|"One morning a little rabbit sat on a bank."|
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny was written by Beatrix Potter and first published in 1904.
One morning, Benjamin Bunny sits on a bank when, suddenly, he hears a pony's footsteps. A carriage driven by Mr. McGregor and Mrs. McGregor is coming down the road. As soon as the carriage passes by, little Benjamin Bunny slides down into the road, and hops off to visit his relatives, who live in the Wood behind Mr. McGregor's garden. The Wood is full of rabbit holes and the neatest, sandiest hole is the home of Benjamin's aunt, Mrs. Rabbit and his cousins—Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail. Mrs. Rabbit earns her living by knitting and selling rabbit wool mittens and muffatees as well as selling herbs, rosemary tea, and rabbit-tobacco (lavender). As Benjamin walks along, he hopes not to see Mrs. Rabbit. Little Benjamin comes around the back of the Big Fir Tree and nearly tumbles on top of his cousin, Peter. When Benjamin looks at him, he see that Peter looks poorly, and is dressed in a red cotton pocket handkerchief. Peter tells Benjamin that his clothes are in Mr. McGregor's Garden and and describes how he had been chased about the garden and had dropped his shoes and coat. Little Benjamin sits down beside his Peter and assures him that Mr. McGregor and Mrs. McGregor are away from their home. Just then, Mrs. Rabbit calls out for Cottontail to fetch more chamomile. Peter and Benjamin decide to go of a walk and they go the flat top of the wall at the bottom of the Wood, where they look down into Mr. McGregor's Garden. They are able to see Peter's coat and shoes on the scarecrow, topped with an old tam-o'-shanter of Mr. McGregor's. Benjamin tells Peter that squeezing under a gate spoils people's clothes and the proper way to get in is to climb down Mr. McGregor's pear tree. Peter falls down head first but he doesn't get hurt because the bed below is newly raked and quite soft. The two little bunnies leave many odd little footmarks all over the bed, especially little Benjamin, who is wearing clogs. Little Benjamin says that the first thing to be done is to get back Peter's clothes so that they can use the pocket-handkerchief afterward. They quickly take Peter's clothes off the scarecrow. It had rained during the night and there was water in the shows and the coat had shrunken a bit Benjamin tries on the tam-o'-shanter, but it is too big for him. Then he suggests that they fill the pocket-handkerchief with onions as a little present for Mrs. Rabbit. Peter does not seem to be enjoying himself because he keeps hearing noises. Benjamin, on the other hand, is perfectly at home and even eats a lettuce leaf. He says he is in the habit of coming to the garden with his father, Mr. Benjamin Bunny to get lettuces for their Sunday dinner. Peter Rabbit does not eat anything and he us eager to go home. He is so nervous that he drops half the onions. Little Benjamin says that it is impossible to get back up the pear tree with a load of vegetables and he boldly leads the way toward the other end of Mr. McGregor's Garden. As they walk along a little walk on planks under a sunny, red brick wall, they pass some mice sitting on their doorsteps cracking cherry stones; they wink at Peter and Benjamin. Peter accidentally drops the pocket-handkerchief again. When they come across some flower pots, frames, and tubs, Peter hears noises worse than ever and his eyes get as big as lollipops. He was a couple of steps ahead of Benjamin when he suddenly stops. Benjamin takes a look around the corner, sees a Cat, and hurriedly hides himself and Peter underneath a large basket. The Cat gets up, stretches herself and sniffs the basket. Suddenly, the Cat sits down on top of the basket where Peter and Benjamin are hiding and stays there for five hours. The onions makes the two bunnies' eyes cry. Late in the afternoon, there is pitter-patter and some bits of mortar fall from the wall above. The Cat looks up and sees Mr. Bunny prancing along the top of the wall of the upper terrace. He is smoking a pipe of rabbit-tobacco, and has a small switch in his hand. He is there looking for his son. Suddenly, Mr. Bunny takes a leap off the wall onto the Cat, pushes her off the basket, and kicks her into the greenhouse, scratching off a handful of fur. The Cat is too surprised to scratch back. After kicking the Cat into the greenhouse, Mr. Bunny locks the door. Then he comes back to the basket, takes Benjamin out by the ears, and whips him with the little switch. Then he takes out his nephew, Peter, takes out the handkerchief with onions, and marches out of the garden. When Mr. McGregor returns about half an hour later, he notices several strange things. He notices that it looks as if someone has walked all over the garden in a pair of clogs--only the footmarks are ridiculously little. Also he doesn't understand how his Cat could have managed to shut herself up inside the greenhouse, locking the door from the outside. When Peter gets home, his mother forgives him because she is so glad to see that he has found his shoes and coat. Cottontail and Peter fold up the pocket-handkerchief and old Mrs. Rabbit strings up the onions and hangs them from the kitchen ceiling, with the bunches of herbs and the rabbit-tobacco.