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The Velveteen Rabbit

Georgia Mckenzie






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The Velveteen Rabbit

Tuck yourself into bed, quiet your mind and prepare to nod off as Georgia Mckenzie recites an old classic, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

Let's settle in for a night of

deep sleep with this story, The

Velveteen Rabbit by Marjorie Williams.

There was once a Velveteen Rabbit.

And in the beginning,

he was really splendid.

He was fat and bunchy

as a rabbit should be.

His coat was spotted brown and white.

He had real thread whiskers and his

ears were lined with pink sateen.

On Christmas morning, when he sat

wedged in the top of the Boy's stocking

with a spring of holly, between

his paws, the effect was charming.

There were other things in the stocking.

Nuts and oranges and a toy engine and

chocolate almonds, and a clockwork mouse.

But the Rabbit was quite the best of all.

For at least two hours, the Boy loved him.

And then aunts and uncles came to

dinner and there was a great rustling of

tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels.

And in the excitement of looking

at all the new presents, the

Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.

For a long time, he lived in the toy

cupboard or on the nursery floor.

And no one thought very much about him.

He was naturally shy and being only

made a velveteen, some of the more

expensive toys quite snubbed him.

The mechanical toys were very superior

and looked down upon everyone else.

They were full of modern ideas

and pretended they were real.

The model boat who had lived through

two seasons and lost most of his paint,

caught the tone from them and never

missed an opportunity of referring

to his rigging in technical terms.

The Rabbit could not claim to be

a model of anything for he didn't

know that real rabbits existed.

He thought they were all stuffed

with sawdust like himself.

And he understood that sawdust was

quite out of date and should never

be mentioned in modern circles.

Even Timothy, the jointed wooden

lion, who was made by the disabled

soldiers and should have had broader

views, put on airs and pretended

he was connected with government.

Between them all the poor little

Rabbit was made to feel himself

very insignificant and commonplace.

And the only person who was kind

to him at all was the Skin Horse.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in

the nursery than any of the others.

He was so old that his brown

coat was bald in patches and

showed the seams underneath.

And most of the hairs in his tail had

been pulled out to string bead necklaces.

He was wise for, he had seen a

long succession of mechanical

toys arrive to boast and swagger.

And by and by, break their

main springs and pass away.

And he knew that they were only

toys and would never turn into

anything else for nursery magic

is very strange and wonderful.

And only those play things that are

old and wise and experience like the

Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is real?"

asked the Rabbit one day when they were

lying side by side near the nursery

fender before Nana came to tidy the room.

"Does it mean having things that buzz

inside you and a stick out handle?"

"Real isn't how you were

made," said the Skin Horse.

"It's a thing that happens to you when

a child loves you for a long, long time.

Not just to play with,

but really loves you.

Then you become real."

"Does it hurt?"

asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse

for he was always truthful.

"When you are real, you

don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once like

being wound up or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at

once," said the Skin Horse.

"You become.

It takes a long time.

That's why it doesn't happen often to

people who break easily or have sharp

edges or have to be carefully kept."

Generally, by the time you are real,

most of your hair has been loved off

and your eyes drop out and you get

loose at the joints and very shabby."

"But these things don't matter at all.

Because once you are real,

you can't be ugly except to

people who don't understand."

"I suppose you were real?"

said the rabbit.

Then he wished he had not said it for he

thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's uncle made me real," he said.

"That was a great many years

ago, but once you are real,

you can't become unreal again.

It lasts forever."

The Rabbit sighed.

He thought it would be a long time before

this magic called real happened to him.

He longed to become real,

to know what it was like.

And yet the idea of growing

shabby and losing his eyes

and whiskers was rather sad.

He wished that he could become

it without these uncomfortable

things happening to him.

There was a person called

Nana who ruled the nursery.

Sometimes she took no notice

of the play things lying about.

And sometimes for no reason whatsoever,

she went swooping about like a great

wind and hustled them away in cupboards.

