Leo finished grooming the ocelot, who seemed to like having his paws stroked. In fact, while he’d been stroking the smaller cat’s left hind paw, the ocelot had fallen asleep. Leo, big gentle cat that he was, found himself rapidly becoming fond of the ocelot.
“he’s so small and defenceless,” Leo thought. Embracing the ocelot tightly, Leo closed his eyes.
“You haven’t adopted that ocelot have you Leo?” Theo asked.
“what?” Leo asked, half asleep, “what was that you said Theo?”
“What I said was,” Theo replied, “well, more what I was asking, was if you’d adopted that ocelot.” Leo looked down at the cat snuggled against his body.
“My mind says I want to,” the lion replied, “but my reasoning says I can’t possibly do it.”
“Why not?” Clarence asked, “for you are a cat, and so’s he. It wouldn’t be that strange.”
“Dogs adopt ducklings, and that’s not seen as strange,” Hop along remarked.
“yeah, true,” Leo replied, “but I can’t really do it. It was a silly thought of mine.”
“A genuine thought, born of a wish to help others,” Theo said.
“but he’s an ocelot!” Leo replied, his conflicting emotions nearly getting the better of him.
“How does this feel?” the ocelot asked, hugging Leo as best he could. Leo, shocked and embarrassed the ocelot had overheard, was equally overwhelmed by the feeling he got when the smaller cat threw his paws around his neck and hugged him. Leo’s eyes filled with tears.
“that feels wonderful,” Leo sniffed, “I’m as bad as snowy, adopting unlikely animals.” The ocelot snuggled up to Leo once more, Leo hugging him close.
“Are you crying Leo?” The ocelot asked, “my fur’s getting wet!” Leo wiped his eyes with a huge paw.
“yeah, I am,” Leo sobbed, now unable to hide his feelings.
“that’s Leo all over,” Theo said, “he’ll adopt anyone who needs a guiding paw.” Leo held the ocelot tenderly in his paws, gazing into his eyes.
“You are so wonderful,” Leo purred. The ocelot could feel the depth of love the lion held for him.
“Not anyone Theodore,” salty said, coming into the room, “Leo likes that ocelot a great deal.”
“I’ve heard his
snowy companion doesn’t like him much now,”
“You mean to say
“Sorry to be the bringer of bad news n’all, but that’s what he said,” she confirmed. Leo dug the toes of all four paws into the carpet.
“The little swine, the horrid little, I haven’t got the words to describe him! That tiger should be thrown out right now! From what I heard, the ocelot saved that tiger’s life! Not only that, but he endangered his own doing it!” Leo was close to tears, but for a different reason this time.
“I won’t have him taken advantage of!” the lion roared, “that tiger had better keep well out of my way!” The ocelot felt Leo’s anger and tried to comfort him.
“Don’t worry about him,” the ocelot said, “he’s small. The one I’m worried about is that brown bear who threw me down the stairs, then out of the house! He should be dealt with, if anyone can deal with him.”
“Bruin will be dealt with,” Leo promised, “I will deal with him later!” Bruin looked at Leo, and knew the huge lion meant business.
“Bruin,” Leo snarled, “you don’t attack my cub and get away with it that easily. You qualify for gold standard retribution for your crime!” Bruin knew of Leo’s strength, and knew also that he couldn’t defeat him. ~The ocelot felt a lump in his throat and tears pricking the backs of his eyes. He was sure he’d not misheard Leo.
“Leo called me his cub,” the ocelot thought, burying his face in his paws in case Leo or Theo should realise he’d overheard. Theo touched Leo’s paw with his.
“I think your ocelot friend has finally realised how you feel about him,” he said. Leo smiled and stroked the ocelot’s paws, the young cat turning his face to Leo’s, Leo seeing plainly that he’d been crying.
“Don’t cry little cub,” Leo said gently. The ocelot felt fresh tears pricking the backs of his eyes as he looked into the face of the huge lion. This lion was so unimaginably huge, so powerful, with such big paws, that the ocelot found it difficult, but then not so difficult to imagine him as gentle. Leo was gentle, he could see that. NO lion could have eyes like Leo’s and not be gentle at heart.
