Be it near or in a land far, far, away. Be it short or long ago, as once-upon-a-time ever was. Purple Hippo grew bored with the generous circumference of her purple-ness. As a result, and thanks to second-day free shipping, she had a slew of packages delivered to her door.

Purple Hippo turned this way and that in front of the mirror, surrounded by open boxes, tissue paper, packing peanuts, and other intermediary stuff. "That's more like it," she said, with a newly rekindled appreciation for the reflection of her personage. Feathers, a tutu, contact lenses, lipstick, and much more! Clearly, a fashion debut was in order.

Bunyoro Rabbit, Dik-Dik, and Pygmy Hedgehog were among those who responded to the invitation.

Purple Hippo, you see, while writing out her invitations, thought a test audience of little people might help her get better acclimated to the unbridled adoration of all Africa.

However, it turned out that Sister Mouse had been overlooked.  She came anyway and sat on a pebble to see what was going on.

Once all were seated and appropriately hushed, Purple Hippo presented herself between the rows of admirers. Sashaying up and down the aisle, twisting and turning, she finally thumped her foot. "Now, little ones, tell me why I am so beautiful."

After a longish moment, Bunyoro Rabbit stood up.  Holding his chin in a most discerning manner, he said,  "I was remarking just the other day how Purple Hippo’s feathers, long and majestic, are significantly more decorative than those of the famed Ostrich, who lives in the Great Yellow Plain beyond. " He addressed the audience, "Isn’t that so!"

Just so! All the small animals nodded. Bunyoro Rabbit returned to his chair, twitching his astute tail.

A demure Purple Hippo batted her lashes. Her pleasure was sublime.  With a sweep and toss of her long peacock feathers, she deemed Bunyoro Rabbit true.

The audience then prodded Dik-Dik Antelope to stand. At first, timid and shaky as a newborn on untried legs, he found just enough voice to squeak out:  "And at the water’s edge, did I not ask all: "Who else but our own Purple Hippo has such golden, blazing fierce, tigress eyes?" 

After his testimony, the Dik-Dik felt a sudden shiver and sat down with a plop. Purple Hippo fixed her golden contact lenses upon the tiny antelope and gazed intently, hungrily, ferociously. Seeing him shiver again, she deemed the Dik-Dik true.

Meanwhile, Pygmy Hedgehog was casting tender glances upon Sister Mouse. She sat prettily by and seemed to enjoy the pageant enormously, in her little way. "It is your turn, Pygmy Hedgehog," Purple Hippo rumbled. "Tell me what makes me so beautiful. Stand."

"I am standing," said Pygmy Hedgehog. Purple Hippo needed a moment to see. Indeed, it was perfectly so. "Very well. I am waiting," she said.

Pygmy Hedgehog stepped forward. "And earlier today I asked… who was it now I asked?" he began, "No matter who, but I distinctly remember saying when I first beheld Purple Hippo’s full red lips and, and… no one else can wear a tutu quite like… gah…" Alas, his heart was not in it.

Pygmy Hedgehog instead turned to Sister Mouse, with his hand to his heart. "And you, Sister Mouse, have a wonderfulness all about you I could never fully embrace with mere words."

He bowed low to Sister Mouse, and perhaps he even sat down. It was so hard to tell.

In fear and trepidation, the small animals hushed.

Purple Hippo glowered.  She did not care the least bit for off-topic remarks made at the expense of her court and debut.  She swept back her long feathers, locked her golden gaze on Sister Mouse, and smacked her big red lips. "Sister Mouse, it appears that you have found an admirer. However, with a little tinkering and a prayer, you might be able to follow in my footsteps. I encourage everyone to dream big."

Sister Mouse climbed down to leave, her smile already having gone elsewhere.

Hold the show! Wasn't it surprising to see Pygmy Hedgehog take the initiative? Suddenly, he seemed to loom over the whole affair. Whatever it was he had in mind, his heart was clearly in it this time. "Purple Hippo," he spoke clearly. "You are most extraordinarily arrayed with lips like red wine, the golden eyes of a lioness, and long lovely, need I say, exotic feathers. You might well be taken for the most beautiful in all Africa, had you even the slightest thing in common with this borrowed finery."

That said, he excused himself while Purple Hippo was still working out whether it was a compliment or not.

So, my dear reader, sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles. The world is a vast place, after all. Purple Hippo’s fashion sense was panned as distinctly lackluster, no matter where she took the show. But who can figure critics? Eventually, she returned to lounging up to her ears and eyes in the green, green river--the firmly acknowledged queen of blowing bubbles.

You may be interested to know, Pygmy Hedgehog and Sister Mouse later hooked up and went on to live happily ever after in distant Jar-din du Luxembourg, Paris, France. There they live to this day selling miniatures they paint on the riverfront. It is a must do to view them when you visit. For such a small couple they are enormously loved.