The arrival of a lost cub.

 

Tigger was having the same dreadful dream, his mate and cubs were being chased all over the forest by the hunters, and he was running for his own life, terrified and mewing pitifully.  When the killing was over, Tigger looked for his cubs, finding two dead in the grass.  Tigger knew this dream well, but could not stop the video when it started running.  Now he was weeping bitterly over the bodies of his dead cubs, knowing his mate’s body had been carted off by the hunters.  In his terror, Tigger Knew however that he’d had three cubs, and one was missing. This third cub, named Raja, was a fat cub with fat paws and a jolly manner.  A real happy cub he’d been, but now he was lost.  Tigger’s nightmare ended as it always did, in floods of tears, Tigger waking, weeping inconsolably for his mate and lost cubs.  Tigger remembered the scents of the nightmare.  The scent of forest, the smell of fear and blood, the scent of the human hunters, and last of all, the scent of the missing third cub.  This scent was one which moved him to tears faster than the memories of his mate and dead cubs, for Tigger didn’t know where the owner of the scent was, or whether he was alive or dead.  Tigger, waking finally, found the scent of his missing cub was still present, driving him mad.  Tigger mewed with anxiety and pain.

     “This is too much, too much!  I can’t cope!”  He suddenly felt huge paws enveloping him, and they smelt of his lost cub!

      “This is a dreadful trick!”  Tigger yelled, batting at the fat paws with his own.

     “Hey Tiggie, my sire, stop hitting me!”  Someone pleaded.

    “Raja?”  Tigger asked.  Tigger felt the paws tighten on him, huge fat paws, belonging to a fat tiger.

      “I am Raja, your lost cub,” The tiger mewed.  Tigger wept into the fur of the newcomer, while Raja held him tenderly.

     “I’ve found you now Tigger, I know what happened to you, and that you cannot see me any more.  Please, run your paws over my body; feel me from nose to tail.  Get to know your one remaining cub.  Tigger touched Raja’s nose with his paw, then traced over the large tiger’s body, from his nose to the toes of his fat paws.  Raja purred contentedly as his sire’s paws worked over his body.

      “I’m so glad to see you again Tigger,” Raja mewed.  Raja kissed Tigger’s nose, tasting his sire’s salty tears.  Tigger caught his breath as he touched his cub, but this was no longer a cub, but a grown tiger, still fat, and as gentle as he’d always been.

     “Raja, dear cub,” Tigger mewed, embracing him tightly.  Raja breathed deeply, enjoying his sire’s attention.

       “I don’t know how I found you,” Raja mewed, “I just knew you were here, something told me Tigger.  I came in here, and found you sleeping.  You were thrashing about, mewing and begging for mercy from someone.  I put my paws round you, and that was when you woke.  Now, now we’re here, together, and I’m safe, really safe!”  Tigger wanted to take Raja in his paws as he’d done when he was a cub, but couldn’t.  Raja, sensing his sire’s wishes, curled up tightly, so Tigger could hug him.  Tigger gathered his cub to him as he’d done when Raja was young, Raja’s eyes filling with tears as he felt his sire’s touch.  Fleur arrived, saw Raja was awake and waved cheerfully at him.

      “There’s my rescuer,” Raja mewed.  Tigger smiled at his cub.

      “She’s wonderful,” he purred, “Fleur’s a lovely cub.”

     “I agree,” Raja replied, “when I was dirty and sore from weeks outdoors, it was Fleur who helped me get clean again.”  Raja wriggled free of Tigger’s hug and padded over to fleur to hug her, Fleur embracing him tightly.  Pepper, standing just behind Fleur, also got a hug from Raja, and, so did Panja.  Panja snuggled up to Raja, enjoying the fat tiger’s hug.

      “So we’re half brother and sister?”  Fleur asked Raja, who smiled at her.

     “We are,” he mewed, “I could tell the minute we met.”

      “I do like you Raja,” Pepper mewed.  Raja smiled and took pepper’s paw.

      “I like you too Pepper,” he purred.

      “Where have you been since, well, since we were separated?”  Tigger asked his cub.

      “Please Tigger,” Raja pleaded, “Let me eat and sleep, then I’ll tell you.”

 

 

Once Raja had rested and eaten his fill of tuna veg mix, He told Tigger where he’d been since the hunters had killed his mother and sisters.

