Amber finds a cub


Amber woke with Arki crushing one of her forepaws in both of hers.

    "Arki!  Arki!"  amber yelled, "stop crushing my paw!"  Arki woke suddenly!

      "Oh, Amber, I'm so sorry!"  Arki said, releasing Amber's paw, "I don't know what came over me!"  Amber saw Arki's paws trembling, and knew what had



      "You were having that nightmare again weren't you Arki?"  She asked.  Arki closed her eyes and shook her head as if to clear it.


      "I suppose I did," Arki replied, "I'm sorry, so Sorry Amber!"  Amber saw Arki was close to tears.  Taking one of Arki’s paws in hers, Amber began

to stroke it.  Arki's paw was hot, her pads damp with the sweat of fear.


     "Arki, dear Arki,"  Amber said, "you're safe here!  Don't you know that?"  Arki sniffed, for she'd begun to cry.


       "I know,"  She sobbed, "but, well, sometimes,,,"  Amber gently brushed the thick, shaggy fur away from Arki's eyes.


      "Maybe when that lost cub comes to us, you'll be able to devote time to it and not think of your nightmare all the time Arki,"  amber thought.  Amber

had met an orphan polar bear cub when she'd ventured out into some woodland.  what a polar bear or snow leopard was doing in English woodland Amber didn't pause to consider.

Nor did she think it strange, though strange it indeed was, when she saw something white hiding beneath a bush.  At first she thought it was a cat, but

on closer examination, Amber could hardly believe her eyes.  A tiny polar bear cub lay beneath the bush, her forepaws covering her face in a manner well

known to Amber, for Arki had done exactly the same.


      "hello little one,"  amber said gently, lying down so she didn't look so large.


     "are you all right?"  amber asked.  the female polar bear cub watched Amber through the gaps between the toes of one forepaw.  amber saw she was trembling



      "I won't harm you,"  amber said, "now where have you come from?"


       "I don't know, I don't know!"  the cub wailed, "I was born in a zoo, and my mum didn't like me.  there were three of us you see, and she only wanted

two, so she threw me over the fence, and now I'm here, wherever here is, and I'm cold, frightened and hungry!"  Amber didn't know where she was going to

get food for such a tiny cub, but thought that if she was to take her home, she might, with help from whomever sorted food in the place she lived in, find

food for a tiny polar bear cub.


       "how would you like to come with me?"  Amber asked.


      "I don't know,"  the cub replied, "I keep hoping my mum will come back for me, but it's got later and later, and she hasn't come!"


      "I don't think she ever will come,"  amber thought.


      "How about if you come with me,"  Amber said, "I live in a nice warm place where there's food, shelter,  and lots of other animals to talk to.  We're

a gentle lot we are.  And whenever you need a hug, someone's always there."


      "What's a hug?"  the cub asked.  amber nearly burst into tears.


       "every cub should know what a hug is!"  She thought.


      "A hug is like this,"  amber replied, gently embracing the polar bear cub in both her massive forepaws.


       "how does that feel?"  Amber asked.  the tiny bear cub snuggled up to amber and buried her face in the snow leopard's fur.


      "I like this,"  the cub said.  amber held the cub close.


      "You can have lots more of this,"  she whispered.  the bear cub worked her paws into Amber's thick fur.


       "I will come back to your home,"  she said, "please, don't, don't leave me here!"  amber heard the cub's cry for help.


      "I won't leave you here,"  Amber promised, "but you must stay outside for a few days longer, not here, somewhere else.  I need to tell you a few things.

 You will get food, and I will make sure you are warm, for I will stay with you, and so will my cub Whitie.  We will keep you safe, and when the time is

right, in a day or two, we will take you into the main house.  there you will find others of your kind.  We can start for home now."  Amber released the

tiny cub, who struggled onto tiny paws to follow her through the wood.


     "come here little one,"  Amber said, picking the cub up in her mouth by the scruff of her neck, "I will carry you."  Amber ran through the forest,

the tiny polar bear cub dangling from her mouth by the scruff of it’s neck.  before the cub knew where she was, Amber was placing her in a warm shed.

the shed had soft flooring, comforting to the paws of a tiny cub. Best of all, the place was warm.


     "I don't usually sleep here,"  Amber said, "noone does.  but I will stay here with you tonight and for a few nights afterwards.  So will my cub whitie,

who's coming in a minute.  We'll then go to the house together, and you can meet Arki and Isaac, two grown polar bears.  they will be looking after you

from then on."  the female polar bear cub snuggled into the warm blankets on the floor of the shed, amber curling her body round that of the tiny cub.

 the squeak of the door opening announced Whitie's arrival, and she too settled down beside amber.


