Tales of Peter the Hedgehog – The Hedgehog Who Lost His Reasons

Seeing that the bushes were growing over the stream at the bottom of our garden, I put on my wellington boots and went out. Wading into the stream, I began to cut back the branches and weeds.

As I was working busily away, Peter Hedgehog came and stood on the steps leading to the stream and watched me. He looked very worried and said: “Why are you doing that?”

“So the stream doesn’t get blocked”, I said.

But when I said that, Peter looked more worried than before, and said: “I thought so, you’ve got a reason. You’ve got a reason for everything.” And he looked so unhappy I wondered what could be wrong with him. “Whatever is the matter Peter?” I asked.

“I haven’t got any reasons” he said, “humans have reasons for doing things, and I haven’t got any.”

I stopped cutting back the overgrowth and looked at him. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Well, he went on, “You had a reason for getting up this morning, didn’t you?”

“Well, yes,” I said, “I had to help to get the children to school, see that the fire was filled with coal, and take Tramp for a walk. I also had to collect some seaweed from the beach to make manure for the garden.”

Peter sighed very deeply and began to walk slowly away. As he did so, I heard him say, “He hasn’t got just one reason for getting up, he’s got lots, and I haven’t got any. I could just stay in bed and it wouldn’t matter. I just haven’t got any reasons.”

I caught up with Peter just before he went into his home under our house. “What is all this about reasons anyway?” I asked.

Peter looked at me sadly. Then, as if talking to himself, he said, “What reasons are hedgehogs here for? What reason is there for getting up in the morning or going to bed? There’s no reason for me to be here at all.” Then he walked past me slowly and went into his house.

Having seen Peter in thoughtful moods before, I felt it was best to leave him alone, and so got on with clearing the stream. I didn’t see Peter again all that day; and the day after that he only came out twice, wandering about without seeming to go

anywhere. On the third day he looked decidedly thinner, so I think he must have not been eating. Going out into the garden I saw him looking out of the door of his home. “Do you think there are any reasons for hedgehogs?” he asked when he saw me.

Doing some very quick thinking, I said: “Well, hedgehogs do help keep gardens free from harmful insects, and you have always been an interesting friend.”

He just looked at me and said: “Hmmm” and didn’t speak any more. He stood like that all day. I was quite worried about him.

But the next morning – my goodness – he was singing. It was something about “There will always be hedgehogs and hedgehogs and hedgehogs and hedgehogs and hedgehogs!”

Anyway, I went out to see what was happening, and he was eating and singing and singing and eating; and when he saw me he shouted loudly: “What a wonderful morning. A perfect morning for hedgehogs – perfect!”

“Seeing the change in him, I said: “Did you find the reasons you were looking for Peter?”

“Reasons!” he said. “Who wants reasons? Ha – I’ve got something better than reasons. You see, I’m a hedgehog,” and he said this very proudly and went on singing about “Hedgehogs and hedgehogs and hedgehogs” again.

Being very curious now, I asked, as soon as he stopped singing: “What is it that hedgehogs have got then?”

Looking straight at me he said: “Whenever I need food I feel hungry. When it’s time to get up, I feel like going out. Then I feel the wind and the warm sun. I feel happy, I feel strong – I haven’t got reasons – I’ve got feelings.” And on he went again, singing about hedgehogs and I didn’t disturb him because, after all, how much nicer to do things because you feel you want to, instead of only reasons.

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