THE GREAT BIG TREASURY
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
little Rabbits, and their names
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
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
But round the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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:
catch a snail,
The best man
Durst not touch her
out her horns
Like a little kyloe
she'll have you all e'en now!"
Then without a pause the little mouse
voices went on again:
my lady's oatmeal,
Grind my lady's
Put it in
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
The little mice only laughed, and tried another tune—
little mice sat down to spin,
Pussy passed by and
she peeped in.
What are you at, my
fine little men?
Making coats for
I come in and cut off yours threads?
Oh, no, Miss
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
"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,
A little wee man, in a red red
A staff in his hand, and a stone in his
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—
Mr. B! Riddle-me-ree!
Hitty Pitty within
Pitty without the wall;
If you touch 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—
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
`How may strawberries grow in the
I answered him as I thought
`As many red herrings as grow in the
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
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
As I went
I met a flock of
Some yellow-nacked, some yellow
were the very bonniest swine
That e'er went over
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
With a white counterpane round his
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
All the King's horses, and all the King's
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
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
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
THE TALE OF BENJAMIN BUNNY
[For the Children of Sawrey from Old
One morning a little rabbit sat on a
He pricked his ears and listened to the trit-trot, trit-trot of
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
(The name of little Benjamin's papa was old Mr. Benjamin
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
The mice sat on their doorsteps
cracking cherry-stones; they winked at Peter Rabbit and little Benjamin
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
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
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-
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
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
"It is not boiled enough; it is hard.
You have a try, Hunca
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
The ham broke off the plate with a jerk, and rolled under the
"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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
Presently she came to a spring, bubbling out from the
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
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
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
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
"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
"Oh that IS lovely!" said Lucie.
"And what are those long yellow things with fingers like
"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
"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
"There's another one of mine," said Lucie.
"What are those funny little white
"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
"Will their jackets take off?" asked
"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
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
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
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.
THE PIE AND THE PATTY-PAN
sits by the fire—how should she be fair?
walks the little dog—says "Pussy are you there?
How do you do Mistress Pussy? Mistress Pussy,
"I thank you kindly, little dog, I fare
as well as you!"
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"Oh yes, please! my dear Ribby; and may I have a lump upon my
"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
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
"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
Duchess fumbled with the spoon—
"I can't find it!" she said
"There isn't a patty-pan," said
Ribby, looking perplexed.
"Yes, indeed, my dear Ribby; where can it have gone to?" said
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
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
"Yes there WAS, my dear Ribby, I am sure I have swallowed
"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
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
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
"I am truly glad to hear it! He has brought you a pill, my dear
"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
"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
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
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
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
Mr. Jeremy stuck his pole into the mud and fastened the boat to
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,
Jeremy landed little Jack Sharp, the
stickleback, covered with
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
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
The bad Rabbit would like some carrot.
He doesn't say "Please." He takes
And he scratches the good Rabbit very badly.
The good Rabbit creeps away and hides in a hole. It feels
This is a man with a gun.
He sees something sitting on a bench. He thinks it is a very
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
The good Rabbit peeps out of its hole .
. . . and it sees the bad Rabbit tearing past—without any tail
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
The Mouse watches Miss Moppet from the top of the cupboard.
Miss Moppet ties up her head in a duster and sits before the
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
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
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
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
Then she combed their tails and whiskers (this is Tom
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
"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
"It's a very fine morning!" said Mr.
And he and Jemima and Rebeccah
Puddle-duck set off up the road, keeping step—pit pat, paddle pat! pit 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
Quite the contrary; they were not in bed:
NOT in the
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
The clothes all came off directly, because there were no
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
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
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
She flew beautifully when she had got a
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
The collie dog Kep met her coming out, "What are you doing with
those onions? Where do you go every afternoon by yourself, Jemima
Jemima was rather in awe of the collie; she told him the whole
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
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
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
Presently Kep opened the door of the shed and let out Jemima
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
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
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
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
Ribby and Tabitha searched and searched. They both heard a
curious roly-poly noise under the attic floor. But there was nothing to be
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
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
They tipped over the jar, and she scrambled out.
"Oh, Mother, Mother!" said
"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
He looked about for a nice convenient place, and he fixed upon
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,
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
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
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
"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
"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
"Anna Maria," said the old man rat (whose name was Samuel
Whiskers), "Anna Maria, make me a kitten dumpling roly-poly pudding for my
"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
"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
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
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
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
"Will not the string be very indigestible, Anna Maria?" inquired
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
"I fetched as much as I could carry," replied Anna Maria.
