Let’s go cubs!


Later that day, Nanuq junior and Olga played with Helga.  The mother bear and her new mate played with their cub, loving her from nose to paws.  Helga wriggled with pleasure as Nanuq tickled the toes of her right hind paw.  Olga watched her mate and cub playing together, Nanuq Junior stroking Helga’s belly and tickling her paws.  Nanuq ran his paws all over Helga, the cub wriggling frantically, making sure she got a good massage from nose to tail.  Olga watched contentedly, still amazed, despite Nanuq Junior’s record, that a male polar bear could be so gentle with her cub.

      “I love you Helga,” Nanuq said softly, Helga reaching up with her forepaws to touch her adopted sire’s nose.

        “Go on, curl up with her,” Olga suggested.  Nanuq Junior lay down and gathered Helga to him, curling round her to keep her warm.  Helga snuggled up to the male polar bear, loving his warmth.

        “This is lovely!  Hold me tight Nanuq, please,” Helga begged.  Nanuq held her in his huge warm paws, the little cub working her paws into his fur.

       “My paws are freezing!”  She complained.  Nanuq Junior kissed Helga’s nose and the cub settled down finally.  Olga watched this, greatly moved by the male polar bear’s affection for her cub.

       “I could never find another bear like you dear sweet Nanuq,” she thought, “even if I looked for a thousand lifetimes.  I love you, I love you so much!”

        “I love you Nanuq,” Helga said softly, burying her face in the large polar bear’s neck.

        “I love you too Helga sweet cub,” the polar bear replied.  Olga lay down behind but hard up to Nanuq junior, working her paws into the fur on his shoulder and resting her chin on her warmed forepaws in order to watch her cub cradled in the ice bear’s paws.  The polar bear turned his head slightly, so he had one eye on his cub and the other on his mate.

       “I’m a portable heating system now I see,” the polar bear said softly, his eyes smiling at the two brown bears.

       “I feel I might burst with the love I feel for you dear Nanuq,”  Olga said, “it’s as intense as the need to tell you of my cub’s birth in the den, but now, now, I want to kiss your nose and paws.”  Nanuq junior looked down at the cub nestled between his chin and forepaws.  Helga was sound asleep.

       “Our cub’s asleep,” he said softly, “She needs her sleep Olga.”  Olga looked down at Helga sleeping peacefully.

       “I would give anything to be wrapped up in thick warm fur and held by those paws holding you Helga dear,” she thought.  Olga suddenly felt paws round her, they were enormous!  Olga felt herself being turned round, then embraced in warm fur, such warm fur, and the paws, beautifully soft paws they were!  Olga found herself cuddling up to the massive creature that’d enveloped her in its embrace.

      “I want more, I must have more!”  Olga thought frantically, “my paws are cold; my body’s aching with the cold!”  Olga’s nostrils were full of a scent, a scent which made her want to cry.

      “Mama?”  Olga asked faintly, “Dear mama?”  The presence holding her in its paws kissed her on her nose.  Olga’s eyes filled with tears.

      “You died when I was a cub mama,” Olga said softly, “I saw your body, the hunters got you, and I saw you, saw you dead!”

        “Only my earthly body died dear cub,” Olga’s mother’s voice said, “my spirit lives on in another bear, she is not me, but she cares for all creatures.  This bear does not distinguish between species of bears or between any species at all when giving her love.  She wanted to hug you, she felt the need to hug you, and so she’s doing what she wants.  She is a young bear, a large young bear with gentle paws and disposition.  I will only speak through her once, then if you want comfort, please go to her, you will know who she is.”  Olga buried her face in thick warm brown fur.

      “I need this hug; I need it like I needed my mama’s milk, please!”  Olga begged silently.  The paws embracing her tightened their hold on her.

       “I will go now,” Olga’s mother’s spirit said, “but remember these paws, remember this bear, for she knows you from nose to tail, just like I know you.”  Olga breathed deeply, melting into the huge embrace of this enormous bearlike creature.

       “I never want this to end,” Olga thought.  The paws released her, and Olga was back lying beside Nanuq junior, tears rolling down her face.

        “Did, did you see who hugged me?”  Olga sniffed.

       “I saw something,” Nanuq said, “but it was almost out of my sight, and if I looked straight at the thing, I couldn’t see it.  You were here all along Olga dear, you fell asleep.”

     “No Nanuq, no, I wasn’t asleep, I wasn’t!”  Olga replied, “I, I felt, felt, paws, big paws, lovely paws, my mama’s paws, but they weren’t mama’s paws, not quite mama’s paws.  I felt cold and in need of a hug, and something, someone hugged me.”

        “I saw something,” Nanuq replied, “but as I said, if I looked at the thing directly, it wasn’t there.”

        “I felt paws, I felt paws!”  Olga sobbed, “I smelt scent, my mama’s scent, but not quite my mama’s scent.  Someone, something was comforting me.  A voice said if I needed comfort, to go to a bear that was young but had soft paws and a gentle disposition.  The voice did not give this bear’s name, or what she looked like, apart from the fact she is large.”

     “”large female bear could be any of around seven bears here,”  Nanuq said, “Allie, Brunetta, even younger Arki.”

     “The fur was brown, not white,” Olga said, “I remember that much.  It was all a blur of sensations Nanuq, I felt warmth, real warmth, like when you’re in the den with your mum, and you have no cares in the world.  It was a big warmth, all enveloping from my nose to my toes.  I don’t know who this bear is who will give me comfort though, and I don’t want to be imposing on bears who might not understand.  I was told I would know this bear, for she knows me, knows me from nose to tail.  I got rubbed down by Kamchatka once, she’s the only brown bear I can think of who has the characteristics spoken of.  But she’s not the right type for this.  She’s got her own cubs, Alaska, Boris, Theo Junior, Clarence,” Olga’s voice trailed away.

      “What?”  Helga asked, having woken and overheard most of the conversation.

       “The voice,” Olga said, tears almost choking her, “it said, said, said that, that, this bear did not distinguish between species.  It must be Kamchatka, but, but she’s a rival, a threat in the wild, she’s no friend, not like that.  I know here she wouldn’t hurt a fly, but in the wild, to open myself up to her like the voice said I would want to do, I can’t!  Her kind has eaten my kind, but we’re the same, almost the same.  Kamchatka can’t be the bear my mama’s voice was talking about, it’s impossible!”

       “Everything’s possible,” Theo said, padding into the den, “I had a hug from Kamchatka a minute ago, and she’s lovely.”

     “But, but, she’s, her kind, well, they’ve eaten my kind,” Olga whimpered.

       “I understand you might need some help following your paws,” Theo mewed, “Olga, follow your paws and they will guide you. If you feel deep in your heart that you want to go to Kamchatka then you go to her.  Eohippus will keep you safe.  You need not fear, for what is there to fear.”

      “Only getting ripped into shreds by an angry grizzly bear when I tell her some voice has told me to come to her when I want a hug,” Olga replied, “it’s ridiculous!  Just imagine this, Kamchatka’s in her kitchen, and I go up to her and say, “oh by the way Kamchatka, can I have a hug, some spirit has told me to follow my paws and they will guide me to the one who will comfort me, and I think that one is you.”  She’ll use her knife on me for sure!  No Theo, I’m not going to her, nice bear though she seems to be.”

       “You’ll learn in time,” the white lion said.  Olga was sceptical, but couldn’t deny the intensity of her dream, if it had been a dream.


Later that day, Olga, disturbed by her morning’s experience, sort out Rowena for a private chat.  Outlining everything to her, Olga felt rather silly.

        “This probably all sounds like rubbish to you Rowena,” she said.

      “No Olga,” Rowena mewed, “it doesn’t sound like rubbish at all.  Maybe you do need to talk to Kamchatka.  She won’t run you through with her knife, I promise you that.”  Olga wiped her eyes with her paws, for she’d been crying while recounting the tale of meeting the bear who was so like her mother.

       “The bear, if it was a bear, was pretty quick on her paws to be in and out in five minutes, but my time with her seemed like hours!”

       “Time slowed down for you,” Rowena mewed, “it happens when you find someone who cares for you like this bear does.”

      “So she, it was a bear?”  Olga asked.  Rowena nodded.

      “You have mentioned her name more than once today,” Rowena mewed, “she’s a bear who would usually instil fear into any brown bear, but this particular bear, well; she makes life sweeter for many.”  Olga looked confused.

       Kamchatka?”  She asked.

     Kamchatka indeed,” a voice said, Olga feeling large paws enfolding her from behind.  Olga, snorting with surprise, twisted in the grip of the paws, soft massive paws! Olga stared up into a gentle face.  Kamchatka lifted Olga off her paws and, sitting down, sat her on her lap, the brown bear much smaller than herself.

      Kamchatka!”  Olga exclaimed, “um, ah, hi!”  Kamchatka looked into Olga’s face.

        “Someone told me you needed a hug,” Kamchatka said.  Olga could feel her need growing, breathing hard, she fought it, but it was about to burst from her, she could feel it!

       “Hug me, please,” Olga said faintly.  Kamchatka embraced Olga with gentle paws.

      “I like that,” Olga said, “thank you Kamchatka.”  Kamchatka smiled to herself.

        “Eohippus guides all our paws,” Kamchatka said.  Olga snuggled up to the huge grizzly, but Kamchatka seemed to be less of a grizzly bear with every passing minute.  Olga forgot her inner fear of Kamchatka’s kind, and sat cradled in the bear’s huge warm paws.

       “I know your Story Olga,” Kamchatka said gently, “for your story is mine.”  Olga looked up into Kamchatka’s eyes, her own the eyes of a cub; waiting on a best friend’s every word.

        “My mum died when I was young,” Kamchatka said, “She was killed by men, men with guns and bits of paper to say they could kill bears.  The problem was, they were only meant to kill old or injured bears.  A hunter killed my mum right in front of me.  I saw her fall to the ground, then the human who’d shot her go over to her, turn her over and realise his mistake.  He just left her where she lay, thinking she was dead.”  Olga’s eyes were wide with horror.

      “But, but, that’s horrible!”  She exclaimed, “I don’t like this story Kamchatka, but, but I know it must go on, that, that there’s worse to come.”  Kamchatka embraced her cub tenderly.

        “I went over to my mum, and she was still breathing.  They wounded her but did not kill her outright.  She told me,” Kamchatka sniffed, “told me to run, to get away and hide, until, until she could come and get me, but she never came back to me.  After two days, I, I went looking for my mum, and found her dead in the grass a little way from where I’d left her, she’d tried to get to me Olga, badly wounded though she was, she still tried, still tried to find her cub!”  Kamchatka was weeping now, openly crying, and her grief was unashamed and raw.

       “Oh Kamchatka, I, I don’t know what to say, to say I’m sorry is what I feel, but that’s not enough.”  Kamchatka hugged Olga tightly.

       “I found her on the track,” the huge grizzly bear sobbed, “she, she had fought so hard!  I could see that in her broken claws and the blood, so much blood.  If she’d lain still, she would have lived longer, but she fought to get to me, as she said she would, and, and bled to death from her wounds.  I, I won’t describe what I found, for, for it was too horrendous! All I will say is that the trail of blood was thick right back to where I’d left my mum.”

       “I’m so sorry,” Olga said softly.  Kamchatka hung her head, and Olga kissed her nose.

        “Thank you Olga, thank you dear cub,” Kamchatka said instinctively, Olga gulping hard at Kamchatka’s words.

       “Your mum was a gentle bear,” Olga said firmly, “I know she was because you are gentle, you Kamchatka have done more for others than others have done for you.  You comfort cubs, even help cubs into the world.  You comfort cubs of different species too, Clarence, Theo junior, little Elsa, and another cub, the cub of your worst enemy.”

       “You aren’t my enemy Olga,” Kamchatka sniffed, “brown bears might compete with my kind in the wild, but not here, not now.  I love you and your cub and want only the best for both of you.  Please, tell me you did not hesitate when coming to me.”

        “I cannot be honest without saying I hesitated,”  Olga replied shame faced, “I thought, thought you would do things to me because, because I would have come to you and said I’d been sent by a spirit.  I thought you wouldn’t believe me, that, that, you’d use your knife to do harm to me.”  Kamchatka screamed with pain, the sound so full of pain and sorrow that Olga burst into tears.

       “I’m wild Kamchatka!”  Olga begged, “I didn’t mean to be suspicious, I wasn’t scared of you yourself, but of what you are, I looked at the bear and not at the personality inside, I’m sorry, so sorry!”

        “I must, must go,” Kamchatka sobbed, pushing Olga away, “I must go, be alone.”

      “No Kamchatka, being alone would be the worst thing you can be at the moment,” Olga pleaded, “let, let me come with you!  I, I know, know I didn’t follow my paws, I should have done, but I didn’t, even when my mother spoke to me in the dream I doubted her wisdom, that she knew who she was talking about.  Now I don’t doubt, I know you’re the bear she was speaking of.  The doubt is my failing, not yours, not yours Kamchatka, oh please, don’t go, don’t go!”  Kamchatka wiped her eyes with her paw.  She felt dreadful, her own hurt at Olga’s words and her own grief which had been rekindled by the retelling of her tale tore at Kamchatka with savage force.  Weak with emotion, Kamchatka sat down heavily, burying her head in her paws and sobbing.

        “I can’t say sorry enough,” Olga said softly, please, Please Kamchatka, let me take your paw, let me show you, show you that I trust you!”

        “I came to you last night,” Kamchatka said, “I held you in my paws because I knew you wanted a hug, and you did, you cried like a cub, you cuddled up and called me mama, but now, now, you doubt me?”  Olga buried her face in her paws, smelling the grizzly bear’s scent, the same scent as before, the scent which made her want to cry.

        “I was vulnerable then,” Olga said lamely, “in my waking hours I suspect, in my sleeping ones I don’t, I’m an innocent cub again.  Kamchatka, ignore this adult stupidity if you can, and, and if, if you can find it in you, please, please hug me one last time before I leave.”  Kamchatka pulled Olga into a huge bear hug, the brown bear cuddling up to her.

       “I don’t want you to leave,” Kamchatka said, “Olga, I forget, I forget the wild easily.  I don’t blame you for your wariness.  I, I just wish, wish you’d followed your paws.”  Olga kissed Kamchatka’s wet nose.

      “I will, I will!”  Olga promised, the scent filling her nostrils and making her tearful, “I will follow my paws mama, I promise!”  Olga buried her head in Kamchatka’s thick fur. How gloriously warm and safe that fur felt, Olga breathed deeply, sucking the scent into her lungs, as if it would fill her from nose to tail.

        “Let me bury my face and paws in your fur Kamchatka!”  Olga begged.  Kamchatka hugged Olga tightly, so very close.

       “I feel safe here,” Olga said softly.  Kamchatka fought to control her emotions, but they were running out of control, slipping through her paws like oiled salmon on overdrive.

        “I love you Olga sweetheart,” Kamchatka sniffed.  Olga buried her head in Kamchatka’s fur.


Rowena watched everything, not interfering, just watching.  She knew of the brown bear’s doubt, and was glad she’d been strong enough to same it to Kamchatka.


“Rowena, Where’s my mum?”  Helga asked an hour later, crawling into the lie up.  Rowena hugged the brown bear cub tenderly.

      “She’s safe, where’s your sire dear one?”  Rowena asked.

       “Nanuq went to see his own sire,” Helga replied, “and I’m now hungry, so I came in search of my mum.  Rowena took a deep breath, trying to form her next words.  How could she tell this cub of Olga and Kamchatka’s conversation?  Helga would think her mad.

       “You stay here, I’ll find out if your mum is here,” Rowena mewed, settling the cub down, Helga’s eyes telling the lioness she was confused.

        “But mum’s over there, I can see her in the paws of that huge grizzly bear,” Helga said, “can’t I go to her myself Rowena?”  Rowena shook her head and placed a paw on Helga’s back.

      “Stay there Helga dear,” she mewed.  Padding to Kamchatka’s side, Rowena found the huge grizzly curled round Olga.  The two bears looked like mother and cub.

       “I can’t wake them,” Rowena thought, “Eohippus does not want me to wake them.  But there’s a hungry bear cub, and, and she needs food, but she’s not weaned yet.”  Rowena padded back to Helga, who looked up at her with expectant eyes.

        “Your mum’s unwell,” Rowena mewed.

      “I’ll go to her,” Helga said.

       “No Helga, not just yet, leave her,” Rowena pleaded.  Helga crawled to her mother’s side, Rowena unable to stop her.

       “Mum?”  Helga asked, gently nuzzling Olga’s chin.  Olga woke suddenly, staring at the tiny cub in front of her.

       “Helga,” Olga said, “what are you doing here?”

        “I was hungry, and Nanuq’s gone to see his sire,” Helga replied, “so I tracked you here by scent.  The white lioness said you were ill, are you ill?”  Olga shook her head.

       “Rowena lied!”  Helga yelled, “You laid Rowena!”

        “No Helga, she did not lie,” Olga said gently, “I can’t produce milk for you at the moment, not at the moment, for, for, oh, never mind.”

       “I’m not able to eat solid food yet mum,” Helga replied, “I’ll die if I don’t get food!”

        “I don’t know why I can’t feed you now,” Olga replied, “but I can’t, maybe it is because I’m a cub.”  Helga didn’t understand.

      “But you’re not a cub!”  She protested, “You gave birth to me!”

       “Helga,” Rowena mewed, “come, I will feed you.”  Helga looked at the lioness.

        “You can’t, you haven’t had cubs, and you’ve got no milk for me,” Helga protested, “this is all wrong, all a trick, what’s wrong with mum?  She says she’s a cub, but she’s not a cub, and now she won’t feed me!  White lioness, what have you done to my mum?”  Rowena could not explain what Olga was going through.

     “Just come with me,” Rowena mewed, picking the cub up in her mouth.  Helga gripped the carpet with all four paws, digging her toes into the pile.

       “I’m not going with you, I refuse!”  Helga screamed.

        “Go, go with her Helga,” Olga said weakly, “I’ll be better soon, but for now, go with Rowena.”  Helga reluctantly let go of the carpet and let the lioness take her back to her rug, where she and Helga settled down together.

       “Your mum needs time alone,” Rowena mewed, “so I’m looking after you until she’s better.”

      “But I’m hungry,” Helga said, “You can’t feed me white lioness.”

      “My name’s Rowena,” the lioness said, “and maybe I can feed you, find my milk supply.  Helga searched for, and found milk.  Drinking busily, she soon forgot she was being fed by a creature she’d never usually meet in her entire life.


Meanwhile, Kamchatka and Olga lay curled up together, Kamchatka hugging the brown bear with gentle paws.

      “Can, can I tell you about the death of my mother?”  Olga asked.  Kamchatka wiped her nose on the back of her paw and nodded.

     “Yes,” Kamchatka said.  Olga took a deep breath and began her tale.

       “My mum died of natural causes,” Olga said, “she was a weak bear, but was my mother for all that.  Your tale is so much more tragic than mine.  I buried my mum’s body; you could not do that Kamchatka.”  Kamchatka nodded sorrowfully.

       “I try to pay tribute to my mum by being as she was,” she said.

      “You do that Kamchatka, you do that very well!”  Olga said gently.  Kamchatka smiled sadly.

      “I try Olga, I try,” she said sniffing hard.


Meanwhile, Rowena and Helga lay curled together, the lioness cuddling the brown bear cub.  Full of milk and very contented, Helga was fighting to stay awake.

