An educational proposal.
Whitie felt Candy trembling as she wept.
“It’s going to be all right,” Whitie said, sounding more confident than she felt. Candy wiped her eyes with a damp paw.
“it’s not going to be all right,” she sniffed, “the cubs, all except Tembi, hate you Whitie!”
“They can’t hate someone they’ve never taken the trouble to meet,” Whitie said.
“Oh yes they can, and they do!” Candy wailed, “they won’t listen Whitie, not at all!”
“How about if we try educating them in a more interactive manner,” Tigger suggested.
“Now you’ve really lost your marbles Tigger,” Stifftail scoffed, “What the hell are you on about?”
“No, I’m serious,” Tigger replied.
“yeah, and so
“I thought the last one was bloody
funny,” Stifftail replied, “There was
“She was scared of the dragon wasn’t she,” he said.
“she wanted to get away from it,” Stifftail conceded, “but it was still funny, what she said n’all.” Tigger clenched his forepaws to stop himself from walloping Stifftail.
“Oh, that’s big of you!” Stifftail mocked, “you are so big Tiggie, “slurry filled thoughts” you say!”
“Shut up Stifftail!” Amber snapped. Stifftail yawned insultingly at Amber.
“I’m bored,” Stifftail said, “there’s no fun here.” Sam snorted with disgust.
“You are so vitriolic!” he yelled, crushing the end of Stifftail’s long tail in both forepaws. Stifftail screamed and turned on Sam, trying to bite him! Sam let go with his left forepaw and, still holding onto Stifftail’s tail with his right, punched the snow leopard on the nose with his free paw as it came within range. Stifftail growled with fury!
“I hate you!” he yelled at Sam.
“You’re not on my Christmas card list,” Sam replied calmly. Amber laughed out loud, despite her attempts not to.
“I will tear your throat out!” Stifftail screeched.
“Stop it you two!” Clarence yelled. His thunderous voice stopped everyone in their tracks.
“I have heard everything here, and I think it’s disgusting!” the lion shouted, “Sam, release Stifftail’s tail! Do it now!” Sam dropped the end of the snow leopard’s tail.
“now Stifftail,” Clarence said, “you will keep your views to yourself! You are a horrid, vindictive, nasty creature! I would ban you from setting paw in this house if I were in charge, but I am not, so I can’t!” Turning to Tigger, Clarence looked at his old friend.
“Your idea of interactive lessons for the cubs regarding getting on with Whitie and the other blind cubs is a good one,” he said, “We will now go, you and I, and put it to the parents of the cubs. Elsa can teach the lessons, she’s good at that kind of thing.” Tigger smiled at Clarence.
you,” he said, “I will go with you to
arrange this. Maybe we can educate them
Tigger and Clarence made their way downstairs with Whitie and Blanche. Once in the living room, Clarence called together all the adult animals. He’d gained the respect of a fair number of the animals after refusing to give in to his instinct to eat Carol during the storm, and now Clarence could call a meeting without Matilda’s help.
“Right,” Clarence said when he had the attention of all the adult animals, “There have been some unfortunate things happening here, which have caused me and others great concern. the main one is the refusal of the cubs to play with Whitie, Blanche or the lynx cub.”
“You can’t like everyone,” Winifred said.
“No,” Clarence agreed, “but I’ve heard it’s not anything to do with that.” Winifred looked down at her paws, she knew why Tarker never played with the blind cubs, and Clarence was correct, it had nothing to do with the personality of the cubs.
“none of the tiger cubs, or the common leopard cubs, or the polar bear cubs will play with Whitie, Blanche, or the lynx cub,” Clarence said, “nor will they play with Tembi, and she’s not blind like they are.”
“She played with Whitie!” Tarker yelled, “she’ll become blind now I’ll bet.” Clarence heard Whitie’s distressed whimper at Tarker’s words, and fought to ignore her.
“That kind of attitude is what we are going to try to remedy,” Clarence said, “Tigger has an idea which could be a lot of fun, as well as be educational to those cubs who think Whitie and Blanche are strange. Tigger, the floor’s yours.” Tigger crawled forward and gazed at the assembled animals.
