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Prickly Needles

By Marina Fateeva

Once upon a time in a green forest, there lived two little hedgehogs. They were neighbors and lived in two separate trees. In the afternoons they would pick mushrooms and berries. Then they would rest on the green grass under the warm rays of the sun. At night, they would hide under their trees.

The nights were very cold and wet in the forest. A thick fog covered the trees and the grass was like a white sheet. The hedgehogs collected leaves and grass to shelter themselves from the cold, but this did not always help.

Sometimes, they would shiver all through the night. Then, in the morning, they would turn their faces up to feel the bright sunshine beaming down on them.

One early morning, a rabbit was running through the grass and noticed the two hedgehogs shivering in the cold.

“What happened to you?” the rabbit asked the hedgehogs.

“We are very cold at night,” cried the hedgehogs.

“Rabbits are never cold!” the rabbit said cheerfully. “All of us gather into one large rabbit hole, press up against each other, and our fur becomes like a large blanket. We feel very warm and cozy!”

The rabbit left and the hedgehogs were confused. “We each have our own trees,” one of the hedgehogs said. “And we each have our own beds and our own supply of berries and mushrooms,” the other hedgehog responded.

The hedgehogs looked at each other and went their separate ways.

At night, dark clouds filled the sky above the forest. A strong wind blew and the air grew very cold. Then heavy rain starting pouring down.

The hedgehogs ran under their trees and covered themselves with the branches and leaves they had gathered. But the rain was too strong, and it was getting colder by the minute. The poor hedgehogs were soaked, and their teeth chattered from the cold.

Suddenly, one of them remembered what the rabbit had told them.

‘Maybe it’s true!’ he thought. ‘Maybe I should be with my neighbor! Together we can be warmer!’ He stuck his nose out from under his tree. It was a dark and windy night in the forest, and the rain was heavy. But in an act of bravery, the hedgehog ran over to his neighbor’s tree.

“I am so glad you came!” the other hedgehog said. “I was just about to run to you. Let’s try to hug each other like the rabbits and cover ourselves with leaves. Maybe then we will be warmer.”

And the hedgehogs tried to hug each other.

“Ouch!” one of them screamed.

“Ouch!” the other repeated angrily.

“You are pricking me with your needles!” they shouted in unison and looked at each other in pain.

But just as they were about to part, a very loud roar of thunder sounded above them and a bright flash of lightening lit up the sky. The hedgehogs lowered their needles in fear and hugged each other with all their might. They hid by the roots of the tree, covered themselves with leaves, and suddenly… they felt warmth spreading over their bodies.

“Wow!” one of the hedgehogs said.

“This is really something!” said the other.

“And all we had to do was lower our needles!” they both said at once.

As rain continued to pour through the night, the hedgehogs fell into a deep sleep in each other’s arms. They were warm and happy.

When morning came, they dug one big hole under the thickest tree in the forest and made a bed from grass and leaves. They built another hole to store all of their berries and mushrooms. And their lives together were cozy and warm.

When they saw their friend, the rabbit, they thanked him for the great advice he had given them. Neverbeforehadtheybeensohappy!

The news about the two hedgehogs, now living happily together as friends, quickly spread through the whole forest. Other hedgehogs, who had lived alone, asked to join them in their home. The hedgehog-friends taught them to lower their needles, and the family of hedgehogs grew even bigger.

The hedgehogs made their hole under the tree a lot bigger to fit all who wanted to join them. In the morning they collected berries and mushrooms, and at night they slept, feeling the warmth and love of each other.

When winter came, they were warm and well fed. But most of all, they had learned to love and care for each other by lowering their needles and thinking not of themselves, but of each other.

The group of hedgehogs lived happily ever after in their home in the forest, and the warmth that they created together spread through the forest, to all the other animals. It was the warmth of love, goodness, and friendship.

Illustrations: Yelena Strokin

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