Barney the Baby Hedgehog (6 page)

The fence was built. The hedgehog run was covered with a woodchip mulch. Mark and the team had planted a few bushes and Eva had collected worms from Annie’s garden in preparation for the big event.

“You’ve done all you can,” Heidi told her on Sunday evening.

Eva and Jen had just spent an hour with Barney and the others. Eva had given them one last feed, then relined the nest
boxes with fresh straw before she put the young hedgehogs back in. Now it was time to go.

“Don’t feel too sad,” Jen murmured to Eva as they carried the babies out to Mark’s van. “You’ve done such a good job on this, believe me.”

Eva’s lip trembled. “I can’t help feeling sad. I’m going to miss them so much. Especially Barney.”

“I know – but…”

Eva nodded. “…But they belong up at High Trees. I do know that – honestly!”

Mark, Jen and Eva drove in the van. Heidi took Karl and Annie in the car. It was dusk. The Inglebys were waiting by the barn to greet them.

“Operation Hedgehog successfully
completed!” Tom Ingleby smiled as Eva and Annie carried the nest boxes down the new passageway, and placed them amongst the ash trees behind the barn.

“Quick as you can – it’s growing dark,” Mrs Ingleby encouraged.

“OK, but wait a sec.” Eva ran back to the van and brought out her jar of wriggling worms. She scattered them amongst the layer of woodchip in the run. “Ready!” she called, joining the others.

“Stand well back!” Adam said, taking the group downwind of the nest boxes.

It was a long wait, but it was worth it – everyone agreed.

They waited until the owl flew from the treetop into the barn, until the bats had
flitted out of the rafters to catch the last insects of the day.

All was quiet under the ash trees.

Then it happened. In the dim half-light a hoglet poked his nose out of his box.

Eva recognized her favourite in a flash.

Barney the adventurer, big and strong, bravely leading the way. He snorted, as if telling the others it was safe to come out. Soon all four hedgehogs were happily snuffling and poking about in amongst the undergrowth.

Eva grinned at Annie. “So sweet!” she mouthed.

And confident, doing what hedgehogs do. Brave Barney was the first to find his way to the new run, of course.

Eva held her breath. He was sniffing and scampering on a zigzag track, smelling worms! Nose to the ground, he stepped on to the woodchip, calling for the others to follow.
One step, two and then three – further down the run, finding his first worm, gobbling it up!

“I’m so happy I could cry!” Eva whispered through trembling lips.

“Time to go,” Heidi said, putting her arm around Eva’s shoulder. “Barney is going to be just fine, thanks to you.”

“And Jen,” Eva reminded her. She took one last look over her shoulder as they crossed the farmyard. “And Annie, and Dad and everyone! Thanks to us all, Barney is back where he belongs!”

An imprint of Little Tiger Press
1 The Coda Centre, 189 Munster Road,
London SW6 6AW

Text copyright © Jenny Oldfield, 2008
Illustrations copyright © Sharon Rentta, 2008
Cover illustration copyright © Simon Mendez, 2008

First published as an ebook by Stripes Publishing in 2012.

eISBN: 978–1–84715–299–2

The right of Jenny Oldfield and Sharon Rentta to be identified as the author and illustrator of this work respectively has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

All rights reserved.

Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any forms, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

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