Gateway to the Classics: The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thornton W. Burgess
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by  Thornton W. Burgess

Peter Prepares for a Long Sleep

D AY after day Peter Rabbit ran about this way and that over the Green Meadows and through the Green Forest, as if he had something on his mind. Jimmy Skunk noticed it. So did Billy Mink and Bobby Coon. But Peter wouldn't stop to explain. Indeed, he was always in such a hurry that he wouldn't stop at all, but when he met them would shout "Hello!" over his shoulder and keep right on running, lipperty-lipperty-lip. Unc' Possum was the only one who guessed what it meant.

Unc' Billy grinned as he watched Peter running about with such a serious and important air. "Brer Rabbit is trying dreadful hard to fool hisself. Ah reckon he's looking fo' a place to curl up and try to sleep all winter," said Unc' Billy.

Unc' Billy had guessed just right. Peter was looking for a place to curl up to sleep all winter. Peter was too lazy to dig a new house for himself. Then it was too late in the fall, anyway. He would just find some old, deserted house that some of Jimmy Skunk's relatives or Johnny Chuck's relations had given up using. So Peter went poking into every old house he knew of, trying to find one that wasn't so tumble-down that it wouldn't do. At last he found one that he thought would be just the place, and Peter chuckled to himself as he planned how he would curl up in the bedchamber, way down at the end of the long hall.

"Nobody'll ever guess where I am!" he said to himself and laughed aloud.

Then Peter remembered that Unc' Billy Possum had told him that it was necessary to eat a great deal so as to be very fat before going to sleep, for that was the way to keep warm all winter. So Peter started out to grow fat. This would be fun, the very best kind of fun, for there is nothing Peter Rabbit loves more than to fill his stomach, unless it is to satisfy his curiosity.

Peter Rabbit's stomach is

A thing that's most amazing;

It takes so long to fill it up

His time is short for lazing.

Perhaps this is the reason why, when Peter isn't eating, he wants to loaf around and watch other people work. Anyway, Peter is a tremendous eater, and now that he wanted to grow fat, he felt that he must eat more than ever. So he began at once to eat and eat and eat. But there was one very important thing that Peter had forgotten. He had quite forgotten that it was now late in the fall, and the tender, young, green things which Peter dearly loves to eat were gone. He could no longer go down to the sweet clover patch and fill himself full to bursting. Farmer Brown had taken away all the cabbages and carrots and turnips that had made his garden so attractive to Peter.

So now Peter had to hunt for what he had to eat. That made a great deal of running about, and it is very hard work to grow fat when one runs about. The more Peter ate, the more he had to hunt for his food; and the more he had to hunt for his food, the more he had to run about; and the more he had to run about, the more he hurried and the faster he ran. Now, of course running takes fat off.

"Oh, dear!" cried Peter Rabbit. "Getting fat is not as easy as I thought!"

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