Stifftail makes a move on Snowy half tail.
Furious with Amber for playing with Tigger, Stifftail decided he would get his revenge. So when Snowy Half tail looked up at the animals on the quilt in mute appeal to them for sanctuary after her “night of the cold paws,” as she dubbed the night when the window had been opened and cold air had eddied horribly around her paws, chilling them to their marrow, Stifftail decided he would make his move, and go to Snowy’s aid. After all, Amber would really worry when she saw him stroking Snowy’s paws, which he thought he might be able to coax her into letting him do, for Stifftail wasn’t entirely sure Snowy’s hatred of anyone stroking her paws could not be undone. Maybe it stemmed from her last relationship with a male, who’d forcibly touched her and mated with her. Stifftail knew leopards and tigers could never mate, their offspring wouldn’t survive, but he knew he had a chance of getting close to Snowy, very close to her, and that would surely make amber think twice about touching that dam Bengal tiger’s paws! Stifftail decided he would make Amber pay for her agreement to Tigger’s advances. Tigger must have been desperate for a mate, he’d had to be to even think of making friends with Amber, for leopards of any sort just did not mix with tigers. So Stifftail responded to Snowy’s mute appeal to someone, anyone to help her. Little was he to know, that there was more to Snowy’s remorse than just a need to be warm.
Leaping down from the quilt, Stifftail approached Snowy half tail. Seeing him coming towards her, Snowy waited, expecting more sore paws at the end of their encounter. When Stifftail did nothing but lie down beside her and, to her annoyance, take one of her forepaws in his, Snowy was relieved, almost to the point of ignoring the fact he’d taken one of her paws in his.
“Snowy,” Stifftail said, “I’d like to help, if I can.” Snowy wondered what had brought this change of heart on. She’d heard Stifftail hated her almost as much as Amber did, but now, here he was, stroking her paw and offering help. Snowy looked at him.
“I’m rapidly coming to the realisation I’m a selfish and ungrateful tigress,” Snowy said, “Stifftail, I had so much, a nice warm place, the snow leopard cubs, even my own cubs with me again, and now,” She made a chopping action with her free forepaw, “it’s all gone, and I’m here, freezing my paws off. I know I shouldn’t have attacked Tigger, that was stupid. Now I wish I could take back those few moments of madness! I don’t want to be out here! I want to be warm, last night was painful! Now though, I’ve blown everything. Lost the lot, screwed my life up. I know I have one of my cubs, he stayed, but my other one left me for Tigger and Amber’s care. I realise I wasn’t too kind to him either now, and am regretting that more than what I did to Tigger. I ruled the quilt with an iron paw, and I know I shouldn’t have. We all live and learn, and I thought, just because I’d had my cubs in a cold dark place, I knew it all. I now know I didn’t and still don’t. I would give anything, anything to be back where I was. Under the quilt, snug, warm paws, my cubs beside me. Now though, I’m here, for I don’t know how long, and it’s killing me Stifftail!” Stifftail was unprepared for this, and he didn’t like it. He thought Snowy to be a hard bitch, but now he was finding a compassionate side to her, a side which he couldn’t deal with. He thought she was like him, would throw her cubs to the lions if given half a chance, but no, it seemed he’d totally miscalculated Snowy half tail. Here, instead of an unemotional killing machine, who thought of noone but herself, there was a tigress, who wanted her cubs to love her, who loved her cubs dearly, and was torn apart when first Whitie, Blanche, and then her eldest cub left her. Stifftail felt the paw in which he held Snowy’s getting wet, looking at the tigress’s face, he saw she was crying.
“I can’t cope with this!” Snowy sobbed. Stifftail dropped Snowy’s paw and withdrew hurriedly. He wasn’t getting mixed up with a tigress who wanted anything to do with reconciliation with anyone on the quilt. He wanted to spite Amber, to show her what pain was, but it seemed he’d already pushed her away, and she didn’t care about him. All Amber cared about was Whitie, Blanche and now, Tigger.
?”Stifftail,” Snowy said, “please, would you ask Arki if she would come to me. I need to talk with her.” Stifftail shuffled off in a raging temper. Yelling up to Arki that:
“Half tail wants a chat!” Snowy, on hearing him deriding her, buried her face in her paws and broke down completely.
Arki got off the quilt hind paws first, feeling carefully for the carpet beneath her paws before committing herself. Crawling towards Snowy, she saw the tigress was in a bad way. Now Arki was a gentle bear, she’d been terrified beyond anything imaginable in her early life, and this had left its mark on her. Reaching Snowy’s side, Arki took one of the snow tigress’s forepaws, now damp from her tears, in hers.
“snowy dear?” Arki said gently, “it’s Arki.” Snowy Half tail stared at Arki through her tears.
“You’ve come to me,” the snow tigress said faintly, “Arki, I’m so sorry about everything! During the night of the cold paws, I didn’t get any sleep, so I thought long and hard. I’ve been a total bitch Arki, a total bitch to everyone! Amber, Tigger, Whitie, Blanche, even you and your cub. I know I deserved all this,” Snowy waved a paw round her, “I don’t want this any more. I don’t want to be isolated any more Arki! I will apologise to Tigger, and I’ll mean it too.”
“Tigger doesn’t hold anything against you,” Arki said, “he just wishes you’d let him play with your cubs, but if you don’t want that, then he’ll be okay with it.”
“Tigger can adopt my cubs if he wants,” snowy said, “after all, what kind of a role model have I been for them?” At this, the cub who’d stayed with snowy buried his head in her shoulder.
“I won’t leave you little one,” snowy said gently, stroking the tiny cub’s head with one massive forepaw.
Stifftail was now apoplectic with fury! He had misjudged Snowy half tail’s character,
and now looked a total idiot as well as a spiteful creature. He knew Amber had realised what he was doing,
and probably hated him for it too. Now
Arki, that stupid female polar bear, was acting as go between for snowy to make
amends with Tigger! Stifftail knew
crawling beneath the quilt and smacking the pads of Tigger’s paws would only
serve to bring the whole quilt community down on him like a tonne of furry, but
very angry bricks. Stifftail knew Arki’s
large male polar bear friend, the furball, would have a field day, using his
paws to beat him into the carpet.
Stifftail hated the furball, he was silent but very loyal to Arki. So comfortable with him was she that Arki
would even let him hug her cub, something Stifftail knew no mother polar bear
ever let happen. Male polar bears got
nowhere near the cubs. Then Stifftail
shuddered from his nose to his toes.
He’d forgotten about Isaac. Arki
would surely bring him in to pulverise anyone who offended the quilt
community. Isaac was only away from the
community, not excluded from it, and Stifftail knew he and Arki often talked
late at night when her cub was asleep in the protective paws of the
furball. Stifftail wondered what
consequences his little escapade would bring on him. He wanted so badly to hurt Tigger! He blamed the
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