      "there are two more polar bears looking for a new home,"  whitie yawned, "I heard Stifftail tutoring them on the do's and don’t’s."  Amber smiled,

though Whitie couldn't see it.


       "it's down to us to do that for our tiny friend here whitie.  or maybe more down to you if you will, to teach this tiny cub how to behave.  give

her guidance, and please, show her what a loving hug is."  Whitie knew what her mother meant.


That night, Amber went back to the house.

Arki woke with tears rolling down her nose.  She felt lost, bereft of

something or someone.  Amber had told her of the polar bear cub staying in

the shed and Arki had wanted very much to meet the cub, but Amber had said

it was best she didn't at the moment.  Fighting an urge to run downstairs

and bust the lock on the back door, Arki fell asleep.  She drempt of a tiny

female polar bear cub, lost in a wood with noone to help her.  somehow Arki

managed to hug the cub, she could actually feel the female cub's warm fur

against hers, and she hugged her tightly.  Arki took hold of one of the

cub's tiny forepaws and held it tightly for a long time.  Then, the cub

removed her paw from Arki's and left her.  Arki pleaded to the cub to

return, but she couldn't.  torn apart by grief, Arki wept for her lost cub.

She was still crying when she woke.  When Arki told Amber about her dream,

Stifftail got angry!

"I wish you'd never found that cub Amber!"  he yelled, "Arki's gone

all silly about her!"  Amber looked sharply at Stifftail.

"and what would you have had me do?"  She asked, "leave the cub to


"Well, yes,!"  Stifftail said, "her mother had her reasons for not wanting her, and that reason might be that she's unable to survive, the

runt, you know the thing.  she should be left to die!"  Amber's eyes blazed

with fury!

"that's what you said about our cubs!"  She yelled, "you said Whitie

and Blanche should be left to die!  i refused, and am glad I refused to let

them die, for my cubs, yes, my cubs mean the world to me!  they obviously

don't to you Stifftail!  i will not let this polar bear cub die!"  Arki

could still feel the pressure of the paws of the cub in her ddream.  her

pads rememberd the warm paw they'd caressed, and Arki wanted to hug the cub

in her dream forever.

"Amber,"  Arki said faintly, "please, look after that cub."  Amber saw

the torment in Arki's eyes.

"I won't let her dye,"  Amber replied, "she'll be here tomorrow, Arki

i promise."


tolstuka watched from her place.  She'd heard Amber's taile about the cub,

and seen Arki go to sleep, then the large female polar bear had a nightmare,

or so it had seemed, she was weeping and begging someone to come with her, a

polar bear cub so it seemed.  tolstuka was so upset by Arki's distress that

she'd gone to her and lain down beside her.  Arki had taken one of

Tolstuka's paws in hers and held it so tenderly.  tolstuka, realising her

presence calmed Arki, stayed for as long as she dared, then she had to leave

for her own place.  tolstuka's paws were a lot smaller than arki's, and to

her she must have seemed to be the cub in her dream.  No wonder Arki had

wept when tolstuka had left her.  now tolstuka was dreadfully upset, but how

could she tell Arki what had happened?   that the cub who's paw she'd held

was real?  tolstuka knew the cub of whom Arki drempt wasn't her, but the cub

in the shed, but all the same, arki's need for a cub had been real enough.

tolstuka rubbed a paw over her eyes and sniffed slightly.  She hadn't

realised she'd been crying while she thought of Arki's dream.  Stifftail

noticed her and scowled.

"You're just as bad,"  he snapped, "doing what you did tolstuka,

going to Arki when she was dreaming.  I saw you!"

"You mean the cub who's paw I held was real?"  Arki asked.

"yes Arki, "she was real,"  Tolstuka replied, clambering down from her

place and going across to where Arki lay.  placing her forepaw in that of

the larger female polar bear, tolstuka looked into Arki's face.

"it feels the same,"  Arki said, her voice cracking, "the same as in my


"Arki,"  tolstuka said, "the cub you drempt about wasn't me, but I was

the cub who lay down beside you and who's paw you took in yours."  Arki

suddenly embraced tolstuka tightly.  Stifftail, angryier than ever now,

leapt to his paws and turned to attack Arki!

"Leave her!"  amber warned, "leave Arki alone Stifftail!  you lay a paw

on her and I'll eat you for breakfast!"  Stifftail, his paws clenched with

rage, subsided onto the quilt, glowering at Arki

"Tolstuka's not your cub arki, you've got it all wrong!"  he yelled.

"I was noone's cub,"  Tolstuka replied, "now though, I could get used

to being someone's cub."  Tolstuka buried her face in Arki's thick, soft

fur.  Arki buried her face in tolstuka's fur.