"I do not think"—said Samuel
Whiskers, pausing to take a look
Tom Kitten—"I do NOT think it will be
a good pudding. It smells
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
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
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
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
I am sure I never gave her leave to borrow my
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sometimes Peter Rabbit had no cabbages
When this happened, the Flopsy
Bunnies went across the field
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"
The Flopsy Bunnies simply stuffed
themselves with 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 Tittle-mouse,
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
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
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
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
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 blackingbrush 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
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
"One, two, three, four, five, six leetle rabbits!" said Mr.
"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.
(The youngest Flopsy Bunny got upon the windowsill.)
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
"Not fit to eat; but the skins will do fine to line my old
"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.
THE TALE OF MRS. TITTLEMOUSE
Once upon a time there was a woodmouse,
and her name was Mrs. Tittlemouse.
She lived in a bank under a hedge.
Such a funny house! There were yards and yards of sandy
passages, leading to store-rooms and nut cellars and seed cellars, all amongst
the roots of the hedge.
There was a kitchen, a parlor, a
pantry, and a larder.
Also, there was Mrs. Tittle-mouse's bedroom, where she slept in
a little box bed!
Mrs. Tittlemouse was a most terribly tidy particular little
mouse, always sweeping and dusting the soft sandy floors.
Sometimes a beetle lost its way in the passages.
"Shuh! shuh! little dirty feet!" said Mrs. Tittlemouse,
clattering her dustpan.
And one day a little old woman ran up
and down in a red spotty cloak.
"Your house is on fire, Mother Ladybird! Fly away home to your
Another day, a big fat spider came in to shelter from the
"Beg pardon, is this not Miss
"Go away, you bold bad spider! Leaving ends of cobweb all over
my nice clean house!"
She bundled the spider out at a window.
He let himself down the hedge with a long thin bit of
Mrs. Tittlemouse went on her way to a
distant storeroom, to fetch cherrystones and thistle-down seed for dinner.
All along the passage she sniffed, and looked at the floor.
"I smell a smell of honey; is it the cowslips outside, in the
hedge? I am sure I can see the marks of little dirty feet."
Suddenly round a corner, she met Babbitty Bumble—"Zizz, Bizz,
Bizzz!" said the bumble bee.
Mrs. Tittlemouse looked at her severely. She wished that she had
"Good-day, Babbitty Bumble; I should be glad to buy some bees-
wax. But what are you doing down here? Why do you always come in at a window,
and say, Zizz, Bizz, Bizzz?" Mrs. Tittle-mouse began to get cross.
"Zizz, Wizz, Wizzz!" replied Babbitty
Bumble in a peevish squeak. She sidled down a passage, and disappeared into a
storeroom which had been used for acorns.
Mrs. Tittlemouse had eaten the acorns before Christmas; the
storeroom ought to have been empty.
But it was full of untidy dry moss.
Mrs. Tittlemouse began to pull out the moss. Three or four other
bees put their heads out, and buzzed fiercely.
"I am not in the habit of letting lodgings; this is an
intrusion!" said Mrs. Tittlemouse. "I will have them turned out—" "Buzz! Buzz!
Buzzz!"—"I wonder who would help me?" "Bizz, Wizz, Wizzz!"
—"I will not have Mr. Jackson; he never wipes his feet."
Mrs. Tittlemouse decided to leave the
bees till after dinner.
When she got back to the parlor, she heard some one coughing in
a fat voice; and there sat Mr. Jackson himself.
He was sitting all over a small rocking chair, twiddling his
thumbs and smiling, with his feet on the fender.
He lived in a drain below the hedge, in a very dirty wet
"How do you do, Mr. Jackson? Deary me, you have got very
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mrs. Tittlemouse! I'll sit
awhile and dry myself," said Mr. Jackson.
He sat and smiled, and the water dripped off his coat tails.
Mrs. Tittlemouse went round with a mop.
He sat such a while that he had to be
asked if he would take some dinner?
First she offered him cherry-stones. "Thank you, thank you, Mrs.
Tittlemouse! No teeth, no teeth, no teeth!" said Mr. Jackson.
He opened his mouth most unnecessarily wide; he certainly had
not a tooth in his head.
Then she offered him thistle-down seed—"Tiddly, widdly, widdly!
Pouff, pouff, puff." said Mr. Jackson. He blew the thistle-down all over the
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mrs. Tittlemouse! Now what I
really—REALLY should like—would be a little dish of honey!"
"I am afraid I have not got any, Mr.
