The truth about Tembi.
“Oh Theo!” She mewed, shaking herself and hoping she didn’t look too silly.
“yes my cub?” Theo asked, smiling broadly.
“Nothing,” Petra lied, “it’s nothing, you frightened me that’s all.” Theo knew what his cub was really thinking.
“You were in your own world,” Theo said, “rubbing your paws on the carpet.”
“Nice feeling isn’t it,” he said. Petra realised Theo knew what she’d been doing all along, and that he too enjoyed the feel of the carpet on his paws.
“don’t laugh,” Petra said, now eager to tell Theo exactly what she’d been doing,“ I was concentrating on the feel of the carpet under my paws and between my toes, it felt wonderful!”
“I know,” Theo purred.
“You mean you
like it too?”
“I do,” Theo replied, “I wish more animals would learn to use their paws properly. Learn to explore the world through their paws as well as their eyes, Then we’d have a better time all round.”
“So it’s not wrong to enjoy paw massage?” Petra asked.
“No, of course it’s not wrong to enjoy that,” Theo said, “If I was told I could not have my paws stroked, why, I’d go crazy!” Petra snuggled up to Theo.
“would you stroke my paws, please?” She asked. Theo enveloped one of Petra’s tiny forepaws in one of his massive ones.
that?” He asked, stroking her pads with
“Theo,” she said, “I wonder, could I stroke your paws? I’ve never done it, not seriously. I want, I mean I’d like to.” Theo looked into his cub’s face.
“I would love it,” he said, “physical contact with my cubs is always a wonderful thing.” Petra picked up Theo’s left forepaw, it was almost too heavy for her to lift, for he’d relaxed, his huge paw now a dead weight in both her smaller ones. Theo saw the struggle Petra was having to hold his paw.
“If we go to the bathtub, there the water will help you by lifting my paws,” Theo suggested. Petra agreed, and they adjourned to the bathtub. Tigger met them there, he hardly left his post.
“Petra wants to stroke my paws Tigger,” Theo said, “would you help her?”
“I will,” Tigger replied, “that is if you want her to stroke your paws of course.” Theo smiled and nodded.
“Very much,” he replied, “it’s just that she’s not strong enough to pick up my paw when I’m relaxed, my paws are too heavy for her to lift. I thought the water might help.”
“Indeed it will,” Tigger replied, “get in the tub both of you, and I’ll talk you Petra through how to stroke Theo’s paws properly.”
“Now take Theo’s
“Now massage Theo’s pads with the pads of one of your paws Petra,” Tigger instructed, “gently rub his pads with yours, then curl your toes round his and massage them gently. Petra did her best to envelope the toes of her sire’s right forepaw in hers, but her paw was just too small to do the job properly.
“My paws are too small to do it right!” she mewed, getting angry at herself.
“Don’t get angry
“I know!” \Petra snapped, “but I can’t do that if my paws are too small to do it properly!”
“Do the best you can little cub,” Tigger mewed, “that’s all I expect of you. If you can only massage two toes at a time, then that’s all you can do. Just don’t get mad at yourself, for it won’t help you and it certainly won’t help Theo. Now come on, concentrate your whole mind on Theo, and on making his paw massage the best you can. Try to enjoy your work, after all, it was you who wanted to stroke Theo’s paws. Now he’s letting you and you’re mewing and spitting with anger at yourself. Just do what you can, and if you can’t do something, just stroke Theo’s pads with yours. Stroke his paw in the way you know that soothes him, for you do know how to do it Petra. Just let your paws guide you.” Petra relaxed, and the massage techniques came more easily to her. It was true her paws weren’t large enough to stroke Theo’s paw in the conventional way, but she found her own way, and Theo was soon comatose with pleasure.
“Now for Theo’s
other forepaw,” Tigger mewed.
“Don’t forget to dry my paws little cub,” he mewed, waving his paw.
“but they’re dry
“That’s not the point,” Tigger said.
“It was silly
wasn’t it,” he said, thrusting a paw
“Don’t forget to dry between his toes too,” Tigger advised, “Theo will have sore paws if you don’t. Petra did as Tigger asked, and soon Theo was dry from nose to tail.
“That was fun!” Petra mewed.
“yes it was,” Theo purred.
Tigger put the towels in the washer, and Theo took
“What has she done now?” Theo asked wearily. He was getting tired of his mate’s antics.
“I am trying to decide what to do with this, this worthless,” Leo snarled, words failing him at the last moment. Leo kicked Tembi with disgust. Tembi moaned as Leo’s paw, claws sheathed, thudded into her body.
“You force fed your cub, and then used your paws to bring harm to her when she was at the mercy of a dreadful poison!” Leo yelled. Tembi mewed her protests, but Leo wasn’t listening.
“You will be banished to the concrete shed!” Leo snarled, “to be kept there until you learn to appreciate your cubs and mate! Or maybe by the time you are let out of there, Theo, Aslan and Petra will have disowned you forever!” Tembi squealed with pain.
“But I love
Theo, and Aslan, and
“It’s a pity you don’t show your love for them. If you really love them that is Tembi!” Leo snarled, “Your love for them seems to be in words alone! If it is, you are the worst kind of lioness, one with no heart and no pity for anyone or anything! You are a disgrace to the community!” Tembi spat at Leo, Leo bringing his paw down on the lioness’s tail.
“You will be thrown into the concrete shed!” Leo roared, “Salty, help me get her into the shed!” Snowy muzzled Tembi, then Salty and Tigger took one of Tembi’s forepaws each, Leo and Nanuq a hind each, and Tembi was dragged out of the house and thrown into the shed, where the muzzle was removed and Tembi was left to her own devices. Theo watched Tembi as she tried to get comfortable on the concrete floor.