       “I got captured by a human,” Raja said, “They kept me in a cage in a city.  The humans thought of me as their plaything, forcing me to react by poking me from the safety of the other side of the bars of my cage.  Of course, I reacted angrily at first, but when I realised fierce reaction to their stick was what they wanted, I stopped reacting with anger, and just lay lethargically in my cage.  I wondered every day what had become of you Tigger.  I knew your sight was failing, and wondered if you were safe, or if you’d been thrown into a prison like cage, or if you were dead.  Then, about two years later, I heard of a place, a place where animals could go if they were unhappy or mistreated, or just needed a home.  A lioness told me of this place, and I knew from then on that I wanted to be there.  I played dead, and when I was thrown out of the cage, I escaped and ran for my life!  I found this place, and spent ages hiding in the woods.  Fleur found me a few hours later.  Fleur washed my face, body fur and paws, and told me about the community, and the rest is history.  Tigger stroked Raja’s paws, the fat tiger purring contentedly.

 

“Welcome home Raja,” Theo mewed, padding into the room where Tigger slept.  Raja looked at the lion with eyes full of fear.

      “Lions and tigers don’t mix,” he mewed, trying to bury his head in Tigger’s shoulder.

       “Believe me,” Fleur said, “mix with this lion and you’ll not regret it Raja.”  Raja looked at Theo.

      “Come here Raja, please,” Theo purred.  Raja padded across to Theo, his legs shaking so much he could hardly stand.

     “Um, ah, yes, sir?”  Raja stammered.  Theo looked into the fat tiger’s terrified face.

      “My name’s Theo,” Theo said, “I am leader here, and I come in peace, as do we all here Raja.  Now if you will, please, lie down,” Theo said gently, “lie down here.”  He patted the carpet with his paw.  Raja found himself complying, and when he was lying on his side, he suddenly panicked!  Screaming with fear, Raja lashed out with all four paws!  Theo calmly laid his huge left forepaw on Raja’s shoulder, just touching the tiger’s fur.

      “Peace my friend,” Theo mewed.  Raja’s paws scrabbled at Theo, his eyes screaming their message.

      “Fear is natural,” Theo purred, “but I think you’ll find it is misplaced here Raja my dear friend.”  Raja lay, exhausted from battering Theo with all four paws.  Theo gathered the tiger to him, hugging Raja with the same gentleness and love he felt for all the community.  Raja, mewing and crying with fear, let Theo hug him.  Raja suddenly felt warm and safe, as if the paws holding him were not those of a male lion, but those of a benevolent and protective force.  Raja’s breathing slowed, and he began to relax.

       “I won’t hurt you Raja,” Theo Mewed.  Raja, his paws now buried in Theo’s thick mane, snuggled up to the young lion.

       “That’s better,” Theo purred, stroking Raja’s right forepaw.  Raja felt the pads and toes of Theo’s paw massaging his own, and decided then and there that he wanted to be part of this community.

       “Paw massage,” Raja purred, “What a lovely thing that is.”  Theo smiled and kissed Raja on his nose.

       “You like it?”  He asked.  Raja, moved to tears by Theo’s gesture, buried his face in the lion’s mane.

     “I love paw massage, I love all that, and being rubbed down, and having my paws tickled, and everything!  I’m like Tigger, I love contact with others.  Please, tell me this Theo.  Do you, as a community, touch and stroke each other?  I ask, as I used to do so when I was young, touch and stroke my fellow cubs, and they stroked me,” Raja asked.  Theo smiled.

       “Of course we do,” he purred, “we love it here.  It’s how we do things.  We touch noses, stroke bellies and massage and tickle paws.

“Raja smiled and took Theo’s paw in his, stroking it.  Theo wiggled the toes of the paw Raja held, the tiger smiling at his signal.

       “Thank you for letting me stroke your paw Theo,” Raja mewed.  Theo smiled with genuine pleasure.

      “Thank you for stroking my paw Raja,” Theo mewed.

 

Theo rubbed Raja’s paw with his free one, Raja grinning at the lion.

 

“Now what are we going to do?”  Panja asked.

      “Why don’t we show Raja round a bit?”  Pepper suggested.

