A newcomer causes friction.
The large male tiger finally managed to get beneath the quilt
when Snowy was asleep. One of her cubs
helped him by lifting the edge of the quilt enough for him to get a paw
beneath, then he was able to work his way under the quilt, careful not to touch
Snowy half tail in the process. Touching
any part of her, especially her paws, would alert the territorial tigress that
another animal was muscling in on her patch, even though she could only claim
part of the quilt for herself. Dry
mouthed, the tiger fought his way beneath the quilt, until only his hind paws showed
outside the quilt, the rest of him covered by the quilt. The tiger carefully turned, bringing first
one hind paw, then the other under the quilt.
Pushing with the toes of one of his hind paws, then the other, and
pulling with alternate forepaws, as well as wriggling and twisting so not to
pull the quilt off of Snowy, which would have alerted her for sure, the tiger
worked his way up under the quilt until his left forepaw, then his right, then
his head emerged from the depths of the quilt.
Looking to his left, he saw he was only inches from Snowy half tail, who
mercifully was still asleep. The tiger
relaxed, moving his left hind paw a little to the left. In doing so, his paw brushed Snowy’s
pads, the tiger froze, not daring to
pull his paw away. Snowy stirred, moved
her paw a little, and settled back to sleep.
The tiger knew Snowy was pretty much immobile. For example she couldn’t do what he’d just
done, hard work for him though it had been.
The tiger collapsed exhausted beneath the quilt, knowing now that even
if Snowy woke up, she couldn’t do much to evict him. What she’d do when she found out who’d helped
him to get beneath the quilt, the tiger didn’t want to think about. Snowy would have that poor cub punished
harshly, even though he was her own.
Distant cousins Snowy and the male tiger might be, but there was no bond
there at all. Snowy hated the male
One of Snowy’s cubs crawled from his refuge beneath the
quilt and sat between the male tiger’s forepaws. The tiger recognised the cub as the one who’d
dug beneath the quilt for him. As he’d
promised he’d do, the male tiger used his forepaws to rub the cub down from the
cub’s ears to the pads on his tiny paws.
This was the snow tiger cub’s reward for helping the male tiger get
beneath the quilt. During the rub down,
the snow tiger cub lay down and submitted happily to the
Blanche was feeling mischievous. She was bored that day. Everything seemed to be happening to everyone but her, and she had grown tired of lying beside Stifftail, who spent most of his time sleeping. Amber and Whitie were forever going downstairs and talking with the other animals, and Blanche wanted to do the same, but Stifftail had forbad it. It was as if blanche and Whitie were from two different families, not sisters. Blanche checked to see if Stifftail was asleep by touching the pad of one paw with hers. There was no reaction from the huge male snow leopard. Blanche crawled away from Stifftail and found the edge of the quilt. She decided she was going to have some fun with the new tiger. Crawling beneath the quilt, blanche worked her way carefully towards the large male tiger’s hind paws. She’d heard everything that had gone on re the tiger’s invasion on Snowy half tail’s patch, so she knew where he was, even that one of Snowy’s cub’s had let the large male tiger stroke him until he’d fallen asleep. Now Blanche was crawling towards the male tiger’s hind paws, to tickle the pads of one paw and see what happened. Finding one of the tiger’s hind paws with her forepaw, blanche quickly checked to make sure she wasn’t about to tickle Snowy, who she knew hated having her paws touched. Blanche had learned this while in Snowy Half tail’s care, and she and Whitie had been tracing all over Snowy’s body with their paws to see how large she was. She’d warned them both she hated anyone touching her paws, but she’d make an exception for them just this once. In this way, blanche knew what Snowy’s hind paws felt like, and the paw beneath hers wasn’t Snowy’s. Blanche tensed every muscle in preparation to roll away as soon as she’d tickled the pads of the paw she’d found. She didn’t want to get in the way of thrashing paws, their claws sheathed as blanche knew they’d be. No tiger slept with their claws exposed.
Taking a deep breath, Blanche made sure her own claws were sheathed, then tickled the pads of the male tiger’s left hind paw with the toes of her right fore. The reaction was instant!
Screaming, the male tiger whipped his paw away! In doing so, he kicked one of Snowy’s hind paws, which woke her.
“ouch!” Snowy yelled, “Which bumbling idiot kicked my paw!” She flexed the toes of the injured paw, unable to do anything else to alleviate her discomfort. Snowy rounded on the male tiger, her fury even more acute now she’d seen him beneath the quilt, and worse still, seen him with one of her own cubs.
“What the hell are you doing here!” She demanded, all control vanishing.
