Tales of Peter the Hedgehog – Trouble is His Middle Name

Being well known to certain people in Amersham, it was not thought unusual when Peter took a coach ride to the Zoo in London. He was very good during the ride, and didn’t feel sick, or lean out of the window to shout rudely at dogs.

He had saved up his pocket money – which I give him for keeping the garden clear of snails and things – and had decided to visit his cousin the porcupine in Regents Park Zoo. He had also decided that he was going to make the journey, there and back, without getting into any sort of trouble.

As his middle name is Trouble, however, this was rather difficult for him. As soon as he arrived at the Zoo he somehow managed to completely miss seeing the main entrance. Instead, he wandered down the grassy slope to the canal nearby. This posed him quite a problem, as he wasn’t in the mood for a swim, and yet he could see the Zoo on the other side.

Peter’s philosophy is that whenever you are standing, and there is a chance not to – don’t! So while he was figuring out how to get over the canal, he sat down.
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Just at that moment, a very large and colourful barge, full of people, came floating gracefully along the canal. This immediately raised Peter’s hopes, and he went running along the tow-path towards the barge, shouting and waving a small umbrella which he had thought wise to bring with him.

The man who was at the helm of the boat, and was telling all the people about the Zoo, didn’t at first see Peter. It was only when he noticed everybody was looking in the opposite direction to the Zoo that he saw him, and heard his shouting!

“Hey, Captain – ahoy there.”

The captain, or whatever he was, obviously was not used to seeing hedgehogs running along the towpath waving red umbrellas and shouting “Hey, Captain!” This was obvious by the way his mouth dropped open in surprise, and by the way he nearly crashed the barge into the side of the canal.

He came so close to the bank that one old lady became frightened and leapt ashore. Or at least, most of her leapt ashore. One foot didn’t quite make it, and dragged in the water, getting wet. Unfortunately, her shoe came off in the water as well and began to float slowly away.

Meanwhile, the captain stopped the barge, and amidst laughter and cheers, fished the shoe back with a boat-hook, and helped the old lady, who was saying a lot of unpleasant things about him, back onto the barge.

In the general confusion, Peter had also managed to climb aboard. When the captain finally got back to his helm to sail the barge away, Peter was standing behind him, and made him jump by shouting, “Take me to your leader! I wish to be transported to the other side of this river. I have an urgent appointment, and I mustn’t be kept waiting.”

The captain, who was by this time in a nervous state anyway, became so annoyed he snatched up the boat-hook again and ran after Peter in a very threatening manner. Peter found it hard to mistake his intentions, and went running off round the side of the barge using his umbrella to balance with.

They went round three times, much to the amusement of everybody aboard, before Peter decided he had better jump for it. The barge had drifted away from the bank, so he had to swim hurriedly out of reach of the waving boat-hook.

It really wasn’t Peter’s lucky day, because after all that he was still on the same side of the canal as he started on.

He never did get inside the Zoo. Having got soaking wet, be began to feel very cold and to sneeze. Dragging his dripping umbrella after him, he caught the next coach home. Even so, he had to spend a week in bed with a chill. That’s why his close friends call him Peter-Trouble-Hedgehog!

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