Tommy Brock, and Tommy Brock grappled with Mr. Tod amongst the broken crockery, and there was a terrific battle all over the kitchen. To the rabbits underneath it sounded as if the floor would give way at each crash of falling furniture.
They crept out of their tunnel, and hung about amongst the rocks and bushes, listening anxiously.
Inside the house the racket was fearful. The rabbit babies in the oven woke up trembling; perhaps it was fortunate they were shut up inside.
Everything was upset except the kitchen table.
And everything was broken, except the mantelpiece and the kitchen fender. The crockery was smashed to atoms.
The chairs were broken, and the window, and the clock fell with a crash, and there were handfuls of Mr. Tod's sandy whiskers.
The vases fell off the mantelpiece, the canisters fell off the shelf; the kettle fell off the hob. Tommy Brock put his foot in a jar of raspberry Jam.
And the boiling water out of the kettle fell upon the tail of Mr. Tod.
When the kettle fell, Tommy Brock, who was still grinning, happened to be uppermost; and he rolled Mr. Tod over and over like a log, out at the door.
Then the snarling and worrying went on outside; and they rolled over the bank, and down hill, bumping over the rocks. There will never be any love lost between Tommy Brock and Mr. Tod.
As soon as the coast was clear Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny came out of the bushes—
"Now for it! Run in, Cousin Benjamin! Run in and get them while I watch at the door."
But Benjamin was frightened—
"Oh; oh! they are coming back!"
"No they are not."
"Yes they are!"
"What dreadful bad language! I think they have fallen down the stone quarry."
Still Benjamin hesitated, and Peter kept pushing him—
"Be quick, it's all right. Shut the oven door, Cousin Benjamin, so that he won't miss them."
Decidedly there were lively doings in Mr. Tod's kitchen!
At home in the rabbit hole, things had not been quite comfortable.
After quarrelling at supper, Flopsy and old Mr. Bouncer had passed a sleepless night, and quarrelled again at breakfast. Old Mr. Bouncer could no longer deny that he had invited company into the rabbit hole; but he refused to reply to the questions and reproaches of Flopsy. The day passed heavily.
Old Mr. Bouncer, very sulky, was huddled up in a corner, barricaded with a chair. Flopsy had taken away his pipe and hidden the tobacco. She had been having a complete turn out and spring- cleaning, to relieve her feelings. She had just finished. Old Mr. Bouncer, behind his chair, was wondering anxiously what she would do next.
In Mr. Tod's kitchen, amongst the wreckage, Benjamin Bunny picked his way to the oven nervously, through a thick cloud of dust. He opened the oven door, felt inside, and found something warm and wriggling. He lifted it out carefully, and rejoined Peter Rabbit.
"I've got them! Can we get away? Shall we hide, Cousin Peter?"
Peter pricked his ears; distant sounds of fighting still echoed in the wood.
Five minutes afterwards two breathless rabbits came scuttering away down Bull Banks, half carrying half dragging a sack between them, bumpetty bump over the grass. They reached home safely and burst into the rabbit hole.
Great was old Mr. Bouncer's relief and Flopsy's joy when Peter and Benjamin arrived in triumph with the young family. The rabbit- babies were rather tumbled and very hungry; they were fed and put to bed. They soon recovered.
A long new pipe and a fresh supply of rabbit tobacco was presented to Mr. Bouncer. He was rather upon his dignity; but he accepted.
Old Mr. Bouncer was forgiven, and they all had dinner. Then Peter and Benjamin told their story—but they had not waited long enough to be able to tell the end of the battle between Tommy Brock and Mr. Tod.
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, has 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 stout 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 hill-side.
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 foot-marks 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 a clothes- basket, 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 handkersniff—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 the 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 wooly coats belonging to the little lambs at Skelghyl."
"Will their jackets take off?" asked Lucy.
"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 mole- skin 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 HAIR-PINS 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 TALE OF GINGER & PICKLES
ONCE upon a time there was a village shop. The name over the window was "Ginger and Pickles."
It was a little small shop just the right size for Dolls—Lucinda and Jane Doll-cook always bought their groceries at Ginger and Pickles.
The counter inside was a convenient height for rabbits. Ginger and Pickles sold red spotty pocket- handkerchiefs at a penny three farthings.
They also sold sugar, and snuff and galoshes.
In fact, although it was such a small shop it sold nearly everything —except a few things that you want in a hurry—like bootlaces, hair-pins and mutton chops.
Ginger and Pickles were the people who kept the shop. Ginger was a yellow tom-cat, and Pickles was a terrier.
The rabbits were always a little bit afraid of Pickles.
The shop was also patronized by mice—only the mice were rather afraid of Ginger.
Ginger usually requested Pickles to serve them, because he said it made his mouth water.