She called this tidying up

and the play things all hated

it, especially the tin ones.

The Rabbit didn't mind it so much for

whenever he was thrown, he came down soft.

One evening when the Boy was going to

bed, he couldn't find the porcelain

dog that always slept with him.

Nana was in a hurry and it was

too much trouble to hunt for

porcelain dogs at bed time.

So she simply looked about her

and seeing that the toy cupboard

doors stood open, she made a swoop.

"Here," she said.

"Take your old bunny.

He'll do to sleep with you."

And she dragged the Rabbit out by one

ear and put him into the Boy's arms.

That night, and for many nights after, the

Velveteen Rabbit slept in the Boy's bed.

At first, he found it rather

uncomfortable for the Boy hugged him

very tight, and sometimes he rolled

over on him and sometimes he pushed

him so far under the pillow that

the Rabbit could scarcely breathe.

And he missed too, those long

moonlight hours in the nursery

when all the house was silent and

his talks with the Skin Horse.

But very soon he grew to like it for

the Boy used to talk to him and make

nice tunnels for him under the bed

cloths that he said were like the

burrows the real rabbits lived in.

And they had splendid games together

in whispers when Nana had gone away

to her supper and left the nightlight

burning on the mantle piece.

And when the Boy dropped off, the Rabbit

would snuggle down close under his little

warm chin and dream with the Boy's hands

clasped, close around him all night long.

And so time went on and the

little Rabbit was very happy.

So happy that he never noticed how his

beautiful velveteen fur was getting

shabbier and shabbier and his tail

becoming unsewn and all the pink rubbed

off his nose where the Boy had kissed him.

Spring came.

And they had long days in the

garden for wherever the Boy

went, the Rabbit went too.

He had rides in the wheelbarrow and

picnics on the grass and lovely fairy

huts built for him under the raspberry

canes behind the flower border.

And once, when the Boy was called away

suddenly to go out to tea, the Rabbit

was left out on the lawn until long

after dusk and Nana had to come and look

for him with a candle because the Boy

couldn't go to sleep unless he was there.

He was wet through with the dew and quite

earthy from diving into the burrows the

Boy had made for him in the flower bed.

And Nana grumbled as she rubbed

him off with a corner of her apron.

"You must have your old bunny," she said.

"Fancy all that fuss for a toy."

The Boy sat up in bed and

stretched out his hands.

"Give me my bunny," he said.

"You mustn't say that.

He isn't a toy.

He's real."

When the little Rabbit heard that, he

was very happy for a knew that what the

Skin Horse had said was true at last.

The nursery magic had happened to

him and he was a toy no longer.

He was real.

The Boy himself had said it.

That night, he was almost

too happy to sleep.

And so much love stirred in his little

sawdust heart that it almost burst.

And into his boot button eyes that

had long ago lost their polish, there

came a look of wisdom and beauty,

so that even Nana noticed it next

morning when she picked him up and

said, "I declare if that old bunny

hasn't got quite a knowing expression."

That was a wonderful summer.

Near the house where they

lived, there was a wood.

And in the long June evenings, the Boy

liked to go there after tea to play.

He took the Velveteen Rabbit with him.

And before he wandered off to pick flowers

or play at brigands among the trees.

He always made the Rabbit a little

nest somewhere among the bracken

where he would be quite cozy for

he was a kindhearted little Boy and

he liked bunny to be comfortable.

One evening while the Rabbit was lying

there alone, watching the ants that ran

to and fro between his velvet paws in

the grass, he saw two strange beings

creep out of the tall bracken near him.

They were rabbits like himself,

but quite furry and brand new.

They must have been very well-made

for their seams didn't show it all.

And they changed shape in a

queer way when they moved.

One minute, they were long and thin.

And the next minute, fat and bunchy.

Instead of always staying

the same, like he did.