      “Um, yeah, why not,” Panja replied, “I’ve not seen much of this place either.”  Tigger smiled:

      “I haven’t seen much of the place either,” he mewed.  Theo laughed uproariously at his words, while fleur, embarrassed, mewed pitifully.

     “That’s not funny!”  She mewed.

      “I thought it was quite good,” Tigger whimpered.  Fleur hid her head.

       “It’s a terrible joke!”  She mewed, “how can you joke about something like that?”  Aslan padded into the room and laid a comforting paw on Fleur’s.

      “It’s okay,” he mewed, “if we don’t joke about these things, we’d go mad.”  Fleur looked at Aslan, and then remembered his history.

      “I’m sorry Aslan,” she mewed.

     “Let’s go,” Tigger said, taking Raja’s paw and leading him to the pool complex.

 

There they met Leo, Salty and Snowy, the three large cats playing Together. At the moment fleur and her party entered, Salty was getting his paws soundly tickled by the other two.  The military operation to tickle Salty’s paws stopped, much to his relief when Snowy saw Fleur and ran to her to hug her.  Leo was soon bowled over by Salty, and the snow leopard got him back by tickling his paws, Leo laughing helplessly.  Raja leapt into the pool and came to Leo’s aid, tickling Salty’s hind paws, the Snow leopard laughing as much as Leo.

     “Hey!”  He yelled, “Leave my paws alone!”  All the while curling his toes round Raja’s, showing the tiger he was enjoying his touch.  Raja grinned at Salty, his toes in those of the snow leopard.  Salty released Raja, the latter patting the leopard’s paw pads.

      “You don’t know him Raja!”  Tigger mewed.

      “I thought it was rather funny,” Salty said, stopping the assault on Leo’s paws to turn and hug Raja in his huge furry forepaws.  Raja purred contentedly as he felt Salty’s huge paws envelope him.

      “Dear sweet Raja,” Fleur purred, making Tigger and Raja smile.

       “Of course!”  Leo mewed, “you were the first to find Raja, and it was you who cleaned him up before any of us knew he was here!”

      “Yes,” Fleur mewed, “and now he’s clean, I can see he’s got more brightly coloured fur than I at first thought he had.”  Raja splashed over to Fleur and hugged her.  Fleur snuggled into her older brother’s hug.

 

“Now Fleur,” Raja mewed, “show me your domain.”  Fleur squeezed his paw.

     “Come,” she said, “let me show you.”  With that Raja released her and Fleur led him up the slope to the top of the water slide.  Raja looked down the slide, then back at fleur.

     “What do you do with this?”  He asked.  Fleur explained, and Raja looked wary.

      “So you are taken down the slope on water?”  He asked, still not quite understanding.

      “You are,” fleur mewed.  Raja dipped a paw into the fast flowing water.

      “Will you come down with me?”  He asked.  Fleur smiled, touched his paw and ran to the store room for a raft.  Dragging it across to the slide, she positioned it and indicated to Raja that he should get in the front.  Clambering in, Raja settled himself.

     “Now hold on with your forepaws,” Fleur said, “but if you feel the urge to cling to the raft with your hind paws, please grip with your toes, not your claws.”  Raja nodded, taking a firm hold of the plastic handles with his forepaws and settling his hind paws into the bottom of the raft.  Gripping with his toes, Raja waited for Fleur to push off, which she did, leaping into the rear portion of the raft.  The raft gathered speed, and then turned to the right, then the left, and then angled straight down!  Raja screamed as the raft hurtled towards the water!  The raft hit the water, Fleur and Raja thrown clear by the impact.  Swimming, Raja regained firm ground, gripping the tiles with desperately scrabbling toes, his whole body trembling violently.

     “Never again fleur, never again!”  He mewed, coughing and gasping.

      “Sorry,” Fleur replied, padding over and resting her wet paw on Raja’s.

       “I don’t mind swimming,” Raja mewed, “but going down that slide, oh no! Never again!”  Fleur hugged her brother tightly.

     “Let’s go get you dry,” she mewed.  Raja padded after his sister, smiling as he watched her padding over the tiles.  Raja, after hearing of his younger half sister’s traumatic start in life, wanted to throw his paws round her and protect her.  He loved fleur so much, and he’d only known her two days.  In a flash he was by Fleur’s side, taking her paw in his and making her stop walking.