Jackson!" said Mrs. Tittlemouse.
"Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs. Tittlemouse!" said the smiling Mr.
Jackson, "I can SMELL it; that is why I came to call."
Mr. Jackson rose ponderously from the table, and began to look
into the cupboards.
Mrs. Tittlemouse followed him with a dishcloth, to wipe his
large wet footmarks off the parlor floor.
When he had convinced himself that there was no honey in the
cupboards, he began to walk down the passage.
"Indeed, indeed, you will stick fast, Mr. Jackson!"
"Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs.
First he squeezed into the pantry.
"Tiddly, widdly, widdly? No honey? No honey, Mrs.
There were three creepy-crawly people hiding in the plate rack.
Two of them got away; but the littlest one he caught.
Then he squeezed into the larder. Miss Butterfly was tasting the
sugar; but she flew away out of the window.
"Tiddly, widdly, widdly, Mrs. Tittlemouse; you seem to have
plenty of visitors!"
"And without any invitation!" said Mrs. Thomasina
They went along the sandy
passage—"Tiddly, widdly—" "Buzz! Wizz! Wizz!"
He met Babbitty round a corner, and snapped her up, and put her
"I do not like bumble bees. They are all over bristles," said
Mr. Jackson, wiping his mouth with his coat sleeve.
"Get out, you nasty old toad!" shrieked Babbitty Bumble.
"I shall go distracted!" scolded Mrs. Tittlemouse.
She shut herself up in the nut cellar while Mr. Jackson pulled
out the bees-nest. He seemed to have no objection to stings.
When Mrs. Tittlemouse ventured to come out—everybody had gone
But the untidiness was something dreadful—"Never did I see such
a mess—smears of honey; and moss, and thistledown—and marks of big and little
dirty feet—all over my nice clean house!"
She gathered up the moss and the
remains of the bees-wax.
Then she went out and fetched some twigs, to partly close up the
"I will make it too small for
She fetched soft soap, and flannel, and a new scrubbing brush
from the storeroom. But she was too tired to do any more. First she fell asleep
in her chair, and then she went to bed.
"Will it ever be tidy again?" said poor Mrs. Tittlemouse.
Next morning she got up very early and
began a spring cleaning which lasted a fort-night.
She swept, and scrubbed, and dusted; and she rubbed up the
furniture with bees-wax, and polished her little tin spoons.
When it was all beautifully neat and clean, she gave a party to
five other little mice, without Mr. Jackson.
He smelt the party and came up the bank, but he could not
squeeze in at the door.
So they handed him out acorn cupfuls of
honeydew through the window, and he was not at all offended.
He sat outside in the sun, and said—"Tiddly, widdly, widdly!
Your very good health, Mrs. Tittlemouse!"
THE TALE OF TIMMY TIPTOES
[For Many Unknown Little Friends,
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
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
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 woodpecker;
the nuts rattled down—down—down inside.
"How shall you ever get them out again? It is like a money box!"
"I shall be much thinner before springtime, 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
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-
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
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—"Who's-been-digging-up
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 Tip-toes! 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!
Now Goody Tiptoes had set to work again
by herself. She did not put any more nuts into the woodpecker's hole, because
she had always doubted how they could be got out again. She hid them under a
tree root; they rattled down, down, down. Once when Goody emptied an extra big
bagful, there was a decided squeak; and next time Goody brought another bagful,
a little striped Chipmunk scrambled out in a hurry.
"It is getting perfectly full-up downstairs; the sitting room is
full, and they are rolling along the passage; and my husband, Chippy Hackee,
has run away and left me. What is the explanation of these showers of nuts?"
"I am sure I beg your pardon; I did not know that anybody lived
here," said Mrs. Goody Tiptoes; "but where is Chippy Hackee? My husband, Timmy
Tiptoes, has run away too." "I know where Chippy is; a little bird told me,"
said Mrs. Chippy Hackee.
She led the way to the woodpecker's
tree, and they listened at the hole.
Down below there was a noise of nutcrackers, and a fat squirrel
voice and a thin squirrel voice were singing together—
"My little old man and I fell
How shall we bring this matter about?
Bring it about as well as you can,
And get you gone, you little old man!"
"You could squeeze in, through
little round hole," said Goody
Tiptoes. "Yes, I could," said the
"but my husband,
Chippy Hackee, bites!"
Down below there was a noise of cracking nuts and nibbling; and
then the fat squirrel voice and the thin squirrel voice sang—
"For the diddlum day
Day diddle durn di!
