Note: This is a re-post from Charlotte’s blog.
You know that you’ve read a book too many times when… things like this start to bother you.
Charlotte has recently rediscovered The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and now we’ve been reading it several times a day for the past week or so. So I’ve been staring at the book a lot lately. Which is my only excuse here.
On page 2, old Mrs. Rabbit declares that she’s going out, and sends Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter off into the fields or down the lane, with a warning not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden. So far, so good. But look again: as Mrs. Rabbit preps her children for their day, there’s someone spying on the Rabbit family.
Who is this rabbit? There are only two other rabbit characters even mentioned in the book: Mr. Rabbit, who was apparently was put into a pie by Mr. McGregor at some undetermined past date, and Peter’s cousin Benjamin Bunny, who seems to have had some kind of a bad run-in with a cat but lived to tell the tale.
So who is this? Benjamin Bunny? We have no reason to think that he even lives nearby. Mr. Rabbit? Why would he fake his own empiement? More ominously, some unknown third party? It’s a mystery wrapped in fur.
Follow-up: My colleague S suggests that the mystery rabbit is Mrs. Rabbit’s lover, and that her trip to the baker’s is just a ruse. They are, after all, rabbits. S is far more cynical than I had previously given her credit for.
I think it’s Benjamin Bunny. In tales where he appears, he’s wearing a brown jacket, and it looks like the rabbit in the back ground is (you can see the hit of brown sleeves behind his front paws.
So Benjamin is my guess.
Though it could be Mrs. Rabbits lover too I suppose. And rabbits do live in warrens, so it could also just be some random passerby or neighbor.
Thanks ShelbyLynn! That’s the most satisfactory answer to this question I’ve yet had. And it shows how not familiar I am with the rest of the Beatrix Potter corpus.
It’s Benjamin Bunny.
It is Benjamin, Peter’s cousin. If you read more of the stories, you’ll find that Benjamin helps Peter get his coat back from Mr. McGregor’s scarecrow. He & Peter almost get nabbed by the cat, but Benjamin’s father rescues them & takes them back home. So yes, Benjamin lives nearby. He’s sneaking over, because (as you’ll find in the story) he’s avoiding his aunt, Peter’s mother.