In only a few weeks the sheeptracks were already proving their usage. Messages were being sent along the routes as well as little parcels. Families of spiders who had outgrown the family home now didn't seem quite so far away. Daisy was settled into her job as lead driver, with other spiders helping out as food baggage handlers being trained in the art of gentle persuasion. With a regular staff of caterpillars always on hand ( though what they were going to do for winter porters was something that was puzzling Daisy). Not the least among her thoughts was what if it snowed heavily . Then they could be in for some fun and games.
That however , will be for another story , if there's time….
What this story is about is a poor little hedgehog who wasn't so much lost, as rather unhelpfully kidnapped by a well meaning ooman...( their word..btw- that bit is true- I won't name the ooman concerned tho!!). He wasn't very old, and it might even have been only his second or third time he'd been out. His mother was already weary of telling him off for straying too far. “Now, don't you go snooping around any of those orrible things they put up as nests now. Specially those were there's a lot of banging coming from'. His mother, of course, meant him to avoid the small factory units that were near their own nest. But, Sam ( our hedgehog) had even in just two other trips, unfortunately learned that, if you were lucky, that was the oomans quite often dropped bits of tasty morsels.
So it was, on this fine near end of summer day that Sam had escaped again. Scampering along the grass verges- and being very careful to stay on his own patch of grass, he managed to find a doorway open. He couldn't make out what they were doing in this one tho. The other place he'd been in was full of noise and shouting and lots of scurrying to and fro, and he'd come out again in a hurry – feeling rather scared Here , tho, while there was people doing things to odd looking pieces of machinery- some had wheels- some didn't have anything very much, some didn't even have any shine to them of the type that oomans seemed to like. It was most odd. This place didn't seem to have any of that hurry and scurry at all. People were busy prodding things, muttering as they did so.. others were painting the shiny stuff onto bits and pieces. But it was all so nice and relaxed. Our Sam almost forgot what he was there for. But, his nose soon told him. Sensing where 'food' might be found, he scuttle around the bits, and under the bits, till he came to where there was a table in a little room. Quickly , in and out he went, with a morsel or two to keep him going for later.
That was his undoing. ' ' oopoooooooo' ( ooman voice doesn't translate very well to hedgehog) . In our language it would mean-” Did you see that- flipping baby hedgehog. It must be lost' As quickly as our Sam could go he sped down what he thought was way out. Unfortunately for Sam it was quite a tall person who followed him , so he was very quickly picked up.. “God job I have my shed gloves on” said the ooman to his friend..But to Sam these words of kindness just came out as ooooooooooooo, and Sam, not being used to speech, couldn't tell whether it was kindly meant or not. A terrified Sam just adopted the only means possible to a hedgehog and rolled up in a ball.
He was far too terrified to enjoy a trip in a basket- with some cloth wrapped around him. He was vaguely aware of being shut in a dark part of some kind of moving thingy… it seemed like an age, but in reality it was probably only about ten minutes before he heard things being slammed and opened, then he felt daylight again. He was lifted out, this time he realised it was in a gentle fashion. There was some muttering going on before he was placed in a wooden crate, with straw.
Too tired to even think where he was, our Sam drifted off into a fitful sleep, wondering how he was going to get home.