Day diddle diddle dum day!"
Then Goody peeped in at the
and called down—"Timmy
Tiptoes! Oh fie, Timmy Tiptoes!"
And Timmy replied,
"Is that you,
Goody Tiptoes? Why, certainly!"
He came up and kissed Goody through the hole; but he was so fat
that he could not get out.
Chippy Hackee was not too fat, but he did not want to come; he
stayed down below and chuckled.
And so it went on for a fort-night; till a big wind blew off the
top of the tree, and opened up the hole and let in the rain.
Then Timmy Tiptoes came out, and went home with an umbrella.
But Chippy Hackee continued to camp out
for another week, although it was uncomfortable.
At last a large bear came walking through the wood. Perhaps he
also was looking for nuts; he seemed to be sniffing around.
Chippy Hackee went home in a hurry!
And when Chippy Hackee got home, he found he had caught a cold
in his head; and he was more uncomfortable still.
And now Timmy and Goody Tiptoes keep
their nut store fastened up with a little padlock.
And whenever that little bird sees the Chipmunks, he
sings—"Who's-been-digging-up MY-nuts? Who's been dig-ging-up MY-nuts?" But
nobody ever answers!
THE TALE OF MR. TOD
[For William Francis of Ulva—Someday!]
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 foxy whiskers; they never knew where he would be next.
One day he was living in a stick-house in the coppice [grove],
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
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 daytime, 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
Flopsy, who had a young family.
Old Mr. Bouncer was in
the family that afternoon, because
Benjamin and Flopsy had gone
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 fort-night, 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
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
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
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 foxy flavor 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,
"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
refreshments. 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 atwitter. 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
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
neighbors. 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
This house was something between a cave, a prison, and a
tumbledown pigsty. 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
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 atwitter, pulled Peter off the
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
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
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
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
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 humor, 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
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 tablecloth, 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 bed-room. 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
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
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 difficult
(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
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
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
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
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
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 endeavored 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
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 in one
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
windowsill 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.
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.
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 SOMETHING
—much flattened 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
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
"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
"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 teapot into Mr. Tod's teacup. 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
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 cannisters fell off the
shelf; the kettle fell off the hob. Tommy Brock put his foot in a jar of
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!
I watch 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
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
After quarreling 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
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, amidst 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 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
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
A new long 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 PIGLING BLAND
[For Cicily and Charlie, a Tale of the Christmas Pig]
Once upon a time there was an old pig
called Aunt Pettitoes. She had eight of a family: four little girl pigs, called
Cross-patch, Suck-suck, Yock-yock and Spot; and four little boy pigs, called
Alexander, Pigling Bland, Chin-Chin and Stumpy. Stumpy had had an accident to
The eight little pigs had very fine appetites—"Yus, yus, yus!
they eat and indeed they DO eat!" said Aunt Pettitoes, looking at her family
with pride. Suddenly there were fearful squeals; Alexander had squeezed inside
the hoops of the pig trough and stuck.
Aunt Pettitoes and I dragged him out by
the hind legs.
Chin-chin was already in disgrace; it was washing day, and he
had eaten a piece of soap. And presently in a basket of clean clothes, we found
another dirty little pig—"Tchut, tut, tut! whichever is this?" grunted Aunt
Pettitoes. Now all the pig family are pink, or pink with black spots, but this
pig child was smutty black all over; when it had been popped into a tub, it
proved to be Yock-yock.
I went into the garden; there I found Cross-patch and Suck-suck
rooting up carrots. I whipped them myself and led them out by the ears.
Cross-patch tried to bite me.
"Aunt Pettitoes, Aunt Pettitoes! you are a worthy person, but
your family is not well brought up. Every one of them has been in mischief
except Spot and Pigling Bland."
"Yus, yus!" sighed Aunt Pettitoes. "And they drink bucketfuls of
milk; I shall have to get another cow! Good little Spot shall stay at home to do
the housework; but the others must go. Four little boy pigs and four little girl
pigs are too many altogether." "Yus, yus, yus," said Aunt Pettitoes, "there will
be more to eat without them."
So Chin-chin and Suck-suck went away in a wheel-barrow, and
Stumpy, Yock-yock and Cross-patch rode away in a cart.
And the other two little boy pigs, Pigling Bland and Alexander
went to market. We brushed their coats, we curled their tails and washed their
little faces, and wished them good bye in the yard.