“my plan is simple,” he said, “teach the cubs what it is to be blind like Whitie and Blanche are. We can do this by covering their eyes with a handkerchief or something. the boss has a scarf which I’ve seen in a drawer, he never goes there, and I can get the scarf, or maybe two scarves. We can use it to cover the cub’s eyes.”
“Then what?” Winifred asked, still staring at her paws.
“we get them to try and play with each other,” Tigger said, “nice and gentle like, no claws or nothing, just touching each other with their paws. Then they will see what it is like for Whitie, Blanche and the lynx cub.”
“You are going to make them blind?” Winifred asked incredulously, “what good would that do?”
“It would teach them, for a while at least, what it is to be as Whitie and Blanche are all the time,” Tigger replied, “it will be okay.”
“I’ll bet you won’t do it!” Winifred yikkered, “you, big brash Tiggie! You wouldn’t do it would you?” Tigger looked sadly at Winifred.
“Winnie dear,” he said, “I don’t need to pretend, “I know what it is not to see too well. I can’t see you for example, and you are only two feet away from me. I can see you when you’re close up, but by then you are six inches from my nose. Yes Winifred, even I will put the scarf on.” Clarence stared at Tigger.
“So that was why you nearly fell down the stairs when we came down here,” he said, “I thought you were being clumsy!” Tigger looked at his friend.
“Clarence,” he said, “now you know why I took your paw that first time we met. I needed a reference point as to where you were.”
“Reference point it might have been,” Clarence said, “but you gave me strength when you took hold of my paw that day.” Tigger took Clarence’s paw in his.
“we all need help to be strong sometimes Clarence,” Tigger said.
“so you couldn’t save your cubs from the hunters,” Clarence said, “you didn’t find them in the grass did you Tigger.” Tigger swallowed hard.
“No I didn’t,” he replied hoarsely, “I couldn’t see enough to drag them away as the hunters shot their mother and then did the same to our cubs. I ran, I could do nothing else.” Tigger buried his face in his paws.
“I went back when I could no longer hear the hunters, and it was then I found my cubs. I was no use to my mate or my cubs!” Tigger sobbed.
“What was that you said about strength,” Isaac said.
“shut it,” Elsa warned quietly, “Tigger probably hasn’t told anyone the real truth before now.” It was true, Tigger hadn’t. In an effort to deny his own vulnerability, he’d adapted the story to hide the fact he’d been present at the time his cubs were killed. Up until that day, Tigger couldn’t face the realisation he’d been unable to save his own cubs.
Tigger let everything hang out, not concealing anything. He told the assembled animals the whole story, every last horrendous detail.
“I know I couldn’t have saved my cubs,” Tigger said, “but every day I feel guilty for leaving them. I could have tried to save them, and I should have done so, but I ran away!”
“You would have been killed if you’d tried,” Bruin said.
“I know,” Tigger replied, “but I didn’t try, I ran away, I was a coward!”
“You realised you could do nothing,” Whitie said, “you couldn’t have saved those cubs Tigger.” Tigger reached out with a forepaw and groped for Whitie’s. The snow leopard cub felt Tigger touch her shoulder and trace his way to her paw.
“You talk sense Whitie,” Tigger said, “I sometimes find it hard to accept how I am. I didn’t always have poor vision, it came on gradually, and now, now I can’t see much at all.”
“Now we’ve had the ins and outs of your life Tigger,” Winifred snapped, “can we get on with what we were meant to be talking about in the first place!”
“Tigger’s experience makes it even more important we educate the cubs, and some of the adults too I think,” Matilda said.
Meanwhile, Tigger hugged Whitie tightly.
“You’re only a cub,” he said to the snow leopard, “but you talk so much sense.”
“I had to grow up fast,” Whitie admitted, “I had to look after Blanche when we were separated from our mother. I managed to keep her fed and watered, that was until Snowy half tail found us. She found us not a moment too soon, for we were both going downhill fast. Snowy might be authoritarian, and seem a total bitch to most of the animals here, but she saved mine and blanche’s lives. I know Snowy was forced to give us back to our mother when she was found, but I think it was a bit harsh, for Snowy had picked us up off the track and saved our lives.”
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Martin Wilsher © 2010
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