Their feet padded softly on the ground and

they crept quite close to him twitching

their noses while the Rabbit stared hard

to see which side the clockwork stuck out.

For he knew that people who jump

generally have something to wind

them up, but he couldn't see it.

They were evidently a new

kind of rabbit altogether.

They stared at him and the

little Rabbit stared back.

And all the time their noses twitched.

"Why don't you get up and play with us?"

one of them asked.,

"I don't feel like it," said the Rabbit.

For he didn't want to explain

that he had no clockwork.


said the furry rabbit.

"It's as easy as anything."

And he gave a big hop sideways

and stood on his hind legs.

"I don't believe you can," he said.

"I can," said the little Rabbit.

"I can jump higher than anything."

He meant when the Boy threw him.

But of course he didn't want to say so.

"Can you hop on your hind legs?"

asked the furry rabbit.

That was a dreadful question.

For the Velveteen Rabbit

had no hind legs at all.

The back of him was made all in

one piece, like a pin cushion.

He sat still in the bracken and hoped

that the other rabbits wouldn't notice.

"I don't want to," he said again.

But the wild rabbits have

very sharp eyes and this one

stretched out his neck and looked.

"He hasn't got any hind

legs," he called out.

"Fancy a rabbit without any hind legs."

And he began to laugh.

"I have!"

cried the little rabbit.

"I have got hind legs.

I'm sitting on them."

"Then stretch them out and show me,

like this," said the wild rabbit, and

he began to whirl round and dance till

the little rabbit got quite dizzy.

"I don't like dancing," he said.

"I'd rather sit still."

But all the while he was longing to

dance for a funny new tickly feeling

ran through him and he felt he would

give anything in the world to be able

to jump about like these rabbits did.

The strange rabbit stopped

dancing and came quite close.

He came so close this time

that his long whiskers brushed

the Velveteen Rabbit's ear.

And then he wrinkled his nose suddenly.

And flattened his ears

and jumped backwards.

"He doesn't smell right!"

he exclaimed.

"He isn't a rabbit at all.

He isn't real."

"I am real," said the little Rabbit.

"I am real.

The Boy said so."

And he nearly began to cry.

Just then there was a sound of footsteps

and the Boy ran past near them.

And with a stamp of feet and a

flash of white tails, the two

strange rabbits disappeared.

"Come back and play with me,"

called the little Rabbit.

"Oh, do come back.

I know I am real."

But there was no answer.

Only the little ants ran to and

fro, and the bracken swayed gently

where the two strangers had passed.

The Velveteen Rabbit was all alone.

"Oh, dear," he thought.

"Why did they run away like that?

Why couldn't they stop and talk to me?"

For a long time he lay very still watching

the bracken and hoping that they would

come back, but they never returned.

And presently, the sun sank lower and

the little white moths flooded out

and the Boy came and carried him off.

Weeks passed and the little Rabbit

grew very old and shabby, but

the Boy loved him just as much.

He loved him so hard that he

loved all his whiskers off and

the pink lining to his ears turned

gray and his brown spots faded.

He even began to lose his shape

and he scarcely looked like a

rabbit anymore, except to the Boy.

To him, he was always beautiful

and that was all that the

little Rabbit cared about.

He didn't mind how he looked

to other people because the

nursery magic had made him real.

And when you are real,

shabbiness doesn't matter.

And then one day, the Boy was ill.

His face grew very flushed and he

talked in his sleep and his little

body was so hot that it burned

the Rabbit when he held him close.

Strange people came and went in

the nursery and a light burned

all night and through it, all the

Velveteen Rabbit lay there hidden

from sight under the bed clothes.

And he never stirred.

For he was afraid that if they found

him, someone might take him away

and he knew that the Boy needed him.

It was a long weary time for the

Boy was too ill to play and the

little Rabbit found it rather dull

with nothing to do all day long.

But he snuggled down patiently

and looked forward to the time

when the Boy should be well again.