       “Your fur is so warm,” Helga yawned expansively, “so warm Rowena, I, I, I want to sleep, must sleep.”  Rowena purred gently in Helga’s ear, the bear cub snuggling close to her, settling her head on her forepaws and closing her eyes.

        “Sleep well little cub,” Rowena mewed, kissing Helga’s nose.


Kamchatka and Olga lay curled together, both relaxed and comfortable.

      “I’ve found my security, my safe place,” Olga said softly.  Kamchatka embraced her tightly, loving Olga from nose to paw pads.  Olga let Kamchatka explore her from nose to tail with her paws, loving the grizzly bear’s touch.

        “I feel so safe, so warm and safe,” Olga said softly.  Kamchatka kissed Olga’s nose and paw pads, the brown bear smiling with pleasure.

      “I love your deep brown eyes and your wrinkled black paw pads,” Kamchatka said gently.  Olga smiled broadly, pressing her hind paws against Kamchatka’s chest.  The grizzly bear picked up Olga’s right hind paw in her forepaws and examined it carefully before kissing her pads and toes.  Olga smiled broadly.

      “I love having my paws played with, stroked and kissed,” Olga said softly.  Kamchatka smiled.

       “Mama Bear kissing her cub’s paws,” she said.  Olga gulped hard.

       “But, but, I’m not your cub, I’m not your cub!”  Olga protested, “though, though, I, I, no, I can’t give voice to that wish, it’s not fair, it’s fantasy, it’s wrong, so very wrong!”

        “Wrong for you to want to be hugged by a mama bear who wants to love you like her cub?”  Kamchatka asked.  Olga whimpered with distress.

        “I can’t ask that, I can’t ask that of you Kamchatka!”

       “Why not?”  Kamchatka asked.

      “It’s wrong,” Olga replied, “if, if anyone should be asking that, it should be you asking me, for you lost your mum in a far more violent and distressing manner.  How old were you when you lost your mum?”

       “About a year,” Kamchatka replied.

      “Seventeen months for me,” Olga said, “so there you go!  Now, now I’m the one asking you, and it’s wrong!”

      “How did it feel when I played with your paws?”  Kamchatka asked.

       “Wonderful, really lovely,” Olga replied.  Kamchatka smiled:

     “There dear cub,” she said, “now how do you feel?”  Olga smiled:

     “Fine,” she replied, “though I too have a cub, who I believe wants my attention.”  Kamchatka smiled and watched Olga leave.


Olga found Helga asleep in Rowena’s embrace.

      “I’m sorry Rowena,” Olga said.  Rowena shook her head and motioned with her paw to the brown bear to lie down.

       “It’s okay,” she said softly, “you needed to find Kamchatka.” Helga woke in Rowena’s embrace, the brown bear cub warm and comfortable.

       “Oh hello mum,” she said to Olga, “so you’ve decided to become a mama bear once more?”  Rowena placed her paw over Helga’s mouth.

      “Don’t say that Helga dear,” Rowena mewed, “you have no real idea.”  Helga shook her head free of Rowena’s paw.

       “You left me to starve!”  Helga screamed at her mum.

       “No she didn’t,” Rowena mewed, “your mum left you in Nanuq’s care; it was you who did not go to sleep when he asked you to.  If you had, you’d still be asleep now, and Olga would be back with you in your den.”

      “How do you know I would still be asleep?”  Helga challenged.

      “I know,” Rowena mewed.  Helga, unhappy and frustrated, lashed out at Olga, the cubs paw catching the brown bear across her face.

       “I deserve that,” Olga thought miserably, “I have not been good to this cub.”  Helga’s eyes burned into her mum’s.

       “You mum, left me, left me hungry!  Rowena said I should have gone to sleep when I was asked to, but I wasn’t tired, and Nanuq left me too, and now you’re pretending to be a cub, and you’re no cub, you’re no cub, you’re no cub!”

        “I needed, needed to talk to someone,” Olga replied lamely, thinking that Kamchatka’s tale was worse than her own, and that the grizzly bear was the one who needed to talk.

      “You would do well to look to Helga now,” Rowena mewed, “look after your cub Olga, I’ll look after Kamchatka.”  Olga picked Helga up and carried her from the lie up. The bear cub very unhappy.

        “Rowena?”  Kamchatka asked, padding to the lioness and lying down, “can, can I chat with you?”  Rowena smiled and touched the huge grizzly’s paw.

       “Talk to me Kamchatka dear,” Rowena said softly.  Kamchatka buried her face in Rowena’s neck, sobbing inconsolably.

        “I can’t cope, can’t cope!”  Kamchatka sobbed.  Rowena stroked Kamchatka’s face with her paw.

       “Your mama?”  The lioness asked, using the ursine term of respect.  Kamchatka nodded, sniffing hard.

      “She was shot Rowena, and, and she tried to get to me, she struggled down the track!  She died trying to find me Rowena!”  Rowena nodded, kissing Kamchatka’s nose.

       “Pay tribute to your mama by loving bears like Olga,” Rowena said, “Kamchatka, be yourself, love others as your mum loved you.”  Kamchatka gulped hard, sniffing and swallowing hard.

       “I try, try so dam hard, so hard!”  Kamchatka sobbed.  Rowena kissed Kamchatka’s nose.

       “Olga wanted to be a cub again, for a while,” Rowena mewed, “and you let her be that cub Kamchatka.  Maybe now though, it is you who needs to grieve for your mama.”  Kamchatka nodded.

      “I remember that day, so clearly, so clearly,”  Kamchatka replied, “I couldn’t save her Rowena, she fell, and she was injured, and she told me to run, so I did, and two days later she’d not come to collect me, so I went back to find her, and, and, there was so much blood, so much death!  My mama was only young; I was her first cub, her only cub.”  Kamchatka buried her face in her paws, “I left her body, and I didn’t want to see what they’d done to her any more.  I left her and wandered far from that place, trying to forget, to forget the sight of my mama falling to the earth.  I cried for weeks, but then, then calm came over me, but that’s all gone now, I’m sad, I want to weep for my mama, for the bear who gave birth to me.”

        “She’s still with you Kamchatka,” Rowena mewed, “”She is part of you, so she’s always with you.  You live by her teachings, by her love.  Noone can take that from her or you.  Those hunters might have taken her earthly life, but they can’t take the time you had with your mama from her or you.  You remember her, and she remembers you, watching over you from where her spirit is now.  The hunters shot her body and that cannot support her spirit any more, but her spirit lives on in you.  Please believe it Kamchatka, for it is true, everything you do which is good and kind is a testament to your mama and to you.”  Kamchatka breathed deeply, trying to control her emotions.

       “I am grateful for your words Rowena,” she choked.  Rowena looked Kamchatka over, the huge grizzly lying exhausted with emotions.  Kamchatka was enormous, there was no question.  From the toes of her forepaws to those of her hind she was a full two and a half metres long.  Her head was huge, and Rowena knew Kamchatka’s face was gentle, though at that moment it was buried in the grizzly’s massive forepaws.

        “You’re safe here Kamchatka,” Rowena mewed, “you do know that don’t you.”  Kamchatka nodded, sniffling slightly.

       “I know Rowena,” she mumbled, “and for that I am very grateful.”  Rowena kissed Kamchatka’s right ear, the grizzly bear lifting her head and looking at the lioness.

       “I love your eyes,” Rowena thought.  Kamchatka looked into Rowena’s face.

        “I must try not to think of the manner of my mama’s death,” Kamchatka said.  Rowena kissed her nose.

       “I think you will be a mama to more cubs soon Kamchatka love,” Rowena mewed.  Kamchatka looked mystified.

      “How can I be a mama to more cubs,” she said, “they all have mothers who are alive today?”

       “I use mama to mean respected mama figure, not mother,” Rowena mewed, “Snowy is that mama figure at the moment, but I fear will not be for much longer.  She is getting older, and won’t last long now.”  Kamchatka had never met snowy, but everyone had heard of the white tigress.

        “Rowena,” Swarupa said, padding into the room, her eyes full of sorrow, “I, my sister Sushanti and the community need your guidance now.”  Rowena nodded to Kamchatka, who turned gentle eyes on the grief stricken young tigress standing in front of them.

       “Snowy’s died hasn’t she,” Kamchatka said.  Swarupa nodded, tears rolling down her striped face.  Kamchatka felt an uncontrollable urge to hug the weeping tigress.

     “Go to her Kamchatka,” Rowena mewed.  Kamchatka went to Swarupa and drew the tigress into an enormous bear hug, Swarupa not resisting the tender embrace of the she bear’s huge paws.

      “I need this,” Swarupa mewed, “oh, Kamchatka, I need this!”  Kamchatka kissed

Swarupa’s nose, the tigress burying her head in the grizzly bear’s warm fur.

       “You’ve got warm fur Kamchatka, nice warm fur, and gorgeous paws too, and I need more, must have more! Much more!”  Swarupa mewed.

      “Take all you need,” Kamchatka said softly, Swarupa cuddling tighter into her embrace.

      “We must arrange Snowy’s funeral,” Petra said padding into the room.  Kamchatka looked up.

       “I’ll help carry her body,” the bear said.

     “No Kamchatka, that’s not your job,” Petra mewed, “your job is to be with her cubs.  They’ll need you with them.  Please, don’t get paws on with this; get paws on with Snowy’s cubs instead.”  Kamchatka looked at Swarupa, who was now crying into her fur.

      “Don’t let me go Kamchatka, don’t let me go!”  The tigress wept.

     “Bianca and Sushanti will need your help too Kamchatka,” Petra mewed, “I hope you can cope with this.”

      “She can,” Rowena mewed, “Petra, Kamchatka can cope, and she’s strong but gentle and has got gentle paws.  She can be a mama to all of Snowy’s cubs.””

      “We will instruct the badgers to dig a grave for Snowy,” Petra said.  Whitie, having been buried in a quiet ceremony a week previously, the badgers were getting heavy work at the moment, and accepted the commission to dig a grave for snowy half tail’s earthly remains.


The next day, the funeral arrangements were complete.  Kamchatka, the head of the ursine family, which comprised not only the bears and pandas, but other woodlanders, had to set aside her pastoral duties for a few hours, for it was to her that the responsibility of deciding the protocol for the family fell.  What should they do before and during the funeral?  Kamchatka, assembling all the bears, woodlanders  and their cubs in the great room, called the meeting to order by sitting down and striking a small gong which she’d found in a box of odds and ends in a store cupboard.  The assembled creatures fell silent, and Kamchatka looked at each in turn, making eye contact.

        “It is a very sad time for us all,” she said, “but we must decide how we are to present ourselves at the funeral today.  The cats will be doing their own thing, but we bears must conduct ourselves well.  I suggest no standing at the funeral; every bear must sit on the ground.  We are big and powerful for the most part, and sitting down will make us less threatening to look at.  Agreed so far?”  There were no dissenters, “right,” the grizzly said, “all cubs must attend, I know it will be hard on them, but they must attend the funeral.  Births are community events, and so funerals should be too.  By all means comfort the cubs, let them cuddle up to you, but they must be at the ceremony.”

      “The next thing she’ll be advising us on is how we should grieve for snowy,” Geming spat under his breath to Weici.

      “No Geming I won’t!”  Kamchatka snapped, rising to her paws and going over to the male panda, “come here!”  Kamchatka grabbed hold of Geming’s right forepaw in her teeth and hoisted him aloft.

      “I didn’t mean you to hear that!”  The panda protested.

       “You keep your mouth shut!”  Arki yelled, her voice like thunder, “I will not have you saying stuff like that!”  Geming whimpered an apology and was dumped on the carpet.

       “Right,” Kamchatka said, sitting down in order to continue her address, but Helga had seen enough.  Screaming with terror, she ran for the door!

       “I don’t like Kamchatka any more!”  The bear cub wailed.

       “”I’ll go get her,” said Nanuq junior, padding after the cub and picking her up in his mouth.  Returning to the meeting, he gently embraced his cub.

       “I’m sorry if what I did to Geming was seen as harsh,” Kamchatka said, “but we must try to keep some kind of order among ourselves at this funeral.”

       “Seating plans, ritual washing? What else commander and chief?”  Geming goaded.  Kamchatka looked at him, her eyes cold and hostile.

       “Shut up!”  She snapped.

      “Hey, you Russian bitch!”  Geming yelled, “We’re not in the USSR now!  You can’t run our lives!”  Kamchatka got to her paws, thunder in her eyes.

        “Geming, for Eohippus sake!”  Weici screamed, “Stop it!”  Kamchatka sat back down heavily.

       “You will not be told how to grieve for snowy,” she said gruffly, “but I do think we bears need to be clean and well turned out.  The cats will be, so why should we not be?  I think we should wash our fur and paws before the ceremony.  And if anyone has objections, then they can refuse to wash. It’s up to them.  As leader of this family I am stating how I would do things, feel free to interrupt, to suggest other ways of doing things.  Geming? Have you any ideas on how we should run things for our family group this day?”  The male panda looked down at his paws, for he had no ideas of his own.

      “Well that settles it doesn’t it,” Kamchatka said.  Geming, blushing bright red, hid his face in his paws.

        “I think we should wash our paws,” Arki said, “for our paws are what we use to communicate.  If we are going to communicate clean thoughts, then our paws should be clean too.”

       “You’re going round the bloody twist Arki!”  Geming snapped.

       “Geming, shut up!”  Kamchatka snarled.

      “No I won’t, I bloody won’t!”  The panda yelled.

       “Get him out of here!”  Kamchatka snapped.  Nanuq senior got to his paws and dragged Geming out of the room, the sound of a well aimed slap from the male polar bear’s paw audible to the group.

      “Washing of paws and fur is carried then,” Kamchatka said, “any other ideas?”

       “The idea of sitting down during the ceremony was a good one,” Allie replied, “for we bears are huge, and would dwarf anyone else.”  Kamchatka nodded.


Later that day, the bears and other woodlanders washed their fur and paws.  Carefully each washed another, everyone making sure everyone else was clean from noses to paw pads.  The badgers even got in on this, seeing the sense in Kamchatka’s idea.  Soon, all the bears and other woodland dwellers were as clean as they’d ever get.  The funeral was set for sundown that day.


All the community gathered in the wood, the boss having taken control of cameras and computers for the duration of the ceremony.  Tigger and his cubs, both adopted and natural sat at the fore of the feline group, the ursine family headed by Kamchatka.  Very slowly, Kodiak and Brunetta brought Snowy’s body from the house, walking with bowed heads, as if their load was almost too much to bear.  Heavy pawed, the bears padded towards the assembled company, veering off slightly from a dead straight line to show their reluctance to commit Snowy’s remains to the earth.  Then, very slowly, they walked past the assembled company, the bears, lions and tigers bowing their heads in respect for the white tigress.  Kamchatka, having forgotten about this part of the ceremony, fought back memories of the last time she’d been in the wood.

        “We commit snowy to nature,” Honeyfur said solemnly as she undid the cords securing Snowy’s body to the backs of the two bears.  Gently, Snowy’s body was placed on the ground, and then the bears lowered it into the grave.  This done, they padded noiselessly to their group.

      “We be gathered here to remember and celebrate the life of Snowy half tail,” Honeyfur began, “she be a great influence on many of us, indeed, she leader of community in times long past.  Snowy be mother, mama and leader, she also be great friend to many.  Though difficulties she had, she was good mum to Bianca, Swarupa and Sushanti, and mate to Tigger too.  Snowy half tail also mother snow leopard cubs, both of which have gone to Eohippus before this day.”

       “Blanche snow leopard would never have been accepted by Eohippus,” Tigger thought angrily.

        “Now we take a few minutes to think of Snowy as each of us knew her, as mum, as friend, as mate, however each knew her.  Swarupa, who’d held it together until then, suddenly wailed with grief, frightening Helga, who screamed with terror!

       “Shh it’s okay,” Olga said gently, cuddling her cub.  Helga wriggled frantically, and then pointed with her paw.

     “Over there, there’s something in the trees!”  She yelled.

       “There’s nothing,” Olga said, not looking up from her contemplation of events.  Helga balled her paw into a fist and punched her mum on the nose!

       “Ouch!”  Olga snarled, looking up suddenly, “you horrid, oh, oh, Oooh! There is something in the trees!”  Kamchatka looked too, and saw a huge female grizzly bear. She was enormous, but instantly recognisable to Kamchatka.

      “What on earth is going on?”  Honeyfur demanded.

       “Mama?”  Kamchatka asked faintly.  Suddenly Swarupa screamed with terror!

      “There’s a ghost bear, she’s heading for Kamchatka, and she’s going to take her to the other side!”  Kamchatka let the spirit of her own mother come up to her, feeling her warmth and enormous presence.

      “I’ve come for snowy,” the huge grizzly said, “and also to implore my only cub to do her best to look after lost cubs.”  Kamchatka lowered her eyes, unable to look into her mum’s face.

       “I will mama, I will,” she said faintly.  Kamchatka’s mother kissed her cub on her nose, then, going to the graveside, she waited for a minute, a white tigress suddenly bounding out of the trees to join her.  Touching paws, the bear and tigress vanished into the night, leaving everyone stunned and bewildered.

       “I told you Kamchatka was a witch bear!”  Helga screamed, “Mum, I told you!  She turned you into a cub, now she’s called her dead mama back into our world!  She’s dangerous!”  Olga shushed her cub, but Helga wasn’t to be silenced.

        Kamchatka’s scary, mum, she frightens me!”

        “Go from here!”  Honeyfur commanded Kamchatka, “go on, bugger off!”  Kamchatka, distressed, left the group at a run.

         “Bury snowy and let’s get back into the house!”  Samson snapped, “we can’t’ be doing with all this shit!”

       Kamchatka’s not dangerous Helga, she’s no threat,” Olga said softly to her cub, but she could not make it sound convincing.


Kamchatka ran through the door into the house, finding her way to Rowena’s lie up, where she collapsed, sobbing and wringing her paws.        “I’m confused, mama, I’m confused!”  Kamchatka sobbed, “What did all that mean?  Why am I branded a witch bear?  I’m no witch, I’m no witch!”

       “Witch bear were the ill chosen words of a cub Kamchatka dear,” a voice said, “you are no witch, nor are you a threat to the community.  I sent your mama to you to join paws with you one last time before you’re here with her forever, and for her to bestow on you the mantel which Snowy carried throughout her life.  The fact the cub Helga saw your mum is down to her being able to see spirits, as she grows older she will not see them.  Olga can see spirits because her mind is still cubbish after her meeting with you.  She still believes, whereas most there do not really believe in the spirit world.”

      If you are not my mama, then, then you must be eohippus,” Kamchatka said.

       “Do I really need to answer that?”  The voice said, “Take it from me Kamchatka, those who believe in you will come to you. Those who do not will not and cannot.  Helga believes in spirit life, so she will see her way on the path, but some of the others, well, I’m not so sure.  They say they believe spirits exist, but I’m not convinced.  Go Kamchatka, go back to the gathering in the great room and tell them of my words.  I do not like the word witch used to describe you!  Spirit bear yes, but not witch!”


Kamchatka went with heavy paws.  Feeling dreadful, she padded to the great room, her paws almost too heavy to lift.  Reaching the great room, Kamchatka found Samson waiting for her.

      “What was all that shit in the wood?”  He asked angrily, “are you some witch Kamchatka?  You scared the wits out of a young cub, and now you come back here!  I want you expelled!”

        “No Sammy,” Rowena mewed, “you are too quick to jump to conclusions.  Kamchatka is no witch; she’s just been given the mantel which Snowy had.”

       “Let me explain, please,” Kamchatka begged.

