The velveteen rabbit snuck up on me last night. I was reading it to my son, really cruising along, met the skin horse, had the scarlet fever, gotten to the climactic moment of the story, when – BAM – a lump crawled up into my throat and I felt my eyes start to water. How did that happen?
Well, you might be saying, this does happen sometimes, doesn’t it? The story sneaks up on you.
It was the scene when the fairy takes the bedraggled, worn out little rabbit and makes him Real, and he discovers the wonder of his new, hoppy legs before whirling around and joining his new rabbit brothers and sisters in that green field. It’s not that the moment was particularly new or surprising to me; I suspect you, like me, have read and re-read that precious little book so nothing is surprising. Or shouldn’t be, anyway. But it was still something these grown-up eyes needed to see, with its picture of everything sad coming untrue.
Or at least, that’s how I saw it. Maybe you’ll see something else in there. Here it is:
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 have 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 was 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.