A Story for Children:
Little Ben was feeling very sad.
“What kind of hedgehog am I,” he asked, “when I haven’t got a single prick, or single spike, on my back?”
And it was true. His back was very soft, very spikeless and very un-hedgehoggy.
So Little Ben moped, and moped, and thrice moped. First on his sofa. Then on his hearth rug. And finally on his bed. But still he felt sad.
So he sat himself down to have a think. He sat, and thought, and sat, and thought, and sat, and thought.
And outside the sun floated featherlike down to the horizon and the moon got up.
Then, suddenly, Little Ben had an idea!
“I know,” he said, “I’ll go out this very night and collect loads of holly leaves, twigs and sticks. And then I’ll sort out the most pricky and spikey of them and glue them on my back!”
Well, he was so pleased with the idea he began to skip and dance from one end of his house to the other. He skipped over to his thick warm coat — for it was very cold outside — then he danced over to his store cupboard where he kept a candle lanter and a spare washing line.
“That should come in useful for tieing up the sticks into a bundle,” he thought.
And so farmed, he stepped out of his house and into the dark, cold night.Little Ben hated the woods at night. All the trees seemed to turn into monsters, and ghosts sang to each other in the tree tops. It was very scary.
But Little Ben trudged on.
Soon he found somewhere to rest his lantern and began to search for sticks.
They weren’t very difficult to find and soon he had a huge pile of holly leaves, twigs and sticks. Plus a whole branch from a hawthorn tree!
So he tied them up into a bundle, collected his lantern, and tried to drag them home.
But they wouldn’t budge.
So he heaved, and heaved, and heaved, and suddenly the entire pile jerked forwards and Little Ben lost his balance and fell flat on his face!
And, worse of all, his candle lantern dropped from his hands, rolled over, and over, and over, and went out!
Without the lantern’s light it was very, very dark and Little Ben felt very, very scared.
A hooting sound came from the tree tops. Then a loud screech and a flapping of wings.
“Demons!” thought Little Ben. “Ghosts!”
And then he heard something even worse! A rustling sound in the undergrowth. And it was coming towards him.
Well, Little Ben was so terrified he rushed blindly backwards to where he thought his pile of sticks were, felt his way to where he thought the back of it was, and hid behind it.
A few minutes limped past before Little Ben could poke his head out from behind his hiding place and strain to see what was coming out of the undergrowth.
For a moment he saw nothing. Bet then a small, bent figure appeared, holding aloft a lantern. it was a hedgehog!
“Hello,” said the hedgehog. “What are you hiding behind there for?”
“I thought you were a monster,” said Little Ben.
“Bless me, no,” said the hedgehog. And then for the first time seemed to notice the huge pile of sticks, and twigs Little Ben had collected.
“What are you doing with all these sticks?” he asked. “Going to build a bonfire?”
“Why no,” said Little Ben. And he toled the hedgehog his problem. He had no spikes! And he showed him his back to prove it.
Much to Little Ben’s surprise, the hedgehog laughed! In fact, he curled up into such a tight ball, and rocked back and forwards so much, Little Ben thought he was going to burst!
“I’m sorry, little fellow,” he said at last, brushing a final tear of laughter from his eyes. “But it’s plan to me, you’re not a hedgehog, you’re a guinea-pig, don’t you see?”
“A guinea-pig!” said Little Ben.
“A guinea-pig,” said the hedgehog. “And a very handsome, very nice guinea-pig too.”
©John Steele, 1991, 2008
Yes, I drew the tree as well.