      “This better be bloody good!”  Samson roared.

        “Helga saw my mama’s spirit because her eyes are those of a cub, Olga saw her for the same reasons, now you did not see my mama because you don’t want to see her.”

      “Next you’ll be telling us you had a meeting with Eohippus,” Samson snapped.  Kamchatka nodded:

      “I did, I did Samson!”

       “Oh for Eohippus sake!”  Samson roared.

        “Sammy!”  Fleur yelled.

        “I can’t help who communicates with, through, or to me,” Kamchatka sobbed, “I just want to be left alone to do what I feel is right!  Samson, leave me alone!”  Samson glared at the grizzly bear.

        “You’d better keep your head down!”  He growled, “What you did to Helga was disgraceful!”

       “It wasn’t my fault!”  Kamchatka pleaded, “I can’t help what Helga sees!”

        Kamchatka’s a witch!”  Helga yelled.  Olga, very uncomfortable, shushed her cub.

      “But mum, Kamchatka brought the spirit bear to the wood, that bear was enormous!”  Helga yelled.

       “That was the spirit of Kamchatka’s mother,” Olga replied, “Kamchatka needed to talk with her.”

      “I don’t like Kamchatka!”  Helga whined, “She’s a witch, she brings horrid spirits to our wood and scares me!”

       “Don’t say that Helga love,” Olga said gently, her voice cracking, “Kamchatka’s not horrible, she’s not horrible Helga love.”

       “She is!”  Helga replied, “She brings horrid spirits to the wood, and she talks to them, and they kiss her nose and hug her, then it gets worse, then, then, I’m scared, then, it’s horrible all over again, but worse, and worse, and worse!”

        “You used to like Kamchatka,” Olga said to her cub.

      “I did, before she brought her mama to the wood!”  Helga yelled.

       “But Helga,” Olga replied, “Kamchatka’s bringing her mama to the wood every day.  When she played with you in our lie up, Kamchatka’s mama was there with you.  Kamchatka is gentle and kind, her mother was too.”

       “What happened to Kamchatka’s mama?”  Helga asked.  Olga told her.

       “Oh,” Helga said faintly, “oh dear.”

         “I’ll go, I’m not wanted,” Kamchatka sobbed, padding from the room.  Padding to the pool complex, Kamchatka sat in the spar pool and buried her face in her paws, crying with grief and frustration.

        “I want to help,” Kamchatka sobbed, “but I’ve got cubs accusing me of things I didn’t do!  I’m a gentle bear, I try to do right by my mama’s memory, but I can’t seem to do right at this moment in time!”

       “You are keeping to your mama’s teachings Kamchatka,” a voice said.  Kamchatka looked round, and saw Kuan-Yin sitting beside her.

       “You should be back with Shuang,” Kamchatka said.

       “No Kamchatka,” the panda cub replied, “I need to be with you because I feel you need me.”  Kamchatka felt she needed to hug someone, that Kuan-Yin was that someone she wasn’t so sure, but following her paws as always, she hugged the panda cub tenderly and immediately felt well.

        “I saw your mama’s spirit,” Kuan-Yin said, “for me it wasn’t shock, for I see many spirit in daily life.  I joined paws with Rowena lioness you see, and she big spirit lioness.  She keeps my eyes like those of a cub to the spirit world, so I see Kamchatka mama.  I see you good bear, beautiful bear inside and out.  You no know I watch you, but I do.  Now I come to you to give you reassurance you doing right thing by cubs and by mama’s spirit and teaching.  I say other cubs come to mama Kamchatka, when they feel sad when mother not about, or dead or thing like that, they come to mama Kamchatka, and she gives big warm hugs and understanding, okay?”  Kamchatka smiled broadly; Kuan-Yin’s presence warmed her from nose to tail.

      “Thank you Kuan-Yin,” she said softly, kissing the panda cub’s nose.

      “I come for Rowena lioness teaches me to have eyes like cub, all curious, all open to many ideas,” the panda replied.  Kamchatka smiled broadly Kuan-Yin grinning at her.

       “Now that what mama Kamchatka does best, smile and hug,” he said earnestly.  Kamchatka kissed Kuan-Yin’s right forepaw.

       “I love you Kuan-Yin,” she said softly. Kuan-Yin giggled cubbishly and kissed Kamchatka’s nose, the grizzly bear catching her breath.

      “Hug me, love me, for I want that,” the panda said.  Kamchatka gathered Kuan-Yin to her, embracing him, kissing his nose, stroking his forepaws and tickling his belly, the panda cub laughing and thrashing the water white with his hind paws.

       “I love that!”  He yelled, “For I know you give love with your paws.”  Kamchatka sat opposite Kuan-Yin and took the cub’s right hind paw in her forepaws, stroking his pads and playing with his toes, the panda closing his eyes in bliss.

       “I love that!”  He said dreamily, “My paws are all yours.”  Kamchatka smiled contentedly.  Kamchatka and Kuan-Yin spent a long time in the spar pool, each playing with the other’s paws.  They stood on tiptoe letting the spar tickle their pads until they could stand it no more, then each rubbed and massaged the other’s pads and toes.  Then they adjourned to the main pool where they settled on a ledge in the shallow end and Kamchatka, laughing merrily, made sure Kuan-Yin was lying flat on his stomach on the ledge, the shallow water covering his forepaws just covering the pads of his hind paws.  Then grinning hugely, she leant down and touched the pads of the panda’s left hind paw with her lips, then blew hard through her mouth.  The resulting bubbles tickled the panda’s pads, making him shriek with laughter and round on her to do the same to her.

      “Give me those hind paws!”  Kuan-Yin commanded, Kamchatka flopping into the water in a manner which only a grizzly bear can.  The panda grabbed her right hind paw and did as she had to the pads of his hind paw, touching the large sole pad with his lips, and then blowing strongly but steadily.  Kamchatka screamed with laughter, curling her toes, which made the pads bunch and the sensation even more intense.  Kamchatka thrashed the water white with her forepaws, her laughter so loud it brought Olga in from the main house.

       “Having fun there?”  The brown bear asked.  Kamchatka and Kuan-Yin continued their game, oblivious of Olga’s presence.  Olga watched intently.

       Kamchatka’s not what Helga says she is,” Olga thought, “those aren’t the actions of a horrible bear.”  Olga turned and went back into the house, determined to tell her cub she’d got Kamchatka all wrong.

Olga tackled her cub about her problems with Kamchatka later that day.

     “No, I’m not listening to you mum!”  Helga whined, “You lied to me, you said you were a cub, and you aren’t a cub! You play silly games with me mum, and I won’t stand for it any more!  I hate you! You live in a fantasy world where Kamchatka is your mum, and she’s not, she’s our enemy! You know that, and so do I! Brown bears and grizzly bears have never got on and never will, and you’re cuddling up with one!  I hate you mum, and I’ll tell you why, because you’re leading me into danger! I’m going with Nanuq junior, Rowena will feed me from now on, for I don’t want to see you ever again! You cuddle sorceresses!  Kamchatka’s a witch, a witch! Witch! Witch!”  Olga buried her face in her paws, sobbing.

        Kamchatka’s not a witch Helga, please! Try and listen to me!  She’s our friend, you played with her Helga, and she was good to you!”

      “She was planning to spring this on us, she’s our enemy mum, and a grizzly bear can’t change sides!”  Helga screamed.

      “Who have you been talking to?”  Olga asked.  Helga did not want to tell her mum of the nightmarish dreams she’d had, of the brown bear who wagged his paw and warned her about going with Kamchatka.  The bear, a large male, told Helga tales of the awful deeds of this grizzly bear, of the way she’d killed him for no good reason other than she wanted his blood.”

       “Noone,” Helga said, staring at her paws.

     “Who have you been talking to?”  Olga asked, not believing her cub for one minute.

        “I had, had a dream; a brown bear told me Kamchatka was bad, that she killed him for no reason!  She’s bad mum!  If you believe in spirits, I know I’ve met one too.  I don’t know if he’s bad or not, but he’s talking sense to me.”

       “Talk to Rowena about this,” Olga said, “we must talk to the lioness!”

        “No mum, no, not her!”  Helga protested, “She’s one of them, she’s a messenger from the other side!”

       “Rowena’s lovely,” Olga protested, “she fed you you ungrateful cub! Now stop being so stupid!”  Olga whacked Helga’s paw with hers.

       “I don’t like Kamchatka!”  Helga screamed.

       Kamchatka’s done nothing to wrong us,” Olga protested.

       “Well I hate her, she’s a witch, a witch I tell you mum!”  Helga screamed.

        “”What have I done to you Helga dear?”  Kamchatka asked sorrowfully, padding into the room, walking as if her paws were made of lead.

       “You brought that big bear to us, she was going to take you away!”  Helga screeched.

        “That big bear was my mama Helga; she wanted to talk to me.  We joined paws, and I now know she is at peace on the other side.  You though dear cub, are not at peace.  I can feel this strongly.”

       “More sorcery!”  Helga yelled, using words noone had known her to use before.  A wild look in her eyes, Helga jabbed her paw at Kamchatka.

       “You are horrible!”  She yelled, “Ursus Horribilis,” the horrible bear!”  Olga stared at her cub.

       “She’s unwell,” Olga thought, “for Helga doesn’t know these words, let alone latten!”

       “I know who’s been getting to you dear cub,” someone said.  Helga looked up, straight into the eyes of a huge grizzly bear.

       “You’re that, that bear from the wood,” Helga said, “Kamchatka’s mama,” the grizzly nodded.

       “You have been sorely used dear cub; a brown bear has used your impressionable mind for his own ends. Come closer dear cub and tell me, tell me what’s troubling you.  Helga found herself going to the grizzly, her paws taking her to the massive bear’s side, the bear now lying down.

        “I saw a brown bear, a male brown bear,” the brown bear cub said, “he told me, told me that Kamchatka was evil, that she’d murdered him for his blood.  Grizzly’s are our enemies, and so I believe him.”

       “Touch my paw Helga dear,” the huge grizzly said.  Helga felt no fear this time, just curiosity.

       “Okay,” she said, touching the bear’s massive right forepaw.

       “Do you think I am your enemy?”  The grizzly asked.

      “No,” Helga admitted shame faced, “no grizzly mama I think you are a friend.  My mum thinks a grizzly is her friend too, is she? Is Kamchatka her friend?”

      “Only she can decide that,” the grizzly replied, “now Helga cub, make your peace with Kamchatka, for she loves you, just as I love you. And I am forever part of her.”

      “How can you be part of her?”  Olga asked.

        “your mum is part of you Helga, whatever she teaches you, the love she gives you, how she hugs you with her paws, is part of her which she gives to you.  Now when Kamchatka hugs you, I am hugging you too, for I am part of her.  If you are a friend to me, please, be a friend to her too.  For she loves you Helga, she loves you so much; your words hurt her so deeply.”  Helga blinked, and the huge grizzly was gone, only Kamchatka lay on the rug, cradling Helga in her paws.

        “I’m sorry Kamchatka,” Helga said sorrowfully, “I have said some dreadful things to you.  I wasn’t in my right mind.”

       “I know,” Kamchatka replied softly.  The big brown bear will not trouble you any more Helga.”  Helga snuggled up to Kamchatka.

     “I hope he doesn’t,” she replied, “I felt like you were my enemy, but deep down, I knew you weren’t.”

       “I love you Helga, don’t ever forget that,” Kamchatka said gently.  Helga took Kamchatka’s right forepaw in both of hers.

       “I’m sorry Kamchatka, really I am,” she sobbed.  The sound of heavily padded paws entering the lie up made Helga look up.  Bianca, grief stricken from the funeral and all that had surrounded it, padded drunkenly into the lie up.  Her eyes held a hollow expression, her world seemingly in pieces.  Stumbling across the lie up, the tigress collapsed in a mewing, sobbing heap beside Kamchatka.

       “Helga, please,” Kamchatka said, pushing the bear cub away with her paw, “go to your mum.”  Helga crawled away to Olga, Kamchatka hugging Bianca with tender paws.

        “Snowy, my mum, she, she said come to you if I felt lonely after her death Kamchatka,”  Bianca sobbed, “I’m here, I’m lonely, please, please don’t hurt me!”  Kamchatka enfolded Bianca in an enormous hug, the white tigress mewing and sobbing into her fur.

       “You’re safe here, totally safe,” Kamchatka said softly.

      “Mum lay down to sleep, and never woke up!”  Bianca sobbed.  Kamchatka said nothing, for there was nothing to say.  All she could do was keep hugging the weeping tigress tightly and kiss her nose and paws.  Bianca’s body shook with emotion as she wept, Kamchatka cradling her head on her shoulder.

        “It’s going to be okay,” Kamchatka said, “what did your mum tell you of Eohippus?”

       “Not much of the spiritual side of the tale,” Bianca replied, sniffing hard, “she just taught me treat others as you’d like to be treated.  Tell me Kamchatka, is mum still with me?”

      “Rowena should be answering that, not you Kamchatka,” Sushanti snapped.

      “Let her answer,” Rowena said, padding into the room, “for Kamchatka is well placed to answer such a question Sushanti.”  Kamchatka kissed Bianca’s nose.

      “Mum’s spirit is with you in every paw print you place on this earth,” she said, “Snowy taught you how to be, she guided your paws before you had the knowledge to guide them yourself, but all paws are guided by Eohippus.  So mum is with you, you are with her too.”

       “It is said you saw your mama’s spirit,” Bianca said, “Will I see Snowy’s?”  Kamchatka could not answer that one and told Bianca as much.

       “I cannot answer such questions,” the grizzly bear replied.  Bianca buried her face in the bear’s thick warm fur.

      “Hug me tight Kamchatka, please!”  The tigress begged.  Kamchatka hugged Bianca tightly, the tigress calming into sleep.  Kamchatka watched the white tigress sleeping in her embrace.

       “So now what with your job with the cubs, and midwifery too,” Olga said, “you’ll be resigning from the kitchen staff Kamchatka?”  Kamchatka smiled and nodded.

       “Boris can take my place,” she replied.  Sushanti looked Kamchatka over, from the grizzly bear’s massive head, to her huge paws with their rough wrinkled pads.  Sushanti raised her own paw and placed it on Kamchatka’s right hind paw, feeling the bear’s pads beneath her own.

       “Her pads are rough and tough,” the tigress thought, “but I know she can be gentle with her forepaws.  Sushanti touched Kamchatka’s toes with hers, the bear’s toes curling round her own, gently holding them.

      “Nice bear paws ay Sushanti?”  Kamchatka asked smiling.  Sushanti grinned. 

       “I like your paws,” she mewed.

      “I like my paws too,” Kamchatka replied.  Releasing the tigress’s paw, Kamchatka looked at Bianca, who’d woken and was gulping hard, trying to cope with her emotions.

      “Let’s go,” Bianca said heavily, getting to her paws and padding from the room.  Sushanti hesitated, torn between staying with the grizzly bear and going with her sister.

       “You want to stay with me for a bit?”  Kamchatka asked.  Sushanti smiled and nodded.

       “I’d, well, I’d like that,” she mewed.  Kamchatka rolled onto her backside, and then began to play with the toes of her left hind paw with her right fore, holding the hind paw with her left fore.

     “You like playing with your paws don’t you,” Sushanti asked.  Kamchatka grinned hugely.

      “I do, I really do,” she replied.  Sushanti watched as the toes of Kamchatka’s left hind paw curled round her left forepaw, the grizzly bear smiling at the sensation of pads touching fur, the feel of bunching sole pad and the general feeling of well being playing with her paws gave her.


Sushanti smiled at the grizzly bear, turning and leaving the lie up.


Kamchatka remained in Rowena’s lie up, playing with the toes of her hind paws.  Drifting in her own world, she thought of her change of position in the community.

       “Now you’re a mama to not just your own cub, but to Helga, a brown bear cub, and even a panda cub,”  she thought dreamily, the sensations from playing with her paws soothing her, “this paw play is good stuff,”  Kamchatka thought to herself, “thank you mama for showing me how to play with my paws.”  Kamchatka thought of her mama and of the times they’d spent together, each playing with their paws.  It had all started with her mama teaching her how to groom her paws.  Kamchatka’s mama had been insistent that her cub learn how to look after her paws.

      “Paws first, fur second,” she’d said.  Kamchatka learned quickly how to groom her hind paws, keeping them clean and free from stones and things, but she learned just as fast that the paw could be played with, that stroking her pads and playing with her toes felt good.  Now she was older, wiser and a little tougher, though that lesson stuck in her mind, her mama’s forepaws playing over her own hind paws, the look of total absorption on her mum’s face, and air of total contentment remained with her now.  Kamchatka surfaced from her dream, opening her eyes to see a strange sight.  Apparently, walking through the door towards her was a human like figure all dressed in black and with a helmet on its head, carrying a stick in its hand.  Kamchatka stared, then, as the thing in the figure’s hand turned bright florescent red and a humming sound pervaded the room, Kamchatka wanted to run!  Leaping to her paws, she backed to the furthest corner of the lie up.

      “What on earth is going on?”  The grizzly bear demanded.  The figure, unsteady on its legs, advanced towards her, swinging the red stick it held in its hands.  More weird sound came from the stick, and Kamchatka felt her fear growing.  Blowing through her open mouth, she snarled at the human like figure.

      “Go away!”  She shouted, her voice filling the room.  Kamchatka, now maddened by fear, ran screaming at the figure, which dropped the stick and fled, strangely dropping onto all fours and legging it as fast as it could!  Kamchatka picked up the glowing stick and chased the fleeing figure on three paws, her right forepaw gripping the stick, which she held straight out in front of her.  Now she was angry, fear having evaporated.  Chasing down the corridor, Kamchatka saw the figure that looked less human now, bolt into a room and quickly tug off the helmet it was wearing.  Kamchatka ran into the room, then rising to her hind paws, gripped the handle of the red glowing stick in both forepaws, and in a double pawed strike, brought it smashing down on the creature’s shoulder!  Orson cried out with fear and pain as the reproduction lightsabor he’d found in a store cupboard connected with his shoulder.  Kamchatka, shocked by the force of the impact, dropped the lightsabor.

        “It’s me, only me!”  Orson whimpered.  Kamchatka snorted with anger.

       “Orson!”  She yelled, “What the hell are you doing?”

       “I found a costume in here with full helmet and lightsabor,” Orson replied, “it was a costume from Star wars, darth Vader is the name of the character.  He carries a lightsabor with a red blade; he’s the leader of the empire troops.”  Kamchatka didn’t care.  She lay down, shivering and sobbing with fright.

      “You bastard!”  She moaned, her whole body shaking.

        “I used to dress up when in the circus,” Orson said, “and this was too good an opportunity to miss.”  Kamchatka, crying into her paws, didn’t reply.

       “What the hell’s going on?”  Rowena asked, padding into the room.  Orson told her.

       “Orson,” Rowena said softly, “poor Kamchatka doesn’t have your upbringing.  She’s wild, she doesn’t know you’re only playing a game, to her what you did was frightening.  I know the story you refer to, and it is a great one among humans, but not for grizzly bears.  Kamchatka saw you as a threat.”

       “How can I be a threat in a silly costume?”  Orson asked.

      “It was that red thing, the red thing!”  Kamchatka moaned.  Orson picked up the lightsabor and switched it off, the light disappearing into the hilt.

        “Keep that dam thing away from me!”  Kamchatka wailed.  Orson returned the lightsabor to the cupboard from where he’d got it an hour ago.