      “Raja?”  She asked.  Then, feeling his fear, Fleur turned to him and hugged him.

      “I’m safe now,” Fleur mewed, “I know what you’re thinking.”  She kissed his nose, “dear sweet Raja,” Fleur purred, “you need not worry about me like you do.”

     “But I heard about your birth, and everything, and it was horrid, and I don’t know how anyone could do that to you fleur, and I want, I want to protect you my dear sister!”  Raja sobbed.  Fleur hugged him tightly.

      “I’m safe here,” she mewed, “and so are you.  So come, let’s go and get dried off.  Tell me Raja,” Fleur said, “have you ever been asked by another animal if they could massage you just because they like you?”  Raja shook his head.

    “Well Tigger did, but he’s the only one who has,” he replied.

     “Could I massage you from your nose to the pads of your paws?”  Fleur asked.  Raja’s eyes lit up at this.

      “yes, please,” he mewed, I’d love you to.”  Fleur smiled.

     “This is what we do all the time here,” she said, “then Raja, would you massage me from my nose to my paws?”  Raja smiled.

     “Could, could we play like cubs?”  He asked.  Fleur grinned.

    “Last one to tickle all four of the other’s paws is silly?”  She said playfully.  Raja grinned and stroked Fleur’s paw.

      “Let’s do all that, as if we were cubs again,” he mewed.  Fleur smiled and hugged her brother cub.

      “Rough and tumble?”  She asked.

     “As long as there’s plenty of tickling of paws then yes, all right,” Raja replied.

      “Like this?”  Fleur asked, tickling the pads and toes of Raja’s left forepaw.

     “Yes, like that!”  Raja laughed, curling his toes round Fleur’s.  Fleur smiled and rubbed Raja’s paw with hers.

      “Come on then,” she mewed.

 

Raja and Fleur used their paws to explore each other’s bodies and paws.  Both had fat paws, the toes of which were soon entwined, each holding onto the other’s toes with theirs, pressing their paw pads together and massaging each other’s toes.  This over with, Fleur and Raja stroked each other from tips of noses to paw pads, before curling up together, the rough and tumble game forgotten.  Raja and fleur examined the other by touch and sight, each enjoying the touch of the other’s paws, basking in the warmth of thick fur and gentle caressing paws.

       “This is wonderful,” Raja mewed.

     “It is,” Fleur purred.

 

Elsa crept in and settled down to watch the two cats, one older in years than the other, one having experienced as much of life as the other.  Elsa wanted to purr with contentment, but stopped herself, in case she woke the sleeping cats. 

 

Raja woke first, saw Elsa and smiled at her.

      “You are mother to Fleur I see,” he mewed.  Raja’s words made Elsa hide her face behind one of her huge forepaws in sudden shyness.

      “I’m, well, yes,” she mewed.

      “Fleur needs a mum you know,” Raja purred.  Elsa padded over to the large tiger and looked closely at him.

       “You are handsome Raja,” she mewed.  Raja felt like hiding his face with his paw.

      “I’m, well, handsome, yes, if you like me that is.”

     “I like the look of you,” Elsa mewed, “From your nose to the pads of your paws Raja my dear.”  She kissed him on his nose, Raja catching his breath as he felt the lioness’s warm touch.  Fleur woke in time to see Raja’s reaction to Elsa’s touch, and smiled at him.

       “Why not hug him mum,” she mewed, “Raja might like that, for his own mum’s dead now.”  Elsa looked at Raja smiled at the tiger and touched his paw with hers.

      “Come here my cub,” Elsa mewed.  Raja felt a rush of tears threaten to overcome him.

      “Elsa,” he choked, “please, oh, I’m going all silly now!”  Raja wiped his eyes with the back of one huge white soled forepaw and sniffed, “I’m sorry,” he sobbed.  Elsa threw her paws round Raja, hugging him tightly.  Raja cried into Elsa’s fur, finally able to grieve for his long dead mother.  Elsa cradled the Bengal tiger as he wept, not attempting to stem the flow of tears.

      “You’re safe now Raja my dear cub,” Elsa mewed, patting Raja’s shoulder with her huge paw.

 

Raja felt more contented than he had for years, feeling safe in the paws of this strange lioness.

