Composition Qtr 4 Week 8 Essay, A New Fable
Elliot, the Puny Hedgehog with the Tiny Voice
Once in the forest of Lump, there were two hedgehogs that fell in love. They got married in an old tree stump, where they wanted to raise a family of at least twelve. But they only ever had one son; a very, very, very small hedgehog that they named Elliot. He had a voice so quiet, even when he shouted it came out like a whisper.
“So puny!” Elliot’s father complained upon his birth. “What a pathetic little son we have!”
“Nonsense!” Elliot’s mother cried. “He’s perfect. I love him dearly.”
It was only the dearly love of Elliot’s mother that kept his father from throwing him out of the tree stump to live a life alone in the forest.
As Elliot grew into an only slighter larger but still rather diminutive hedgehog, he knew his father thought him a total disappointment. And so, much of Elliot’s time was spent trying to impress his disappointed parent. Elliot was very smart, and mastered twelve languages before his first birthday, including Arabic. The thing he was best at was talking, but always in a very, very quiet voice.
Alas, brains and quiet conversation are not what impress a hedgehog father. Physical feats of death-defying nature were what impressed a hedgehog father. Unfortunately, Elliot was not good at physical things. Even walking in a straight line was a challenge. He was clumsy, and found himself rolling down hills more often than not.
“Puny, pathetic son.” Elliot’s father would grumble.
“Perfect little Elliot,” Elliot’s mother would chime in. “I love him dearly.”
Naturally, Elliot didn’t like to spend much time at home. So he would wonder off on his own a lot, which worried his mother and irritated his father. As he grew older, he went farther and farther into the forest. For this reason, he met a lot of creatures and become friends with many of them. He would tell hilarious jokes that made everyone from the fox to the falcon laugh ‘till they cried. No one minded that they all had to be completely silent to hear the punch line. Unfortunately, quiet little Elliot was also a bit of a gossip.
“Did you hear the one about the Rabbits?” he’d asked a friend in a breathy whisper as he passed them on the way to the berry bushes. “They’re having another one. Honestly…aren’t the fifteen children enough for them?”
“Good grief, Mr. Bullfrog is putting on so much weight! There won’t be room in the pond for the fish soon!”
“Jumping juniper berries, wait ‘till you hear what the Blue Jay and the Mockingbird said about the Cardinal…”
Obviously, all of this was none of Elliot’s business, and it was bound to get him into trouble someday. But in the meantime, Elliot’s very quietly whispered gossip seemed to make him very popular. He was soon in the loop with every creature in Lump, and even Elliot’s disappointed father had to admit his son might actually make something of himself someday.
“He’s still puny, and I can barely hear him when he talks, but with so many friends, I guess he’s not that pathetic,”
“Hm,” said Elliot’s mother worriedly. “My little Elliot is not so perfect anymore. But I still love him. Dearly.”
One day, as he journeyed the farthest from home he ever had, he came to a river. Sitting beside the river was a strange creature; a creature unlike any Elliot had ever seen. It was bigger than he was, but most creatures were. It was relatively hairless, except on its head. It was sitting upright, making lovely noises come out of its throat. It dipped its legs into the water and ran its paws through its long, golden fur. It had large, blue eyes. Strangest of all, it wore some colorful cloth on its body.
Elliot, being in the loop as he was, knew right off that this creature was a human, and a female one at that. Now, if Elliot were a tactful hedgehog, he would know that humans and hedgehogs ought not to mix. But Elliot was not tactful. It could be said that Elliot was entirely, ridiculously, pitiably tactless. This lack of tact was about to bite Elliot on the bottom, for within the course of five minutes, he fell completely and madly in love with the human.
Flaunting his lack of tact for the entire world to see, Elliot strode right up to the human and introduced himself. It took him several tries, but finally, he shouted loudly enough that she heard him.
“Hey there, Gorgeous! I’m Elliot Hedgehog, the most in-the-know hedgehog in Lump. And what might your name be, Little Lady?”
The human looked down at Elliot and screamed hysterically. She also fell into the river.
Elliot stood by unhelpfully as the human emerged from the river and peered down at him in terror, shying away from him and patting her heart.
“A talking hedgehog!” she shrieked.
“It’s a wonder to behold, isn't it?” Elliot said softly, grinning. “Now, what is your name, pretty thing?”