        “I might be a gentle bear,” Kamchatka said, “but I’m a semi wild bear too.  I wasn’t born in captivity Orson!”  Orson tried to touch Kamchatka’s paws, the grizzly bear withdrawing her paws.

     “No Orson, leave my paws, leave them!”  She snarled.  Orson padded away, deflated and upset.

       “I was only playing a game!”  He whimpered.

       “I know that now!”  Kamchatka growled, tucking her forepaws under her chin and curling up so Orson could not get to her hind paws.

       “Get out of my sight!”  Kamchatka commanded, “Orson, leave now!”  Orson fled!

        “Bloody circus bears!”  Kamchatka snapped.

       “It’s not his fault Kamchatka love,” Rowena mewed, “he’s as much of a victim of his upbringing as you were of his prank.  Orson was born at the circus, that’s all he knew until He met a wild bear while performing in a village and that’s when he learned there was more to life than his then existence.”

       “But, but, Orson’s idea of a joke or a game is horrible!”  Kamchatka whimpered.

       “I know,” Rowena mewed, “but he doesn’t know.  He thinks you know all this stuff about super heroes, but you don’t Kamchatka, as you are a wild bear, and Orson is not.  Sometimes he doesn’t see you as a wild bear.”

      “I thought, thought you were acting scared,” Orson admitted, “it was only when you ran at me Kamchatka that I thought anything was wrong!”  I know you act out cubbings, so I thought this was an act too, but it wasn’t. Now I know it wasn’t.”  Kamchatka struggled to her paws and left the lie up, exhausted from crying and the chase down the passage.  Collapsing in her own lie up, she closed her eyes, thinking of her changed role in the community.

       “Mama Kamchatka,” she thought, “yeah right, Mama Kamchatka frightened by a bear in a silly suit!  You are stupid Kamchatka, bloody stupid!”

        “Um, excuse me?”  A voice asked.  Kamchatka opened her eyes, rubbing them with her paws and yawning.

       “Hello?”  She asked, blearily looking towards the door.  In front of her stood a polar bear, he was a fat male, Kamchatka could see that, nervous too.  Picking at the rug with the toes of his left forepaw, the bear could not meet her eye.

       “What can I do for you?”  Kamchatka asked, her nose telling her this was no community member.

      “I, ah, um, I’m, well, I’m lost.”  The polar bear said, “I’m looking for a place to sleep, and, and a lioness, she told me, told me, well, she said, said you had room, she thought you had room for one more bear.  But if you haven’t, I’ll quite understand.”  Kamchatka looked more closely at the bear.  He was shaking from nose to tail, his toes twitching nervously.

        “What’s your name?”  Kamchatka asked.  The bear looked surprised, as if the idea of a name was new to him.

       “Ah, um, my name?”  The male polar bear gabbled, “um, Conrad, uh, yes.”  Kamchatka snorted:

       “I’ve never known a bear to be so unsure about his own name,” she said.  The male polar bear stared at his nervously twitching toes.

        “I’m not unsure of my own name, I’m not!”  He protested.  Kamchatka looked the bear over.  He was a bundle of twitching nervous fur, about to climb the walls any second.

        “Look,” Kamchatka said, “I’ll try to help you Conrad.”

         “Thank you, thank you grizzly mama,” Conrad gushed.  Kamchatka became thoughtful.

       “There’s that term mama again,” she thought, “but used as a term of respect.  It’s all contextual I suppose, or is it so obvious I’ve had a cub?”  Kamchatka motioned to Conrad to sit down, which the polar bear did, collapsing onto his backside as if his legs had given way.

       “Tell me your tale,” Kamchatka invited.  Conrad stared at his forepaws, now clasped in front of him as if he were praying.

       “Um, well,”  he began, Kamchatka pushing over a bowl of water, which he drank from thirstily, “thanks,”  he said, “well, my tale, um, er, well, not much to tell.  Living in a wood near some game reserve on the Kamchatka peninsula after swimming from Alaska.  I found a circus train and hitched a lift just for the fun of it.  I found myself in a cage with a spectacled bear, a tiny fellow compared to me he was.  We got talking, and, and I left the train soon after at the next stop.  We’d spoken of the wild, of which this bear knew nothing.  He said he’d been born at the circus, and was into dressing up in human things.  I laughed at this, but he was deadly serious.  He showed me some of the things, and they frightened me a deal I can tell you.  Well, I left him before I too was enslaved into a life like that poor half grown chap had.  I never forgot him though, I think, think his name was Orson, something like that.  He seemed quite happy with his lot, but interested in my tale too.  I don’t know what happened to him, for this was over a year ago now, maybe longer.  How, how I came to be inconveniencing you today, I don’t rightly know.  I found my way onto another train; this one went to England under the sea and to a big city.  Many many humans and I was soon captured, but put up such a fuss I was soon released.  Escaping into the countryside, I kept my head down and paws clean, not dirtying them with stealing from the humans, for I knew their hostility towards bears.  Eating fruit and things, I roamed the countryside away from the city, following roads and things.  Then, well, I arrived here and hid in the wood for ages, eating this and that, disturbing noone.  Living alone as I have for so long, I know how to keep invisible, even to myself.  I spoke to noone, and noone spoke to me.  I forgot my own name, almost.”  Kamchatka looked at Conrad, the polar bear twisting the toes of his forepaws together.

      “Please Conrad, try and relax,” Kamchatka said.  The polar bear sighed deeply.

        “I can’t,” he said, “How do I know you’re a friendly bear, that once I’m relaxed you won’t call the rest of your friends and beat me up?”  Kamchatka nodded.

       “Fair one,” she said, “I was once as you are now.”

      “How could you have been a polar bear?”  Conrad asked.  Kamchatka tried not to laugh, burying a smile in her paw.

       “It doesn’t matter,” she said.  Conrad looked round the lie up, spotting the screen and keypad.

       “You have much technology here,” he said, “I know this, for I am from a zoo originally.  I was released into the icy wastes, and then found my way back to here, to captivity, well, sort of.  I don’t like humans much, but I like the certainty of a warm place.”  Kamchatka looked at Conrad:

        “This place is owned by a human, though we don’t see him much,” she said.  Conrad looked Kamchatka over, examining her from her face to her paws.

       “What a bear!”  He thought.

       “You like me I see,” Kamchatka said.  Conrad, his examination discovered, hid his face in his paws.

       “Oh, I’m sorry!”  He whimpered.

       “No need to be sorry,” Kamchatka replied, amused by the polar bear’s overt interest in her, “here, take hold of my paw.”  Conrad did, and felt warmth spread from the paw he was holding.  This warmth enveloped him from nose to paw pads, and when he came to, he was cuddled up to Kamchatka.  Shocked at what was happening, Conrad tried to wriggle free, but something was holding him.  Looking down, he saw huge paws embracing him, huge warm paws they were.

        “I’m sorry Kamchatka,” Conrad said softly, “I didn’t mean to, to, to impose myself on you.”

        “I’m the one holding you close,” Kamchatka told the frightened polar bear, “now just enjoy it, if this is what you truly want.”  Conrad sighed deeply, for this was indeed what he wanted.  He wanted to run his paws all over Kamchatka explore and love her from nose to tail.  Conrad felt Kamchatka’s strong paws holding him, and these paws were very strong!  Conrad looked at the grizzly bear, drinking her in from nose to paw pads, Kamchatka loving every second.

        “I don’t even know her name, and she’s driving me crazy!”  The polar bear thought.

      “How can I love you if I don’t know your name?”  Conrad asked.

       “My name’s Kamchatka,” Kamchatka replied, unable to control her forepaws, which hugged the polar bear hard to her, her hind curling with intense emotions which she could not release fast enough.  Kamchatka, desperate now, wrapped herself around Conrad, trying to get the pads of all four paws touching him in some way, but she could not get her hind paws into a position to do what she wanted.  In the end, she had to release the hold she had with her forepaws, and grip the polar bear’s fore and hind paws with her fore and hind paws, curling her toes round the polar bear’s and pressing her pads against his.

        “I can’t help this, I want this!”  Kamchatka panted, Conrad very concerned, but wanting to love this she bears’ body as well as her mind.

       “Hold my paws tightly if you want to,”  Conrad said gently, which Kamchatka did, squeezing Conrad’s fore and hind paws hard, pressing her pads into his with everything she had.  Kamchatka growled deep in her throat as she tried to cope with the sensations she felt coming from the polar bear.  The feeling was as intense as a cubbing, her need to obey her body’s will was as urgent as the need to push against an unborn cub.  Kamchatka let Conrad hug her, do what he wanted with her.  Kamchatka buried her face in the polar bear’s thick warm fur and gave vent to a cry of pleasure.  It was a loud drawn out sound. Her paws desperately holding onto the polar bear’s fur, her toes digging into his fur while he held her tightly.  Kamchatka felt the energy ebbing from her, and she collapsed into Conrad’s embrace.  When it was all over, grizzly and polar bear looked at each other.

         “What we did was wrong!”  Kamchatka said.

        “All we did was hug and hold each other,” Conrad replied, “we didn’t mate.”

         “I thought we both lost total control,” Kamchatka said.

      “We did,” Conrad replied, “but it wasn’t time for mating, we knew that, eohippus knew that too.”

        “You know, know of Eohippus?”  Kamchatka asked.

      “I do,” Conrad replied, “she guides your paws, and mine.”

       “My paws wanted contract with yours Conrad, and they want it even more now.  If I had eight paws rather than four that would not be enough contact!”  Conrad grinned.

      “I know what you mean,” he replied, kissing Kamchatka’s nose.  Viewing the footage of their time together later that day, Kamchatka and Conrad watched themselves playing together, rough and tumble games they played.

       “We’re rolling on the floor, pawing at each other!”  Conrad exclaimed, “Paws everywhere! Look!”  Kamchatka grinned at Conrad.

       “It was lovely,” the female grizzly bear replied.

       “Just lovely?”  Conrad asked.  Kamchatka smiled:

       “I couldn’t think of any other words to describe what I felt,” she replied, “if we can recapture that, I will be one happy bear. Maybe a happy mama bears one day too.  Conrad grinned:

       “When our paws tell us we want a cub, we’ll have a cub,” he said gently, taking her forepaws in his.

       “Loves a bear I’ve only known for an hour and a half wrong?”  Conrad asked.  Kamchatka looked into Conrad’s eyes.

       “My paws don’t think so, do yours?”  She asked.

      “No Kamchatka, they don’t,” Conrad replied, “Kamchatka, my paws are yours, touch them, stroke them, play with my toes, do what you want with them!”  Conrad lay down, waiting for Kamchatka to begin playing with his paws.  Kamchatka gently explored all four of Conrad’s paws, the polar bear’s thickly furred and padded paws feeling heavy and powerful in hers.

      “I love these paws,” Kamchatka said softly, kissing the pads of all four paws, Conrad sighing contentedly as Kamchatka loved him through kissing and caressing his paws.

       “I can’t wait to hold your paws in mine Kamchatka,” Conrad said softly.  Kamchatka kissed the toes of her polar bear friend’s right hind paw.

       “I’m looking forward to it too,” Kamchatka replied, “but please Conrad, enjoy you when I caress and kiss your pads and toes too.”  Conrad grinned:

      “I do, I love it!”  He replied.  Kamchatka lay down, picking up Conrad’s right hind paw in her forepaws and playing with his toes.  Conrad wiggled his paw free of Kamchatka’s grasp and pulled the female grizzly into a huge hug, handling her gently with his forepaws, pulling her into a huge hug, the grizzly bear letting him control her, arrange her paws, and cradle her in his paws like she was a weak and helpless cub.  Conrad pulled Kamchatka into a huge hug, and then began to play with her fore and hind paws, the female grizzly sighing contentedly, pressing her paws into Conrad’s.

       “I feel the same feelings Conrad,” Kamchatka said, “My paws want yours big time, so much, so much contact, so much play, so much of everything!”  Conrad kissed the pads of Kamchatka’s right forepaw, the grizzly bear growling deep in her throat, her desire for this male polar bear building uncontrollably.  Conrad looked Kamchatka over, loving her body as well as her mind.

       “I could live here,” Conrad said, “Kamchatka, please, I’m tired, exhausted, finished!  I don’t want to run any more, show me how to live here with you and the community.  I want to live in peace!”

      “You’ll live in peace with us for sure,” Kamchatka said, “but you’re not at peace with yourself Conrad.”  Conrad stared at Kamchatka in astonishment!

       “What makes you say that?”  He asked.

       “Just a feeling I have,” Kamchatka said.  Conrad covered his eyes with his forepaws.

       “I’ve had enough, enough running, enough hiding, enough shit, all shit, so much shit in my life, oh Kamchatka, I beg you, Eohippus, anyone, for help to find peace!  I’ve had enough running!  I’m a zoo cub, not a wild bear, and the wilderness scares me, I literally was sick with fear when I saw a male polar bear killing a tiny cub, I tried not to look, to forget, but, but, I can’t!  Mama bears with their cubs look sweet, but they are not.  I couldn’t cope, I’m no wild bear, I’ve been out in the wild for two years now, and want back into the captive life!  I want a warm place, food, companionship.  I can’t run from anything now!  My paws are tense, my head aches horribly, my toes are stiff, and my paws are craving the touch of a gentle paw.  I want you to take me, love me, and wash me if you want too!”

       “I will wash you to welcome you into the life of the ursine family, and into my home,” Kamchatka replied, taking Conrad’s paw.

       “Thank you Kamchatka!”  Conrad sobbed, “Take me, love me, and guide my paws, please!”  Kamchatka cuddled Conrad hard.

       “Come on then, let’s go to the bathtub and wash together.”


Kamchatka led Conrad to the bathtub, where she helped him into the water.  Washing him carefully from nose to tail, she examined him minutely.

      “I love this bear so much,” she thought as her paws ran over his face and neck, travelling down to his body, legs and paws.  When she encountered a paw, Kamchatka embraced it tenderly.  Conrad lay in the bathtub, hardly believing what he was feeling.  Was all this love and warm hugs for him? Did he deserve such things?  Conrad thought Kamchatka must have got the wrong bear, but she didn’t think she had.  Conrad was unsure if he could live up to the grizzly bear’s expectations.  What did she expect anyway, she’d told him nothing?  She wanted him, though it wasn’t for his sexual potential, so why did she want him?  Surely the purpose of any male female partnership of previously non related creatures was to create the next generation.  It seemed not to be the case with this grizzly bear.  Kamchatka wanted Conrad for more than just procreation.  She wanted him for his mind, for who he was, not just what he could give her.  Conrad wasn’t so sure he could give this grizzly bear female anything useful apart from a screwed up mind and an unsatisfactory love life.  Being a congenitally nervous bear, Conrad was surprised he’d survived so far.

      “You doubt yourself Conrad,” Kamchatka said softly, gently holding his right forepaw in both of hers.  Conrad stared at her.

      “How, how did you know?”  He asked.

        “I know,” Kamchatka replied, “I know your fears about our relationship too.  You have nothing to fear, for it was me who asked you.  I know how you feel about yourself and that’s no problem for me.  Come, enjoy yourself, and love me as best you can.”  Conrad looked into Kamchatka’s face.

       “When, when I sleep,” he said, “I have the most dreadful nightmares, they exhaust me every night.  I wake emotionally shattered and physically exhausted.”  Kamchatka hugged Conrad hard.

       “What you saw on the ice was terrible,” she said, “the cub you saw killed by its own mother suffered greatly, but the mother was suffering too.  She had no milk for her cub, so she killed her own cub to save him from dying a horrible death.  She did not want to kill him, but she knew she had no choice.”

       “She was my mate, it was my cub!”  Conrad sobbed.

        “Your mate had no milk for her cub, she could not feed him.  She barely gave birth to him.  Your cub died in her warm paws, mama polar bear smothering her cub as quickly as she could before he knew anything.”

      “The birth of the cub was horrible, all screaming and beating of paws!  She had a horrible time of it,” Conrad sobbed, “and then, then, seeing she had no milk, she killed her own cub!”  I heard everything, all her cries of pain, the cub’s whimpering cries, and then mama’s grief as she smothered the cub.  She emerged from the den and walked away from me.  She, she then jumped into a seal’s fishing whole and sank out of sight…”  Conrad buried his face in Kamchatka’s shoulder and howled with pain!  “I found her body, stiff and lifeless on another ice flow.  She’d taken her own life!  I went back to the den, went inside and found the cub’s body, frozen stiff.  There wasn’t a mark on him, not a paw or claw mark anywhere.  Such a tiny form, all that pain and effort for something so tiny, and mama bear so big too, but she couldn’t feed her cub.  I don’t know if this is a throwback to my zoo cubhood, but I couldn’t leave my cub and mate’s bodies for other creatures to feed upon.  So I buried them in a snowdrift.  Silly isn’t it, bloody silly!  Me, Conrad, a big wild male polar bear, burying his mate and cub’s bodies in a snowdrift.  Many other males would have, have, eaten the cub, but I couldn’t.  I oh, oh I’m gonna be sick!”  Conrad got out of the pool just in time before he vomited.  Collapsing into the water once more, Kamchatka held Conrad as the male polar bear’s composure disintegrated completely.  Crying, beating his paws on the water and screaming, Conrad totally lost control.

      “Make it stop, make it stop!”  he screamed, “every night, every time I close my eyes, I’m back on the ice, I can feel the cold beneath my paws, hear my mate’s screaming cries as she gives birth to the cub, hear the cub crying out to her for milk and her whimpering with grief as she realises she’s unable to feed her cub!  The cub’s cries stop then, but, but mama bear, she cries out with anguish as her cub dies in her paws.  Then, then she’s out, on the ice, walking away, then diving into the fishing place, then I’m finding her body, silent and stiff.  I carry her back to the den and find the cub, unharmed but lifeless.  I see the cub’s face in my dreams every night!  His eyes, closed, paw tiny but whole expression asking me why?  Why did he have to die?  I can’t answer that!  Every night, every night he asks me this question, and it tears me to bits.  Maybe if I was brought up in a different way it would not affect me, but I was a coo cub, I saw what could be done to help weak cubs.  I suppose I had a misguided idea that polar bear cubs survived in the wild to a greater extent than they do.  Tiny eyes, tiny paws of a tiny cub!”  Alaska padded in curious about the goings on, and Conrad, seeing her, leapt from the water, ran to her and embraced her hard, weeping into her fur.

       “Conrad!”  Kamchatka remonstrated, “you can’t just do that!  We’re free and easy here for the most part, but for eohippus sake!  That’s Allie’s cub!”

        “Kamchatka,” Alaska said, her voice so calm it scared the grizzly bear, “this polar bear needs to hug a cub.”  Conrad desperately rolled Alaska over, exploring her with nose, tongue and paws as if he were the mama bear!  Kamchatka saw an uncontrolled flood of grief from a bear that had been sorely treated.  He wanted to feel a live cub in his paws.  Alaska let Conrad groom her frantically, then, when his initial need was satisfied, he lay down, embracing Alaska in his paws, holding her tightly.

      “What the hell are you doing to my cub?”  Allie snapped, barrelling into the room.

       “Mum, please,” Alaska said, “I’m okay; this bear means me no harm.  Allie looked into Conrad’s eyes, the expression they held making her turn and run before she lost control.


“Oh Eohippus!”  Allie begged, sinking to her knees in her lie up and clasping her forepaws together, “I nearly did that male bear terrible harm!  My cub made me take a second look, and I now see the same expression in his eyes as I had in mine when I lost my own cub on the ice!  Give me the strength to see that bear needs to express his grief, that he is lonely without his mate and cub.”  Allie had seen everything, so she knew her outburst was purely motivated by the sight of Alaska cradled in the paws of a weeping male polar bear.

