The Tale of Peter Rabbit, cont.
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 round.
He found a door in a wall; but it was locked, and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath.
An old mouse was running in and out over the stone doorstep, carrying peas and beans to her family in the wood. Peter asked her the way to the gate, but she had such a large pea in her mouth that she could not answer. She only shook her head at him. Peter began to cry.
Then he tried to find his way straight across the garden, but he became more and more puzzled. Presently, he came to a pond where Mr. McGregor filled his water-cans. A white cat was staring at some gold-fish, she sat very, very still, but now and then the tip of her tail twitched as if it were alive. Peter thought it best to go away without speaking to her; he had heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny.
He went back towards the tool-shed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard the noise of a hoe–scr-r-ritch, scratch, scratch, scritch. Peter scuttered underneath the bushes. But presently, as nothing happened, he came out, and climbed upon a wheelbarrow and peeped over. The first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor hoeing onions. His back was turned towards Peter, and beyond him was the gate!
Peter got down very quietly off the wheelbarrow; and started running as fast as he could go, along a straight walk behind some black-currant bushes.
Mr. McGregor caught sight of him at the corner, but Peter did not care. He slipped underneath the gate, and was safe at last in the wood outside the garden.
Mr. McGregor hung up the little jacket and the shoes for a scare-crow to frighten the blackbirds.
Peter never stopped running or looked behind him till he got home to the big fir-tree.
He was so tired that he flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit-hole and shut his eyes. His mother was busy cooking; she wondered what he had done with his clothes. It was the second little jacket and pair of shoes that Peter had lost in a fortnight!
I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.
His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile 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.