"We'll all rescue that cub tomorrow arki,"  tolstuka  said, "you,

Isaac, and me."  arki swallowed hard, for she had a huge lump in her throat


"would you stay with me tolstuka?" Arki asked.  for answer Tolstuka

placed her free forepaw on top of the larger paw holding hers.

"Try and stop me,"  Tolstuka replied.

"how very nice,"  Stifftail scoffed, "now what will Isaac have to say

about this?  you two were only meant to have one cub, one cub! not two!

he'll go mad!  And as for what the boss will say, i don't know!"  the boss

was the name the animals gave to the human who had ultimate say as to who

got given a home.


"I heard the boss was delighted I'd rescued a cub,"  Amber said, "and he

won't mind if Arki regards Tolstuka as her cub.  I think he'll quite like

it, and as for Isaac, here he comes now."  isaac padded into the room,

furious with Stifftail!

"You bimbling Idiot!"  Isaac yelled at the male snow leopard, "I

would like to say more to you, but it would be unprintable!  What you said

to Arki and Amber is worse than horrible!  I've been talking to the boss, I

stay with him sometimes when he works on the tray he's fond of bashing, and

I know he doesn't mind if Arki and I have two cubs or twelve cubs!"  I think

by the "bashing the tray, I think Isaac is refering to a computer keybord.

"So we are still rescuing the cub?"  Arki asked.

"yes we are, all five   of us!"  isaac replied, "Whitie, Amber,

tolstuka, you and me are going to rescue this cub from the shed tomorrow,

and Stifftail won't stop us!"  Brunetta chimed in with her contribution.

"I've kept silent up till now,"  she said, "but Stifftail, if you make

any move to stop Arki and Isaac from reaching that cub, I will cheerfully

sit on you!" Stifftail grumbled, but subsided defeated.

"there are two adult polar bears wanting homes too,"  blanche said,

"Whitie told me about them.  they're still allowed in too aren't they?"

"The boss says they are,"  isaac replied, "in fact he's just typing out

the tale of Arki's dream and Stifftail's misdomenas now."  Stifftail glaired

at Isaac.

"You spy!"  he yelled, "isaac, you should have your paws tied and be

put into a sack!  I don't like tell tales!"  isaac looked down at his paws.

"I ttell the truth, that's all Stifftail,"  he said.



The time came for Amber and Whitie to escort the tiny female polar bear cub into the house.  Amber and Whitie had told the cub of the rules of the house,

paramount amongst which was the rule that no animal should kill another, and that if disputes had to be settled with force, that only paws should be used,

never claws.  In the early morning, Amber opened the shed door, and led the way from the shed.  Whitie was the last out, and closed the door behind them.

 The tiny female polar bear shivered in the sudden cold, wincing as her paws touched the cold concrete of the patio.  Reaching the back door, Amber banged

on it with the flat of her paw until foster, who’d been alerted by amber banging on the window earlier that day, opened the door.  Once Foster had opened

the door, he helped Whitie and the polar bear cub in before letting Amber come in last, the adult snow leopard slamming the door by kicking it with a hind

paw.  Padding into the kitchen, the female polar bear’s paws slid from under her and she slid across the lino floor, her slide being stopped when her forepaws

connected hard with the step into the lounge, sending the poor cub into a summersault, which ended with her on her back on the carpet.  Hearing the cub’s

yell of surprise as she hit the carpet, Whitie ran to her, checked her out and helped her to her paws.


Meanwhile, Arki had heard the banging and crashing, as well as the cry of the tiny cub as it hit the carpet.  Almost leaping off the quilt, Arki hit the

carpet and crawled towards the stairs.  Now she’d never negotiated stairs before, and worked out that if she slid down the stairs backwards hind paws first,

it would be better.  Arki slid down the stairs, feeling carefully with a hind paw for each step.  Only when her toes touched the step and she’d worked

a paw onto the step would she slide a little further.  Carefully, Arki made it down the stairs, until her hind paws touched bottom.  Working her toes backwards,

Arki straightened her hind legs and spine and then brought her forepaws down the last few steps, careful to take things slowly.  Lying on the hall carpet,

Arki took a few minutes to get her breath back before rolling onto her chest and getting her paws beneath her once more before crawling into the living

room.  Arki, Isaac, Brunetta and Bruin can’t walk that well, they have to crawl if they want to get anywhere.  Arki crawled using the toes of her hind

paws to move her, while shuffling each forepaw forward, digging in her claws for extra purchase.  In this fashion, she managed to get into the room, and

crawl over to the newcomer.  Arki, exhausted from her journey, gratefully rolled onto her side and beckoned to the cub with a weary forepaw.  The tiny

polar bear cub came forward, and before she knew what was happening, she was being embraced by Arki.  Isaac, watching from where he and Bruin lay on the

sofa, grinned at Arki, who smiled back.


