Stories

Henry goes missing

1aaTickety-tock, tickety-tick, a-ricky-ticky too” sang Henry as he scurried his way through the thick undergrowth of Pepperly Wood. Henry liked singing. Mother was afraid he’d wake the others from their day-time sleep so she’d sent him out for the afternoon. Henry didn’t mind one bit, it was the first time he’d been allowed out on his own and he was excited to explore.

He snuffled through the meadow and he sniffled at the leaves, he ran and jumped and slid on his bottom all the way down a grassy bank. He clambered over rocks to peer into the river gurgling past,4 counting tadpoles as he sang to himself. Having stopped to say hello to a big, fat caterpillar Henry trundled back into the meadow and made his 5way up the steep hill. It was a hot summer’s day and it was much harder to go uphill, but sliding all the way back down would be such a lot of fun. Reaching the top, Henry was pleased to feel a slight breeze and he shuffled to the cliff edge and sat down beside a rock to rest a while. Perched up here he could see the whole valley below. His gaze followed the river as it crept out from the trees and disappeared under an old, stone bridge. Henry had never been to that bridge before, and he made a note to visit it on his next outing. Just then, an almighty noise exploded from the nearby bushes, piercing Henry’s daydream.CRAAAW! CRAAAW!” went a crow. Henry leapt in fright at the sudden sound and toppled forwards.

Tucking himself into a tight ball as mother had taught him to do, he began to fall. 8He bounced and rolled, tumbled and turned, over and over as he bumped down the steep cliff, until he came to an abrupt stop. Trembling all over, Henry sat very still. He didn’t want to fall any further. It was very quiet and after a while, Henry opened his eyes and sniffed at the air, uncurling just enough to have a peep at his surroundings. He was wedged against a tree stump, half way down the steepest side of the big hill that he’d just climbed up. Relaxing his prickles, Henry stretched and looked around. Peering over the edge, he saw that it was too steep and dangerous to jump and slide to the bottom. The only way was up, but the ground was too steep and even on his tippy toes he couldn’t reach the ledge above him. Henry was stuck. He sat down heavily and started to hum a tune. What was he going to do?


As time went by and little Henry didn’t return home, word began to spread. The mice whispered to the rabbits and the sparrows chirped with the bees – where could he be?

The animals set about to find him. They searched high and low, looking in holes and trees, under logs and b10ushes.
11They trampled through the forest and sc
urried through the meadow, when suddenly they heard a faint noise drifting on the breeze. “What was that!?” cried Pipsi, looking around at her mousey brothers.11a

There it is again!” whispered Felix the fox; “Shhh!”.

Tickety-tick, tickety-tock, a ricky-ticky-too” came a familiar tune. Following the sound, the animals scrambled to the edge of the cliff and peeked over. 12

Oh no!” muttered Felix. Down the cliff, far out of reach, sat a very glum little Henry singing his little song.13 Stepping away from the edge, the animals gathered in a huddle to talk over what they could possibly do to help the stranded hedgehog. After a long and fruitless discussion, Sorrel the Stoat suddenly had an idea; “We need Mister Meles!”

Of course!” said Muddle the Hare. “He’s the wisest Badger that ever lived, he’ll know what to do.” And with that, Muddle turned tail and ran down the meadow as fast as he could – which was very fast indeed.

Muddle slowed as he neared the big oak; he didn’t want to startle Mister Meles. “Ahem” coughed Muddle, “Excuse me! Mister Meles! Are you there?”14

Hello?” came a gruff voice as the big, old Badger appeared in the entrance to his sett.
15“Mister Meles, little Henry has gotten himself stuck and we need your help to get him back” explained Muddle. “Well” said Mister Meles, rocking back to sit on his bottom as he pondered. Muddle twitched his nose restlessly as he waited for the badger to think. “I know what to do” said Mister Meles after a while “but we’ll need some help”. And with that, the old badger picked up his trusty stick and followed Muddle back up the hill to where the other animals were waiting.

Hooray!” skipped Pipsi, as the pair appeared over the hill.

Right. Gather round” said Mister Meles, slightly out of breath from the steep walk. “We’ll need to be quick, there’s a lot to do and the sun will be setting before too long”. The animals huddled together once again as the wise old Badger explained what they each had to do.16


17Come on!” cried Pipsi, trying to hurry her troublesome brothers along. “That’s it!” she said, pointing to the old, stone farm buildings. The three little mice scurried down the hill towards the barn where M17aister Meles said they might find some rope. Sure enough, there hanging on a nail was a fine length of rope, perfect for the job at hand. In her sweetest voice, Pipsi told the story of little Henry stuck on the cliff to the grumpy looking cockerel who seemed to be in charge. “Well of course you can borrow the rope” said the clucking cockerel, who wasn’t a bit grumpy at all. 19Stretching tall, the cockerel reached up to peck at the rope and with a few sharp tugs, down it came. “Thank you! Thank you!” squeaked Pipsi.

No time for that young lady” replied the cockerel, looking slightly embarrassed. He quickly gathered up the rope, wrapping it carefully around his tail feathers. “Hop on” he said, “I’ll take you back”. The mice promptly obeyed and scrambled aboard as the cockerel took off back up the hill to the rescue site.20

Meanwhile, two nervous little rabbits crept through the farm towards the cottage 21garden. A basket was what they were looking for and the vegetable patch seemed a good a place as any to look. Somebody was in the garden. They scampered past the cabbages and sneaked past the radishes, being very careful to remain unseen. Spying what they were after, they crouched quietly, waiting for just the right moment.22

With a small nod to one another, they made their move, quickly tipping over the basket and scattering the carefully collected vegetables.