Aunt Pettitoes wiped her eyes with a large pocket handkerchief,
then she wiped Pigling Bland's nose and shed tears; then she wiped Alexander's
nose and shed tears; then she passed the handkerchief to Spot. Aunt Pettitoes
sighed and grunted, and addressed those little pigs as follows—
"Now Pigling Bland, son Pigling Bland, you must go to market.
Take your brother Alexander by the hand. Mind your Sunday clothes, and remember
to blow your nose"—(Aunt Pettitoes passed round the handkerchief again)—"beware
of traps, hen roosts, bacon and eggs; always walk upon your hind legs." Pigling
Bland who was a sedate little pig, looked solemnly at his mother, a tear
trickled down his cheek.
Aunt Pettitoes turned to the other—"Now son Alexander take the
hand"—"Wee, wee, wee!" giggled Alexander—"take the hand of your brother Pigling
Bland, you must go to market. Mind—" "Wee, wee, wee!" interrupted Alexander
again. "You put me out," said Aunt Pettitoes—"Observe signposts and milestones;
do not gobble herring bones—" "And remember," said I impressively, "if you once
cross the county boundary you cannot come back. Alexander, you are not
attending. Here are two licenses permitting two pigs to go to market in
Lancashire. Attend Alexander. I have had no end of trouble in getting these
papers from the policeman." Pigling Bland listened gravely; Alexander was
I pinned the papers, for safety, inside their waistcoat pockets;
Aunt Pettitoes gave to each a little bundle, and eight conversation peppermints
with appropriate moral sentiments in screws of paper. Then they started.
Pigling Bland and Alexander trotted along steadily for a mile;
at least Pigling Bland did. Alexander made the road half as long again by
skipping from side to side. He danced about and pinched his brother,
"This pig went to market, this pig
"This pig had a bit of meat—
let's see what they have given US for dinner, Pigling?"
Pigling Bland and Alexander sat down and untied their bundles.
Alexander gobbled up his dinner in no time; he had already eaten all his own
peppermints—"Give me one of yours, please, Pigling?" "But I wish to preserve
them for emergencies," said Pigling Bland doubtfully. Alexander went into
squeals of laughter. Then he pricked Pigling with the pin that had fastened his
pig paper; and when Pigling slapped him he dropped the pin, and tried to take
Pigling's pin, and the papers got mixed up. Pigling Bland reproved
But presently they made it up again, and trotted away together,
"Tom, Tom the piper's son, stole a
and away he
"But all the tune that he could play,
hills and far away!'"
"What's that, young Sirs? Stole a pig?
Where are your licenses?" said the policeman. They had nearly run against him
round a corner. Pigling Bland pulled out his paper; Alexander, after fumbling,
handed over something scrumply—
"To 2 1/2 oz. conversation sweeties at three farthings"—"What's
this? this ain't a license?" Alexander's nose lengthened visibly, he had lost
it. "I had one, indeed I had, Mr. Policeman!"
"It's not likely they let you start
without. I am passing the farm. You may walk with me." "Can I come back too?"
inquired Pigling Bland. "I see no reason, young Sir; your paper is all right."
Pigling Bland did not like going on alone, and it was beginning to rain. But it
is unwise to argue with the police; he gave his brother a peppermint, and
watched him out of sight.
To conclude the adventures of Alexander—the policeman sauntered
up to the house about tea time, followed by a damp subdued little pig. I
disposed of Alexander in the neighborhood; he did fairly well when he had
Pigling Bland went on alone dejectedly; he came to cross roads
and a sign-post—"To Market-town 5 miles," "Over the Hills, 4 miles," "To
Pettitoes Farm, 3 miles."
Pigling Bland was shocked, there was little hope of sleeping in
Market Town, and tomorrow was the hiring fair; it was deplorable to think how
much time had been wasted by the frivolity of Alexander.
He glanced wistfully along the road towards the hills, and then
set off walking obediently the other way, buttoning up his coat against the
rain. He had never wanted to go; and the idea of standing all by himself in a
crowded market, to be stared at, pushed, and hired by some big strange farmer
was very disagreeable—
"I wish I could have a little garden and grow potatoes," said
He put his cold hand in his pocket and felt his paper, he put
his other hand in his other pocket and felt another paper—Alexander's! Pigling
squealed; then ran back frantically, hoping to overtake Alexander and the
He took a wrong turn—several wrong turns, and was quite
It grew dark, the wind whistled, the trees creaked and
Pigling Bland became frightened and cried "Wee, wee, wee! I
can't find my way home!"
After an hour's wandering he got out of the wood; the moon shone
through the clouds, and Pigling Bland saw a country that was new to him.
