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The Little Hippo

A story about a little hippo who became happy once he found a friend.

"Have you met our little Hippo?"

"Wait... are you talking about the little Hippo?"

"Hold on, let me start from the beginning and I'll tell you all about how the little Hippo became the happiest hippopotamus in the world. How did it happen, you ask? Let's listen to the story..."

Once upon a time a little Hippo was lounging in his swamp, sulking. He wasn't in the best of moods. To be honest, his mood was downright bad. As bad as it gets. Think about it: the sky above was cloudy, unfriendly and plain boring; the water was gray and murky; even the beach and the trees were lifeless and uninspiring. On top of that, the smell in the swamp wasn't very pleasant either... yuck! If you were a hippopotamus, you'd be bored to tears too!

The little Hippo looked around and saw that the other hippos were all having a good time. They ate their meals with great zest, took relaxing naps, then ate some more. And for the life of them they couldn't figure out why the little Hippo was so unhappy. What else could he possibly want out of life?

The little Hippo felt that he was different from everyone else, and that feeling worried him very much. Was there something wrong with him? Maybe he's a defective hippopotamus? Or maybe he's just sick?

The little Hippo sighed, inhaled deeply and started blowing bubbles. They were big and gray. Blub-blub-blub... But that didn't cheer him up for long; before he knew it he was bored again. After all, no one else could see the bubbles he was making, no one else could share in his fun...

The little Hippo let out another sigh and dove deep into the water. But that didn't help either, and he decided to move closer to the beach.

"Looks like I'll always be a sad and gloomy hippopotamus," he was thinking.
And the day kept dragging on and on, like a boring class, and nothing was happening, nothing at all. Imagine the boredom - it was terrible!

Suddenly there was cheerful singing nearby, and the little Hippo came face to face with a playful little Monkey.

"Hey, buddy! What a wonderful day, don't you think?!" the little Monkey exclaimed.

"M-m-m-m..." the little Hippo sighed for the third time. You know why he sighed, right? Right, because he was unbelievably bored! And the little Hippo decided to share with the little Monkey that he was probably the most miserable hippopotamus in the world.

The little Monkey nodded his head sympathetically.

"I know why you're bored, you're all alone! Now that just won't do - you need a friend!"

"A friend? Where can I find a friend? Not in my swamp, that's for sure," the little Hippo looked at the murky water, doubt in his eyes. "Maybe I can get one in a store, where my mom buys food and candy?"

"I'm not sure, but I doubt it. Let's take a look around, maybe someone didn't want a friend and left one behind somewhere? Or maybe lost one?"

"Lost a friend?!" the little Hippo was so shocked he blew another bubble. "That can't be! A friend is a real precious commodity!"

And so the little creatures set about looking for a friend. But there was one problem: they didn't know what a friend looks like! Does he have a tail? Is his skin striped? Is he prickly or furry? And where can they find this mysterious friend?

They went round and round the forest but didn't see anything special. Or anyone special, to be more precise. The adults were all busy, tending to their matters: feeding their kids, preparing food or cleaning.

"I knew it," the little Hippo was growing sadder and sadder. "I'll always be alone. I'll never have friends!"

"Don't be silly!" the little Monkey cried out. "We haven't looked in all of the forest yet. Your friend is probably really close. We'll find him for sure!"

And so the little Hippo and the little Monkey kept on searching, peering into every hollow and parting every bush, going up on hilltops and looking about from there, but still they couldn't find what they were looking for. Imagine that!

Finally they sat down on a felled tree, utterly disappointed. The little Hippo's eyes began welling up with huge and treacherous hippopotamus tears, and soon they rained down like a flood, threatening to drown the whole forest.

"I hate to tell you this, but the forest creatures aren't ready for another rainy season," a voice sounded right next to them. It was old grandpa Porcupine. Everyone in the forest knew that he was very wise.

"I-I-I w-will n-ne-ver h-ha-ve f-f-friends!" the little Hippo sobbed.

"But you already have a friend!" the Porcupine said.

"Really?!" the little Hippo stopped crying at once. "But where is he?!"

"He's right there next to you," grandpa smiled. "And he's been there all along. He's your real and true friend."

"The Monkey? But he doesn't even look like me," the little Hippo was confused. "He's not as big as me, he can't even blow bubbles! I thought that a friend is something very big and pink, beautiful and mysterious, like a gigantic colorful bubble! Like a present!"

"Of course, a friend is the biggest present in the world," the Porcupine agreed. "But he doesn't always look like you picture him. And when it comes to friends, color is not important at all. A friend is someone who thinks about you, helps you and cares about you, and wants you to be happy."

"Then I'm the luckiest hippopotamus in the world!" the little Hippo beamed with joy. "Thank you, Monkey!"

The little creatures sat in a meadow, dry under the sun's caressing rays, admiring the forest.

"Just look at how beautiful it is!" the little Hippo marveled. "The sky is clear and blue, the birds are singing, and the flowers exude the most wonderful smell. Why couldn't I see it all before?"

Even his own swamp no longer seemed gray and boring to him. Quite the opposite, it was beautiful because life suddenly became fascinating and exciting. After all, now the little Hippo had a friend!"

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