But one day a fierce dragon flew over from another island and discovered that teddy bears were good to eat, at least if you're a dragon. Time after time the dragon flew over and ate his fill of teddy bears until there were almost none left.
Now it so happened that in a castle in the mountains at one end of the island there lived a wise old wizard. Few teddy bears ever ventured into those mountains, but the situation called for desperate measures. So a delegation of teddy bears who were braver and more adventurous than the rest went to the wizard's castle and asked him to help them.
The wizard gave the teddy bears two magic spells. One would turn a teddy bear into a porcupine and the other would turn a porcupine back into a teddy bear.
The next time the dragon flew over to their island the teddy bears all turned themselves into porcupines. The dragon ate a few of the porcupines, but found them prickly and unpalatable.
The porcupines were supposed to turn themselves back into teddy bears when the dragon left, but not all did so. Some felt safer staying porcupines. And indeed, it took the dragon quite a few trips to learn that there weren't going to be any more tender teddy bears to eat.
It took the dragon so long to learn this that a new generation grew up who had never been teddy bears. As soon as they were born their parents, knowing how careless children can be, turned them into porcupines and left them that way. Being porcupines meant they couldn't be cuddly and loving, but they grew up never knowing what they were missing. And the dragon still showed up every now and then, just in case there might be a stray teddy bear or two around.
In time the new generation of porcupines grew up and had children of their own. Porcupine mothers and fathers weren't able to be as loving to each other and to their children as teddy bears could be, but they sort of managed to bring up another generation somehow. And after another couple of generations the island was full of porcupines who had never known what it was like to be teddy bears.
Then one day a group of porcupines who were more adventurous than the rest were hiking in the mountains when they came upon the wizard's castle. The wizard had died many years before, leaving the castle vacant and forgotten, and they decided to explore. They went through room after room, finding many strange and wonderful things, until at last they found the wizard's diary. And there in the diary they found the story of how the porcupines used to be teddy bears. And they also found the spell that would turn a teddy bear into a porcupine and the other that would turn a porcupine back into a teddy bear.
Being adventurous, this little band of porcupines tried turning themselves into teddy bears. It was scary at first because they knew the dragon could eat them, but being a teddy bear felt so much more like what life was supposed to be all about that they took the risk of being teddy bears.
So the little band returned to civilization with the news that the porcupines could be teddy bears, and that it was a much more enjoyable and loving way to live. Most of the other porcupines were too scared of the dragon to try it, but a few took the chance.
There were sometimes problems. Occasionally a porcupine who was kind of new at being a teddy bear would still have a few quills here and there and would accidentally stick another teddy bear with them. But over time they learned to check for stray quills and say the magic words again to get rid of them. And now and then the dragon would return, but the teddy bears kept lookouts posted to warn them and they were all able to turn into porcupines before the dragon could eat them.
Thus they had the best of both worlds. They had the warm cuddly loving that only teddy bears could experience, but they could also take refuge in the porcupine form when danger threatened.
So do we have a happy ending to this story? Not really, because the story hasn't ended yet. Most of the inhabitants of the island are still porcupines, although every year there are more and more teddy bears at the annual teddy bears' picnic. And perhaps some day all the porcupines will learn how to be teddy bears when they wish and porcupines when they must, and will live happily ever after.
This page was created by Tom Digby and is copyrighted with a fairly liberal "fair use" policy.
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