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Start of Story
And presently the fever turned,
and the Boy got better. He was able to sit up in bed and look at
picture-books, while the little Rabbit cuddled close at his side. And
one day, they let him get up and dress.
It was a bright, sunny morning, and the windows stood wide open. They
had carried the Boy out on to the balcony, wrapped in a shawl, and the
little Rabbit lay tangled up among the bedclothes, thinking.
The Boy was going to the seaside to-morrow. Everything was arranged,
and now it only remained to carry out the doctor's orders. They talked
about it all, while the little Rabbit lay under the bedclothes, with
just his head peeping out, and listened. The room was to be
disinfected, and all the books and toys that the Boy had played with
in bed must be burnt.
"Hurrah!" thought the little Rabbit. "To-morrow we shall go to the
seaside!" For the boy had often talked of the seaside, and he wanted
very much to see the big waves coming in, and the tiny crabs, and the
Just then Nana caught sight of him.
"How about his old Bunny?" she asked.
"That?" said the doctor. "Why, it's a mass of scarlet fever
germs!-Burn it at once. What? Nonsense! Get him a new one. He mustn't
have that any more!"
And so the little Rabbit was put into a sack with the old
picture-books and a lot of rubbish, and carried out to the end of the
garden behind the fowl-house. That was a fine place to make a bonfire,
only the gardener was too busy just then to attend to it. He had the
potatoes to dig and the green peas to gather, but next morning he
promised to come quite early and burn the whole lot.
That night the Boy slept in a different bedroom, and he had a new
bunny to sleep with him. It was a splendid bunny, all white plush with
real glass eyes, but the Boy was too excited to care very much about
it. For to-morrow he was going to the seaside, and that in itself was
such a wonderful thing that he could think of nothing else.
And while the Boy was asleep, dreaming of the seaside, the little
Rabbit lay among the old picture-books in the corner behind the
fowl-house, and he felt very lonely. The sack had been left untied,
and so by wriggling a bit he was able to get his head through the
opening and look out. He was shivering a little, for he had always
been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this time his coat had
worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that it was no longer any
protection to him. Near by he could see the thicket of raspberry
canes, growing tall and close like a tropical jungle, in whose shadow
he had played with the Boy on bygone mornings. He thought of those
long sunlit hours in the garden-how happy they were-and a great
sadness came over him. He seemed to see them all pass before him, each
more beautiful than the other, the fairy huts in the flower-bed, the
quiet evenings in the wood when he lay in the bracken and the little
ants ran over his paws; the wonderful day when he first knew that he
He thought of the Skin Horse, so wise and gentle, and all
that he had told him. Of what use was it to be loved and lose one's
beauty and become Real if it all ended like this? And a tear, a real
tear, trickled down his little shabby velvet nose and fell to the
And then a strange thing happened. For where the tear had fallen a
flower grew out of the ground, a mysterious flower, not at all like
any that grew in the garden. It had slender green leaves the colour of
emeralds, and in the centre of the leaves a blossom like a golden cup.
It was so beautiful that the little Rabbit forgot to cry, and just lay
there watching it. And presently the blossom opened, and out of it
there stepped a fairy.
She was quite the loveliest fairy in the whole world. Her dress was of
pearl and dew-drops, and there were flowers round her neck and in her
hair, and her face was like the most perfect flower of all. And she
came close to the little Rabbit and gathered him up in her arms and
kissed him on his velveteen nose that was all damp from crying.