Mr. Bunny woke up one morning and stretched wide.
“Today is the big day!” he said.
That afternoon, he had a big tea party planned; the whole town had been invited. He had arranged for the best Indian Darjeeling, delivered on the backs of camels, and the finest British damson plum jelly. Among his duties that morning was to bake the biscuits and toast the crumpets. He had a very full day ahead.
So he sprang right up out of bed, ears perky and little tail bobbing, to wash up and get dressed.
But when he looked in his closet, he was dismayed to discover the one thing he’d overlooked: he had nothing to wear!
“Oh, dear,” he muttered. “This will not do at all. I must wear something fitting!”
He had three suits, which he had supposed he could wear; but one was with the laundress, one was on loan to his neighbor who was away on a trip, and the third was a gift from his cousin that he could not bear to be seen in, for it had roses embroidered on the front.
Now Mr. Bunny was unmarried, and he hadn’t any money to pay the tailor for a suitable waistcoat (after buying the tea and the jelly); so he pulled a sewing box from under the cupboard and dragged a heavy sewing machine table from the back room. In no time he had strewn over the dining room table a very pretty pine green tweed, with pattern pieces copied from Mrs. Rebecca Rabbit a few burrows over pinned to it. He had cut out some of the pieces when he unrolled the last of the fabric and found – to his dismay – that he hadn’t enough tweed to finish his waistcoat! No matter how he arranged the pieces, they would never all fit!
“Oh, no!” he cried. “What am I to do?” And he thought and thought, pacing anxiously in his dining room.
Finally, he decided, “I will make the biscuits and crumpets, which must be done; and anyway, I already have the crumpets risen on the counter. The biscuits should really be served fresh, but if we put them by the stove, they might be fit to eat. And after all that, I shall see if Giselle is done with the laundry. Else I shall have to ask if anyone has green tweed.”
He was about an hour in the kitchen, and after putting the biscuits and crumpets in a basket by the fire, threw on a coat to go out.
Mr. Bunny arrived at the house of the laundry-woman, just as she pulled his tweed suit from a bucket of soapy water!
“Ms. Giselle Gosling,” he asked the motherly old goose, “When do you think my suit shall be done?”
“Well,” she honked. “It still must be put a few hours in the boiling, then an hour in beating, and when it’s rinsed it’ll be a day and a night to dry. Not to mention, the sun has been fickle, and I can’t say it won’t be longer. What, do you need it?”
“Oh, Mrs. Gosling! It’s just dreadful. I have a party this afternoon and nothing to wear.”
“Yes, I said I was coming. What’s wrong with what you have on?”
“Can you imagine hosting a tea party in a huge coat like this?” he lamented, fiddling with his coat. “Mrs. Gosling, have you any green tweed?”
“No,” said she. “I don’t wear tweed! It itches.”
So he walked to the market where a tradesman was selling textiles. His name was Sheldon Sheep, and he was white and woolly all over.
“Have you any tweed, Mr. Sheep?” Mr. Bunny asked.
“Baah!” said Sheldon. “I’m so sorry, sir. I just sold my last yard. The next shipment is in a week. Can you wait?”
“No,” said Mr. Bunny. “I’m afraid it must be this afternoon.”
“Then I would see if the tailor had anything to spare, baah!” said the sheep.
Then he jogged to the tailor’s shop in the middle of town. Mr. Timothy Titmouse was making the final adjustments to a very pretty silk waistcoat when Mr. Bunny stumbled in.
“My goodness,” he chirped. “What is the matter with you?”
“I have come to beg if you have any green tweed to spare,” said Mr. Bunny. “I shall pay in cash if you do!”
“Oh, for the party, I suppose,” snuffed the titmouse, who was himself encapsulated in a pretty green silk suit. “No, I’m afraid not. I got a rash of orders for the party and am fresh out. The new shipment hasn’t come in, either.”
“Great botheration!” cried Mr. Bunny. “Well, I do thank you for the hospitality. Goodbye now!”
“Goodbye,” replied the titmouse, as Beckett flew out, a bewildered mess.
After that, he checked Mrs. Rabbit’s house. She was always sewing; surely she’d have something.
“Oh, no”, she said. “I’m sorry, Beckett! I haven’t had any tweed for months. The boys have been very careful with their suits since the last time they played in that awful rain storm!”
“Well, I thought I would check,” he replied cordially. “Thank you much!”
And so on and so forth Mr. Bunny spent the whole morning. So desperate was he that he visited that nasty old Mr. Fox, who slammed the door on him for asking! The last visit he paid was to Bertha Badger, who was more docile in her old age but still had a violent temper (especially after the farmer caught her husband last summer).
He knocked on the door, and old Mrs. Badger’s nose peeped out. “What do you want?” she grumbled.
“Some tweed, please!” he squeaked. Then he remembered his manners. “I am visiting to inquire if you had any tweed I could use,” he said.