“the, the b, the boss, he let me come here,” the male tiger stammered, now terrified!
“the boss is a total dimwit if he thinks I would even give you the time of day!” Snowy yelled, “didn’t you tell him what my decision was? That you were not allowed beneath my, yes, my quilt? Did you tell him?”
“No, no Snowy I didn’t, please, please don’t hurt me!” the tiger replied, shaking from nose to tail. He could see Snowy’s forepaws, and they looked powerful. Before he knew what had happened, Snowy had snatched her cub from between the male Bengal tiger’s paws, bullying the tiny creature under the quilt, vowing she’d deal with him later. Then she grabbed hold of the Bengal tiger’s left forepaw in one of hers, the paw holding the Bengal tiger’s was like a vice! Whimpering, the tiger tried to free his paw, but Snowy held on, dragging the paw she held towards her until the tiger’s body followed far enough for her to use her free forepaw to land a crashing blow on the poor Bengal tiger’s nose. The open pawed slap landed smack on the end of the Bengal tiger’s nose, making his eyes water. Sniffing, the Bengal tiger tried to release his forepaw from that of the enraged snow tigress.
“You will pay for disobeying me!” Snowy screamed, her voice seeming to fill the room, “you will,,,” Snowy got no further.
Arki and the large male polar bear who’d arrived with the Bengal tiger launched themselves at Snowy, the large male polar bear landing smack on top of the snow tigress, knocking the wind from her and dead pawing her with a smart whack from one of his heavy forepaws. Snowy lay gasping and crying with shock and pain, while Arki protected the Bengal tiger with her body, putting herself between Snowy and the now openly weeping tiger. Arki’s cub crawled up to where her mother was tending to the Bengal tiger. All Arki could do was massage the tiger’s squashed paw, she could do little else for him.
Meanwhile, blanche cowered at the other end of the quilt. She could hear what was going on, and knew the commotion must have woken Stifftail. Blanche knew she was in big trouble if anyone found out what she’d done, and if Snowy managed to drag the truth from the cub who’d helped the Bengal tiger, she’d be found out for sure, for it was the same tiger cub who stayed snuggled up to Snowy’s side, not the one who lay between her paws, so he would have seen everything, including blanche tickling the Bengal tiger’s hind paw! Blanche felt the toes on all four of her own paws curling as she realised the full extent of what she’d unleashed with her little prank. Tickling the pads of the male tiger’s paw had been so easy, but now everything was about to go wrong, for her, as well as for Snowy’s poor cub. Indeed blanche could already hear Snowy recovering from whatever Arki and that oversized friend of hers had done to her. Soon she’d be questioning her cub, and the outcome wouldn’t be at all pleasant. Blanche had to will her paws to relax and carry her so she could crawl away to emerge beside Stifftail and await her fait. Snowy’s yell of anger came to her loud and clear, and blanche knew she was really for it.
“Stifftail!” Snowy yelled, “when that disgusting cub of yours reappears, make sure she gets a proper hiding! She thought it would be fun to tickle the Bengal tiger’s hind paws! He kicked me, and now this has happened!” Stifftail knew of Snowy’s deep hatred for the Bengal tiger.
“I’ll warn her off,” Stifftail replied, trying not to show he was grinning. The thought of blanche crawling beneath the quilt and tickling the paws of the huge Bengal tiger amused him greatly.
“Wherever you are blanche, well done my cub,” Stifftail thought.
Meanwhile, the male Bengal tiger had also learned what had tickled his hind paw. He was angry at first that someone had even attempted it, but when he heard it was a cub who’d done it, the tiger found it hard to be angry with blanche, even though what she’d done was dangerous.
“cubs will be cubs,” he said. Arki grinned, then yelped as her own cub tickled one of her hind paws.
“Get off!” She complained. The cub grinned at her.
“Sorry mum,” she said, but Arki knew she wasn’t.
“I’ve just been to talk to the boss,” brunetta said, crawling in from the hall landing, “he’s not impressed with your conduct Snowy. He says he only allowed you beneath the quilt because you had poor circulation to your paws, and being beneath the quilt would keep you comfortable. He says that if you continue to claim that no other animal can seek refuge beneath the quilt, he will permanently remove you from your place and find you a new place. There I am assured, there will be no quilt, and your paws will have to become cold. You are privileged as your place was almost permanent, but now Snowy, now you might find others taking your place. Other animals, like me, Amber, Stifftail, even the overgrown furballs who winded you earlier. They are all more deserving of the warmth and security the quilt offers than you are. You thought you had it all Snowy, and for a long time you did. Now though, the boss is seriously considering giving your place to another creature. Your former life might have been hard, but Arki and her cub’s was too. They deserve a spell beneath the quilt just as much, no, more than you do.” Snowy tried to protest, but the huge male polar bear who’d winded her showed her a massive paw and she subsided into silence.