“Do you think of me as your cub Leo?” The ocelot asked. Leo smiled:
“I do, I do,” he replied. The ocelot rubbed his eyes with his paw.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said, “I want to be someone’s cub, but can I be a lion’s cub?” Leo hugged the ocelot tenderly.
“now can you be a lion’s cub?” he asked. The ocelot smiled and snuggled up to Leo.
“I can be,” he said, “Leo, I’d love to be your cub.” Leo purred softly, the ocelot burying his face in Leo’s mane.
“Welcome home my cub,” Leo purred.
Portia was overjoyed when she heard Leo had adopted the ocelot. She didn’t care what an ocelot was, as a cub, she just wanted playmates, and the new member of her family, even though he was much larger than her, might be a good playmate.
Portia named the ocelot “Ringo” as she said his tail had different coloured bands on it from root to tip.
Portia and Ringo played together a great deal, and sometimes, even Theo would play with Ringo, Leo’s younger brother unbending and actually finding he enjoyed playing with the younger animals. Always it was though that Ringo, after a day’s adventure with Portia, who’d appointed herself the ocelot’s guardian, Ringo would always return to Leo’s side to sleep. Portia gave up her space between Leo’s forepaws so Ringo could snuggle down into the warm space. Anyway, being an older cub, she often liked sleeping in different places every night, sometimes beside Pipin, other times beside Clarence and Tembi on their rug.
Meanwhile, Bruin was getting the worst of it from Clarence.
“You disgust me Bruin!” Clarence yelled. Bruin spat at the lion, a huge mistake! Clarence belted Bruin across his nose, furious with him for throwing Ringo out.
“It’s raining outside,” Clarence yelled, “how would it be Bruin if I threw you out into the cold and wet?” Bruin lay on his back where Clarence had thrown him. His paws in the air, Bruin looked a sorry state. He watched in horror as Clarence’s paw came into his line of sight, slamming down on his nose! Bruin screamed with pain!
“I will not let you get away with mistreating our most vulnerable cousins!” Clarence screamed.
“Don’t do him too much harm!” Tinka pleaded.
“but he threw Ringo out!” Clarence yelled, almost weeping. Leo growled menacingly.
“Let me deal with him!” He snarled, “Ringo’s my cub!”
“Oh dear Bruin,” Kalahari said, “you’ve really bust it this time.” Leo rose to his feet and padded across to Bruin, Kalahari watching intently.
“Get him Leo!” the meerkat encouraged. Leo looked down with distaste at Bruin sprawled on the carpet.
“Leave now Clarence,” Leo said softly, “I’ll deal with this.” Clarence knew he had no choice, and crawled away. Leo picked bruin up by his forepaws, dragged him to the front door, opened the door, lifted Bruin up so his head didn’t strike the step, then threw the brown bear bodily out of the house! Bruin flew into the street, landing with a thud on the hard concrete.
“I would have found a black sack to put you in Bruin,” Leo said, “but I don’t know where they are!” Bruin moaned with pain and fear. He’d thought himself so safe, his safety and comfort assured by the boss letting him in. Now he wasn’t so sure who ran the house, was it the boss, or the animals he let in? Bruin decided that, if he ever got back into the house, he would lodge a complaint with the boss about Leo’s treatment of him and see what happened. Lying on the concrete, Bruin knew his case wouldn’t be helped by his treatment of Ringo. Bruin had thrown the ocelot out into the cold and wet, and the boss wouldn’t give him the time of day. The boss would commend Leo for taking in Ringo and protecting him, whereas Bruin would get no hearing at all. Miserably, Bruin dragged himself to the gate into the wood behind the house where the animals lived. Clawing his way up the metal, he opened the gate and crawled through. Struggling along the path, his paws now sore from the hard ground, as he was not used to outdoor life, Bruin knew he must find shelter and food. He knew wild brown bears ate berries and other plant like stuff, so he must now do the same. Crawling forward, Bruin found himself a bush to hide in.
Leo watched as Bruin crawled away. Making sure the brown bear was out of sight, Leo slammed the door.
“now he’ll have to do time out there,” the lion thought.
Bruin hid in his bush, massaging his sore paws as best he could. He knew he couldn’t hold out for long, for he hadn’t got the skills to survive, and his paws were not up to the job of walking on hard ground. They were already sore, and set to get even more painful. Bruin settled down to think. What was it he hated about the ocelot named Ringo?
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