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CHILDREN’S STORIES

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One morning.

When Dougie the Dog awoke.

He was unusually tired.

Uph!

Said Dougie.

As he sat upright from his pillow and looked around the empty kitchen.

I didn’t sleep very well at all.

Dougie moved slowly from his bed.

Stretched.

Blinked three times.

Sat down.

Thought a thought.

Then asked out-loud to nobody in particular.

Where’s my bone?

A frown appeared on Dougie’s already quite wrinkly face.

As he rose to his four furry feet.

And wandered off.

Bone-seeking.

Cat.

First of all, Dougie squeezed through the cat flap.

This was quite easy for Dougie.

As he was quite a small dog.

Just outside.

Dougie saw cat.

And he sat down next to her.

Hello cat.

Said Dougie.

Where’s my bone?

He asked.

Have you seen my bone?

Then.

Remembering his manners.

Dougie added,

Please.

Cat was washing her face with her paw.

Slowly.

Cat didn’t turn her head towards Dougie to answer him.

But she did roll her eyes in his direction.

So she could see Dougie more clearly.

Cat paused from her paw licking and hissed,

No.

Then she hissed again,

I haven’t seen your bone.

Dougie wasn’t surprised.

Cat was rarely interested in anybody else’s business except her own.

So Dougie stood up and said,

Sorry cat.

I didn’t mean to be any trouble.

And remembering his manners once more, he said,

Thank you.

Before wandering off.

Further down the garden.

Bird.

As he wandered slowly along.

Dougie looked up.

And in the lowest branch of the apple tree.

Sitting on a tiny, twiggy nest.

He saw bird.

Dougie sat down.

Close to the apple tree.

Under bird’s nest.

Hello bird.

Said Dougie.

Where’s my bone?

He asked.

Have you seen my bone?

Then.

Again remembering that people are far more likely to help you.

If you remember your manners.

Dougie added,

Please.

Bird was warming her egg.

By sitting on it.

Bird did a little whistle.

As if to clear her throat.

Tweet!

Then, she nodded her head down ever so slightly.

And ever so slowly.

And sang,

No.

Bird was very quietly spoken.

And Dougie’s hearing was not what it used to be.

So Dougie replied,

Pardon, bird?

To which bird squawked.

This time much more loudly.

And with her neck pushed out as far as she possibly could towards Dougie,

No!

I haven’t seen your bone!

Dougie wobbled backwards.

He was still a little tired, you see.

So he was quite easily startled.

Dougie blinked.

Three times.

And said,

Sorry bird.

I didn’t mean to be any trouble.

And remembering his manners once again, Dougie said,

Thank you.

Before wandering off towards compost heap.

Hedgehog.

Compost heap was at the very bottom of the garden.

Compost heap was as far away from the house as Dougie ever went these days.

Dougie liked compost heap.

It reminded him of when he was a puppy.

Because when Dougie was a puppy.

He used to jump in compost heap.

Spreading it’s leaves all over the garden.

These days however.

A much older and a much tireder Dougie.

Would just walk up to compost heap.

Slowly.

And sit down.

And that is what Dougie did today.

Hello hedgehog.

Said Dougie.

Even though he couldn’t actually see hedgehog.

Dougie knew hedgehog wouldn’t be far away.

Because hedgehog was never far away from compost heap.

And Dougie was right.

Within just a few seconds.

Leaves rustled.

Twigs crackled.

And a small, prickly ball rolled slowly out from compost heap.

Hello hedgehog.

Said Dougie for a second time.

And as he did, hedgehog’s nose slowly emerged from the prickly, grey ball.

Twitchy.

Whiskery.

Shiny and black.

Then, hedgehog’s eyes appeared.

Tiny and half-open.

Hedgehog’s mouth was closed tight.

And hedgehog stared.

Right.

At.

Dougie.

Dougie asked,

Where’s my bone?

Quickly adding,

Please.

Have you seen my bone?

Hedgehog’s tiny, shiny black nose started to twitch.

Just a little bit.

And hedgehog spoke.

Dougie.

Said hedgehog.

You really are a scatterbrain.

Dougie blinked.

Three times.

Dougie remembered that hedgehog had called him a scatterbrain before.

But he couldn’t quite remember why.

Or when.

Oh.

Said Dougie.

Am I?

Am I a scatterbrain?

Hedgehog responded to this quite quickly.

And quite loudly.

Yes.

You.

Are.

Hedgehog unrolled completely from the prickly ball that he always became when he snoozed.

And in a move which took quite some effort from quite a little hedgehog.

Hedgehog rose to his two tiny back feet.

Leant forward.

Looked into Dougie’s two sleepy eyes.

And in a much kinder tone said,

You didn’t sleep very well last night.

Did you Dougie?

You didn’t sleep very well at all.

Dougie looked back at hedgehog. 

And slowly shook his head.

Hedgehog then plopped back down onto his four feet.

Looked up at the still seated Dougie and said with a smile,

Follow me.

Hedgehog began to wiggle his way towards the house.

In the way that hedgehogs do.

Wiggling.

And Dougie followed close behind.

Slowly.

After a while, hedgehog walked past bird.

Bird tweeted,

Oh my goodness!

Not again.

Hedgehog smiled at bird.

Silently.

And he wiggled on.

Hedgehog then walked past cat.

Cat hissed,

Ha!

Adding,

Again?

Hedgehog again said nothing.

He did smile at cat, though.

Before glancing back over his shoulder to make sure that Dougie was still following.

Which he was.

And on they went.

Through the catflap.

Hedgehog sat down in the kitchen.

Right next to Dougie’s bed.

And Dougie did too.

Hedgehog spoke first,

Dougie.

Said hedgehog.

Why didn’t you sleep very well last night?

Dougie thought for a moment.

Then replied,

It’s my pillow.

It’s not very soft.

Hedgehog leaned in to Dougie so that their two, shiny black noses almost touched.

And hedgehog said,

Dougie.

Take a look under your pillow.

Dougie stared back at Hedgehog.

Blinked three times.

Then rose to his four furry feet.

Walked slowly to his pillow.

Lifted a corner.

And took a look underneath.

And from a little way off behind him.

Dougie heard hedgehog ask,

Well?

Dougie looked back over his shoulder.

Dougie smiled at hedgehog and said,

I did it again didn’t I.

I am a scatterbrain.

Dougie turned back to his pillow.

Reached underneath it.

And pulled out.

Guess what?

His bone.

Dougie blushed.

But he started to tremble.

Because Dougie remembered how cat had hissed at him.

And Dougie remembered how bird had squawked at him.

And he was worried what hedgehog would do.

Especially as Dougie had woken hedgehog up from compost heap.

And made him wiggle all the way to the house.

Dougie turned to hedgehog.

And in a quiet.

Worried.

Wobbly voice said,

I’m sorry hedgehog.

I didn’t mean to be any trouble.

At first.

Hedgehog said nothing.

But suddenly.

His tiny, shiny black hedgehog nose started to twitch.

Just a little bit.

And in a move which took quite some effort from quite a little hedgehog.

Hedgehog rose to his two tiny back feet.

Leant forward.

Looked deep into Dougie’s two sleepy eyes.

And said,

Dougie.

You are no trouble.

You are my friend.

Hedgehog kissed Dougie on his black, shiny nose.

Dougie blinked.

Three times.

And smiled.

Hedgehog plopped back down onto his four feet.

And scurried out of the catflap.

Dougie, remembering his manners once again.

But a little too late for his friend hedgehog to hear.

Whispered,

Thank you.

Before popping his bone back under his pillow.

Lying down.

And with a grateful, happy smile.

Dougie fell back to sleep.