The biggest rabbit squirmed under the basket, stepping through the handle and settling it firmly on his back.

Without a backwards glance at the juicy carrots, the pair hopped away, feeling very pleased with themselves.

Now, Mister Meles still need25ed one more thing to set the rescue plan in motion and he had left the trickiest of tasks until last. Leaning heavily on his stick, for his paws were starting to ache, he set off to find the tall tree that the magpies had made their home in. Clearing his throat, he called up a greeting as the magpie couple peered down at him suspiciously. “I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me” said Mister Meles.
“Certainly” said one magpie.

What can we do for you? Said the other.

Well” started Mister Meles “Would you be so kind as to lend me a pair of nails from your very grand collection of shiny treasures?” The magpies looked at each othe28r in alarm.

Certainly not!” squawked one magpie, fluttering down to sit beside Mister Meles on the ground. “It’s our precious treasure and we need it. All of it! Isn’t there another way we can help you?” Then Mister Meles told them of the terrible situation that little Henry the hedgehog was in and the rescue plan that was being organised to get him back. “So you see, the nails are the only thing we still need..” The magpies sighed, they knew they couldn’t refuse the wise badger. They fetched from their nest two shiny, silver nails and Mister Meles promised to keep them safe until they were returned.28a


28b
Back  on  the  hill  top  there was  a  flurry  of  activity. Sticks,  stones  and  pieces  of  twine  had  been  collected  and  once  Mister  Meles  arrived  back  with  the  nails,  the  building  could  begin.
Arnold  took  charge,  and  29with  Pipsi’s  help, began  knocking  the  nails  into  the  sticks, creating  a  frame  to  brace  Mister Meles’  trusty  walking  stick  against.  When  the  rope had  been  securely  tied  on  to  the  basket  and  everything  was  ready,  Mister  Meles thought  it  would  be  very  wise  to  test  it  out.  So  into  the  basket  jumped  one  of  the little  rabbits  and  the  animals  lined  up along  the  length  of  rope,  each  making  sure  they  had  a  steady  grip.  “Three, two one… PULL!” shouted Mister Meles. 30cMuddle,  Arnold,  Sorrel,  Pipsi  and  Felix  the  Fox  at  the  rear,  braced themselves  and  pulled  with  all  their  might  as  the  others  gathered  round  to watch.  Slowly  but  surely  as  they  leant  backwards  the  basket  rose  and  the  little  rabbit  giggled  as  she  swung  backwards  and  forwards.  “That’ll  do!”     said  Mister  Meles,  31finally  satisfied  that all  was  ready.  The  excited  animals promptly  took  down  their  contraption and  moved  everything  to  the  edge  of the  cliff  to  begin  the  rescue. 32

With  Mister  Meles  in  command  at  the front,  and  Pipsi  taking  up  the  very important  role  of  second-in-command, they  carefully  dropped  the  basket over the  edge  of  the  cliff,  in  the  very  spot where  Henry  had  sat  earlier  that  day. 33
Little  Henry  was  so  pleased  to  see  the basket  hovering  above  as  it  very  slowly lowered  towards  him.  Standing  on  the tips  of  his tippy  toes,  he  reached  up  to  guide  it down  until  it  settled  gently  beside  him on  the  grassy  ledge,  and  then  he  climbed  inside.  “Well  done sonny!”  shouted  Mister  Meles  from high  above,  “Now  hold  on  tight  and we’ll  have  you  back  up  here  in  a  jiffy.34

Are  you  ready  chaps?!  Three..  Two..  One.. PULL!”.  Once  again  the  animals strained  and  heaved,  slowly  creeping backwards whilst  they  raised  the  basket  and  its’  precious  cargo.

35

As   the   basket  juddered  and  jiggled  over  the  ground  before  lifting  into  the  air  suddenly  Henry  was  very  frightened.  He  gripped  the  basket  so  tightly  his  paws  36began  to  throb. “Ohhuhh!”  he  whimpered  as  he began  to  rise  skywards.  His  knees  were  very  wobbly  so  he  sat  down on  his  bottom  and  covered  his eyes.  “Tickety-tick,  tickety-tock, a-ricky-ticky-too!”  sang  Henry, trying  to  distract  himself.  37

When  the  basket  neared  the top,  Mister Meles  reached  out  a  strong  paw  to  guide  it  into  a  safe  resting  place.  Little Henry  stood  up  quickly,  not  wanting to  appear  frightened  in  the  slightest,  as  Mister  Meles  and  then  Pipsi  called  out  to  the  animals  to  stop  pulling.38
Henry  carefully  clambered  out  of  the basket  on  his  still  quite  wobbly  legs   as  the  animals  crowded  around.  “We did  it!”  shouted  a  very  out  of breath Muddle.39  Pipsi  climbed  up  Felix  the  Fox  as  three  cheers  of celebration  rang  out,  and scattered  flowers  over  the bewildered  little  hedgehog  and  his  tired  but  very  happy  rescuers.  “Now  don’t  you  go  too close  to  the  edge  in  future, sonny”  said  Mister  Meles  sternly “We’d  better  get  you  back  to  your  mother  before  dark,  she’ll  be  terribly  worried”  he  added.
And  with  that,  as  the  sun  set  over  Pepperly  Wood,  the  animals  finally  went about  returning  the  things  that  they  had  borrowed  and  Mister  Meles  walked the  very  sleepy  little  hedgehog  home.40

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13 thoughts on “Stories

  1. Very nice Michelle! I think you’ll make an amazing childrens’ books writer (or maybe you already are and i don’t know it :)) I’m also wondering what Henry is going to do. Do keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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