       “Allie?”  A voice asked.  Allie looked up, straight into the eyes of the polar bear who’d been hugging her cub.

       “I’m sorry,” Allie said, “sorry for shouting, for everything.  I didn’t take the time to find out what was going on, even though I’d seen everything.   You need my cub for different reasons than mothers to need her.  You lost your cub on the ice, and I have lost a cub that way too.”  Allie found herself telling Conrad all about the birth and death of her first cub.  The story poured from her, she showed him video of her re-enacting the cubbing and everything.  Conrad watched everything, then, when it was over, he hugged Allie tightly.

      “You ran from the bathroom because you saw in my eyes what I saw in yours just now,” he said.  Allie, crying, nodded.

       “You are now how I was then!”  She sobbed, “I’m sorry, so sorry for shouting, for disturbing you and Alaska.  I’ve wronged you so much, and I don’t even know your name so I can apologise properly!”

       “It’s Conrad,” the male polar bear replied.  Allie threw tear soaked paws around Conrad and hugged him tightly.

       “My mate killed herself after smothering her cub,” Conrad said, “she, she just couldn’t cope with the realisation she couldn’t feed her cub!  I saw her Allie, I saw her take her own life!”  Allie, shocked anew by these words, felt her own tears dry.  This bear needed her, needed Alaska, needed Kamchatka, and needed everyone.

       “You buried your mate and cub,” Allie said, “Conrad, that was merciful, as were your mate’s actions towards her cub.  I’m sure the cub felt nothing, knew even less.  Mama bear’s labour might have been difficult, but it goes that way sometimes.  I’ve had difficult cubbings, but they’ve turned out okay.”  Conrad and Allie watched the birth of younger Arki, Conrad’s toes curling as hard as Allie’s had as he watched the video.

      “Ouch,” he said, “very much ouch!”  Allie nodded and smiled.

       “I’ll bet you’ve never got as close to a female bear in labour,” she said.  Conrad had to admit he hadn’t.  He’d only heard his mate’s labour, seeing nothing.

        “I’ve seen that you get paws on with mothers in labour,” Conrad said, “Kamchatka showed me a video.  It was amazing!”

       “Which video did you see?”  Allie asked.  Conrad smiled:

       “Kamchatka showed me Alaska’s birth, and then she showed me a mock cubbing.  Kamchatka can really act well, and seemed to enjoy her role too.  Again, very ouch that.”  Allie smiled broadly.

      “Your mate’s very talented,” she said.

     “My mate?”  Conrad asked.  Allie grinned.

       “She loves you with everything she has,” Allie said.  Conrad smiled hugely.

       “If I asked her to be my mate, do you think she’d accept?”  He asked.  The answer came in the form of huge forepaws reaching round and embracing him.

       “Come,” Kamchatka said, “Conrad, come with me.”  Conrad followed Kamchatka to her lie up.

       “I will be your mate Conrad, I will, I want to, I must!”  Kamchatka said, her eyes telling the bear all he needed to know.  Then she got paws on with his paws, and the message roared through him unmistakably.

     ”I want to be there with you if you have my cubs!”  Conrad said impulsively.

        “I want you there too Conrad dear,” Kamchatka replied.  Conrad looked the huge grizzly over from her head to her paws.  He loved every inch of her.  Closing his eyes, he ran his paws from her nose to the pads of her paws, hearing her growl and feeling her shiver of pleasure as he touched her.

       “This is amazing, I want more, so much more!”  Kamchatka said softly.  Conrad embraced each one of her paws in his forepaws, taking time over each one.  Exploring her pads and toes, Conrad felt Kamchatka’s toes curling involuntarily with the intensity of her emotions.

        “I love you dear gentle Kamchatka,” Conrad said softly.  Kamchatka, smiling broadly, snuggled hard up to the male polar bear.

        “I love you too,” she said, amercing herself in his hug, burying her face in his warm fur.

       “I’m home,” Conrad breathed, “I am safe here, safe and warm.”  Kamchatka licked his ear.

       “You are safe,” she said, “for noone here will harm you.”  Conrad embraced the female grizzly as tightly as he could.

      “Playing with each other’s paws again?”  Younger Brunetta scoffed, “yuck!”

        “Who are you to tell us what to do?”  Conrad asked.  Kamchatka bristled with anger.

      “You are not welcome here!”  She snapped at the female brown bear.

      “I’m welcome wherever I wish to go, for we’re all one big family now, or so I’ve heard Kamchatka.  I think you playing with that loser’s paws are disgusting by the way.

       “I happen to think you are a bloody pest!”  Conrad snapped.

       “Oooh, “bloody pest ay?”  Younger Brunetta goaded, “is that the best you can come up with? Loser!  Loser! Loser!”  Conrad’s control snapped.  Leaping to his paws, he flew at the young Brown bear and floored her!

      “Listen bitch,” he snarled, “you leave me, my mate and our paws alone!  Our lives are for us to live as we wish; paw play is what we do.  We are not hurting anyone, least of all us, so things are sweet for us, though not so for you if you carry on with this shit!  You keep harassing us; we’ll turn our paws to other things rather than playing!  Am I quite understood?”

  Younger Brunetta whimpered a reply which the male polar bear obviously didn’t like, for his paw smashed down on her nose.  The brown bear screamed with pain.  For the male polar bear had whipped her with his toes, a devastating slap which takes speed and aggression to perform.

      “No you go, and never darken our door again!”  Conrad screamed at younger Brunetta, the brown bear crawling away, for she was too dazed to walk.

      “Who is that?”  Conrad asked, furious from nose to paw pads.

       “The Bain of my life,” Kamchatka replied, telling him all about younger Brunetta.  Conrad whistled through his teeth.

        “Some character that,” he said, “well; she won’t be troubling us again.”  Kamchatka grinned.

      “Swift paws you have there,” she said.

       “I didn’t want to hurt her, but she wouldn’t listen to anything else,” Conrad replied.  Kamchatka knew as much.


Brunetta lay in her lie up, whimpering and rubbing her face with her forepaws.

       “Dam Kamchatka and her mate!”  She whimpered to herself, “they both hate me so much, and I can’t work out why!”

       “You got on the wrong side of Conrad I see,” Brunetta said coldly.  Her cub spat at her.

       “That polar bear’s a menace!”  Younger Brunetta yelled.

       “No he’s not,” her mother replied, “Conrad’s gentle, but you angered him.  You got your paws burnt because you put them where they weren’t wanted.  You play with your own paws, but hate seeing others playing with theirs.  Brunetta let them both be themselves!”  Younger Brunetta couldn’t answer her mother’s arguments.  In fury, she got up and walked out of the lie up.


Meanwhile, back in Kamchatka’s lie up, Conrad and Kamchatka lay curled up together.  Kamchatka curled round Conrad, the two bears relaxed in each other’s company.

       “I love you so much Conrad,” Kamchatka said, embracing him tenderly.  Conrad snuggled hard up to Kamchatka, burying his paws in her fur.

       “I love you too Kamchatka dear,” the male polar bear said.  Kamchatka explored Conrad from nose to paw pads, seeing a creamy white furred bear with a black nose, brown eyes and black pads on the soles of all four paws.  Each paw had five toes, ending in long claws, the sole pad of each paw large, and each toe having its own smaller pad.  When she got paws on with Conrad, Kamchatka found he had soft thick fur, and that his paw pads were rough to her touch.  When she touched his paw pads, Conrad sighed with pleasure, loving every minute of her contact.

        “You like me touching your paws?”  Kamchatka asked.  Kamchatka was touching the pads of Conrad’s right forepaw with the toes of her left forepaw as she asked the question, and his answer came with softly curled toes holding hers.

       “I love you touching my paws!”  Conrad said passionately, “I want more, must have more of this!”  Kamchatka kissed Conrad’s nose, the male polar bear wriggling with pleasure.

      “Hold me Kamchatka, please!”  Conrad begged, “hold my paws, all four of them!”  Kamchatka held each of Conrad’s four paws in hers, her right hind holding his left hind, her left hind holding his right hind.  Left forepaw holding his right fore and right fore holding his left.  Once she had a good hold on his paws, Conrad pressed his pads hard against Kamchatka’s.  Kamchatka knew what she wanted from Conrad, and it wasn’t just holding Conrad’s paws in hers.  Letting go suddenly, Kamchatka rolled away, Conrad leaping after her, the two bears rolling about on the floor in a flailing whirl of fur and paws!  The rough and tumble game ended when Kamchatka had got what she wanted from Conrad.  The male bear lying stunned and bewildered at the sudden rush of potion and desperate need for each other they’d both felt during the mock fight and the mating which followed?

       “You didn’t put up much of a fight,” Conrad panted.  Kamchatka smiled:

         “I had a go,” she replied, “but my heart wasn’t in fighting, though you and I got a lot of paw contact during that game.  Conrad smiled, for he could feel how much contact they’d had, all four paws were tingling nicely.

         “We mated,” Conrad said, almost disbelieving his own actions.

        “We mated because it was time to,” Kamchatka replied, “I want a cub Conrad, and you are the bear I want cubs with.”

       “I will be with you during the birth of our cub,” Conrad said, “I promise I won’t leave you Kamchatka.”  Kamchatka smiled and embraced the male polar bear tenderly.

       “I want you with me,” she replied, “I want you to see a healthy and lively cub born.”

      “Noone can guarantee that,” Conrad said soberly.  Kamchatka nodded and hugged him.

        “You know that, and so do I,” she replied gently, “I hope our cub will be born healthy though.”  Conrad kissed Kamchatka’s nose.

      “So do I Kamchatka, so do I,” he replied.


Meanwhile, Yi Jie was feeling uncomfortable.  She and Liang had mated some time ago, and now it was time for her to give birth to her cub.  Panting hard, she paced about her lie up, occasionally sitting down and rocking back and fourth, or rolling on the floor and kicking the air with all four paws.  Whimpering and whining, she tried to have the cub alone, but forgot all that when a savage contraction gripped her.  Screaming, she gripped her right hind paw in both forepaws and held on tight, squeezing her hind paw as hard as she could.

       Owwww! Owwww!”  Yi Jie screamed.


Hearing Yi Jie’s scream, Conrad and Kamchatka ran from their lie up to find the sow panda writhing on the floor, still holding her right hind paw in both her forepaws.

       Kamchatka!”  Yi jie yelled, “The, the cub, it’s, it’s coming!”  Conrad stood transfixed by the scene.

       “Oh wow, how amazing!”  He thought, his eyes taking in everything.  Kamchatka got down with Yi jie, but let the sow panda do what she wanted to do.  Kamchatka was paws off with Yi jie, and just let her do her own thing.  Screaming, wriggling, squeezing the toes of both her hind paws in her fore, rocking back and fourth and panting were Yi Jie’s ways of coping.  Conrad didn’t want to ask anything, though he wanted to know so much!

        “How’re things?”  He asked during a lull in contractions.  Yi jie looked up at the sound of the voice and screamed with fright, the shock bringing on another contraction.  Screaming, Yi Jie gripped the toes of her right hind paw with both forepaws and nearly broke them as she held on tightly.

      “Get him out of here, get him out!”  Yi Jie yelled.

      “Sorry Conrad,” Kamchatka said, and she truly was sorry.  Conrad turned away, devastated.

       “But, but,” he said, fighting back tears, “I won’t hurt anyone!”

       “I know that Conrad,” Kamchatka said, “but mama panda doesn’t know that.  Yi Jie knows nothing of your history, so please, leave now.”  Conrad left the room.  Returning to his lie up on heavy paws, he found the control panel in the wall and hit a button marked control room.  By explaining to the voice on the other end, which said it belonged to a polar bear named Nanuq, Conrad got himself a ringside seat via the cameras, watching how his mate worked with the labouring sow panda.  With every contraction Yi Jie rolled about on the floor, pedalling the air with her hind paws and screaming into her forepaws.

       “Scream away if it helps,” Kamchatka told Yi jie, who was already very vocal.   Yi Jie screamed and grunted with pain and effort.  Catching her breath and pushing hard from time to time, when she made no sound at all.  Yi Jie gave herself up to  hysterical squealing after she’d pushed against her cub, before returning to screaming with pain as she let her body do the work, but all too soon she’d have the urge to push again, and she’d concentrate on that once more.  Yi Jie pushed down against her cub with the toes of all four paws curled tightly and eyes screwed tight shut, bearing down as hard as she could.

      “This is a big cub, a big cub!”  Yi jie panted, “Must, must push, got to push, owww! Must push!”  Yi jie strained hard, pushing again, and again, and again, rocking back and fourth while squeezing her right hind paw with both forepaws.

       “Ouch! Ow, ow, ow ooowww!”  Yi jie yelled, rolling from side to side having drawn her hind legs to her and crushed the toes of both her hind paws in her forepaws.

       “This is awful!”  Yi jie screamed, pushing down hard, holding tightly onto her hind paws with her fore, “The cub’s stuck, it’s stuck!”  Yi Jie yelled.

        “Just relax,” Kamchatka suggested, “just relax, let the cub come.  Yi Jie panted, and Conrad, in the next room, could not contain his curiosity.  Padding into the next room, he watched Yi Jie consciously make an effort to relax.  Suddenly the cub surged forward, Yi jie panting and wriggling, but not pushing hard.

      “It’s coming, coming!”  The poor sow panda whimpered.

      “Let it come, let it come Yi jie, pant my dear, pant and grunt, don’t push.  Yi jie panted and grunted, but fought her urge to push, letting her body do its thing.  Conrad watched enthralled as he saw the cub’s forepaws and head emerge, Yi jie panting and wriggling, and the toes of her hind paws curled tightly as she struggled to give birth to her cub.

      “Now push a little,” Kamchatka advised.  Yi jie pushed slightly, her groan of pain and weariness telling everything.  Yi jie’s effort wasn’t enough, and the cub slipped back out of sight.  Yi jie suddenly wriggled round to where Kamchatka was lying watching her, gripping the sow grizzly’s forepaws in hers and crushing them as she strained hard.  Kamchatka, anxious not to leave Yi Jie to watch over the emerging cub, but desperate to see what was going on, didn’t know what to do now.

       “We need help here!”  She shouted, hoping someone would hear her.  Conrad, now committed, padded into the lie up and lay down ready to catch the cub in his paws.

      “Now Yi jie,” Kamchatka said, “concentrate on me, and push down against that cub, my friend will catch it.  Just push down as much as you want.”  Yi jie strained hard while Conrad caught the cub, holding onto it whenever the labouring but exhausted sow panda relaxed, and then pulling slightly as she pushed.  Yi Jie strained to deliver the cub with everything she had, bearing down repeatedly, screaming and wriggling, curling the toes of all four paws while pawing and crying; feeling her labour would never end!  Four screaming, sweat soaked straining efforts from Yi Jie brought the large five hundred gram cub into the world, into the paws of a male polar bear.  Conrad caught the cub, holding the wet little bundle in his paws, marvelling at how big and well developed the cub was.

       “You’re beautiful!”  He whispered to the tiny creature.

       “Who said that?”  Yi jie demanded, [panting and sobbing, her whole body aching and sore.

        “My friend who just caught your cub,” Kamchatka replied.  Yi jie looked round, saw Conrad cradling her cub in his paws and screamed with terror!

       “Leave my cub alone!  Give her to me!”  She yelled.

      “Here, here’s your cub, I’m sorry!”  Conrad sobbed, leaving the cub on the rug and bolting!

       “Conrad wouldn’t hurt your cub,” Kamchatka said gently, “Yi Jie; he’s gentle, so very gentle.”


Meanwhile, Conrad collapsed in his and Kamchatka’s lie up.  Crying bitterly, he covered his face with his paws and howled with misery.

      “I only wanted to help!”  He screamed to the four walls, “I wouldn’t hurt the cub; I love cubs, especially bear cubs!  Believe me Eohippus, please, please believe me!”  Conrad eventually cried himself to sleep.

        “Conrad, dear Conrad,” A voice said gently.

       “Hmmm? Ay? what?”  Conrad asked, waking slightly.

       “I’ve come to you,” the voice said.

       “Who has come to me?”  Conrad asked, “Eohippus?”

      “No,” the voice said, “my name’s Jinghua, I’m the panda cub you caught in your paws.  My mama forgives you, and she sent me here.  Kamchatka gave her a real telling off for screaming at you, and when I told mum how gentle you were with me, and how soft and warm your paws were, mum had to agree.  Now I’m here, and you can stroke me and play with my paws!”  Conrad sat up and looked at the tiny panda cub.

       “Dear Jinghua, dear cub!”  Conrad sobbed, hugging the large cub in tender paws.  Jinghua kissed Conrad’s nose and forepaws, laughing with pleasure as Conrad hugged her.

       “I love you and Kamchatka,” Jinghua said.  Conrad smiled broadly:

        “I love you too Jinghua,” he said sincerely.

      “Yi Jie said I’d find our cub in here,” Liang said, padding into the room.  Conrad looked up from where he’d been examining Jinghua with great interest.  He’d heard panda cubs were born with grey fur, but this one already had the classic panda colouration.  Conrad knew the cubs born to the community were already well developed due to good food and no predation, hence the more strenuous births due to larger cubs.  Conrad had just reached Jinghua’s paws, and was examining her left fore with his right fore when her sire walked in.  Conrad looked up at the panda, expecting to see him rigid with fury, but the large boar panda was smiling broadly.

       “I wonder who it was who sired Jinghua?”  Liang asked.  Conrad grinned, relief flooding through him.

       “He’s just glad I love his cub,” the polar bear thought.  Kamchatka wandered in then, saw Conrad cradling Jinghua in his paws and went to him.

       “You were wonderful!”  She said.  Conrad smiled.

       “I have my talents,” he replied, “and catching cubs is a new one I found today.”  Yi Jie padded in soon after and sat down opposite Conrad, making sure the pads of her hind paws touched his.

       “Your paws are still hot from your efforts to give birth to your cub Yi jie,” Conrad said, curling the toes of his right hind paw round those of her left hind and pressing his pads against hers.

        “I’m sorry Conrad,”  Yi Jie said, the messages the polar bear’s hind paw sent to her own hind paw making her want to cry, “I should have realised, that, that, well, Kamchatka would have a friend that was very like herself in nature.  You were fascinated by the birth of my cub because it was a birth, not interested to see what damage you could do to me and my cub.”

      “I would never hurt you or your cub,”  Conrad said, “were you to go into labour now scream louder and crush my paws ten times harder than you did Kamchatka’s, I would never hurt you or your cub.  I’ve seen one dead cub, and mama bear, and, and, “he gulped hard, “and, I, I don’t wish to see another.”  I Jie looked into Conrad’s face, the look in his eyes upsetting her so much she covered her face with her paws to hide her own tears.

       “my grief is deeper than words could ever articulate,”  Conrad said faintly, “I think of that mama bear and cub every day and night, they never leave me, but with Kamchatka’s help, the grief will become less painful, and I will move on, now, when we have a cub of our own.”  Kamchatka smiled and kissed Conrad’s nose, for Conrad himself still held Jinghua in his paws.

      “Love my cub,” Yi jie said, Conrad squeezing the toes he held in his, Yi jie smiling at his pressure.

        “I will Yi jie, I will,” Conrad replied, “how can I not when you delivered her right into my paws?”  Yi Jie nodded, removing her paws from her face and looking directly at Conrad.