“Snowy takes up too much room under that quilt anyway,” Whitie remarked, “she needs to learn what cold paws are. Personally, I think we cubs should spend our time beneath the quilt, we get cold paws too!”
meanwhile the large male Bengal tiger worked his way beneath the quilt, careful not to even brush Snowy half tail. Once he was ensconced, he tried to ignore the throbbing pain in his left forepaw, though he wished someone would massage his other three paws, for he’d heard that a paw massage stimulated chemicals which gave relief from pain. His eyes fell on Snowy’s face. She looked angry and ready to explode. Staring down at his forepaws, the tiger wished someone would massage his paws, and show him what it was Snowy had boasted of that first night. She’d wanted one up on him, using her diagnoses of poor circulation to strengthen her claim to a nice warm place. Now though, all four of Snowy’s paws were on shaky ground, and if Brunetta’s words were correct, the ground was about to open up and swallow the snow tigress, cold paws and all.
A movement at the corner of his vision made the tiger look round. A tiny white cub crawled towards him across the quilt.
Blanche had been told by Stifftail to apologise to the tiger for the trouble she’d caused, and now blanche was crawling towards the massive creature’s head. Fascinated, the Bengal tiger watched as blanche crawled slowly towards him, stopping every few minutes. It seemed to him, that blanche was feeling in front of her with a forepaw before crawling a little further. This behaviour was strange. When the cub drew level with his shoulder, the Bengal tiger then saw the reason for her having to explore with her forepaws. The cub’s eyes had not yet opened.
“Come here little one,” the tiger said, drawing blanche closer with one massive forepaw.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” Blanche said, feeling the tiger’s whiskers tickling her as he held her between his massive forepaws.
“What did you do little one?” he asked.
“I was the cub who tickled your paw,” blanche replied, expecting the tiger to rip her apart with his claws, but the tiger did nothing. The huge Bengal tiger began to stroke blanche with one massive forepaw. He knew he should be tearing this cub apart, for his mother had said to him anything with spots was an enemy, but he couldn’t bring himself to unsheathe his claws, let alone do this cub harm.
Stifftail and Amber were anxiously watching the goings on. They’d sent blanche off on her errand and had only just remembered when the tiger took blanche in his paws, that tigers and leopards were sworn enemies. They’d forgotten, so used were they to gentle creatures, no matter what they were. Now , sick to their stomachs, they waited for the tiger to kill blanche. Amber knew they’d possibly sent blanche to her death.
“What’s your name little one?” the tiger asked the now terrified snow leopard cub.
“Blanche sir,” blanche whispered, finally realising she was in grave danger and beginning to cry.
“Why are you crying blanche,” the massive Bengal tiger asked.
“Because mum and Stifftail say tigers are our enemies, and that you’ll kill us cubs if you get your paws on us, and now you have your paws round me, and I tickled your paw, so now, now you’re going to kill me!” Blanche replied quickly.
“No blanche, no!” the tiger said, almost crying himself now, “I wouldn’t hurt a cub, no matter who’s cub it was! I won’t kill you, I promise.” With that blanche felt herself drawn closer to the massive tiger, the tiger’s huge paws enveloping her. She then felt his rough tongue licking her ear.
“You tickled my paw little Blanche,” the tiger said gently, “the only thing I will say about that is that what you did was dangerous, and I am angry at you for that because I am concerned about you, that you might have hurt yourself. Tickling my hind paw was a brave, but silly thing to do, especially with Snowy half tail so close by. Now she’s my enemy, you’re not. She hurt me, you didn’t. You tickled my paw, but you meant no harm by it. Snowy crushed my paw and hit me, and she meant me harm.”
Snowy spat with contempt at the Bengal tiger, but he was unphased by her disgusting display. He no longer cared what Snowy half tail did, for he had a cub in his paws, a cub of a long maligned tribe, a defenceless snow leopard cub, which he couldn’t bare to kill, but which he knew he would protect with his life.
“blanche,” the tiger said, “would you like to stroke my paws again?” Blanche still shaking with fear, nodded.
“Okay,” the tiger said, turn round, that’s it, and feel with your paw for mine. That’s it. Now there are three more like that one, take your time little cub. This time we can both enjoy the experience.” Blanche communicated with her sire , Whitie and with Amber through touching their paws, and now she was able to touch the paws of a tiger, to convey to him how sorry she was she’d tickled his hind paw, a paw which she’d soon be stroking.