"I cannot bear," said he, "to see them going out at the door carrying their little parcels."
"I have the same feeling about rats," replied Pickles, "but it would never do to eat our own customers; they would leave us and go to Tabitha Twitchit's."
"On the contrary, they would go nowhere," replied Ginger gloomily.
(Tabitha Twitchit kept the only other shop in the village. She did not give credit.)
Ginger and Pickles gave unlimited credit.
Now the meaning of "credit" is this—when a customer buys a bar of soap, instead of the customer pulling out a purse and paying for it—she says she will pay another time.
And Pickles makes a low bow and says, "With pleasure, madam," and it is written down in a book.
The customers come again and again, and buy quantities, in spite of being afraid of Ginger and Pickles.
But there is no money in what is called the "till."
The customers came in crowds every day and bought quantities, especially the toffee customers. But there was always no money; they never paid for as much as a pennyworth of peppermints.
But the sales were enormous, ten times as large as Tabitha Twitchit's.
As there was always no money, Ginger and Pickles were obliged to eat their own goods.
Pickles ate biscuits and Ginger ate a dried haddock.
They ate them by candle-light after the shop was closed.
When it came to Jan. 1st there was still no money, and Pickles was unable to buy a dog licence.
"It is very unpleasant, I am afraid of the police," said Pickles.
"It is your own fault for being a terrier; I do not require a licence, and neither does Kep, the Collie dog."
"It is very uncomfortable, I am afraid I shall be summoned. I have tried in vain to get a licence upon credit at the Post Office;" said Pickles. "The place is full of policemen. I met one as I was coming home."
"Let us send in the bill again to Samuel Whiskers, Ginger, he owes 22/9 for bacon."
"I do not believe that he intends to pay at all," replied Ginger.
"And I feel sure that Anna Maria pockets things— Where are all the cream crackers?" "You have eaten them yourself," replied Ginger.
Ginger and Pickles retired into the back parlour.
They did accounts. They added up sums and sums, and sums.
"Samuel Whiskers has run up a bill as long as his tail; he has had an ounce and three-quarters of snuff since October."
"What is seven pounds of butter at 1/3, and a stick of sealing wax and four matches?"
"Send in all the bills again to everybody 'with compts'" replied Ginger.
After a time they heard a noise in the shop, as if something had been pushed in at the door. They came out of the back parlour. There was an envelope lying on the counter, and a policeman writing in a note-book!
Pickles nearly had a fit, he barked and he barked and made little rushes.
"Bite him, Pickles! bite him!" spluttered Ginger behind a sugar- barrel, "he's only a German doll!"
The policeman went on writing in his notebook; twice he put his pencil in his mouth, and once he dipped it in the treacle.
Pickles barked till he was hoarse. But still the policeman took no notice. He had bead eyes, and his helmet was sewed on with stitches.
At length on his last little rush —Pickles found that the shop was empty. The policeman had disappeared.
But the envelope remained.
"Do you think that he has gone to fetch a real live policeman? I am afraid it is a summons," said Pickles.
"No," replied Ginger, who had opened the envelope, "it is the rates and taxes, L 3 19 11 3/4 ."
"This is the last straw," said Pickles, "let us close the shop."
They put up the shutters, and left. But they have not removed from the neighbourhood. In fact some people wish they had gone further.
Ginger is living in the warren. I do not know what occupation he pursues; he looks stout and comfortable.
Pickles is at present a gamekeeper.
The closing of the shop caused great inconvenience. Tabitha Twitchit immediately raised the price of everything a half-penny; and she continued to refuse to give credit.
Of course there are the trades- men's carts—the butcher, the fishman and Timothy Baker.
But a person cannot live on "seed wigs" and sponge-cake and butter- buns—not even when the sponge- cake is as good as Timothy's!
After a time Mr. John Dormouse and his daughter began to sell peppermints and candles.
But they did not keep "self-fitting sixes"; and it takes five mice to carry one seven inch candle.
Besides—the candles which they sell behave very strangely in warm weather.
And Miss Dormouse refused to take back the ends when they were brought back to her with complaints.
And when Mr. John Dormouse was complained to, he stayed in bed, and would say nothing but "very snug;" which is not the way to carry on a retail business.
So everybody was pleased when Sally Henny Penny sent out a printed poster to say that she was going to re-open the shop— "Henny's Opening Sale! Grand co-operative Jumble! Penny's penny prices! Come buy, come try, come buy!"
The poster really was most 'ticing.
There was a rush upon the opening day. The shop was crammed with customers, and there were crowds of mice upon the biscuit canisters.
Sally Henny Penny gets rather flustered when she tries to count out change, and she insists on being paid cash; but she is quite harmless.
And she has laid in a remarkable assortment of bargains.
There is something to please everybody.
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 bell- pull.
