one of the capybara thought it would be fun to tickle Blanche's whiskers with a feather he found.  Of course, blanche can't see the capybara, and knowing

this, the capybara thought teasing her would be good sport.  Tickling her whiskers with the feather, the capybara waited to see what would happen.  blanche

was asleep at the time, and feeling something tickling her whiskers, she swiped at it with a forepaw.  the capybara withdrew for a few seconds, but then

resumed tickling blanche's whiskers with the feather.  now blanche didn't mean to do Stifftail harm, but her sleep filled brain told her that the only

thing that would tickle her like that would be stifftail's whiskers.  She drowsily told Stifftail to stop tickling her, and when the tickling continued,

blanche lost her temper and rounded on her sire!  Stifftail jumped when blanche's paw walloped him across his nose.


      "hey!  Blanche, stop it!"  Stifftail pleaded, his eyes watering as a direct reaction to having his nose walloped.


      "You were tickling my whiskers!"  Blanche snarled.


     "I wasn't!"  Stifftail replied, sniffing slightly as his eyes watered copiously.


      "I told you to stop and you didn't!"  Blanche yelled.


      "No Blanche no! I didn't touch your whiskers!  Why would I do that?"  Stifftail protested.


      "I don't know,"  Blanche replied, realising her sire wasn't the cause of all this.  Surely he knew what having one's whiskers tickled was like.  It

was disconcerting and unpleasant.


     "if it wasn't you who tickled my whiskers, than who was it?"  blanche asked.  Stifftail rubbed a large forepaw over his streaming eyes.


       "I can't see much at the moment,"  he said, "so I can't start looking for suspects."


     "Join the club,"  blanche replied.  Stifftail stared blearily at his cub.


     "I wish you wouldn't make jokes about that,"  he said, "it isn't very nice."


      "Look,"  Blanche replied, "I'm the one who's eyes failed to do their natural thing, so I think I can make jokes about that if I want."  Stifftail

decided he'd never get used to that.


Meanwhile, foster had bowled the Capybara who'd tickled Blanche off his paws and was standing over him, threatening all sorts of nasty things, from getting

Matilda to deal out her usual punishment, to banishment to the spare room for a week or two.  There it was cold, and there were no animals, and the place

was seldom visited.  Stifftail saw Foster giving the capybara the good news and pointed him out to Blanche.


     "I think the capybara had something to do with what happened to you blanche,"  he said.  Blanche leapt off the sofa and crawled as fast as she could

towards the capybara, helped by foster, who used his tail to push her in a wide arc to where the capybara lay begging for mercy on the carpet.


      "Or I will give you to Blanche for her to punish you!"  Foster yelled, utterly furious with the capybara, who he didn't much like at the best of times.


      "I was assaulted by a jumped up guinea pig?"  blanche asked.


      "don't call me that!"  the capybara wined.


      "I could call you worse!"  foster growled, smacking the capybara across the face with his tail.


       "that hurt!"  the capybara whimpered.


      "If I had a tail as long as Stifftail's, I'd strangle you with it!"  Blanche spat.  the Capybara, seeing his chance, lifted blanche off her paws and

threw her across the room, blanche landing on the carpet with a thud.  Stifftail had seen quite enough and went for the capybara, tossing him into the

air before catching him and then looping his tail round the capybara's neck.


       "Right,"  Stifftail hissed, "you listen to me capy watsit.  one more squeak from you and my tail will go into spasm, throttling you.  I don't appreciate

guinea pigs attacking my cubs!"  The capybara would have pleaded for mercy, if it hadn't been for the snow leopard's words.


meanwhile, foster had caught up with blanche and checked her over, finding nothing more than a frightened and confused cub.


      "I think the fact you couldn’t see what he was about to do saved you little one,"  foster thought as he nuzzled Blanche, fussing over her like he'd

always wanted to, but never dared to mention.  he loved the snow leopard cubs, and envied Sparky's friendship with Whitie, though he'd never have voiced

his thoughts.  now he was able to stroke a snow leopard cub, and he found their fur was as soft as he'd imagined it to be.  blanche lay dazed and terrified.


     "I wan'a  go home,"  Blanche whimpered.  Foster realised he couldn't carry blanche, for he wasn't able to stand on his hind legs, but he knew someone

who could.  yelling to Kalahari, foster asked the meerkat to scamper down and help him.  working on the assumption that if Blanche wasn't going to hurt

a raccoon, she wouldn’t hurt him, Kalahari obliged, trotting across to the raccoon.


          could you do me a huge favour and carry Blanche back to the sofa?"  foster asked the meerkat.  Kalahari tried not to think of the damage a snow

leopard could do to him, and silently picked up blanche to carry her back to the sofa.  Kalahari had to pass Stifftail on route, and dared not meet the

adult snow leopard’s eye.  Hurriedly placing Blanche on the cushions, Kalahari fled back to the safety of his refuge.


     "Thank you!"  Stifftail said.  Kalahari mumbled something in reply, anxious to get away.


meanwhile, the capybara lay, Stifftail's tail threatening his life.


     "this is a bad business!"  Stifftail snarled.


      "what are you going to do with him Stifftail?"  Lewis asked, making a mental note not to cross the snow leopards.


       "they say here that murder is against the rules,"  Stifftail spat, "I wish it weren't!  if this was outside, I would cheerfully make a meal of this

pig!  but as we are here, and life is better here than it was in my old place, I will spare the pig this once.  be warned though capy watt’s it, if you

do anything like that again, even if Blanche is unhurt like now, I will kill you, and that's a promise.  Now, if you had injured Blanche, or worse, I would

have killed you here and now and hang the repercussions!  You do not have cubs, so you wouldn't know what it is like, but I do know.  You took advantage

of Blanche's weakness in that she's smaller than you, and couldn't see you.  You did this, not once, but twice.  I hate that!"  the capybara shook and

sobbed in the grip of stifftail's remarkably agile tail.


    "I will let you go now,"  Stifftail said, "but remember what I say."  Stifftail released the capybara, who fled!


      "Foster, please tell Amber what has happened here,"  Stifftail said to the raccoon, who left at a rolling canter to do what the leopard asked.  Stifftail

turned his attention to Blanche, who lay with her face buried in her paws.


      "it's all right now blanche love,"  Stifftail said, gently nuzzling his cub's ear.


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