The hedgehog was ugly and knew it. That’s why he lived in remote places, in somber bushes, without speaking to anyone, always solitary and taciturn, always sad, he, who actually had a happy disposition and enjoyed the company of others. He had the courage to go out only at night, and if he heard footsteps, would quickly bristle his quills and curl up into a ball in order to hide his embarrassment.
Once upon a time someone found a prickly ball, that awesome pin cushion. Rather than spraying it with water or smoking it out – as is recommended in zoological books- took a string of pearls, a bunch of crystal grapes, precious stones or maybe gemstones, little sleigh bells, two or three sequins, several fireflies, a gold pendant, mother-of-pearl and velvet flowers, artificial butterflies, a piece of coral, a feather and a button, and started threading each of the hedgehog’s quills, until transforming that nasty creature into a fabulous animal.
Everyone came to gaze at him. Depending on who was looking, he resembled the crown of a Byzantine emperor, a fragment of the tail of the Phoenix, or if the fireflies lit up, the lantern of a gondola adorned for the feast of the Minotaur, or a fool, if the person who looked was an envious one.
The hedgehog heard the voices, the exclamations, the applause, and wept with happiness. But he did not dare move for fear that he would undo that Arabian Nights vestment. So he remained this way throughout the summer. When the first cold days arrived, he had died of hunger and thirst. But he was still beautiful.