He was woken up by Squirrel shaking his shoulder.
“We’re almost above the sea, come and see!”
Hedgehog got up, still half-asleep, and followed him towards the portholes.
When he looked, he discovered a strip of land, not as green as the last time he looked, and just behind it, the blue-grey expanse of the sea.
“It’s beautiful… It looks like the sky, but without the clouds…”
The water sparkled, its colour changing in places. It was stunning.
He finally forced himself to climb down to have a snack and some water, and went back to work.
Soon, the order came to diminish the production of steam. They were approaching London.
Hedgehog went to look out of a window as soon as he could and discovered a town not very different from Paris at first glance: houses, warehouses, parks, big building with an unknown function…
And yet, the town was different from Paris. Houses and buildings didn’t look like the ones in Paris, and there was a huge tower with a big clock on it.
It started ringing just at that moment. Hedgehog had never heard bells like the ones of the tower.
“The British call it Big Ben” said Rabbit, “Ben, I don’t know why, but big, that’s easy to see!”
They finally docked in a big field on the outskirts of town, where other airships were already.
There were small ones, big ones, some were made of wood, others of metal, and some even had decorated balloons.
Passengers disembarked using a gangway, and would leave by car or bus to finish their journey. Goods were offloaded by using ropes and hoists, or carried by people.
Finally, Hedgehog and the other stockers went off. A few stayed on board to keep the boilers running. They weren’t staying long enough for it to be worth turning them off.
They had been walking for a little while when Hedgehog realised something.
“I don’t understand what people are saying! I knew people don’t speak French here, but I’d forgotten. How are we going to order food?”
“Don’t worry, we speak a few words, and the staff understand well enough. You end up learning many languages when you travel, you’ll see!”
His friends and colleagues brought him to a pub, as he found out it was called, and they ordered food and drinks.
When their drinks arrived, they all lifted their glasses.
“To Hedgehog! My this flight be the first of many! And congratulation, you did really well!”
Hedgehog was moved, and happy. He had finally fulfilled part of his dream, and he had done it with friends.
“Thank you! Thanks to you, I am the first flying hedgehog. It’s amazing!”
And this is how little Hedgehog, now an adult, started working on a dirigible.
One day, he even became a pilot.
But that’s another story…