The road crossed a moor; below was a wide valley with a river
twinkling in the moonlight, and beyond—in misty distance—lay the hills.
He saw a small wooden hut, made his way to it, and crept inside
—"I am afraid it IS a hen house, but what can I do?" said Pigling Bland, wet and
cold and quite tired out.
"Bacon and eggs, bacon and eggs!"
clucked a hen on a perch.
"Trap, trap, trap! cackle, cackle, cackle!" scolded the
disturbed cockerel. "To market, to market! jiggettyjig!" clucked a broody white
hen roosting next to him. Pigling Bland, much alarmed, determined to leave at
daybreak. In the meantime, he and the hens fell asleep.
In less than an hour they were all awakened. The owner, Mr.
Peter Thomas Piperson, came with a lantern and a hamper to catch six fowls to
take to market in the morning.
He grabbed the white hen roosting next to the cock; then his eye
fell upon Pigling Bland, squeezed up in a corner. He made a singular
remark—"Hallo, here's another!"—seized Pigling by the scruff of the neck, and
dropped him into the hamper. Then he dropped in five more dirty, kicking,
cackling hens upon the top of Pigling Bland.
The hamper containing six fowls and a young pig was no light
weight; it was taken down hill, unsteadily, with jerks. Pigling, although
nearly scratched to pieces, contrived to hide the papers and peppermints inside
At last the hamper was bumped down upon a kitchen floor, the lid
was opened, and Pigling was lifted out. He looked up, blinking, and saw an
offensively ugly elderly man, grinning from ear to ear.
"This one's come of himself, whatever," said Mr. Piperson,
turning Pigling's pockets inside out. He pushed the hamper into a corner, threw
a sack over it to keep the hens quiet, put a pot on the fire, and unlaced his
Pigling Bland drew forward a coppy stool, and sat on the edge of
it, shyly warming his hands. Mr. Piperson pulled off a boot and threw it
against the wainscot at the further end of the kitchen. There was a smothered
noise—"Shut up!" said Mr. Piperson. Pigling Bland warmed his hands, and eyed
Mr. Piperson pulled off the other boot and flung it after the
first, there was again a curious noise—"Be quiet, will ye?" said Mr. Piperson.
Pigling Bland sat on the very edge of the coppy stool.
Mr. Piperson fetched meal from a chest and made porridge, it
seemed to Pigling that something at the further end of the kitchen was taking a
suppressed interest in the cooking; but he was too hungry to be troubled by
Mr. Piperson poured out three platefuls: for himself, for
Pigling, and a third-after glaring at Pigling—he put away with much scuffling,
and locked up. Pigling Bland ate his supper discreetly.
After supper Mr. Piperson consulted an almanac, and felt
Pigling's ribs; it was too late in the season for curing bacon, and he grudged
his meal. Besides, the hens had seen this pig.
He looked at the small remains of a flitch [side of bacon], and
then looked undecidedly at Pigling. "You may sleep on the rug," said Mr. Peter
Pigling Bland slept like a top. In the morning Mr. Piperson made
more porridge; the weather was warmer. He looked how much meal was left in the
chest, and seemed dissatisfied—"You'll likely be moving on again?" said he to
Before Pigling could reply, a neighbor, who was giving Mr.
Piperson and the hens a lift, whistled from the gate. Mr. Piperson hurried out
with the hamper, enjoining Pigling to shut the door behind him and not meddle
with nought; or "I'll come back and skin ye!" said Mr. Piperson.
It crossed Pigling's mind that if HE had asked for a lift, too,
he might still have been in time for market.
But he distrusted Peter Thomas.
After finishing breakfast at his leisure, Pigling had a look
round the cottage; everything was locked up. He found some potato peelings in a
bucket in the back kitchen. Pigling ate the peel, and washed up the porridge
plates in the bucket. He sang while he worked—
"Tom with his pipe made such a
He called up all the girls and
"And they all ran to hear him play,
"Over the hills and
Suddenly a little smothered voice chimed in—
"Over the hills and a great way
The wind shall blow my top knot
Pigling Bland put down a plate which he was wiping, and
After a long pause, Pigling went on tiptoe and peeped round the
door into the front kitchen; there was nobody there.
After another pause, Pigling approached the door of the locked
cupboard, and snuffed at the keyhole. It was quite quiet.
After another long pause, Pigling pushed a peppermint under the
door. It was sucked in immediately.
