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Thornton Burgess

Peter Finds a Name

P ETER RABBIT had quite lost his appetite. When Peter forgets to eat you may make up your mind that Peter has something very important to think about. At least he has something on his mind that he thinks is important. The fact is, Peter had fully made up his mind to change his name. He thought Peter Rabbit too common a name. But when he tried to think of a better one, he found that no name that he could think of really pleased him any more. So he thought and he thought and he thought and he thought. And the more he thought the less appetite he had.

Now Jimmy Skunk was the only one to whom Peter had told how discontented he was with his name, and it was Jimmy who had suggested to Peter to change it. Jimmy thought it a great joke, and he straightway passed the word along among all the little meadow and forest people that Peter Rabbit was going to change his name. Everybody laughed and chuckled over the thought of Peter Rabbit's foolishness, and they planned to have a great deal of fun with Peter as soon as he should tell them his new name.

Peter was sitting on the edge of the Old Briar-patch one morning when Ol' Mistah Buzzard passed, flying low. "Good mo'ning, Brer Cottontail," said Ol' Mistah Buzzard, with a twinkle in his eye.

At first Peter didn't understand that Ol' Mistah Buzzard was speaking to him, and by the time he did it was too late to reply, for Ol' Mistah Buzzard was way, way up in the blue, blue sky. "Cottontail, Cottontail," said Peter over and over to himself and began to smile. Every time he said it he liked it better.

"Cottontail, Peter Cottontail! How much better sounding that is than Peter Rabbit! That sounds as if I really was somebody. Yes, Sir, that's the very name I want. Now I must send word to all my friends that hereafter I am no longer Peter Rabbit, but Peter Cottontail."


"Cottontail, Peter Cottontail! How much better sounding that is than Peter Rabbit!"

Peter kicked up his heels in just the funny way he always does when he is pleased. Suddenly he remembered that such a fine, long, high-sounding name as Peter Cottontail demanded dignity. So he stopped kicking up his heels and began to practice putting on airs. But first he called to the Merry Little Breezes and told them about his change of name and asked them to tell all his friends that in the future he would not answer to the name of Peter Rabbit, but only to the name of Peter Cottontail. He was very grave and earnest and important as he explained it to the Merry Little Breezes. The Merry Little Breezes kept their faces straight while he was talking, but as soon as they had left him to carry his message they burst out laughing. It was such a joke!

And they giggled as they delivered this message to each of the little forest and meadow people:

"Peter Rabbit's changed his name.

In the future without fail

You must call him, if you please,

Mr. Peter Cottontail."

While they were doing this, Peter was back in the Old Briar-patch practising his new airs and trying to look very high and mighty and important, as became one with such a fine-sounding name as Peter Cottontail.