       “You haven’t washed your paws since my cub was born,” she said, “I thought you would have,”

        “You told him to leave and he left,”  Liang said, “Conrad went to his lie up and cried himself to sleep.  He’s had no chance to wash his paws yet.

        “I’m sorry Conrad, for shouting at you, for being so awful to you,” Yi Jie said, her voice cracking.

       “I couldn’t just stand by and watch you suffer,” he said, “I had to help you, and help my mate too.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  That was a very special time.”  Yi Jie grimaced, but then, thinking back, smiled.

       “I felt safe knowing someone was catching the cub,”  she said, “for I was pushing so hard I thought the birth would be so explosive the cub might be injured.”

      “No Yi Jie dear,” Conrad said, “you pushed as hard as you could, but the cub came into the world slowly.  Jinghua is a big cub, and you had to push really hard.  The birth was slow, and I helped by pulling Jinghua into the world while you pushed.  At one point you strained hard, Jinghua’s head and forepaws emerged, only to vanish again when you relaxed.  So I knew I had to help as Kamchatka couldn’t.  You needed her where she was, and you needed me, though you didn’t know it at the time.”

        “I know all that,” Yi jie replied, “for I saw the video that was why I sent my cub to you.  I saw it all; I saw the struggle we both had.  Thank you Conrad.”  Conrad gently put Jinghua on the rug beside him, and, releasing the toes of Yi Jie’s left hind paw, gathered her to him in his forepaws, hugging her tightly.

        Kamchatka wanted to help you because you are a bear!”  Conrad said impulsively, “Yi jie, I know we’d never usually meet in the wild, but I know a bear in distress when I see one, and you needed help.  Kamchatka and I wanted to help you because you are a fellow bear!  Yes you are a panda, but look at me, then at Kamchatka, then at yourself.  We all are bears.  Kamchatka knows what it is to give birth to a cub, I can’t know this, but I know what it is to lose a cub and a mate, so I fought for your cub and for you as I would have fought for my mate and her cub had I managed to get paws on with them before they died.  I saw, in my cubhood, brown bears, polar bears, and pandas cared for in the same place.  We played together, me, a panda and a brown bear cub.  I’m a zoo bred bear, returned to the wild, and now, now I’m back in a sort of captivity, for that’s where I want to be.  I wanted to see a cub born safely, to hug a living, breathing cub and to see that cub and its mother doing well, as I had done well thanks to the intervention of others.  I’m not saying births can’t happen naturally, they can, but sometimes a little help is needed.”

       “Jinghua’s birth was natural enough,” Yi jie replied, “I used no drugs, no aids other than my own paws and the paws of my birthing attendants.  Yes, Jinghua’s broth was a natural one.  Assisted yes, but natural.”

        “Conrad and I love Jinghua Yi jie,” Kamchatka said.

       “I’m glad of it, gladder than I can tell you,” Yi Jie replied.  Meanwhile, Liang, listening to all this, was sitting down, quietly crying into his paws, the emotion of the whole thing overcoming him.  Suddenly he leapt to his paws, ran to Conrad, and with Yi jie getting swiftly out of the way taking Jinghua with her, Liang first embraced Kamchatka and then Conrad, the boar panda’s hug urgent and all enveloping.

       “Thank you both, thank you, thank you, thank you!”  Liang repeated, obviously wishing his embrace was as big as that of the bears he was hugging.  Kamchatka and Conrad each gave Liang one of their forepaws, the panda embracing the grizzly and polar bear’s huge paws in his smaller ones.

        “I think Liang’s overwhelmed by it all,” Kamchatka observed as the boar panda sat down between her and Conrad, holding the grizzly’s right forepaw in his left fore, Conrad’s left in his right fore.

       “That’s so sweet!”  Yi Jie laughed.  Jinghua, lying on her back as she was, expressed her approval by waving all four paws in the air, Liang noticing all four of Jinghua’s paws had brown soles.

       “Thank you for helping my mate Kamchatka and you Conrad,” Liang said.  The two large bears smiled broadly.

       “It was a pleasure, a real pleasure,” they said.  Jinghua crawled to Conrad and hugged him tightly.

       “I love this polar bear,” Jinghua said.

        “I love you too,” Conrad said softly.  Liang looked into Kamchatka’s face, then Conrad’s.

       “You two have done us pandas a great service,” he said, “Yi Jie and I am very grateful to you both.”

       “We’re one big family now,” Kamchatka said, “bears all of us.”  Liang knew this, for it throbbed through him in the touch of paw pads with the grizzly and polar bear.

        “I can’t put into words how I feel about you two,” he said to Kamchatka and Conrad.  Yi jie smiled and nodded.

     “Same here,” she replied, “now, now I know what Conrad did for me and Jinghua, I don’t know what I was thinking when I sent him away.”

       “That’s all over now,” Conrad said gently to the sow panda.

       “I notice Jinghua’s got brown soles to her paws, just like me!”  Liang said.  Conrad and Kamchatka released Liang’s forepaws and Conrad gently pushed the boar panda onto his back, lifting his right hind paw in his forepaws and looking at the sole.  Gently, he traced Liang’s pads with the toes of his right forepaw while holding it in his left fore.  Liang smiled hugely, loving the polar bear’s attention.

      “One brown soled paw here,” Conrad said, gently stroking the panda’s toes with his.

       “Now look at my paws!”  Jinghua invited.  Conrad released Liang’s right hind paw, and examined the boar panda’s left hind, then his right fore and left fore with gentle care, before transferring his attention to Jinghua.

      “Yes,” he said, gently examining Jinghua’s, to him, tiny right hind paw by sight and touch, “you two both have brown soles to all four paws.  Your mum though Jinghua, she has black soles to her paws, “I saw them while she gave birth to you.”  Jinghua laughed helplessly as Conrad tickled the toes of her right hind paw.

      “I love it when you tickle my toes!”  She laughed.  Conrad blew on Jinghua’s paw pads, the cub screaming with laughter.

        “You have big paws for a cub Jinghua,” Yi jie said, “I really had to push to deliver those hind paws!”  Jinghua reached with her forepaws for her left hind paw and explored it carefully.

      “I suppose it is large,” she said, measuring her forepaw against her hind.  Yi Jie nodded and smiled:

        “Every straining effort was worth it though,” she said, gazing lovingly at Jinghua.

       “I vote we all get washed,” Conrad said.  Kamchatka led the way, and soon all five bears were taking turns to wash each other.  Shuang joined them, and gazed in wonder at her half sister.

       “Mum kept your arrival quiet,” she said to Jinghua, who grinned and splashed her older sister in cubbish humour.

       “I want you to meet your nephew,” Shuang said to the tiny cub, who stared at her.

       “I didn’t know I had such a big family already!”  She said, guessing Shuang’s words were family related.  Kuan-Yin wandered in, saw the tiny cub and ran to her, rolling her over in the water and tickling her paw pads, much to Jinghua’s delight.  Soon she was getting her own back on Kuan-Yin, the larger panda cub letting the smaller one handle his paws and roll him over without resistance.

        “Kuan-Yin looks just like you did when Conrad pushed you onto your back and examined your paws Liang,” Yi Jie said, “did you enjoy being handled by a polar bear or something?”

        “I enjoyed it hugely,” Liang replied, “Conrad is so gentle, and I wanted to find out how gentle he was, so I relaxed and let him do what he wanted with me and my paws.  He is gentle Yi Jie, so gentle!”  Yi jie smiled:

       “You looked like a cub in his paws,” she said laughing, “just likes a cub hardly able to wait to have his paws stroked and tickled!”  Liang smiled:

       “Bet you want that too,” he said, “I’ll bet you anything that if you hadn’t been so suspicious of him, you’d have let him play with your paws during your labour.”

       “In hindsight I would yes,” Yi jie replied.

       “That polar bear’s paws are as soft and gentle as Kamchatka’s,” Liang said, “he’s so considerate with them too.”  Yi Jie and Shuang laughed, but Kamchatka grew thoughtful.

        “I’ll be putting my cub’s life in his paws very soon,” she thought, the idea making her pause.

       Kamchatka dear?”  Conrad asked.  Kamchatka smiled broadly.

      “Just thinking Conrad dear,” she replied.

     “Thinking of the birth of our cub?”  Conrad asked.  Kamchatka smiled broadly, not surprised Conrad had caught her thoughts.

      “My thoughts were all of our cub’s birth,” she admitted.  Conrad smiled and took Kamchatka’s paw.

      “You’ll be okay,” he said, “I promise you’ll be okay.”  Kamchatka kissed his nose.

      “I love you Conrad,” Kamchatka said, pressing her toes into the pads of the paw holding hers.


Weeks passed, in which Jinghua and Kuan-Yin became very close friends, and Kamchatka became very heavy with cub.  At the end of twelve weeks she was really showing signs of pregnancy and felt the cub’s birth must not be far off.  She’d been taken off midwifery duties as soon as the fact of her pregnancy was known.  Samson, hearing of the impending birth of yet another bear cub, prowled about the house looking nervous, as if he were the father of the cub, to the amusement of everyone, especially Conrad, who teased the lion mercilessly.

       “Are you sure you didn’t mate with Kamchatka yourself?”  He’d ask, greatly embarrassing Samson, for Conrad would ask the question in public areas, with everyone listening.  Samson, despite the ridiculous question, would look away; thoroughly embarrassed at his constant enquiries as to Kamchatka’s well being and that of the cub she was carrying.


Kamchatka’s labour started one morning, Conrad with her from the start.  Kamchatka’s first stage of labour lasted only a few minutes.  Soon she was in real pain, gasping, growling, and pacing about.

       “Ooowww!”  She moaned, “This is getting violent.  Tell you what Conrad, re-enacting cubbings was never as painful as this!”  Kamchatka straddled her hind legs and pushed hard into her tail, bouncing on her toes and moaning with pain.

        “That’s just the start,” she puffed, “I know, know its going to get worse, arowowowooooowww puf’f’f’f’f’f’f’f’f’f’f’f!”   Breathing hard, Kamchatka sat down and grabbed hold of her right hind paw in both her forepaws, squeezing her paw with desperate strength!

      “Ouououoch, ooooowwwwwwwww!”  She yelled, rolling about on the rug, her forepaws gripping her right hind, the toes of her forepaws showing white with tension.  Rocking back and fourth, Kamchatka soon ended up on her back, gripping her hind paws with both forepaws, squeezing the toes of both hind paws and screaming.

       “Must push, really got to push, push, push push!”  Kamchatka roared, fitting action to words and heaving with all her might.  Conrad watched her hind end, knowing if she wanted help she’d ask.

       “I want to sit down and brace my paws now!”  Kamchatka sobbed, “I want to push against something with my hind paws!”

       “Push against my forepaws,” Conrad suggested, knowing then he’d be able to keep an eye on the emerging cub.  Soon Kamchatka had the toes of both of Conrad’s forepaws clamped in the toes of her hind paws, Conrad lying on his chest and bracing his hind paws against the wall while Kamchatka tried to force his forepaws away from her with every contraction.

       “It feels better!”  Kamchatka panted, pushing into Conrad’s forepaws, the two bears able to get eye to eye from time to time.

        “You’re doing well,” Conrad said, glancing down to see if things were progressing.  Kamchatka puffed and blew hard, then strained convulsively, bringing the cub’s forepaws and head into the world.  Relaxing, Kamchatka whimpered as she felt the cub slip back.  Screaming, she bore down again, another push bringing the cub’s head and forepaws into the world again.

       “It’s too big!”  Kamchatka whimpered, “oh no!  No, no no no!”  Must push!”  Kamchatka wriggled and heaved, but could make very little progress.

       “I’ll have to help you like I did Yi Jie,” Conrad said gently.  Kamchatka knew this would mean relinquishing her contact with Conrad’s forepaws, and she didn’t want that.

      “No Conrad, get, get Arki, she’ll pull the cub!  I want you with me!”

       “But there’s no time!”  Conrad pleaded.  Kamchatka knew as much, but wished things had been different.

      “Dam you Conrad; I don’t know why the hell we mated!”  She screamed, cursing the male polar bear in the worst terms she could think of.  Conrad looked at the cub’s face as Kamchatka bore down again, and knew he was right, there wasn’t much time left before the cub died.

      Kamchatka, I must pull that cub!”  Conrad pleaded, “if, if, if I don’t, it will die!”  Kamchatka, now exhausted, covered her face with her paws and sobbed with pain and fear.

       “I know Conrad, I know,” she said, “but I didn’t want it to be like this!”  Conrad looked round at the sound of padded paws entering the room.  Alaska padded over to Kamchatka and took her left forepaw in both of hers.

       “Remember me?”  The half grown polar bear cub asked.  Kamchatka looked into Alaska’s face, and saw the urgency in her eyes.

      “Let Conrad help the cub,” Alaska begged, “please Kamchatka.”  Kamchatka writhed with pain, and then nodded, feeling the cub’s life force ebbing from it.

       “When I count to three, push down hard Kamchatka,” Alaska said, “one, two, three!”  Kamchatka heaved, bearing down into her tail with everything she had, Conrad catching as much of the cub as he could in his paws and holding on as Kamchatka relaxed.

        “Ow, ouch!”  Kamchatka yelled.

      “Now, push again, one, two three!”  Alaska said, Kamchatka repeating her screaming, grunting effort, Conrad catching more of the cub this time, getting hold of its body and holding tightly onto it.

      “Now for the hind legs and hind paws,” Conrad said, “one more push Kamchatka, just one more push!”  Kamchatka, screaming and yelling, shook her forepaw free of Alaska’s and brought her hind paws up to her fore, gripping the toes of both hind paws with her forepaws and straining hard. Screaming abuse at Conrad, Kamchatka bore down for the last time, bullying her cub into the world with everything she had!

       “Get out dam you!”  Kamchatka screamed.  Whether this last command was to Conrad or to the cub wasn’t clear, but Conrad was able to pull the cub’s hind quarters free.  Cradling the wet bundle in his paws, Conrad realised the newborn cub wasn’t breathing.  Now he panicked.

       “What do we do now?”  He asked, “The cub’s not breathing!”

        “Oh shit!”  Kamchatka yelled, unable to do anything to help, as her body wasn’t responding to any commands from her brain.

      “Give the cub to me,” Alaska said gently.  Taking the large cub in her paws, she cleared the mucus from the creature’s mouth and blew into its lungs.  Suddenly the cub coughed, spat and began to breathe for itself.

       “One massive female bear cub!”  Alaska said delightedly.  Kamchatka, now able to lie on her side, looked at the cub in Conrad’s paws, where Alaska had placed her as soon as she’d finished her work.

        “Let him hold her for a bit,” Alaska said, “Kamchatka, you’re not strong enough yet.  Take time to recover.”  Kamchatka’s eyes told Alaska of the fight she had to disregard her wild instincts.

       “I want my cub!”  She whimpered.

       “Your cub is safe,” Alaska said, “please Kamchatka, rest a while.”  Kamchatka’s innate need to protect her cub screamed at Alaska.

       “You’ll never understand you bitch, you horrid bitch!”  Kamchatka screamed, “That’s a polar bear that’s got my cub in his paws!”  She yelled.

       “Conrad’s your mate Kamchatka; he won’t hurt his own cub!”  Alaska pleaded, obviously not knowing what normally happened to newborn cubs if male polar bears got their paws on them.

        “Male polar bears eat their own cubs!”  Kamchatka sobbed, crawling towards Conrad and the newborn cub, intent on rescuing the newborn cub and destroying the threat.  Conrad fled with the cub, then lay down and began to distract the cub from the horrendous situation they both found themselves in.

       “I won’t, I can’t eat my own cub!”  Conrad sobbed, kissing the nose and paws of a very large and lively female bear cub, who giggled cubbishly at his antics.

      “He’s kissing my nose and paws, and it tickles!”  The cub shouted.  Suddenly Kamchatka felt a force push her onto her back, and all four paws gripped by the same force.  The grip was tremendous!

       “Conrad won’t hurt your cub,” a voice said, “Kamchatka; believe in him, he wants this cub to live as much as you do.”

       “Mama,” Kamchatka said, “I do believe deep down that he loves our cub, but it’s so hard to overcome instinct.  I don’t mean to be hard on Conrad, I love him so much!  It’s just that after the birth of a cub, I’m so overwhelmed by instincts, I can’t fight them.  Conrad helped me give birth to the cub, he pulled the cub free as I pushed, so I know rationally he’s no threat to me or my cub, but instincts tell me otherwise.”

       “fight your instincts with as much effort as you fought to have the cub Kamchatka,”  her mama’s spirit advised, “for Conrad’s distress at your words is as great as your instinct to protect your cub.  He’s already suffered two tragedies in his life; now you have what he and you both want, believe in him Kamchatka.  Believe in the spirit you connected with completely and totally when you created this cub.”

        “I will mama, I will,” Kamchatka replied, “please, how do I tell Conrad how sorry I am for what I’ve said?”

       “Just be yourself with him, be the bear he loves Kamchatka.”  Kamchatka felt her mama’s presence leave her, and looked down the room to where Conrad was now curled around the cub, protecting her from everyone.

       “Conrad, dear Conrad?”  Kamchatka said softly, “please, please, let, let me feed our cub!”  The cub turned sightless eyes on the grizzly bear.

        “You’ve hurt him mum,” the cub said suddenly.  Kamchatka stared at the cub.

        “What?”  She asked, “Please explain.”

        “Conrad’s pain at your words is as great as the pain you felt giving birth to me,” the cub replied, “you hurt him with your words because you know they are untrue.  Your words tear Conrad apart with as much force and pain as my birth caused you to bear and bring to bear.”  Kamchatka looked into her mate’s face and realised she knew nothing.

       “Forgive me Conrad,” Kamchatka pleaded, “Please, dear love, forgive my words.”

        “Your paws, they were reaching for me, to destroy me!”  Conrad sobbed.  It was only then Kamchatka realised Conrad was on the other side of the room to her, a full twenty feet away.

         “You ran from me,” Kamchatka said disbelievingly.

      “I ran with our cub, protecting her from a threat to both of us.  Kamchatka, you were not of your right mind, and I screamed at you, telling you I wasn’t going to hurt the cub, but you refused to listen!”

        “Conrad,” Kamchatka pleaded, “I am listening now, it’s not too late, though it nearly was, my mama stopped me hurting you.  She stopped me, stopped me doing something I’d regret later, something that would make me sad forever.”  Conrad, still protecting the cub, gulped hard.

        “You promised me, promised me you’d not be like this!”  He sobbed.

        “I don’t mean to be like this,” Kamchatka said.

       “Oh right!”  Conrad sobbed, “So when you’ve beaten me up, possibly killed me in your fit of stupidity, you will come to your senses when your paws are covered in my blood and say it wasn’t your intention to do me harm?”  Kamchatka found herself crying now.

       “Don’t say that!”  She pleaded.

      “But you were about to murder me!”  Conrad screamed.

       “It wasn’t you, not you; I was stopping a threat to my cub!”  Kamchatka sobbed, knowing her words were worse than useless.  Conrad got to his paws, his tears soaking the newborn cub at his feet, then, with a final loving kiss to the tiny, now bewildered cub’s nose, Conrad left the lie up, his now whimpering spirit beaten into a corner.

       “You stupid bitch!”  Alaska snapped, using words Kamchatka had used to describe her.

        “I have been so stupid, so very stupid!”  Kamchatka replied, “now, now I have to feed our cub, and, and then, then, try, try to clear up the mess I’ve made.”