In the course of the day Pigling pushed in all his remaining six
When Mr. Piperson returned, he found Pigling sitting before the
fire; he had brushed up the hearth and put on the pot to boil; the meal was not
Mr. Piperson was very affable; he slapped Pigling on the back,
made lots of porridge and forgot to lock the meal chest. He did lock the
cupboard door; but without properly shutting it. He went to bed early, and told
Pigling upon no account to disturb him next day before twelve o'clock.
Pigling Bland sat by the fire, eating his supper.
All at once at his elbow, a little
voice spoke—"My name is Pig-wig. Make me more porridge, please!" Pigling Bland
jumped, and looked round.
A perfectly lovely little black Berkshire pig stood smiling
beside him. She had twinkly little screwed up eyes, a double chin, and a short
turned up nose.
She pointed at Pigling's plate; he hastily gave it to her, and
fled to the meal chest—"How did you come here?" asked Pigling Bland.
"Stolen," replied Pig-wig, with her mouth full. Pigling helped
himself to meal without scruple. "What for?" "Bacon, hams," replied Pig-wig
cheerfully. "Why on earth don't you run away?" exclaimed the horrified
"I shall after supper," said Pig-wig decidedly.
Pigling Bland made more porridge and watched her shyly.
She finished a second plate, got up, and looked about her, as
though she were going to start.
"You can't go in the dark," said
Pig-wig looked anxious.
"Do you know your way by day-light?"
"I know we can see this little white house from the hills across
the river. Which way are you going, Mr. Pig?"
"To market—I have two pig papers. I might take you to the
bridge; if you have no objection," said Pigling much confused and sitting on the
edge of his coppy stool. Pig-wig's gratitude was such and she asked so many
questions that it became embarrassing to Pigling Bland.
He was obliged to shut his eyes and pretend to sleep. She became
quiet, and there was a smell of peppermint.
"I thought you had eaten them?" said Pigling, waking
"Only the corners," replied Pig-wig, studying the sentiments
with much interest by the firelight.
"I wish you wouldn't; he might smell them through the ceiling,"
said the alarmed Pigling.
Pig-wig put back the sticky peppermints into her pocket; "Sing
something," she demanded.
"I am sorry. . . I have tooth-ache," said Pigling much
"Then I will sing," replied Pig-wig, "You will not mind if I say
iddy tidditty? I have forgotten some of the words."
Pigling Bland made no objection; he sat with his eyes half shut,
and watched her.
She wagged her head and rocked about, clapping time and singing
in a sweet little grunty voice—
"A funny old mother pig lived in a stye,
and three little piggies had she;
idditty idditty) umph, umph,
umph! and the
little pigs said wee,
She sang successfully through three or
four verses, only at every verse her head nodded a little lower, and her little
twinkly eyes closed up—
"Those three little piggies grew peaky
and lean, and lean they might very
"For somehow they couldn't say
umph, umph! and they wouldn't
say wee, wee, wee!
"For somehow they
Pig-wig's head bobbed lower and lower,
until she rolled over, a little round ball, fast asleep on the hearth-rug.
Pigling Bland, on tiptoe, covered her up with an
He was afraid to go to sleep himself; for the rest of the night
he sat listening to the chirping of the crickets and to the snores of Mr.
Early in the morning, between dark and daylight, Pigling tied up
his little bundle and woke up Pig-wig. She was excited and half-frightened.
"But it's dark! How can we find our way?"
"The cock has crowed; we must start before the hens come out;
they might shout to Mr. Piperson."
Pig-wig sat down again, and commenced to cry.
"Come away Pig-wig; we can see when we
get used to it. Come! I can hear them clucking!"
Pigling had never said shuh! to a hen in his life, being
peaceable; also he remembered the hamper.
He opened the house door quietly and shut it after them. There
was no garden; the neighborhood of Mr. Piperson's was all scratched up by fowls.
They slipped away hand in hand across an untidy field to the road. "Tom, Tom the
piper's son, stole a pig and away he ran! "But all the tune that he could
play, was `Over the hills and far away!'"
"Come Pig-wig, we must get to the
bridge before folks are stirring."
"Why do you want to go to market, Pigling?" inquired
The sun rose while they were crossing the moor, a dazzle of
light over the tops of the hills. The sunshine crept down the slopes into the
peaceful green valleys, where little white cottages nestled in gardens and
"That's Westmorland," said Pig-wig. She dropped Pigling's hand
and commenced to dance, singing—presently. "I don't want; I want to grow
potatoes." "Have a peppermint?" said Pig-wig. Pigling Bland refused quite
crossly. "Does your poor toothy hurt?" inquired Pig-wig. Pigling Bland
Pig-wig ate the peppermint herself, and followed the opposite
side of the road. "Pig-wig! keep under the wall, there's a man ploughing."
