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The sick hedgehog

     Magali played in the garden with her doll. It was a warm day. She wore her red overalls with no t-shirt. Suddenly four animals came to her, croaking and squeaking.


First, the pretty magpie arrived. She landed on the grass. Then, from under the hedge came the kind white rabbit, the squirrel with very gentle eyes and the old mouse that lived in the corn field behind the house. The old mouse can be annoying at times. She's always saying: "it's your fault" to everyone.

"We've come to get you, Magali," announced the pretty magpie.

"Your friend, the little hedgehog, is sick," added the kind rabbit.

"He's lost all his spikes. He's all naked like a frog, and he might die," explained the squirrel with very gentle eyes.

"It's your fault," said the old mouse.

"Will you come with us? You have to help him," said the pretty magpie.

"I don't know how to take care of sick hedgehogs," replied Magali.

"Please," begged the sweet little white rabbit. "Come anyway."

"This hedgehog is your friend. He's very sick. He's very sad," the squirrel with very gentle eyes told Magali.

"And it's your fault," repeated the old mouse.

Magali got up and followed the pretty magpie, the kind rabbit, the squirrel with very gentle eyes and the old mouse. She opened the gate at the end of the garden and arrived at the entrance of the wheat field. She hesitated for a moment.

"How far away is it?" asked our young friend.

"It's not far, over there by the stream at the end of the wheat field," said the pretty magpie.

Magali walked across the wheat field-a red spot in the middle of a yellow field of ripe wheat.

She looked beautiful, walking under the warm sun in her red overalls and her brown hair tied in two pretty bunches.

She quickly arrived next to the stream. She walked over to the hedgehog. He was lying down in the long grass. She knew him very well because she had met him several times during her adventures. He really did look very ill. All his spikes had fallen off and were lying on the ground around him. His skin looked like that of a frog.


"What happened?" asked Magali. "How did you lose all your spikes?"

 "I ate one of the mushrooms in the woods."

"You must never eat the mushrooms in the woods," replied Magali. "It's dangerous if you don't know which ones are poisonous and which are safe."

"But it was so pretty!" said the hedgehog.

"Just because it's pretty, it doesn't mean you can eat it," remarked Magali.

"I knew it was his fault," interrupted the old mouse.

"It was red," continued the hedgehog, "with white spots."

"Oh no!" cried Magali. "Not that one! It's the worst of all the mushrooms. My daddy told me that the red mushrooms with white spots are full of a horrible poison. It's a poisonous mushroom."

"I think," added the pretty magpie, "the mushroom is called «Fly Agaric»."


"What shall we do?" Magali asked her friends.

"I have an idea," suggested the pretty magpie. "Let's make our friend hedgehog eat duck eggs all day."

"Why duck eggs?" asked Magali with interest.

"Because I don't like ducks," said the pretty magpie with a disgusted look. "They are dirty animals."

"That's not true," replied Magali. "And just because you don't like ducks, it doesn't mean you can take advantage of our friend being sick to make him eat all their eggs. Those eggs will turn into ducklings."

"I've got another idea," announced the old mouse. "We could give him some old and mouldy cheese with blue and green veins in it."

"Oh. How awful!" said Magali indignantly. "My granny eats cheese like that on her bread, it's disgusting. I am sure that it won't make our friend's spines grow back."

"Then," proposed the kind rabbit, "why don't we put him in the river until tonight. Perhaps the water will make his spines grow back?"

"Oh really!" cried Magali. "The hedgehog isn't a flower. His spines won't grow back just because we put him in water."

"I think I have a better idea," the squirrel with very gentle eyes said timidly. "We could collect some nut shells, smash them into little pieces to make a powder. We could mix the powder with the slime from snail trails to make a cream and rub on the hedgehog's body."

"That's disgusting," replied Magali, "a cream made from snail slime. It's out of the question."


Just then, they heard the sound of leaves and plants rustling behind them. A young fox passed by. He was very handsome.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"We're trying to help a hedgehog," explained Magali. "He's eaten a poisonous mushroom-the Fly Agaric from the woods, and all his spines have dropped off."

"It's his fault," added the old mouse.

"Why don't you ask the old fox of the forest? He knows how to help sick animals."

"Does his live far away?" asked Magali.

"No. Not far. I'll come with you if you like."

The little hedgehog was too sick to go with his friends.


Magali crossed the stream and went into the forest with the pretty magpie, the kind rabbit, and the squirrel with very gentle eyes, the old mouse and the fox cub.

