This post is inspired by all the anecdotes Cate has read to me from fairy tale anthologies about how scarring people find the grim, gloomy world of Hans Christian Andersen.
Once, there was a small rabbit named Peter. Peter had a mother and three sisters. He did not have a father because his father had been foolish. He went snooping in Mr. McGregor’s garden and found himself made into a pie. Because of his father’s absence, Peter and his family were starving.
Peter’s mother always told her children never to venture into the garden. “I would rather starve than lose one of you the way I lost your father.” But Peter did not like watching his mother and sister go hungry, and, ignoring his mother’s warnings, ventured into the garden where there was plenty for all to eat. It didn’t take long for Peter to run into Mr. McGregor who was working just on the other side of a cucumber frame. Mr. McGregor did not take kindly to having his vegetables taken.
Peter tried to run, but he was too weak from hunger. Mr. McGregor snatched him up, gave his neck a quick twist, and that was that. “Scrawny thing,” he said. “He’ll hardly make a decent stew.”
Peter’s mother and sisters feared the worst and waited all night for his return. It wasn’t until the next morning they finally learned the fate of their poor son and brother. Mr. McGregor was out in the forest chopping wood for the winter when Mrs. McGregor came out with a steaming pot. “You were right about that wee rabbit,” she said. Hardly any meat on him. Still, he’ll eat just fine in this.” Mr. McGregor and his wife sat down beneath the very tree concealing the rabbit family’s burrow. Peter’s mother and sisters sat quivering as the McGregors slurped up Peter’s remains and the scent of the stew filled their small burrow.