“You need to
think hard on what you really feel about me and your cubs, for you know we can
cope without your help, as we’ve demonstrated this over the last few
weeks. Nanuq and I will look after Aslan
“I didn’t take
the time to understand you
“Maybe Theo sees I’m scared. He knows how frightened I am, but wants me to conquer my fear. I can’t do that! I can’t believe what I see, what I feel. It’s not my way, and it’s not the way others round here think either. Theo seems to be able to divine whether animals are telling the truth, is he that intuitive? Or was the unmasking of Tarker a lucky guess?” Tembi thought.
“Look into my eyes Tembi,” someone said gently. Tembi opened her eyes and saw Theo looking into her face.
“Look into my eyes little cub,” Theo said. In any other setting, Tembi would have torn the paws off anyone who referred to her as “little cub,” but not here, for she indeed was a cub when it came to Theo and understanding him.
“That’s better,” Theo said gently, “now Tembi, tell me. Do you feel you know all there is to know to rejoin your family and your community? Do you feel you know everything there is to know?”
“I used to feel that way,” Tembi replied, “I didn’t listen, more like wouldn’t listen really. I refused to listen to you or Petra. I heard your words, but they were just words to me, meaning nothing, for I thought I knew best.” Tembi suddenly felt her belly tighten as she remembered force feeding Petra the meat and how upset Theo had been.
“I’m sorry Theo,” she mewed, “Sorry for making you force feed your cub.”
“My cub?” Theo asked softly, “
“No,” Tembi sniffed, “because, because I did things to her which no mother would do! I deliberately made her sick!” Tembi sobbed. Tembi shook and trembled with emotion.
“I don’t deserve
cubs. It’s easy to give birth to cubs,
but then you must understand them, and I don’t!
I nearly did what my mother wanted.
Theo, I nearly killed
“What do you mean you nearly killed Petra?” Theo asked.
“Just that,” Tembi mewed, “after force feeding Petra the meat, I was so furious with her, that, that when I heard Tarker’s plans to put fish oil in Petra’s food, I helped him do it. Tasting the food to make sure the fish couldn’t be detected. An otters taste is different to a lion’s. So I helped him! Then when Petra was ill, I ran out with you to be with her, but it wasn’t to comfort her, it was to see if she would die!”
“I felt there was something wrong,” Theo mewed, “but my love for you was so strong that I dismissed my inner feelings as terrible fantasy. Now I know I should have listened to my own mind. You hit Petra out of frustration with her for not dying, not as a misguided outlet for your fear.” Theo clenched his paws, digging his toes into the concrete.
“How long have you hated Petra?” Theo asked.
“Ever since she was born,” Tembi admitted, “I only let her nurse because my instincts kicked in. As soon as she refused my milk, then I began to hate her anew. I can’t help how I feel. Like Elsa, I don’t like white cubs.”
“I can’t let you go anywhere near Petra or Aslan ever again!” Theo growled, “you are a danger to them!”
“I suppose I am,” Tembi replied.
“I can see you are,” Theo said, “I cannot let you stay here any more. Leave now, or I will have to make sure you’re never able to cause any more harm. You are saying that if you hadn’t helped Tarker with the preparation of the poisonous mix, he’d have failed to get Petra to eat the tainted vegetables?” Theo asked.
I am saying that,” Tembi replied, “for an otter can’t tell if a lion can taste fish oil. Tarker was all for leaving the fish oil barely seasoned, but I sent him back to do it again and again until the oil could not be tasted.”
“You are an accessory to attempted murder then,” Theo said.
“There’s no point in trying to cover my back,” Tembi replied, “you know the answer to all that. You’ve known all along what happened Theo! Why did you not act sooner?”
“Can’t you guess?” Theo asked, his eyes full of tears.
“Your love for me was so great that you hoped I’d reform?” Tembi asked.
“I didn’t know
of your collusion with Tarker,” Theo
said, “when I saw your anger at
“I will leave now then,” Tembi said, “and you’d better get rid of Elsa too!” Indeed Elsa had walked out of the house behind Theo, knowing he’d worked her out too.
“Both of you will leave now!” Theo yelled. Theo snarled, then roared, chasing Elsa and Tembi from the garden, into the wood and away from the community.
Theo then returned, went sadly into the house and slammed the door. He met Leo in the living room.
“Tembi and Elsa are no longer here Leo,” Theo said, “I have banished them from the community. Leo looked at his brother.
“You Theo have no right to do that!” Leo snarled, “it’s my job! I’m leader here!”
“Leo, Leo, Leo!” Snowy said, “listen to me. You who do not have spiritual connection do not know why we who have it do what we do. Tembi and Elsa would have murdered Petra for sure if they had the chance, and for what reason, for the fact Petra was a white cub. They don’t love a cub for who they are, they love them for what they look like. I believe it was only thanks to Aslan’s eyes opening when they did that his life was saved.”
“You mean Tembi would have killed him if she could have?” Leo asked.
“I think she would have done so,” Snowy replied.
“Now we can try and live our lives in peace.”
“so you had to throw them out,” Leo said to his brother, referring to Tembi and Elsa.
“yes Leo, for the safety of my cubs, I did. I’m just, just sorry I didn’t listen to my instincts sooner!”
“You are a young lion with little experience of such things,” someone said. Theo looked round to find Tigger crawling into the room.
“You need to get used to your inner voice and trust it Theo,” Tigger said. Theo looked at the Bengal tiger.
“so what do we do now?” he asked.
“you need to go to Petra and Aslan and lie down with them, play with them, be with them Theo,” Snowy replied.
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