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The Hedgehog and the Creatures of Africa

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Harold Hedgehog was out on a stroll, just smoking his pipe and keeping to himself. He was admiring the lovely tropical flowers and birds on the bank of the Crystal Oasis when he heard a strange sound; it was Alexander Aye-Aye, the despicable anathema. You see, Harold was not very fond of ugly creatures; he only liked the beautiful, vibrant animals. He loved to observe and speak to the pair of Toucans that lived next door, with their bright yellow beaks and striking feathers; he liked to watch Charlie Chameleon change his skin different colors, shades, and patterns. He especially liked the Big Cats. They were the heads of the jungle, and Harold adored them. Their elongated, graceful bodies; handsome, soft fur. But Alexander? Bah. There was nothing so wonderful about him. He had patchy hair, not smooth and lovely feathers such as the Toucans; long and gnarled fingers, instead of soft paws like the Big Cats. And he did not have very many colors, like Charlie; he was not the type of beast that Harold favored.
Alexander is a nocturnal creature, like Harold, but Harold liked to watch all of the stunning beasts of Africa and their beauty; he couldn’t possibly do that if he was sleeping, now could he? So he listened, more intently now, to see what exactly the Aye-Aye was doing up at this time of day. He slowly pushed himself up the tree, steadily climbing each branch until he reached a rather large hole in the side of the tree. He poked his head through the opening, and looked around. In the corner, curled up in a pile of leaves, was Alexander. As Harold leaned into the hole to closer examine the creature, he lost his footing and fell into Alexander’s burrow. Harold hit a soft spot in the tree and toppled through. He became lodged in the trunk about halfway down and could find no way out. “Help!” he cried, “Somebody, help!” But not one animal came to his aid.
The Toucan couple were too busy admiring their elegant plumes to hear his cries; the Big Cats were cleaning their magnificent coats and would not take notice to something as small as Harold. And Charlie? He was camouflaged and awaiting his next meal! Still the little hedgehog cried out, but none paid any attention to him; except for one. All of the sudden, Harold heard it: Tapping. Something was tapping on the trunk at an extremely fast pace, and it was coming straight towards him! The tapping stopped right in front of Harold and he froze, listening for some sort of sound. Then there was scratching and gnawing and chomping and chewing. Then there was a hole. And who should be on the other side, except for Alexander! Alexander lifted the tiny hedgehog out of the trunk, climbed down the tree, and set Harold down carefully. Harold thanked him, and apologized for ever thinking that there was nothing splendid about Alexander. The Aye-Aye just nodded, and began to climb back up the tree. As he grasped the trunk, he turned around, looked at Harold, and said: “Sometimes you must look deeper than skin to see the real value and beauty of someone.”




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