Pig-wig crossed over, they hurried down hill towards the county boundary.
Suddenly Pigling stopped; he heard wheels.
Slowly jogging up the road below them came a tradesman's cart.
The reins flapped on the horse's back, the grocer was reading a newspaper.
"Take that peppermint out of your mouth, Pig-wig, we may have to
run. Don't say one word. Leave it to me. And in sight of the bridge!" said poor
Pigling, nearly crying. He began to walk frightfully lame, holding Pig-wig's
The grocer, intent upon his newspaper, might have passed them,
if his horse had not shied and snorted. He pulled the cart crossways, and held
down his whip. "Hallo? Where are you going to?"—Pigling Bland stared at him
"Are you deaf? Are you going to market?" Pigling nodded
"I thought as much. It was yesterday. Show me your license?"
Pigling stared at the off hind shoe of the grocer's horse which
had picked up a stone.
The grocer flicked his whip—"Papers? Pig license?" Pigling
fumbled in all his pockets, and handed up the papers. The grocer read them, but
still seemed dissatisfied. "This here pig is a young lady; is her name
Alexander?" Pig-wig opened her mouth and shut it again; Pigling coughed
The grocer ran his finger down the advertisement column of his
newspaper—"Lost, stolen or strayed, 10S. reward;" he looked suspiciously at
Pig-wig. Then he stood up in the trap, and whistled for the ploughman.
"You wait here while I drive on and speak to him," said the
grocer, gathering up the reins. He knew that pigs are slippery; but surely, such
a VERY lame pig could never run!
"Not yet, Pig-wig, he will look back." The grocer did so; he saw
the two pigs stock-still in the middle of the road. Then he looked over at his
horse's heels; it was lame also; the stone took some time to knock out, after he
got to the ploughman.
"Now, Pig-wig, NOW!" said
Never did any pigs run as these pigs ran! They raced and
squealed and pelted down the long white hill towards the bridge. Little fat Pig-
wig's petticoats fluttered, and her feet went pitter, patter, pitter, as she
bounded and jumped.
They ran, and they ran, and they ran down the hill, and across a
short cut on level green turf at the bottom, between pebble beds and
They came to the river, they came to the bridge—they crossed it
hand in hand—then over the hills and far away she danced with Pigling
GINGER AND PICKLES
With very kind regards to old Mr. John Taylor,
Who "thinks he might pass as a dormouse,"
(Three years in bed and never a
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 tomcat, 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 customers; they would leave us and go to Tabitha
"On the contrary, they would go nowhere," replied Ginger
(Tabitha Twitchit kept the only other shop in the village. She
did not give credit.)
But there is no money in what is called the "till."
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.
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 penny-worth of peppermints.
But the sales were enormous, ten times as large as Tabitha
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.
"It is very uncomfortable, I am afraid
I shall be summoned. I have tried in vain to get a license upon credit at the
Post Office;" said Pickles. "The place is full of policemen. I met one as I was
"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
When it came to Jan. 1st there was still no money, and Pickles
was unable to buy a dog license.
"It is very unpleasant, I am afraid of the police," said
"It is your own fault for being a terrier; I do not
require a license, and neither does Kep, the Collie dog."
"And I feel sure that Anna
"Where are all the cream crackers?"
"You have eaten them yourself." replied Ginger.
Ginger and Pickles retired into the back parlor.
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 compliments,'"
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.
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 parlor. There was an
envelope lying on the counter, and a policeman writing in a notebook!
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, 3 pounds 19 11 3/4." [pounds are British money, the 19 is
schillings, and then pence]
"This is the last straw," said
Pickles, "let us close the
They put up the shutters, and left. But they have not removed
from the neighborhood. In fact some people wish they had gone further.
Ginger is living in the warren [game
preserve for rabbits]. I do not know what occupation he pursues; he looks stout
Pickles is at present a game-keeper.
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.
The closing of the shop caused great inconvenience. Tabitha
Twitchit immediately raised the price of everything a halfpenny; and she
continued to refuse to give credit.
Of course there are the tradesmen'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!
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
Besides—the candles which they sell behave very strangely in
So everybody was pleased when Sally Henny Penny sent out a
printed poster to say that she was going to reopen the shop—"Henny's Opening
Sale! Grand cooperative Jumble! Penny's penny prices! Come buy, come try, come
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
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.
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