And then they could go out into the

garden amongst the flowers and the

butterflies and play splendid games in

the raspberry thicket like they used to.

All sorts of delightful things he planned.

And while the Boy lay half asleep,

he crept up close to the pillow

and whispered them in his ear.

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 onto the balcony.

Wrapped in a shawl and the

little Rabbit lay tangled up

among the bedclothes thinking.

The Boy was going to the seaside tomorrow.

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 bed clothes 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.


thought the little Rabbit.

"Tomorrow we shall go to the seaside."

For the Boy had often talked to

the seaside and he very much wanted

to see the big waves coming in and

the tiny crabs and the sandcastles.

Just then Nana caught sight of him.

"How about his old bunny?"

she asked.


said the doctor.

"Why it's a mass of scarlet fever germs.

Burn it at once!



Get him a new one.

He mustn't have that anymore."

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 tomorrow, 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.

Nearby 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

summer 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 was real.

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 ground.

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

they grew in the garden.

It had slender green leaves, the color

of emeralds and in the center 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 open and

out of it there stepped a fairy.

She was quite the loveliest

fairy in the whole world.

Her dress was of pearl and dewdrops

and there were flowers around 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 velvety

nose that was all damp from crying.

"Little Rabbit," she said.

"Don't, you know who I am?

The Rabbit looked up at her and it

seemed to him that he had seen her face

before, but he couldn't think where.

"I am the Nursery Magic Fairy," she said.

"I take care of all the play things

that the children have loved.

When they are old and worn out and

the children don't need them anymore

then I come and take them away

with me and turn them into real."

"Wasn't I real before?

asked the little Rabbit.

"You were real to the

Boy," the Fairy said.

"Because he loved you.

Now you shall be real to everyone."

And she held the little Rabbit close in

her arms and flew with him into the wood.

It was light now for the moon had risen.

All the forest was beautiful

and the fronds of bracken

shone like frosted silver.

In the open glade between the tree

trunks, the wild rabbits danced with

their shadows on the velvet grass.

But when they saw the Fairy, they

all stopped dancing and stood

round in a ring to stare at her.

"I've brought you a new play

fellow," the Fairy said.

"You must be very kind to him and

teach him all he needs to know

in Rabbit Land for he is going to

live with you forever and ever."

And she kissed the little Rabbit

again and put him down on the grass.

"Run and play little Rabbit," she said.

But the little Rabbit sat quite

still for a moment and never moved.

For when he saw all the wild rabbits

dancing around him, he suddenly

remembered about his hind legs

and he didn't want them to see

that he was made all in one piece.

He did not know that when the

Fairy kissed him that last time

she had changed him altogether.

And he might've sat there a

long time, too shy to move.

If just then, something

hadn't tickled his nose.

And before he thought what he was doing,

he lifted his hind toe to scratch it.

And he found that he

actually had hind legs.

Instead of dingy velveteen, he

had brown fur, soft and shiny.

His ears twitched by themselves.

And his whiskers were so long

that they brushed the grass.

He gave one leap and the joy of

using those hind legs were so great

that he went springing about the

turf on them, jumping sideways and

whirling round as the others did.

And he grew so excited that

when at last he did stop to look

for the Fairy, she had gone.

He was a real rabbit at last,

at home with the other rabbits.

Autumn passed and winter.

And in the spring, when the days grew

warm and sunny, the Boy went out to

play in the wood behind the house.

And while he was playing two rabbits crept

out from the bracken and peeped at him.

One of them was brown all over, but the

other had strange markings under his fur,

as though long ago he had been spotted

and the spots still showed through.

And about his little soft

nose and his round black eyes,

there was something familiar.

So that the Boy thought to himself, "Why!

He looks just like my old bunny that

was lost when I had scarlet fever."


he never knew that it really was his

own bunny come back to look at the child

who had first helped him to be real.

The end.

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