They arrived in a strange place surrounded by enormous rocks of different colours, which rose out of the ground in all directions. In the middle of this surprising chaos stood a dead tree. Its trunk was grey, dry and cracked. Magali noticed a hole between its strong roots.

"This is the den of the old fox of the forest," announced the fox cub.

Magali stepped forward, but she was a bit frightened because next to the tree trunk was a huge cobweb with a very big spider right in the middle. But Magali was a brave little girl and she called the old fox three times:

"Old fox, old fox, old fox."

The old fox came out of his den

"Hello little girl. What do you want?"

"I have a friend who is a hedgehog and he is very sick. All his spikes have dropped off. He might die. It's because he ate a poisonous mushroom: the Fly Agaric. Is there anything we can do to make him better?"

"A Fly Agaric!" said the old fox with concern. "A Fly Agaric. He will probably die."

"It's his fault," added the old mouse.

"Please, can you help him?" insisted Magali.

"I do not know of any medicine or remedy against the poison of the Fly Agaric," responded the old fox, "but we could ask my friend the spider who lives in that pretty cobweb next to my tree."


The spider came closer to our friends. She watched Magali in silence.

"I hate children," she shouted suddenly in a mean voice.

"Why?" asked Magali.

"I hate children because children kill us when they see us. They step on spiders on purpose and squash us under their shoes."

You, dear reader, do you agree with the spider? When you see a spider, what do you do?

"And yet," continued the spider, "we do everything we can to help children. We eat mosquitoes so that they can't bite children in the evening when they sleep. We eat flies that carry infections and microbes. And in return... children hurt us."

"I promise that I will never step on another spider," Magali assured the spider. "Please explain to me how we can help the hedgehog who has lost all his spines?"

"It is not difficult," replied the old spider. "All you have to do is to make him drink bamboo juice."

"Bamboo juice? What's that?" asked Magali.

"Don't you know?" said the spider in surprise. "Find a bamboo plant, cut it in half. Its stalk is hollow and inside the hollow there is a little bit of water which the bamboo plant keeps to drink in case there is a drought. That water inside the bamboo stalk is bamboo juice."

"And where can I find a bamboo plant?" asked Magali.

"Just go to Africa or America or Asia. It grows everywhere in those countries."

"I can't catch a plane and go to such far off countries."

"Don't worry," interrupted the kind rabbit. "I know an abandoned house that has bamboos growing in the garden. It's quite a walk from here though."


Magali thanked the spider and the old fox and the group of friends went back to Magali's house.

Magali walked into the kitchen and chose a big knife, the kind with serrated teeth, so that she would be able to cut the bamboo.


Then she went back out into the garden and walked off in the direction of the abandoned house with her friends, the kind rabbit, the pretty magpie, the old mouse and the squirrel with very gentle eyes.

They stopped in front of the rundown old house. It looked a bit scary. There were no more windows or doors. The roof was covered with green moss and withered leaves. Plants and weeds were growing inside and it smelt bad.

"No need to go inside the house," said the kind rabbit. "The bamboos are at the end of the garden."

Magali walked towards the fence and looked into the garden. The garden resembled a jungle. Plants had grown all over the place and the grass was very tall. Brambles and stinging nettles had invaded the entire garden.

Seeing that their friend was frightened, each companion had a word of encouragement:

"I will fly all over the garden above the trees," promised the pretty magpie. "If I see someone coming, I will make my cackle sound to warn you."

"And I," added the squirrel with very gentle eyes, "I will jump from one branch to the next on all the trees. If I see someone, I will warn you."

"I will run everywhere in the garden," said the kind rabbit. "If I see anything or anyone, I will run and tell you."

"And I," ended the old mouse, "I will climb up on the wall, and if someone arrives I will call you."


Magali went into the garden. She walked slowly, parting the long weeds and ferns and avoiding the brambles and stinging nettles.

Soon she saw a big bunch of bamboos growing. She went over to the plant and cut a long green stalk.

Magali looked at the cut end of the bamboo stalk. It was all black inside. But there was a little water there. She poured a drop onto her finger. She licked the drop. It didn't taste of anything at all.

Then she quickly left the garden, followed by her friends. She returned to the little stream where her friend the hedgehog was waiting for her.

Bending the piece of hollow wood as if it was a cup of water, she made the poor, sick little hedgehog drink the bamboo juice. Then, she picked him up and carried him to her garden.


For a whole week, the little hedgehog lived in the grass in Magali's garden, next to her house, protected from dangers. All his spikes grew back. Magali was very happy. She had saved the life of the little hedgehog.