The Velveteen Rabbit asked the Rabbit, "How can I be real?" and the Rabbit told him, so the Velveteen Rabbit was happy because he had been loved and he was real.
And there were other Rabbits, fresh and new, no patches, no worn spots, untouched and unloved, they will find owners and with love, be made real.
What of the Cotton Rabbit? He is soft, his eyes are buttons and his nose is string. In most ways he is like the Velveteen Rabbit.
But he is a nothing, a little bit of cotton, a little bit of string, two ten-cent buttons, all together they make nothing.
He wanted to be a real Rabbit. He was once new and beautiful, and he had dreams of being a real Rabbit. They were beautiful dreams of warmth and sunshine. For a while, he thought he might be a real Rabbit, he was bought, he was carried, he was wrapped.
Then for a moment, he was in the hands of a little boy, unwrapped and shining, then cast aside, wrapped up again in a cardboard box, and stored away for sometime.
He was there for too long, and he forgot he wanted to be real. He forgot he was a Rabbit. Rabbits live in the grass and the light, and the Cotton Rabbit lived in an attic. When you live in an attic, you can be a box, you can be a mouse, you can even be a squirrel, but you cannot be a Rabbit.
Rabbits can live in a room with a child; that can make them a real Rabbit.
But an attic cannot make a bit of cotton and string and ten-cent buttons real. It cannot even make them into a Rabbit. An attic can only make them into a thing of fabric and stuffing that takes up a Rabbit-shaped space.
Years passed. The Cotton Rabbit's fur fell out. A mouse nibbled off one of his buttons, and now it isn't even worth five cents. A squirrel gnawed at his paw until his entrails peeked out like curious clouds, but he did not die.
The Cotton Rabbit did not live, so the attic could not kill him. Yes, he wore away, like the Velveteen Rabbit, but he did not wear away to a peaceful pile of fluff to blow away in a summer wind. It wore away to a patch, a tuft, a nothing. The piece of string hiding behind the Christmas ornaments, a bit of cotton tucked away in a mouse hole.
One day, boy found a button on the dusty floor of the hall, beneath the attic door. He threw it away, but Mother didn't mind, because he had made absolutely sure it didn't fall off of one of his sweaters.