 

Fleur watched her older brother relax totally in Elsa’s care.

Shuang padded up to Fleur, settling down beside her, fleur embracing the panda cub in her warm paws.  Raja stared at the cub in Fleur’s paws.

      “She’s beautiful,” he mewed, reaching out with a huge paw to touch Shuang’s nose.  Shuang, having never had to fear any tiger before, let Raja touch her, even going so far as to nuzzle the pads of the paw which ever so gently touched her nose.

       “What are you little one?”  Raja asked.

       “I’m a panda cub,” Shuang replied.

      “A panda cub,” Raja said thoughtfully, as if fixing the name in his head, “and what is your name?”

     “Shuang sir,” Shuang replied, “why, what’s your name?”

       “My name’s Raja,” the tiger replied.

     “Naja?”  Shuang asked.

     “No no no!”  Elsa laughed, “Raja, as in tiger.  Naja’s a snake!”  Raja literally rolled on the floor laughing, pedalling the air with his huge paws!

     “Sorry Shuang, but that was so good!”  He mewed, thrashing the air with vigour.  Shuang smiled, seeing the funny side to her mistake.

       “Those paws look strokable,” she said, reaching out with a tiny paw and catching hold of Raja’s left forepaw as best she could.  Raja let the panda cub take his paw in both of hers and stroke it, something which he enjoyed hugely.  Elsa smiled at Raja’s reaction to Shuang’s slip up.  Shuang found Raja had huge soft paws, which became even more inviting when he curled his toes round hers, holding her paw in his.

     “Now you’ve met a tiger,” Raja mewed.  Kuan-Yin crawled up to Raja and touched his paw.

      “Now you’ve met the sire of the cub who’s stroking your paw,” he said, stroking Raja’s free forepaw.

 

Raja looked into Kuan-Yin’s face.  The male panda’s smiled back at him, his paw gentle to Raja’s.  Yi Jie watched her mate and cub with the huge tiger, and was not surprised they got along.  Secretly she wanted Raja to take her in his huge paws and embrace her, but she dared not ask it of him.

      “I think someone is desperate for a hug,” Raja suddenly said.  Kuan-yin looked at his mate, and Yi Jie turned her face away.

      “My mate would love a hug from you, though she can’t bring herself to ask you Raja,” he said.  Raja shook his paws free of those of Kuan-Yin and Shuang, got up, and padded across to Yi Jie.  Lying down he enveloped the sow panda in a tiger sized hug.

      “This is lovely,” Yi Jie said, snuggling into Raja’s hug.  She then realised how similar Raja’s and Fleur’s hugs were.  Burying her face in Raja’s shoulder, Yi Jie breathed deeply, relaxing totally.

     “Are you related to Fleur Raja?”  Yi Jie asked sleepily.  Raja replied that he and Fleur were brother and sister, their common link being their sire Tigger.  Yi Jie then had it confirmed; this was why the two animals were so much alike in temperament and physical characteristics.

      “It’s lovely Fleur’s managed to find her brother,” Yi Jie said.

 

Releasing Yi Jie, Raja and fleur left the living room.  They met Jespah in the corridor, and the lion looked confused.

      “Tigger tells me he’s found his lost cub?”  He asked fleur.  Fleur looked at Raja.

      “He certainly has,” she mewed.  Jespah looked at Raja.

       “I can see the similarity,” he mewed.  Jespah smiled at Raja, the tiger smiling back at the lion.  Fleur’s paw found Raja’s and squeezed it.  Scuffing paws announced Pepper’s arrival, and Jespah broke off his examination of Raja to hug Fleur’s cub.  Pepper’s purring almost rattled the windows as Jespah’s paws enveloped her.

      “You’re a gorgeous cub Pepper,” Jespah mewed.  Pepper smiled shyly.

     “He’s taken her to his heart,” Raja said.

 

Pepper snuggled up to Jespah, the lion smiling broadly.

      “She’s a beautiful cub Fleur,” he mewed, speaking as if Fleur herself had given birth to Pepper.  Fleur smiled at Jespah, touching his and Pepper’s paw in turn.

     “Let’s go to the pool,” Pepper suggested.

 

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Martin Wilsher © 2006

 

Site contents Copyright  Martin Wilsher 2010

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