“Um…Henrietta,” she replied. She slowly crouched down until she and Elliot were almost nose-to-nose, as his voice was hard to hear. “Wow. You really are a talking hedgehog!”
“You know it!” Elliot said, winking. It takes a real flirt of a hedgehog to manage a wink. “May I just say you are the most gorgeous human I have ever laid eyes on?”
Elliot, of course, did not mention she was the only human he’d ever laid eyes on.
“Really?” Henrietta said, blushing. “Tell me, little Elliot…how is it that you can, even though very softly, speak English?”
“Well, Angel-Face, it just so happens that I am really a prince, who was, tragically, turned into a diminutive, soft-voiced hedgehog, simply because I was so handsome and my voice so baritone.”
If that isn’t a tactless thing for a hedgehog to say, I don’t know what it.
“My goodness! You poor little thing!” She patted him on the shoulder, and then had to suck the blood off of her pricked fingers. “Ouch!”
“It’s a shame, isn't it? Trust me, if I weren't trapped inside this horrendous little hedgehog body, you’d be kissing me right now!”
“If I kiss you,” Henrietta said eagerly. “Will you turn back into a human?”
“Alas, Baby, it’s not that simple,” Elliot said sadly. “The only thing that could grant me my human-hood back again would be a magical spell,”
Henrietta thought for a moment. “Say…back in town, there’s this old witch. She’s turned animals into people before!”
“Really?” Elliot asked, feigning surprise. Of course, Elliot, being so in-the-know, had already known about the witch back in town. He’d heard about her from a poor soul who had come to live in the forest after the same witch turned him into a mouse.
“I’ll go right away and ask her for a spell!” Henrietta cried. She gently picked Elliot up and kissed him on the snout. Elliot practically swooned in delight.
“Promise me you’ll be here when I get back!” Henrietta cried.
Elliot winked again and answered in a barely audible voice, “You got it, Doll-Face!”
And so, Henrietta rushed off, and Elliot settled down by the river to wait for his destiny.
After about an hour, Henrietta returned with a very old, very ugly old human. Elliot shuddered, and looked back at Henrietta to help his eyes recover.
“Here he is!” Henrietta cried, kneeling down beside Elliot and gazing at him in total adoration. “Do you think you can help him, Witch Hazel?”
Witch Hazel squinted down at Elliot appraisingly.
Elliot grinned and even managed a wink at the ugly old human.
“Well,” Witch Hazel said, rubbing her warty grin chin with her warty green fingers. “I could quite easily turn this puny hedgehog into a human. But such a transformation takes references. Tell me, Elliot Hedgehog, who are the three creatures here in the forest who know you the best?”
Elliot thought fast. Who could he trust not to give up his ruse?
“The Crow,” he said.
“What?” Witch Hazel grumbled. “Speak up!”
“The Crow!” Elliot shouted. “And the Tortoise! And…and…” He pondered and puzzled.
Witch Hazel tapped her foot and Henrietta nodded eagerly.
“Well…erm…I guess my moth—I mean, one of the other hedgehogs. Mrs. Hedgehog. She and her cranky husband took me in. Poor brainless creatures…they think I’m really they’re son,”
Witch Hazel raised a scraggly black brow. “I see. Well, I will go and speak to these three creatures, and when I return, you will get just what you merit.”
Witch Hazel went off through the forest, and easily found the Crow. He eating bugs in the field.
“Hello, Mr. Crow,” Witch Hazel said. “I was wondering what you could tell me about your good friend Elliot Hedgehog. I’m checking his references for a prestigious position in society,”
Crow cackled in glee. “Oh, the dirt I could tell you about Elliot! He’s lots of fun…we hang out all the time.”
“Oh?” Hazel said. “Doing what?”
“Oh, you know…playing jokes on other animals, finding out what everyone’s up to, sharing stories…it’s great fun! Elliot doesn’t know it, but he’s the best guy to gossip about. What with his itty bitty body and quiet little voice…and he’s always doing something stupid I can poke fun at,”
“My,” Hazel commented dryly. “You certainly are a model friend.”
“Hey, don’t mention it. Tell that knucklehead I said 'hi'. I haven’t seen him all day,”
“Hmph.” Hazel said, and headed off to find the Tortoise.