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 the top of the cupboard!
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 macintosh, and a pair of shiny goloshes; 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 his 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 goloshes.
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 macintosh!
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 macintosh, that in less than half a minute it spat him out again; and the only thing it swallowed was Mr. Jeremy's goloshes.
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 macintosh 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 TALE OF TIMMY TIPTOES
FOR MANY UNKNOWN LITTLE FRIENDS, INCLUDING MONICA
ONCE upon a time there was a little fat comfortable grey squirrel, called Timmy Tiptoes. He had a nest thatched with leaves in the top of a tall tree; and he had a little squirrel wife called Goody.
TIMMY TIPTOES sat out, enjoying the breeze; he whisked his tail and chuckled —"Little wife Goody, the nuts are ripe; we must lay up a store for winter and spring." Goody Tiptoes was busy pushing moss under the thatch—"The nest is so snug, we shall be sound asleep all winter." "Then we shall wake up all the thinner, when there is nothing to eat in spring-time," replied prudent Timothy.
WHEN Timmy and Goody Tiptoes came to the nut thicket, they found other squirrels were there already.
Timmy took off his jacket and hung it on a twig; they worked away quietly by themselves.
EVERY day they made several journeys and picked quantities of nuts. They carried them away in bags, and stored them in several hollow stumps near the tree where they had built their nest.
WHEN these stumps were full, they began to empty the bags into a hole high up a tree, that had belonged to a wood-pecker; the nuts rattled down—down— down inside.
"How shall you ever get them out again? It is like a money-box!" said Goody.
"I shall be much thinner before spring-time, my love," said Timmy Tiptoes, peeping into the hole.
THEY did collect quantities —because they did not lose them! Squirrels who bury their nuts in the ground lose more than half, because they cannot remember the place.
The most forgetful squirrel in the wood was called Silvertail. He began to dig, and he could not remember. And then he dug again and found some nuts that did not belong to him; and there was a fight. And other squirrels began to dig,—the whole wood was in commotion!
UNFORTUNATELY, just at this time a flock of little birds flew by, from bush to bush, searching for green caterpillars and spiders. There were several sorts of little birds, twittering different songs.
The first one sang— "Who's bin digging-up MY nuts? Who's-been-digging- up MY nuts?"
And another sang—"Little bita bread and-NO-cheese! Little bit-a-bread an'-NO- cheese!"
THE squirrels followed and listened. The first little bird flew into the bush where Timmy and Goody Tiptoes were quietly tying up their bags, and it sang—"Who's- bin digging-up MY nuts? Who's been digging-up MY- nuts?"
Timmy Tiptoes went on with his work without replying; indeed, the little bird did not expect an answer. It was only singing its natural song, and it meant nothing at all.
BUT when the other squirrels heard that song, they rushed upon Timmy Tiptoes and cuffed and scratched him, and upset his bag of nuts. The innocent little bird which had caused all the mischief, flew away in a fright!
Timmy rolled over and over, and then turned tail and fled towards his nest, followed by a crowd of squirrels shouting —"Who's-been digging-up MY-nuts?"
THEY caught him and dragged him up the very same tree, where there was the little round hole, and they pushed him in. The hole was much too small for Timmy Tiptoes' figure. They squeezed him dreadfully, it was a wonder they did not break his ribs. "We will leave him here till he confesses," said Silvertail Squirrel, and he shouted into the hole—
TIMMY TIPTOES made no reply; he had tumbled down inside the tree, upon half a peck of nuts belonging to himself. He lay quite stunned and still.
GOODY TIPTOES picked up the nut bags and went home. She made a cup of tea for Timmy; but he didn't come and didn't come.
Goody Tiptoes passed a lonely and unhappy night. Next morning she ventured back to the nut-bushes to look for him; but the other unkind squirrels drove her away.
She wandered all over the wood, calling—
"Timmy Tiptoes! Timmy Tiptoes! Oh, where is Timmy Tiptoes?"
IN the meantime Timmy Tiptoes came to his senses. He found himself tucked up in a little moss bed, very much in the dark, feeling sore; it seemed to be under ground. Timmy coughed and groaned, because his ribs hurted him. There was a chirpy noise, and a small striped Chipmunk appeared with a night light, and hoped he felt better?
It was most kind to Timmy Tiptoes; it lent him its nightcap; and the house was full of provisions.
THE Chipmunk explained that it had rained nuts through the top of the tree —"Besides, I found a few buried!" It laughed and chuckled when it heard Timmy's story. While Timmy was confined to bed, it 'ticed him to eat quantities—"But how shall I ever get out through that hole unless I thin myself? My wife will be anxious!" "Just another nut —or two nuts; let me crack them for you," said the Chipmunk. Timmy Tiptoes grew fatter and fatter!