“Say no more about what you did little one,” the tiger said, reading blanche’s thoughts, “the fact you tickled my paw doesn’t worry me, what worried me was that you didn’t inform anyone first. If you’d asked, I’d have gladly let you tickle my paws, all four of them, but through not asking me, you put yourself in danger, and that we cannot have.”
“I suppose I also caused you to get into a fight with Snowy half tail,” Blanche said, the full enormity of what she’d started finally hitting home.
“I can’t blame you for Snowy’s behaviour,” the huge tiger replied, “what she did was totally beyond reason, and was no fault of yours.”
“I must go and find your hind paws now,” blanche said.
“No, no don’t, not yet, please,” the tiger begged, “let me look at you some more.” Blanche heard the tiger’s voice cracking, and realised he was close to tears.
“What is he doing to our cub!” Stifftail whispered to amber.
“I think that tiger might be just about to adopt blanche as his honorary niece,” amber replied, “something tells me that huge tiger’s either lost his own cubs, or hated the doctrine his mother tried to drum into him and played with leopard cubs when he was a cub. I think blanche’s family now has a new member.” Stifftail looked away, he didn’t hold with all this kind of stuff.
“How can a tiger adopt a leopard cub!” he yelled.
“one just has,” Whitie replied, “in fact, he’s adopted two snow leopard cubs.” Stifftail dug in his toes to stop himself from leaping off the quilt.
“you mean, that you too Whitie, you have spoken to that striped ball of sentimentality? He can’t adopt the cubs of other big cats!”
“Why not if he lost his own cubs?” Arki asked.
“he can adopt tiger cubs, even snow tiger cubs,” Stifftail replied, “but not cubs of snow leopards!”
“he has adopted snow tiger cubs,” Brunetta replied, “Snowy’s two have become firm friends with the Bengal tiger. That’s why Snowy hates him so much. She could never make friends as fast as he can. Snowy’s authoritarian, you will do this, do that, do the other. Her jungle cousin isn’t. he gave the cubs the choice, to take him as they found him, or leave him. They took him.”
“next thing I’ll be hearing is that Arki’s cub has been adopted by foster!” Stifftail yelled, referring to the raccoon who lived downstairs.
“No,” Arki replied, “though she has been adopted by the so called furball who sat on Snowy earlier. Stifftail was close to pulling his fur out!
“this place is full of misfits!” He yelled, “unlikely alliances which would never happen in the wild! This is wrong!”
“it feels okay to me,” the Bengal tiger, who Blanche had named Tigger, as she couldn’t quite say tiger, said. The huge Bengal tiger, on hearing of his new name, laughed merrily.
“Tigger it is then,” he said, embracing blanche as tightly as he dared. Whitie crawled towards Tigger and the huge tiger hugged her also. Amber made her way towards Tigger and he took both her forepaws in his before taking one of Amber’s paws in both of his and stroking it.
“So you are Amber, the mother of the cub who tickled my paw,” Tigger said. Amber opened her mouth to apologise to him, but the huge tiger raised his paw to stop her. “No, no need,” he said, “for your cub, both your cubs, have brought me peace.”
“you lost your own cubs?” Amber asked, seeing the way Tigger looked at Whitie, who’d snuggled down beside him.
“both my cubs,” Tigger said, “both of them, dead. Hunters shot their mother, and soon after they both died. I found them,,, found them stiff in the grass. I had to bury my own cubs Amber!” amber could hardly believe her eyes as the huge tiger broke down totally. She never thought a male tiger ever cried. This one did, openly too. Tigger wiped his eyes with a trembling forepaw.
“I could never see cubs without feeling my world disintegrating all over again,” he sobbed, “I know I shouldn’t feel this way about cubs who aren’t even my own sub species, they’re your cubs Amber, not mine, and I’m sorry for imposing myself on them.” Amber knew Tigger hadn’t imposed himself on her cubs, they’d found him and adopted him as much as he had them.
“you haven’t imposed yourself on my cubs,” Amber said, “no Tigger,” here Amber smiled, “I hear Whitie even tried the same trick as Blanche had, but managed to avoid Snowy half tail, so it went unremarked.” Whitie hid her head on hearing this.
“She did,” Tigger replied, “but as you said, Snowy didn’t get involved, so noone knew of it, only me and Whitie.”
“Welcome home Tigger,” Amber said. Stifftail turned away, unable to watch Amber and Tigger any more.
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