He was sunning himself at the pond.
“Hello, Mr. Tortoise,” Witch Hazel said.
“Hello,” the Tortoise said cheerfully. “How can I help you this fine, sunny day.”
“I’ve come to get some references for a creature here in the forest,” Witch Hazel said.
“References?” the Tortoise asked. “Is someone applying for a job?”
Witch Hazel grinned. “You might say that. I’m looking for a really quality creature; honest, loyal, humble and true,”
“I’ll do my best to help you,” the Tortoise said. “Who is it?”
The Tortoise’s head shot into his shell, and he hissed angrily. “Idiot!”
“Really?” Witch Hazel said, stroking her chin.
“He calls me Slow Shell. Even when I’m standing right there, he talks in that tiny little voice of his and makes jokes about me. He thinks I don’t know, but I’ve heard from several other animals that he says I’m a stupid, useless creature!”
Witch Hazel bent down and patted the Tortoise on the shell. “He’s wrong. Thank you very much for your time.” And the witch headed off to find Elliot's mother.
Elliot’s mother was ambling through the forest, looking about, hoping to find some clues as to where her son had disappeared to. Suddenly, she was approached by a human…the old witch from the village.
“Hello, Mrs. Hedgehog,” Witch Hazel said. “I was wondering if you could spare a moment and tell me about your son, Elliot,”
Elliot’s mother burst into tears. “I’m terribly sorry, Witch Hazel! I’ve always told him he shouldn't gossip, and he should never speak poorly about witches, but he thinks he can get away with anything if he says it quietly enough, and he’s just so tactless!”
“What now?” Witch Hazel said. “What did he say about me?”
“I don’t want to repeat such a dreadful story, Ma’am,” Elliot’s mother wept.
“I insist.” Witch Hazel said angrily.
Elliot’s mother coward. “All I know is that he talked to Ferdinand, that fellow you turned into a mouse for stealing. Than he came home and said…he said…”
“He said you were a pushover!” Elliot’s mother sobbed. “He said he could trick you, because he was clever, and he’d love to get the chance to make a fool out of you!”
“Hm,” Witch Hazel said, stroking her chin. “I see.”
“Oh, please don’t hurt my son!” Elliot’s mother begged. “He’s a tactless, puny, pathetic hedgehog, but I love him! Dearly!”
“And your dearly love shall preserve him from the worst fate, but he cannot go unpunished,” Witch Hazel said.
Elliot’s mother nodded sadly. “Well…do what you must, than,”
And so, Witch Hazel returned to the river, where she found Henrietta feeding Elliot blueberries and fanning him with a leaf to keep him cool.
“Well, Elliot Hedgehog,” Witch Hazel said. “It’s fascinating what people have to say about you. It seems you are a horrific gossip, and a liar, too.”
Henrietta gasped. “What?”
Elliot squirmed. “Oh, surely not…surely you've heard all kinds of nice things about me…right!? I’m the most popular creature in Lump!”
“It seems, Elliot,” Witch Hazel said. “That you use your quiet little voice and your tiny body to sneak about gossiping about everyone…including me. You also thought it could help you trick Henrietta into thinking you were a prince,”
Henrietta gasped, and threw her handful of blueberries at Elliot. They clunked him on the head.
“Hey, watch it!” Elliot snapped.
“You and I are through, you pernicious hedgehog!” Henrietta shrieked, and stomped away in an indignant huff.
Elliot watched the human of his dreams go, and then looked warily up at the witch.
“What are you going to do to me?” he whimpered in his teeny, tiny, quiet voice.
“Exactly what you deserve, Elliot. You’ve used your soft little tongue to run amuck. You’ve hurt the feelings of countless creatures here in the forest. You’ve claimed you could trick me into making you, you, so selfish and spoiled a hedgehog, into a human. You’ve broken your mother’s heart. From this day forth, when you speak, it will come out like a boom of thunder. Everyone in the entire forest will be able to hear every word you say. Every word, Elliot. Maybe that will teach you not to say things you don’t want everyone to hear.”
With that, the Witch vanished, and when Elliot grumbled, “Mean old hag…”
It came out in a mighty rumble, and everyone in the forest heard it.
And ever since, Elliot the Puny Hedgehog has been very, very, very careful what he says.