“Aren’t you supposed to be preparing for a party?” she asked. “I‘mm not going, by the way.”
“Thank you for telling me.” He had figured as much from the lack of a response and was secretly relieved. “But I need something to wear for the party and I‘mm all out of tweed!”
After a long pause, she said, “I have some red tweed from my husband.”
“Oh!” he cried. “Not pine green?”
“Do you want it or not?”
He was rapidly running out of time to finish the suit. “I’ll take it,” he said sheepishly.
She retreated back into the burrow and returned carrying a huge bundle of a handsome scarlet tweed, which she promptly dumped on him.
“Thank you!” he squeaked.
She growled, “Leave me alone, before I eat you!” And she disappeared into the tunnels.
“What rotten manners!” he thought. “But I will have to make do. There’s no time now!”
So he rolled the huge length of wool back to his den and got to work. He would have started fresh over with the new color, but he had no time to re-cut the pieces, or even to put in a proper lining. Mr. Bunny worked furiously, cutting and sewing, throwing bits of scrap hither and yon. Finally, he had it thrown together and put it on.
The front was green and the back was red, and the shoulders didn’t set just right as they should have! He would have thrown it off, but he had only 15 minutes to spare for preparations before the guests arrived. So he put it from his mind and did his very best to make a right proper spread.
Finally, the guests began to arrive! My. Bunny stood at the front door and greeted every visitor with a smile. He was nervous about the silly waistcoat, keeping his back to the wall, and hoping no one would see.
Once everyone was seated, he began to pour the tea, regaling them splendidly of its marvelous properties and the great journey it had to take to get to his humble abode. Now by this time he had somewhat forgotten the ridiculous waistcoat, and turned about to fetch the new dainties as the scones and finger sandwiches ran short.
When he returned, a few of the ladies were eyeing him curiously. He pretended to not notice, passing out the biscuits, and making a good show of comfort; but he knew they had seen his backside, and it made him sweat something awful!
“Oh, good Lord!” he prayed. “Please, don‘tt let them say anything! Not a word!”
And they didn’t; the tea party was a smashing hit, and not one comment about the waistcoat, but many on the wonderful teas and scrumptious cakes. When everyone had gone, Mr. Beckett Bunny wiped his brow and gave a great sigh of relief. He had well convinced himself that no one had seen the silly waistcoat at all!
But when they all went out to church that weekend, Mr. Bunny met up with the Rabbits as he usually did, and noticed that Mr. Rabbit had a brand-new yellow waistcoat on.
“Why, Mr. Rabbit,” he said politely. “What a fine waistcoat you‘vee got on! Is it new?”
“Yes it is, Beckett,” he replied. “We all thought your coat at the party was so fine, I asked Rebecca to make one just like it.”
He turned about, and Beckett saw that the back of it was lime green!
His eyes bulged. “My waistcoat? You liked it? We liked it? Who?”
“All of us!” he said jovially. “Tuttles Toad saw it first, actually, since he was first in. It was rather conspicuous.’
“O-oh,” stammered Mr. Bunny. “But then why didn’t you say anything?”
“Well, you looked so dreadfully uncomfortable about it! Why would we have said anything?”
Mr. Bunny was finally at a loss for words. He was staring at Mr. Rabbit, very rudely, when Mr. Toad walked up to them wearing a sporty red waistcoat, with purple on the back.
“Shall we go in?” he asked. “It’s almost time for the sermon to start.”
At that moment, Beckett looked around and saw the backs of all the churchgoers as they went inside. As they turned, every man changed his coat in an instant, from blue to yellow, from green to orange, and so on through the whole spectrum of color, and it looked as if all the colors flashed at him like Christmas ornaments. It seemed every man in the village had copied his waistcoat from the party!
As he looked around, he noticed one more visitor. Bertha Badger was hanging at the outskirts of the crowd and watching them.
“Yes,” he said. “Let’s go inside.”
Bertha did not go into the church. But when Beckett came out again, she plodded right over to where he was standing, and he stood stock still with anticipation. She seemed like she wanted to say something.
“Seems they liked ol’ hubs tweed, eh?” she asked.
“I guess so,” he replied, a little bewildered. Then his ears pricked up, and he turned to her suddenly. “By the way, I don’t think I ever thanked you. How rude of me!”
Bertha stared at him. She seemed surprised.
“Perhaps you could join me for tea,” he said. “I have a few leftover sandwiches. It would be wonderful if you could come.”
Bertha blinked, then looked one way, then the other – then she turned around as if to leave, while staying in the same spot. Finally, she turned around again, with a strained expression as if she were trying to smile (or not smile; it was hard to tell), and a handkerchief in her paw.
“Of course I will come,” she said.
“Let us be off, then,” he replied. “I think you will find the Darjeeling just splendid.”
One thought on “Mr. Bunny and the Ridiculous Waistcoat”
I love your story. Mr. Bunnysets the fashion. So sweet.