       “Feed me then,” the cub said, “then it’s time for you to find the bear whose now in more pain than you ever were while giving birth to me.”  Kamchatka fed her cub, her face turned away from the door, for she did not want to see Conrad come in, if he ever came back to her.  Kamchatka, staring at the wall as she fed her cub, realised she turned from the door because she didn’t want to see the devastation on her mate’s face.  Ashamed, she looked down at her cub, the cub’s sightless eyes turned up to her.

        “You know more than you’re saying little one,” she said softly.

       “I know my sire’s very upset,”  the cub replied, “and I know you were going to do him harm, harm that neither me, or you could forgive yourself for if you’d carried out your crazy wishes.  I know my sire loves me and you too, for he helped me and you when he helped me into the world.  I felt his paws holding me while you gave birth to me, and while you strained hard to deliver me into this world, your mate, my sire, held onto me with tender paws, pulling gently to help me out into the world, pulling gently while you pushed, but holding me still when you caught your breath.  I could hear and feel everything.”  Kamchatka lifted the cub up to her eye level, looking at her face and paws.  The cub was huge, no wonder she’d had such a struggle to deliver her.

       “Maybe I need to watch a video,” Kamchatka thought, placing her cub on the floor between her outstretched hind legs.

       “Conrad’s distraught,” Rowena said to Kamchatka.  The grizzly bear looked up from her contemplation of her cub.

       “How do I show him I mean him and our cub no harm?”  Kamchatka asked.

      “Go to him and give him what you hold most precious,” the lioness replied.  Kamchatka stared at Rowena, then down at her cub.

       “You mean, mean give him my cub?”  She asked.

       “If you think that’s what it takes to resolve things,” Rowena replied.  Kamchatka got to her paws, picking up her cub in her mouth and turning to leave, her eyes meeting those of a male polar bear.  Kamchatka recognised the male polar bear a second before he attacked her and her cub with savage force!

      “Boris!”  Kamchatka screamed, dropping her newborn cub, which crawled away with astonishing speed, “don’t attack your sister!”  Boris snarled with anger and launched himself at the large newborn cub!

      “You’re dead, dead meat!”  He screamed.  Kamchatka launched herself at her own first born cub, tearing at his fur with her forepaws.

       “You promised me you’d never have another cub!”  Boris screamed.

       “Paws off my cub!”  Conrad yelled, picking Boris off his paws like he weighed nothing more than a feather and throwing him down on the floor!  Conrad was beyond angry!

      “You, leave, my, cub, alone!””  Conrad yelled, slapping Boris about the head with his paw in time with his words.  Boris crawled away, whimpering and crying.

      “Did you tell him you’d never have another cub?”  Conrad asked Kamchatka.

       “Of course not!”  Kamchatka said, “He’s just jealous, that’s all.”  Boris collapsed at the entrance to the lie up, the fight having exhausted him.

        “I should kill him for what he did,” Conrad said, “he was about to kill my cub after all.”  The cub herself lay whimpering in the corner of the lie up.

        “Boris has forfeited the right to live,” Kamchatka replied, “he was going to kill my cub.  He must die!”  Boris looked at Conrad, his eyes telling the male polar bear he expected to die.

       “You are no community bear,” Conrad said, “Boris; you have forfeited the right to live!”  Boris knew attacking his half sister was a stupid jealousy driven act, and realised this male polar bear would give him no quarter.

       “I’ll bet the zoo cub can’t kill me!”  He goaded.  Conrad snorted with disgust, rolled Boris over, placed a huge hind paw on the bear’s chest, took Boris’s head in his forepaws, then, with a jerk, swiftly broke his neck.

       “Eohippus, please forgive me for what I have just done,” Conrad whispered fervently.  Walking away on heavy paws, Conrad came face to face with Rowena.

       “I understand you are the spiritual leader of this community,” Conrad said, “and if what I’ve done this day offends you, I will beg you to let me kiss my cub’s nose and then I will leave and never set paw in here again.”  Rowena touched Conrad’s massive paw with her smaller one.

        “You defended your cub,” the lioness replied, “Noone is punished for that.”

       “I killed my mate’s grown son cub though,” Conrad said softly, “surely that’s wrong?”

       “Brother seeking to kill sister is very wrong,” Rowena replied, “its Boris who cast the first stone, you who defended your cub.  Kamchatka disowned Boris the minute he went for her cub.”  Kamchatka padded to Boris’s body and looked down at it, finding she felt nothing but loathing, loathing for the mad eyes and pouncing paws which threatened their newborn and yet unnamed cub.

        “You saved our cub Conrad,” Kamchatka said, “I was near on useless in defending her, pawing at Boris like I did.  I a mama bear too!”

       “Give me your paw,” Conrad said gently.  Kamchatka did, and Conrad nodded.

       “You are still weak from the birth of our cub,” the bear said, “so you were not strong enough to fight him off.”

       “Conrad,” Kamchatka said, “Rowena, no, Eohippus, told me, told me to give you our cub.  I was thinking about how I’d treated you, how I’d spoken to you too, and Eohippus told me, through Rowena, that I should give you that which is most precious to me, and, and, that you would do with it what you wished.  So take our cub, and do what you want with her.”  Conrad looked at the frightened bundle of shivering fur huddled in the corner of the lie up.

       “I’m sorry little one,” he said, sitting down and picking the cub up in his forepaws and hugging her to him, “I’m so sorry you were put in danger by my walking away from you and my mate.  I truly didn’t know about Kamchatka’s first cub’s feelings towards his mama having another cub.  I am sorry I ever put you in danger.”  Kamchatka choked on a sudden rush of tears.

       “You aren’t to blame for this,” she sniffed, “noone but Boris is to blame for this!  I didn’t know he was going to react like he did to me giving birth to another cub!  Boris is the one who launched the attack on our family, only he is to blame for this.  Please Conrad; you must believe in yourself, in the love you have for our cub, for I do now, now, now I’ve seen what I should have seen from the beginning of my labour.”  Conrad looked into the cub’s closed eyes, gazing at her face, and then turning her onto her back to look at her paw pads.  Gently, he raised the cub to eye level and kissed the pads of all four of her paws, the cub silent but receptive, realising something grave was happening to her.

       “I move that we name this cub right now,” Conrad said, “I think we should name her to reflect both our, and now our cub’s heritages.  The Russian heritage and the Native American heritage.  Kamchatka sat down beside her mate and looked over at him cradling their cub in his massive forepaws.

        “The fusion of two heritages in one name is not unheard of here,” she said, “What do you propose her name to be?”

        “I think we should try for a name which gives our cub a guide for the future and states how we feel about her now,” Conrad said.

       “That sounds very sensible,” Kamchatka replied.

        “So for the guide for the future,” Conrad said, “how should we name our cub as her given name?”

        “Now you’re asking,” Kamchatka replied, “I haven’t thought much about it, but we can’t leave this undecided.  How about if we name her Ekaterina, it means pure.  That could be her guiding name.  Now it’s your turn to give her a name for the situation of her birth.”

      “I think the name Adsila, which is a Native American name meaning blossom should do very well, for I think our cub will grow to be a fine she bear,” Conrad replied.

      “You bears do come up with some real tongue twisters for names,” Rowena said laughing.  “Eke, eke, eke something, Adsila I can just about pronounce, but that first name?  Um?”  Kamchatka laughed at Rowena’s attempts.

      “Try this,” she suggested, “try saying the name Catherine, then Katarina, then Ekaterina.  Build it up like that.”  The two bears watched as Rowena silently mouthed the names to herself.

        “Ecatherine?”  Was all she could manage.

       “No silly!”  The cub laughed, “Ekaterina!”

       “Try putting on a Russian accent,” Kamchatka suggested.  This just about tipped the white lioness over the edge, Rowena hiding her face behind one paw, severely embarrassed.

        “I’m an English speaking lioness!”  She complained.

        “Look,” Ekaterina said, “If I can say my own name, and I’m a cub, surely you can say it too?”  Rowena felt like a cub again.  She was totally stumped by this one.

       “I can’t cop out by calling her Adsila,” Rowena thought, “that would be so school maamish.  But I can’t get my tongue around the cub’s first name!  Ka, Katie, something like that, oh sod it!”  Ekaterina laughed merrily.

      “Now I don’t think your name is silly is it?”  She asked.  Rowena went to the newborn cub and touched noses with her.

      “No, I’m not named silly,” the lioness said, trying not to laugh, “my name’s Rowena.”

      “Well,” the cub said, “Rowena and Ekaterina sound almost the same.  Try saying Ek, then ‘aterina,, then my whole name.  Rowena closed her eyes thinking hard.

        “I can’t say it!”  She whimpered her anger at herself plain to all.

       “Aw poor silly Rowena,” Ekaterina said.  Kamchatka wondered if the lioness would take much more of her cub calling her silly, but it was clear Rowena felt very silly indeed.

        “I can’t say your cub’s given name!”  Rowena mewed, “I just can’t get my tongue around it!”

       “Just call me Adsila if you can’t manage the first bit,” Ekaterina suggested.  Rowena growled to herself, furious that she could understand all of Eohippus’s teachings, but could not get her tongue around a simple birth name.

        “Why are you growling?”  Ekaterina asked.  Rowena smiled:

       “I’m angry at myself,” Rowena said, “I can’t pronounce your name, but I can understand the teachings of a higher power just fine.”  Ekaterina crawled to Rowena and hugged her as best she could, the white lioness smiling broadly.


Meanwhile, Samson watched the goings on in Kamchatka’s lie up via a video link to his own lie up.  He’d been anxious during Ekaterina’s birth and then excited at the tremendous outcome.  The attack on the cub by her own brother had upset Samson greatly, but now he was just watching, grinning as Rowena struggled to pronounce the newborn cub’s name.  Rowena ran into Samson’s lie up and collapsed exhausted on the rugs.

       “Russian names are such a pest to pronounce!”  She sighed.

        “Ekaterina isn’t so difficult,” Samson mewed smiling broadly.

        “You are such a pest sometimes Sammy!”  Rowena said with mock exasperation.  Heavy padded paws entering the room made the lions look up.  For a few seconds, the tigress entering the room looked like snowy half tail, but then the lion’s vision cleared.

       “I thought you were snowy, for a minute,” Rowena said to Bianca.  Bianca smiled sadly.

       “You’re not the only one to think that lately,” she mewed, “but I’m not identical to snowy.

       “Look in a mirror,” Samson advised, “then you might revise that.”  Bianca looked into a mirror on the wall, a photo of snowy half tail beside it on the wall.

        “I do look like snowy,” the tigress gasped, “no wonder I’ve been confused with her.”  Bianca turned from the mirror, her eyes meeting Kamchatka’s, who was padding in to the lie up carrying Ekaterina in her mouth, the newborn bear cub dangling limply from Kamchatka’s jaws.

      “Settle down here,” Samson said to Kamchatka, who settled her cub then herself.  Conrad wasn’t far behind, having helped bury Boris’s body.  He padded into the lie up and settled down beside his mate.

       “We all saw the birth of your cub,” Samson said, “and we also saw what happened afterwards too.”

      “Boris meant my cub harm,” Kamchatka replied, “he had to be stopped.”  Conrad looked down at his paws, clearly still ashamed at his conduct.

        “You had to protect your cub,” Samson said, “Conrad; to let your cub die would have been a greater crime than the death of your cub’s attacker while you fought him in defence of your cub.  Forget Boris, for he forgot his mama, and hated his half sister.”  Conrad breathed deeply, trying to fight back memories of the dead polar bear, the only bear he’d ever killed.

       “I never thought I could kill anything!”  Conrad said, his eyes telling everyone how close to the edge he was.

      “Take your cub in your paws and hug her,” Kamchatka suggested.  Conrad picked Ekaterina up in his paws and embraced her tenderly.

       “I must concentrate on this cub,” Conrad thought.  Looking down at the cub in his paws, Conrad examined her from nose to tail, looking at her face, with its black nose, closed eyes and trusting expression, to her fat little body all covered in white fur, to her large paws with their black paw pads and tiny toes ending in sharp little claws.

        “I love you Ekaterina,” Conrad said softly, kissing her nose and paws, the cub laughing with delight at his antics.

       “”I love you too, but I can’t kiss your nose or paws,” the cub replied, “I’m too small!”

       “I’ll lie down, and you can explore me with your paws if you want,” Conrad said.  Ekaterina smiled and wriggled free of Conrad’s embrace.  Conrad lay down on his side, the cub finding his nose by quite literally bumping into it with hers, the male bear and his cub now nose to nose.  Conrad flicked his tongue out and licked his cub’s nose, much to her amusement.

       “So we’re nose to nose now,”  she said, rolling onto her back so she had both forepaws free to examine as much of Conrad’s head as she could reach.  Conrad felt his cub’s paws exploring his nose and mouth, the sensation of her paw touching his nose making him sneeze, much to the cub’s delight.

     “That’s so funny!”  She laughed.  Conrad grinning as a sneezing fit overcame him.  Once this was over, Ekaterina felt her way over Conrad’s body, clambering all over him, feeling her way over ears, shoulders, legs, belly and paws, Conrad at one time tossing Ekaterina into the air with his forepaws, before rolling quickly onto his back and catching her in his forepaws, the cub laughing helplessly at this.

        “You’re so funny!”  She said.  Conrad embraced her tenderly, Kamchatka watching everything.

        “I don’t go a lot on throwing our cub into the air Conrad,” she said.

         “She was safe enough,” Conrad said, “but I won’t do it again.”

        “Oh dear!”  Ekaterina whimpered, “That was so much fun!”

       “No it wasn’t!”  Kamchatka snapped, “You flicked her five feet into the air Conrad!”

      “Enough time for me to roll onto my back and catch her safely,” Conrad replied, “it’s a zoo trick.  We polar bears were always throwing each other into the air and catching each other.  It was fun!”  Kamchatka felt sick just thinking of the scene.  She could not imagine being thrown into the air by another bear, let alone being caught by one.

      “I think I’m gonna throw up,” she said.

       “I remember we got hold of a blanket once, threw a young cub in it and tossed him in the blanket!”  Conrad said suddenly.

       “Tossed him in a blanket?”  Kamchatka asked warily.

      “Yeah,” Conrad replied, a light in his eyes, “two strong bears on their hind legs held a blanket between them, and a smaller bear, usually a half grown cub would get in, or be thrown into the blanket.  We’d then toss him in the blanket to see how high we could get him to fly without dropping him.”  Kamchatka got to her paws and ran for the relieving place.  Once there she was violently sick.

         “Oh, yuck, the thought of being thrown into a blanket and tossed into the air!”  She moaned to herself, “ugh, how horrible!”

       “You’re not practising any of those things with our cub!”  Kamchatka snapped when she got back to the lie up.  The sight which greeted her made Kamchatka stop dead and shout at her mate!

        “No, no Conrad no!”  Two bears, Conrad and Nanuq junior stood either end of a blanket, the corners of which they held in their forepaws, the blanket unfolded between them.  The lowest part of the blanket was about six inches off the floor, and nestled in the blanket lay Samson, the lion eager for this cubbish sport.

      “Now, with a will, Ready, one, two three! Away!”  The two bears chanted, Samson flying up to the ceiling on the “away!”  Kamchatka saw him spin in the air, Samson screaming with delight as he flew upwards and then was caught in the blanket on the way down.

       “Only here would you see polar bears tossing a lion in a blanket,” Kamchatka thought.

        “That was so amazing!”  Samson yelled, falling out of the blanket and collapsing on the floor as his paws could not support him yet.  Kamchatka watched with horror as Olga, grinning hugely, got into the blanket, and the tossing started all over again!  Olga flew up like a shuttlecock and came down quickly, being caught in the blanket.  Screaming with delight, she submitted herself to four more rounds of being tossed before, Conrad, concerned for her safety, called a stop to it.

        “I’m going to be sick again!”  Kamchatka wailed.

      “Come on Kamchatka, you have a go,” Olga said.  Kamchatka stared at Olga with horror!

      “No Olga, no, please,” Kamchatka begged, “just the thought and the sight of others going through that horrendous ritual make me feel unwell.”

       Come on, just once,” Olga encouraged.

       “No, no no no!”  Kamchatka protested.

       “I’m not tossing anyone against their will,” Conrad said, “I did it once and it was not very nice.  I refuse to toss Kamchatka in the blanket if she doesn’t want to be tossed.”

       “Can I have a go?”  Ekaterina asked.

      “No!”  Kamchatka screamed, “Ekaterina, you can’t have a go, you can’t, you can’t!”  Kamchatka, now hyperventilating with fear, collapsed on the floor, gasping for air.

        “It’s okay Kamchatka,” Olga said softly to the distressed grizzly bear.

     “No, no, no it’s not okay, it’s not okay!”  Kamchatka panted, “They’re going to put my cub in that horrid blanket and toss her to the ceiling like they did you and Samson!  I don’t mind adults getting involved with this, but cubs are different.  They are fragile.  Please, Olga, don’t let Ekaterina get involved with Conrad’s stupid games!  I beg your help!”  Conrad and Nanuq Junior went to Kamchatka and hugged her.

       “We are having a bit of fun,” Conrad said, “We won’t toss anyone in the blanket who does not want to be tossed.  I won’t toss Ekaterina in our blanket.  Kamchatka whimpered with misery.

       “Seeing Olga launched into the air by you and Nanuq junior was horrible!”  She wailed.

       “Olga got into the blanket of her own free will, as did Samson,” Conrad replied.  Kamchatka shook from nose to tail.

       “You play your stupid games, but leave me and our cub out of it!”  She sobbed.

        “I won’t involve our cub in the blanket games,” Conrad said.  Kamchatka looked into his eyes.

        “You learned some bad habits in that zoo you were born in,” Kamchatka said and I don’t want them here!  You stop the blanket games right now Conrad!”

        “If the game is played with the consent of everyone involved, then its fine surely,” Conrad said.  Kamchatka buried her face in her paws, for Conrad was right.

       “Just don’t involve our cub until she can see what’s what,” she said.

       “I won’t endanger our cub,” Conrad promised.  Kamchatka, now recovered, staggered to her paws and went back to her lie up to calm down.


Two weeks later, Ekaterina’s eyes opened, but Kamchatka could tell there was something wrong.  The cub was exploring her surroundings with her paws too much.  Feeling sick, Kamchatka called Ekaterina over to her.

       “I’m going to wave my left forepaw in front of your eyes Ekaterina,” Kamchatka said, “Can you see it? Reach out and touch it?”  The cub remained still.

       “I can’t see your paw mum,” she said.  Kamchatka looked into her cub’s eyes, they were clear enough.

      “Stop messing about!”  She snapped, “Ekaterina, you must be able to see my paw, it’s big enough for Eohippus sake!”

       “No mum, I can’t,” the cub replied.  Kamchatka then did something in anger which would live with her forever.  Lashing out at her cub with her left forepaw, she sent Ekaterina flying!  The look of total astonishment on Ekaterina’s face made Kamchatka’s blood run cold, her cub had never seen her paw coming!

        “Ouch!”  Ekaterina screamed as her body slammed into the wall.  Kamchatka buried her face in her paws screaming with anger and grief.

       “What’s the matter?”  Conrad asked, padding into the room.  Kamchatka, too upset to reply, waved her paw at Ekaterina, who was now picking herself up off the floor.

        “Mama hit me,” was all the cub said.  Conrad looked down at Kamchatka.

       “Why hit our cub?”  He asked, “What did she do wrong?”