      “She’s beautiful,”  Arki said stroking the cub’s back with one massive forepaw.


      “How on earth can you look after her and call her your cub Arki?”  Brydy, a brown and white Shetland pony asked, “she’s not your breed, she’s got

creamy white fur, you’re pure white!”


       “Shut it dog meat!”  one of the cabinet male polar bears snapped.  Brydy retreated into her corner, upset by the mention of dog meat.  It was accepted

by the horses that dogs ate their dead, but it was never mentioned, let alone used as an insult.


     “You are a horrid wretch!”  the large male Bengal tiger yelled.  The male polar bear who’d insulted Brydy turned to the male tiger and replied:


     “You can talk!  Hop along isn’t it?”  the Bengal tiger looked uncomfortable at the sound of his name.  “Well,”  the polar bear continued, “hop along is what I call

you.  You can’t talk about me being a wretch!  You are the wretch round here!  If the boss had known you were injured he’d never have let you in!  you

lied to him didn’t you!  You are a scruffy bag of bones!  No wonder you were left high and dry, quite literally!  You spent your life standing on a platform

high in the air with your paws ten feet off the floor!  You didn’t let the boss know you had a broken leg, nor that you had your stuffing coming out of

you.  You lied Hop along, You lied!  If the boss wasn’t as blind as a bat, you wouldn’t have got in here!  You are a bourdon on all of us!  Because of

your lies, the boss had to arrange major operations to save your miserable life!  He couldn’t very well fix your leg, and that’s all the better for me,

as you can’t chase me now!  You can’t even walk without difficulty, so I’m safe to taunt you forever!  You are the wretch hop along, and don’t you forget

it!”  the Bengal tiger the polar bear had called hop along stared down miserably at his paws.  He was dreadfully upset, but didn’t want the polar bear

to see it.  Hop along knew that when the boss found out how scruffy and injured he was, he’d done everything not to have to send him away.  In the end

someone had come along and stitched the hole in Hop along’s side and in his paw.  They’d also cleaned him up by spraying something on his fur.  Now he

looked as good as he would ever look after what happened to him in his former place.  With all this knowledge, the polar bear’s words still tore at Hop

along.  Arki saw the tiger’s distress.


      “Ignore him Hop along,”  she said, but Arki  knew that was easier said than done.  Hop along took a deep breath and raised a forepaw to wipe his eyes.


       “I can’t ignore it,”  he sniffed, “it’s too much Arki, It really is too much!  I didn’t ask for this!  I know you have had a tough start, but you

can’t imagine what mine was like.  Standing on that high platform, with lights blazing down on me twenty four seven!  I don’t remember when my leg got

broken, that was too far back, as was the accident which injured my belly.  Now I know I’m safe, the boss knows about my situation, and he would get rid

of me if he didn’t want me.  I’m in fear of the day that happens too.  I can’t call this place my home yet!  Who’s to say the boss won’t kick me out!”


      “he won’t!”  Arki said, hoping she sounded more certain than she felt.  She’d heard that humans sometimes treasured their animals, other times though,

threw them away when they’d finished with them like they were trash.  She hoped she wasn’t going the way of the trash.


     “I’m no use to the boss,”  hop along wined, “what can I do?  Nothing!”


      “Shut up Hop along!”  matilda snapped, “the boss comes in here every day and hugs each one of us in turn.  He doesn’t have to do that, he does it

because he wants to.  We are all here because the boss wants each and every one of us to be here.  He knows us all and is giving us names when he and others

can think of suitable ones.  Arki waved her paw:


      “Snowy half tail, take her for example,”  Arki said, , “she’s unusual, for she looks like she’s got half a tail!  If the boss didn’t want her, he’d

have thrown her out long before now!  I believe the boss is a kind human.  I know we are taught to fear humans, but not all are bad.”


        “I know humans can be bad,”  Foster said, “some with dogs turfed me out of my burrow.”


        “And the boss took you in, that’s my point!”  Arki replied.  “The cub I am hugging now,”  she continued, “if he hadn’t said yes to Amber’s request

to give her a home, she’d not be here now.  While we animals like to think we have autonomy, we don’t!  the boss decides who comes and who goes.”


      “When I was missing brunetta after we got split up,”  Bruin said, “the boss did all he could to find her again.”


       “there you go, subject closed.”  Arki replied.  “now little’n,”  she said to her cub, “let’s go upstairs and get you settled in.



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