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“You are going to rely on a hedgehog to deliver your message?” asked Barnaby.
“You are my steward and I cannot spare you. It must be Hamlyn, who I trust to get the job done,” assured Sir Nicholas.
Hamlyn raised his little hedgehog chin with pride. Sir Nicholas looked upon Hamlyn with a small but sincere smile.
“It isn’t his size or the fact that he is a hedgehog that matters, for it is integrity and perseverance that will successfully delivery my message within the castle walls to Lady Blythe, and Hamlyn has plenty of that.”
“But how is he going to communicate with Lady Blythe once he finds her?” Barnaby asked with sincere disbelief.
“Messages of the heart need not be eloquent, only sincere,” Sir Nicholas explained, winking at Hamlyn. “My little friend will find a way.”
Hamlyn’s face blushed and he rolled into a small ball with playful joy. Sir Nicholas’ eyes sparkled and he knelt beside Hamlyn with focused intent.
“You carry a most important message Hamlyn, and I must be away now. Here is my letter and a handkerchief with my initials on it. It bears proof of your employer and it will help gain you audience with Lady Blythe.”
Hamlyn dutifully placed the handkerchief under his little hedgehog hat. He then clicked the backs of his heels in salute, turned and waddled out the door in pursuit of his master’s lady.
The overgrown path through the dense forest to the castle took Hamlyn nine days. He found a hole in the castle wall large enough for him to pass through then he scampered throughout the grounds until he found someone he instinctively knew he could approach.
“Eek! What do you have there?!” Lady Blythe swooned as she pointed to the small critter on the floor next to her maiden.
“It’s a hedgehog my lady. I found him in our garden in possession of a letter addressed to you,” The maiden handed the letter to her mistress who carefully opened it. Lady Blythe looked at Hamlyn, held the letter out to him and said with apologizing eyes, ”It must have gotten wet because the writing is washed out. I am sorry but I cannot read it.”
Hamlyn looked upon the parchment covered with smeared ink and huffed with panic.
“I’m sorry you were not successful delivering this message. Who is your master?’ inquired the lady.
Hamlyn quickly removed his little hedgehog hat. Atop of his head was a folded handkerchief. Lady Blythe’s maiden gently lifted it from his head and presented it to her mistress who examined it and gasped with recognition.
“Sir Nicholas sent you!” the lady blushed. “Please, little one, I must know what was contained in this letter!” Lady Blythe gestured for her maiden to provide Hamlyn with parchment paper and pen. Hamlyn stared at the blank paper and touched the feather quill, dripping with ink. The maiden mockingly prodded, “Surely, you must know how to write?”
“Please leave us, Clare. I wish for a private moment with this hedgehog.” Lady Blythe leaned towards Hamlyn with teary eyes. His heart broke for her and he reconsidered the red-feathered quill pen. It was two-times his length in size! Trying to move the pen with his four feet, Hamlyn clumsily rolled onto his back. There he rocked back and forth with exhaustion, cradling the pen onto his soft furry chest. As he stared up at the ceiling he thought he had no words to adequately express his master’s message. His eyes rolled down towards the parchment, which simply stared back at him with heavy silence, except for the soft plopping sound of ink dripping from the pen onto it. Feeling defeated, Hamlyn’s eyes moved towards Lady Blythe. She seemed to realize that Sir Nicholas’ very important message was trapped inside the little hedgehog’s heart. She sniffed with sorrow and gently spoke, “Words are difficult. In most cases, they do not completely express what is inside us. You have done a wonderful job communicating with me without them, I only ask that you try one last time to tell me what Sir Nicholas wants to say.”
Eyes misty with emotion, Hamlyn righted himself onto the parchment. He held tight onto the quill and began to slowly scoot around the paper with it. Once finished he rolled off and looked at Lady Blyth with eager eyes. She moved closer and stared down at what Hamlyn had completed—it was a drawing of a small heart. It was a simple line-drawing but it literally spoke with expression and meaning. It also sang beautifully of modesty and truth and, most of all, love.
Spellbound, Lady Blyth could not look away from the heart but she managed to whisper to Hamlyn a very soft, “Thank you.”
Hamlyn watched as a tear fell from the lady’s lovely face onto the heart. Tears and ink washed together on the parchment and Hamlyn knew then that his master’s message was successfully delivered.