The next day, Linda went to sit in the closet with Quillbur. He was sleeping inside his shoebox. So Linda lay down on the floor next to him. Somehow she hoped that, by being close to him, she could help him get better.
Suddenly, the front door slammed open and Walter ran into the room without even knocking.
“Linda!” he shouted. “It’s okay! Quillbur doesn’t have phinaly pharpis!!!”
Linda sat up quickly. “He doesn’t?” she asked, surprised and excited.
Walter flopped down on his knees next to Linda and held up the quill he had taken. “No, he doesn’t,” Walter affirmed. His face was glowing.
“What does he have?” Linda wanted to know. A tiny bit of worry crept back into her mind. Maybe he had something worse.
“Baby hedgehogs shed their quills between 8 and 12 weeks of age,” Walter told her. “It’s like losing your baby teeth. Hedgehogs lose their baby quills and get grownup ones.”
“How do you know it’s not phinaly pharpis?” Linda asked.
“If Quillbur had phinaly pharpis, his quills would have been softer – not prickly, see?” Walter held up his quill again.
Linda breathed a big sigh of relief. She was so glad Quillbur was going to be okay.
Walter crossed his legs into Indian style and sat on the floor with his back against the wall. “All we have to do is provide supportative care,” Walter said.
Linda puckered her eyebrows in a puzzled frown. “Su-por-ta-tive?” she asked.
Walter nodded. “We have to take good care of him and keep him healthy. We have to make sure he gets the right food and water and stuff,” he explained. Walter looked pointedly at Linda and crossed his arms. “What are you feeding him?” he asked.
Linda pressed her finger against her chin as she thought. Then she answered, “Roaches and beetle and earthworms and bits of meat.”
Walter nodded wisely. “That’s good,” he said. “They also like caterpillars. Sometimes they eat millipedes and earwigs.”
“Ewwww,” exclaimed Linda.
Walter nodded again. “Sometimes they even eat slugs and snails…” he added.
“EWWWW! GROSS!” Linda exclaimed again, even louder.
“…but they don’t really like them,” Walter finished. “And sometimes they can get very sick from them.”
Linda shuddered. She hated slugs. They were so slimy.
Walter grinned. Then he went on, “You can sometimes give a crushed unsalted peanut to a hedgehog.”
Linda relaxed again. Peanuts were not gross. She felt much better now.
“But,” Walter said, with a fierce frown. “Do NOT give any bread or milk to Quillbur. It’s not good for him.”
Linda shrugged. “Mama won’t let me anyway,” she said. She leaned over to the door of the shoebox and said, “I’m so glad you’re okay Quillbur. We’ll take very good care of you. Good, sup-por-ta-tive care!”
Quillbur opened one eye, peering over his snuggly blanket. He was too sleepy to get up, but Linda almost thought she saw him wink at her.
So, very slowly, Linda winked back. She was so happy he was going to be okay.