The Hedgehog and the Fox: A Cautionary Tale of Friendship

Once upon a time in the forest, a fox encountered a hedgehog.

“Hello, prickly head,” the fox said, “let’s be friends!”

“Sure!” the hedgehog agreed, “but how shall we do that?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just hanging out, visiting each other.”

“Alright,” the hedgehog extended his paw.

The fox touched it with his little finger, and that’s how their friendship began.

“How about we visit the rabbit?” suggested the fox.

“You know, I was just thinking the same,” the hedgehog beamed, “I love visiting the rabbit. He’s my friend.”

“Then hop on my back. We’ll get there faster.”

The hedgehog climbed onto the fox’s back, and they dashed through the woods. The hedgehog was thrilled with his new friendship. Soon, they arrived at the rabbit’s burrow, but he wasn’t home.

“Let’s wait for him,” proposed the fox, “and to pass the time, let’s play a game.”

“Which one?” asked the hedgehog.

“Roll into a ball, and I’ll decorate you with leaves.”

“Okay,” the hedgehog agreed but then hesitated.

“What’s wrong, hedgehog?” the fox asked, “Why aren’t you rolling up?”

“I think I won’t do it,” the hedgehog replied.

“Why not?”

“Well, here’s what I think: I’ll roll up, and you’ll shove me into the rabbit’s burrow to block the entrance. Then, when the rabbit comes home, he’ll run into the burrow, get pricked by my thorns, and you will take him off me, like from a fork, and eat him!”

“Good heavens, hedgehog!” exclaimed the fox, “Is everything alright in your head? No piercing pains, perhaps? How could you think such a thing? I’m your friend!”

“That’s true. But you’re a recent friend, and I don’t know you well enough yet.”

“That’s unfair, hedgehog,” the fox’s eyes welled up with tears. “You should interpret your doubts in favor of your friends, not against them. You must give your friends a chance to prove themselves; otherwise, you’ll never trust anyone.”

“Fine,” the hedgehog agreed and rolled up. The fox grabbed him, stuffed him into the rabbit’s burrow, and blocked the entrance.

“Fox, you scoundrel!” the hedgehog yelled, “pull me out right now!”

“Why should I?” asked the fox.

“But I’m your friend!”

“It doesn’t seem like it. You called me a scoundrel and were ready to assume the worst about me. So I won’t pull you out.”

No matter how much the hedgehog yelled, the fox ignored him.

Soon, the rabbit appeared. Seeing the fox, he darted into his burrow but got pricked by the hedgehog. The fox took him off the hedgehog, like from a fork, and ate him.

“Now, fox,” said the hedgehog, “pull me out.”

“Why should I?”

“We’ll be friends again!”

“Really? You even considered the rabbit a better friend than me.”

“Yes, but now you’re a better friend than the rabbit.”

“Your unprincipled nature infuriates me!” said the fox, disappointed, and disappeared into the forest. Only his tail flashed like a bolt of red lightning among the trees.

After a while, a bear appeared.

“Ah, the rabbit’s burrow,” mumbled the bear, “let’s see what I can snack on.”

He reached into the burrow but got pricked by the hedgehog.

“Ouch, that hurts!” the bear yelled, running away as fast as he could. And for three weeks after, he kept pulling splinters from his paw. They say that’s how the bear started sucking his paw in his den.