Hatschi the Hedgehog

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This story happened to a little girl, Vera. Her parents tenderly called her Verochka. They lived near the woods, where they often went for a walk.

One summer Verochka and her mother were going for another walk. The sun was shining brightly. Birds were singing in the woods and trees were rustling their leaves. The weather was wonderful.

Mother and daughter were walking along a path to a clearing. In summer there were lots of beautiful flowers growing in that clearing. That day Vera decided to pick some flowers for a bouquet to decorate her room. Her mother was slowly telling Verochka a fairy tale about forest animals and the girl was listening attentively.

Vera reached into the pocket of her dress and found a piece of candy. She forgot all about it! In the kindergarten a boy Dima had given it to her. And then, having discovered the sweet, the girl was happy. She took it out of her pocket, unwrapped it, and popped into her mouth. She decided to give the wrapper to her mother.

“Verochka,” mother said, “put the candy wrapper into your pocket. Let’s go home and throw it in the litter bin.”

Vera didn’t want to keep the wrapper, but obediently put it in the pocket of her dress.

By the time mother finished her story, Verochka had already been standing in the clearing. Mother sat down on a stump to have a rest, and the girl began collecting flowers for the bouquet. They were various flowers that she was picking: camomiles, clovers, dandelions, and other flowers that Vera didn’t know much about.

She saw an unusual hedgehog in the grass. It had orange prickles and a blue nose. It was very beautiful. At first Verochka wanted to call her mother so she could also look at this orange marvellous animal, but then she changed her mind. The girl thought that the hedgehog may get scared of shouting and would run away.

“Who are you?” suddenly the hedgehog asked.

“Who? Me?” Vera was surprised and answered: “I’m Verochka.”

She looked around, squatted down, and whispered to the hedgehog: “Are you a magic hedgehog?”

“Yes,” he said, and asked Vera: “What are you doing here?”

The girl showed the hedgehog the flowers she collected and explained that she wanted to decorate her room with them.

Wiggling the blue tip of his nose, the hedgehog sniffed Verochka’s bouquet and murmured: “Good, good.”

Vera asked the ginger hedgehog what he was doing there. The hedgehog answered: “I live here. I’m looking for food for my children. I’m collecting litter.”

“What litter?”

“Litter of various kinds. Different bottles, packets, wrappers.”

“Why do you need this litter?” wondered Vera.

“I don’t need it. That’s why I collect it,” the hedgehog answered.

“I don’t understand,” Vera was surprised.

The hedgehog sighed.

“Look at you! Are you a human?”

“Of course I’m a human,” Verochka answered and added: “I’m a girl.”

“And I’m a hedgehog,” the hedgehog explained. “You people come to the woods for a walk. But I live here. So, people like you bring different bottles, papers and wrappers here. They bring it here and leave it. They drop litter. Do you understand?”

“I understand,” said Verochka seriously.

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