L ITTLE Mrs. Peter Rabbit, who used to be Little Miss Fuzzytail, sat at the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch, anxiously looking over towards the Green Forest. She was worried. There was no doubt about it. Little Mrs. Peter was very much worried. Why didn't Peter come home? She did wish that he would be content to stay close by the dear Old Briar-patch. For her part, she couldn't see why under the sun he wanted to go way over to the Green Forest. He was always having dreadful adventures and narrow escapes over there, and yet, in spite of all she could say, he would persist in going there. She didn't feel easy in her mind one minute while he was out of her sight. To be sure he always turned up all right, but she couldn't help feeling that sometime his dreadful curiosity would get him into trouble that he couldn't get out of, and so every time he went to the Green Forest, she was sure, absolutely sure, that she would never see him again.
Peter used to laugh at her and tell her that she was a foolish little dear, and that he was perfectly able to take care of himself. Then, when he saw how worried she was, he would promise to be very, very careful and never do anything rash or foolish. But he wouldn't promise not to go to the Green Forest. No, Sir, Peter wouldn't promise that. You see, he has so many friends over there, and there is always so much news to be gathered that he just couldn't keep away. Once or twice he had induced Mrs. Peter to go with him, but she had been frightened almost out of her skin every minute, for it seemed to her that there was danger lurking behind every tree and under every bush. It was all very well for Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, who could jump from tree to tree, but she didn't think it a safe and proper place for a sensible Rabbit, and she said so.
This particular morning she was unusually anxious. Peter had been gone all night. Usually he was home by the time Old Mother West Wind came down from the Purple Hills and emptied her children, the Merry Little Breezes, out of her big bag to play all day on the Green Meadows, but this morning Old Mother West Wind had been a long time gone about her business, and still there was no sign of Peter.
"Something has happened. I just know something has happened!" she wailed.
"Oh, Peter, Peter, Peter Rabbit
Why will you be so heedless?
Why will you take such dreadful risks,
So foolish and so needless?"
"Don't worry. Peter is smart enough to take care of himself," cried one of the Merry Little Breezes, who happened along just in time to overhear her. "He'll be home pretty soon. In fact, I think I see him coming now."
Mrs. Peter looked in the direction that the Merry Little Breeze was looking, and sure enough there was Peter. He was heading straight for the dear Old Briar-patch, and he was running as if he were trying to show how fast he could run. Mrs. Peter's heart gave a frightened thump. "It must be that Reddy or Granny Fox or Old Man Coyote is right at his heels," thought she, but look as hard as she would, she could see nothing to make Peter run so.
In a few minutes he reached her side. His eyes were very wide, and it was plain to see that he was bursting with important news.
"What is it, Peter? Do tell me quick! Have you had another narrow escape?" gasped little Mrs. Peter.
Peter nodded while he panted for breath. "There's another stranger in the Green Forest, a terrible looking fellow without legs or head or tail, and he almost caught me!" panted Peter.