       “Nothing, nothing!”  Kamchatka sobbed, “Conrad, she, she, Ekaterina’s blind!  I’m sure she is, “her eyes opened after her bath today, and, and I noticed she was not using them, still feeling her way with her paws, so I held up my paw and, and, and asked her if she could see it.  Ekaterina said she could see no paw, and I got angry, and, and, I hit her!  She, she didn’t see my paw coming, and I sent her flying!  I don’t know what to do!”

       “Blind polar bears have survived in the wild,” Conrad said, “indeed, I knew one.  He was good at catching seals and things by ear, scent and touch.  If you’re worried about her on that score, there’s no need to be.”

      “Why are you so calm about it?”  Kamchatka demanded, “Aren’t you concerned?”

       “Concerned yes,” Conrad replied, “but upset, well, a little, but she will cope, and so will we.  It’s just like she never opened her eyes at all really.”

      “But she misses so much!”  Kamchatka wailed, “How will she find a mate in later life, or even other cubs to befriend now?”

      “We found each other by touch,” was Conrad’s reply.  Kamchatka stared at her cub, then at her mate.

        “My cub’s blind,” she said, “and I so wanted a normal cub!”  Conrad looked at his cub, then closed his eyes and reached for her, finding her with his paws, the cub responding to his touch.

       “Mum’s paw hurt me,” Ekaterina said, “your paws though, they comfort me Conrad.”  Kamchatka squealed with anguish and fled from the lie up, leaving Conrad alone with Ekaterina.

       “I did nothing wrong, and mum hit me!”  Ekaterina whimpered, Conrad hugging her tenderly.

      “Mum doesn’t understand, she is upset about your situation.

      “But how can you be so calm?”  Ekaterina asked, “Mum said she wanted a normal cub, surely you wanted one too?”

        “I don’t worry about you being blind,” Conrad replied, “It’s not a problem for me.”

        “I’m glad it’s not a problem,” Ekaterina said.  Conrad minutely explored his cub with his paws.

        “You can love me with your paws, so why can’t mum?”  Ekaterina asked.  Conrad embraced her tenderly:

      “Your mum loves you as much as I do,” he replied softly, “she’s upset, and she wishes she had never struck you with her paw.”


Kamchatka watched everything from the entrance to the lie up.

        “I’m sorry for lashing out at you,” she thought miserably, “Ekaterina, I lost my temper, and I shouldn’t have lost it.  I am sorry!”  Kamchatka closed her eyes, trying desperately to sense the world through her remaining senses of touch, hearing and smell.  Padding forward, she could hear she was passing Conrad, and reaching out with her left forepaw, she touched his left hind.

       “Conrad, Ekaterina, I’m sorry, so sorry,” Kamchatka sobbed.

       “Love me with your paws mama,” Ekaterina said.  Kamchatka sat down and reached for her cub.  Ekaterina hesitated, gauging the sensations coming from her mum’s paws.  Kamchatka felt the cub’s hesitation, and was stung by it.

        “Come to me Ekaterina, please,” Kamchatka begged silently.  The cub let her mum pick her up in her paws.

        “I love you Ekaterina,” Kamchatka said gently, “I know it might not feel like it, but I love you so much!”

        “You hit me mama,” Ekaterina sobbed, “I did no wrong to you.”  Kamchatka knew her cub was correct.

       “I should not have hit you Ekaterina dear,” Kamchatka said gently, “for that I am very sorry.  I can’t take back what I did, though I wish I could.”

       “I’m a healthy cub, I’m a normal cub!”  Ekaterina whimpered, “I just can’t see, that’s all that’s wrong with me!  I need love like any other cub!”  Kamchatka knew her comment about normal cubs was ill advised.

       I’m sorry for that too,” Kamchatka whimpered, “I’m stamping all over this with my big clumsy paws!”  Focus on what my paws rather than my mouth tell you Ekaterina, please!  I need time, time to adjust, and time to think!”

        “Give me a hug mum, please!”  Ekaterina begged.  Kamchatka embraced her cub tenderly, wondering if she had the right to touch her cub after what she’d said and done.

      “Conrad plays with me, so why can’t you?”  Ekaterina asked.  Kamchatka looked at her cub, examining her from nose to tiny toes.

        “I don’t know why I can’t play with you,” Kamchatka replied, “I just can’t!”  Conrad looked at his mate.

       “You can be a mama to other cubs, but not to your own?”  He asked.  Kamchatka pushed Ekaterina away, leapt to her paws and fled!

        “What have I done?”  Ekaterina asked plaintively.  Conrad, very upset, gathered her close.

       “You’ve done nothing; mum’s not feeling too well at the moment, she’ll be better soon.”  Conrad didn’t dare speak his inner thoughts.

       “I hope she’ll be better soon.”   Kamchatka ran through the house, bursting into Rowena’s lie up.  Collapsing on the rug, she clung to the white lioness, which had been asleep until a second before.

      Kamchatka, what’s the matter?”  Rowena yawned.

       “I’m so confused, so upset!”  Kamchatka sobbed, clinging to the lioness.

        “Tell me about it,” Rowena said gently.  Kamchatka poured everything out.

       “There is no problem with your cub,” Rowena mewed; “her being blind is not a problem, as we live in safety here.  Conrad can help her, as can you if you put your paws to good work.  You loved your cub before this, so love her now.  She needs you as much as she ever did.  Kamchatka, use your paws!”  Kamchatka looked into the lioness’s eyes, but knew instinctively what they’d tell her.

         “I’m gone!”  Kamchatka whimpered, leaping to her paws and running away.  Bursting into her own lie up, she collapsed on the rug, sobbing into her forepaws.  Conrad and Ekaterina were no longer in the lie up, for which Kamchatka was thankful.  Lying on the rug, Kamchatka went to pieces.

       “I can’t cope, I can’t cope!”  She wailed to herself.

       “You can’t cope with a blind cub?”  Someone asked.  Kamchatka looked round, straight into the sightless eyes of a large tigress.

        “Namrah,” Kamchatka choked, “oh, I forgot, forgot you and Tigger are blind.  To you all my whining must sound so ungrateful, so horrible.”

         “Shock at the realisation your cub is blind is one thing,” Namrah said, “but for bears and us big cats too, our cubs are born blind, and so coping with that should not really be a problem.  Your cub will grow up using other senses to discover her environment, to learn about the world.  This community already uses its paws to find out a lot about the world, and sight loss does not affect the paws.  Kamchatka, you have lost touch my dear, and for that I am really sorry.”  Kamchatka felt the tigress’s words cutting deeply, for she was right.  What had changed from a day ago?  Nothing.

        “I have done much damage,”  Kamchatka sniffed, “I don’t know how to repair it, even if I can repair it!  Oh Namrah, I might have lost my mate and cub over this!  All because I was so stupid!  I failed to follow my mama’s teachings when they were most needed!  I have failed!”

        “go to Conrad and Ekaterina and show them you love them,”  Namrah said, “get paws on with them, for I believe you loved Conrad via the paw the first time you two met.  love kindled by the paw can be sustained by the paw, that’s what Tigger showed me.”  Kamchatka fled from the lie up, tracking her mate and cub to the great room.  finding them sitting together, Conrad’s paws protectively embracing his cub, Kamchatka suddenly felt very alone.  It was as if her mate and cub no longer wanted to know her, as if she’d been separated from them by more than just a few feet.

       “They look so peaceful,”  Kamchatka thought, “and I’m not at peace.  I’ve been stupid, really stupid, and I don’t know if I can salvage anything from this mess.”  Kamchatka knew telling her cub to ignore her words and concentrate on what her paws were telling her was crazy, that the words came from something deep inside, that her reaction to her cub’s touch told Ekaterina all she needed to know.  That her sire loved her, and her mama had doubts.

       “You must hate me Ekaterina,”  Kamchatka thought miserably, watching as Conrad playfully rolled Ekaterina onto her back and, grabbing her right hind paw, blew on her pads and tickled her toes until the cub was exhausted from laughing and waving her three free paws in the air.  Kamchatka suddenly felt like she wanted to vomit.  She’d never felt so low in her life.

        “I’m feeling wretched,”  she thought, her whole world seeming to collapse around her.  Turning, Kamchatka stumbled back to her lie up, the image of her mate and cub playing so easily together growing in her mind, taunting her.  Kamchatka collapsed in her lie up, burying her face in her paws and bursting into tears.

       “What is it that makes you so sad my cub?”  Kamchatka’s mama’s voice asked.

       “What’s making me so sad is that my cub is blind, and I can’t cope with that!”  Kamchatka wailed, “I should be able to cope.  If the cubs of other community members are blind, I can cope, but when it’s my own cub, then, then, it’s too much, way too much!”

         “is there more?”  her mama asked.  Kamchatka exploded with anger!

       “is there more?  Course there bloody well is!  You know dam well there’s more mama, if you thought that was all I had to say you’d have shut up and left me to cry!  There’s more, so much more!  I know what I feel is wrong, that Ekaterina is the way she is and nothing’s really changed from a week ago when she hadn’t opened her eyes.  Now though, when she’s opened her eyes, she can’t see a dam thing!  The worst of it is mama, that I hit her, I hit Ekaterina in anger, accusing her of lies and deception  when she was telling the truth.  She flew across the room, and, and crashed against the wall, I hit her so hard and she never saw it coming!  Most cubs would have dodged my paw, but she couldn’t!  the look on her face as she flew across the room, one of total astonishment and fear, that I will never forget!  I feel such a lowlife now, why should my cub lie to me now when she’s never lied in the past?  I hit her, I hit my own cub for no reason!”  that’s why I’m so sad mama, for I know I’ve done her harm, Ekaterina, my only cub!  she tests me now, testing my paws, working out if I’m going to harm her.  Conrad’s paws though, he plays with her easily.  He can handle Ekaterina with gentle paws, play with her paws he does, tickle her toes and blow on her pads until she’s laughing so hard she’s crying.  I wish I could laugh along with her, but what I did to her haunts me mama, it tears at me every minute since I struck her with my paw!  I struck her with anger and grief for what I’d lost, not for what she’d lost.  I was sad for me, not for her as she’s not sad at losing her sight, as she never had it.  I took my anger and grief at the hand life has dealt my cub out on Ekaterina herself, and for that I am truly sorry, but I can’t undo the blows I’ve struck.  Ekaterina begs me to love her with my paws, but I can’t, for I can’t put away the sense of loss I have when I think of her situation.”

       Kamchatka,”  her mama’s voice said, “listen to Conrad, for he knows more than you about this.  He did tell you he knew of a blind polar bear who lived on the ice quite happily.  If a blind polar bear can live on the ice, one can live in the community where you are for sure.  Now, you go to Conrad, and tell him all you have told me.  sit him down and tell him everything.  Don’t skirt an issue for fear he might get angry, for Conrad most likely will get angry, and so he should, but be honest with him, tell him how you feel, tell him why you hit his cub, for he dearly wants to know.”  Kamchatka felt her mama’s spirit leave her, and looked up into the face of the one bear she wished not to see so soon.  Conrad stood flat pawed on the carpet, and Kamchatka could see he’d been crying.  Conrad raised a paw to hit Kamchatka, but lowered it, turning and walking out of the lie up.

       “I’m going where my paws will be put to better use!”  he yelled.  Kamchatka knew she’d damaged their relationship with one blow from her paw.  That blow was one of self pity and anger at the world, and it hadn’t hit a wall, the torrent had been aimed at her own cub, fairly and squarely at a tiny creature who could not see a paw heading for her.

       “I’ve ruined everything!”  Kamchatka sobbed, “I’m a useless mother, when my cub’s in danger I hit her!  I’m meant to be comforting cubs, and I can’t even comfort my own!  What a bloody mess!”  Kamchatka screamed with pure pain.  this pain was worse than labour pain, much, much worse.  Kamchatka bit at her left forepaw, the one which had done the damage to her cub, tearing at her own flesh until it bled.  Watching her own blood drip onto the rug, Kamchatka felt dreadful.

       “I can’t stand this much longer!”  Kamchatka sobbed, licking her bleeding paw, “but I deserve the pain I’m in, it’s nothing, just a pin prick to what I caused my cub and mate.  Kamchatka, the caring grizzly bear.  Yeah, right!  More like Ursus Horribilis, for I have been so to my own cub.  I want this to end, Eohippus make it stop! Please make it stop!”  Kamchatka beat her paws on the floor, blood flying from her badly bitten and ripped left forepaw.

       “Only you can make it stop Kamchatka,”  a voice said, “love your cub with your paws, close your eyes, crawl through the house to your cub and embrace her in your paws.  go on, you can do it.  trust your paws like your cub trusts hers.”

       “Conrad?”  Kamchatka asked.  A huge paw giving her a push into a crawling posture and gently arranging her hind paws was the only reply she got.  The paws arranging hers were gentle, soft and very warm.

       “I want to use my paws!”  Kamchatka whimpered.

     “use them then Kamchatka, use your paws like your cub does.,”  Conrad said gently, patting the sole pad of his mate’s right hind paw, Kamchatka whimpering as she felt the messages coming from his paw.  Kamchatka began to sob with emotion.  Conrad still believed in her, after all she’d done and said!

        “I love you and our cub Conrad,”  Kamchatka whispered, crawling with eyes closed towards the door.  Kamchatka crawled along the passage, following the fresh scent of her cub, who’d crawled along that same passage ten minutes before.  Feeling her way to the next room, Kamchatka felt her paws come off the tiles of the passage and encounter rugs again.  These were the rugs which covered the floor of the main room.  Kamchatka crawled over the rugs, her nose telling her she was going in the right direction.  Concentrating so hard on following her nose and paws, Kamchatka almost fell over Ekaterina, the cub leaping out of her mum’s way and tickling Kamchatka’s hind paws, much to the grizzly bear’s shock!

      “hey!”  she squealed, “Ekaterina, paws off my paws!”  Ekaterina clambered over her mum’s body, ignoring her protestations, scrambling to her mum’s head over the grizzly bear’s hind legs, body, to her forepaws, then to her nose, kissing it with gentility.

      “Mama,”  Ekaterina said, Kamchatka’s paws embracing her tenderly.

     “Ekaterina, dear Ekaterina, sweet cub!”  Kamchatka wept, holding her cub with desperate paws.

       “mama, hold me mama!”  Ekaterina begged, Kamchatka, her eyes still closed exploring her cub with her forepaws, her hind pedalling the air as if pedalling her hind paws could speed up the exploration conducted by her forepaws.  Kamchatka brought her hind paws up, able to touch the large sole pads on both of Ekaterina’s hind paws with the toes of both her own hind paws.  Ekaterina pressed her pads against her mama’s toes, Kamchatka glad for any contact at all with her cub.  Kamchatka completed a scrambling, desperate physical exploration of her cub from tiny nose to tiny toes in five minutes flat.

        “Ekaterina, dear Ekaterina,”  Kamchatka sobbed, hugging her cub tenderly.  Ekaterina smiled broadly, gently exploring her mama’s face with her paws, finding her eyes tightly shut.

        “your eyes are closed mum,”  the cub said, “just like mine, but you found me as Conrad said you would.”  Kamchatka, breathing deeply, smiled at her cub and kissed her nose.

      “I can find my cub with my nose and paws,”  she said gently.  Ekaterina snuggled into her mum’s hug, the messages from Kamchatka’s paws unmistakable now, her mama loved her with everything she had.

       “I’ve found you with my paws!”  Kamchatka sobbed, kissing her cub’s nose and running her paws all over Ekaterina’s body from her nose to her tiny toes.

       “I love you mum,”  Ekaterina said, her mum hugged her tightly.  Conrad padded into the room, sitting down and watching Kamchatka’s exploration of her cub’s body, her mangled and bloody left forepaw obviously hurting her, but the grizzly bear clearly hardly gave it a thought.

       “Let’s clean that paw up,”  Conrad said softly, “Kamchatka, you need to clean your paw up.”  Kamchatka reluctantly let go of Ekaterina, the cub crawling away, letting her mum touch the pads of one hind paw before she left.

        “come on then, let’s go clean my paw,”  Kamchatka said.  Limping to the bathroom, Kamchatka followed Conrad, the male polar bear helping her into the water.  Bathing her paw with gentle care, Conrad explored the wounds on Kamchatka’s left forepaw.  Exploring the depths of the wound, he found Kamchatka had broken the skin and torn muscle.  Bathing the paw in antiseptic wash, Conrad saw the pain in Kamchatka’s eyes as he bathed her paw.

      “I’m sorry,”  he said softly, kissing her nose.  Kamchatka, breathing hard, sniffed as tears welled in her eyes.

        “I can’t believe you’re being so gentle with me,”  she sniffed, “after all I’ve done to you and our cub!”  Conrad kissed Kamchatka’s injured paw, the grizzly bear gulping hard.

       “I was so upset that you would not love our cub as she is,”  Conrad replied, “my paws refused to make contact with yours, but now, now your paws have made contact with your cub’s, I will come back to you, my paws letting me come to you.”  Kamchatka knew what Conrad meant.

      “I was misguided,”  Kamchatka replied.

        “I want us both to play with Ekaterina, you and me, to play with our cub, to tickle her paws together, to show her we’re one with her, one family.”  Kamchatka was up for that, as were all four of her paws.

       “I want it too Conrad, I want that so much!”  Kamchatka replied.  Ekaterina splashed into the water, swimming up to her mum and picking up her right hind paw in her tiny forepaws, cradling the huge hind paw in her left fore, while tracing her mum’s pads with the toes of her right fore.

      “I love that,”  Kamchatka said, curling the toes of her right hind paw, Ekaterina giggling as her own toes were trapped by her mum’s.

       “I love it too,”  the cub replied.  Kamchatka and Conrad smiled broadly.

        “how does having your right hind paw held by your cub feel Kamchatka?”  Conrad asked.  Kamchatka relaxed the toes of the paw under discussion, Ekaterina stroking her mum’s pads and toes with gentle care, the water making her mum’s paw easy to cradle.

       “It feels wonderful, just wonderful!”  Kamchatka replied, sighing with contentment.  Ekaterina touched the large sole pad of her mum’s right hind paw with her lips and blew hard, the water bubbling with her breath, Kamchatka screaming with laughter.

     “That tickles!”  she squealed.  Ekaterina and Conrad laughed merrily, the cub kissing her mum’s paw pads.

      “let’s wash mum!”  Ekaterina suggested.  Conrad and Kamchatka were both up for this, so very shortly, Kamchatka was lying comfortably on her back in the bathtub, her cub and mate working on her face, body and paws, washing, massaging, rinsing, patting, exploring and loving her from nose to tail.  Kamchatka relaxed, letting her mate and cub do what they wanted with her paws.  she loved it when Conrad or Ekaterina manipulated her paws, either fore or hind, it didn’t matter.  Kamchatka breathed deeply, her eyes closed, focusing on her paws, each pad, each toe, every little bit of contact between her mate or cub’s paw pads  built up into a force which brought tears to the eyes of the huge female grizzly bear.

       “I love this, I love this!”  she whispered.

       “We love it too mama,”  Ekaterina said, kissing her mum’s nose, Conrad grinning and kissing the toes of Kamchatka’s left forepaw.

       “Agreed,”  he said.  Kamchatka felt all her stress flow from her in that bathtub, for she could let it all go, everything flowing from her paw pads into the water to be washed away.

      “I love the way your sole pads bunch up when you curl your toes mum,”  Ekaterina said.  Kamchatka smiled:

       “I should teach you how to play with your hind paws really,”  she said.

       “Conrad’s already taught me how,”  Ekaterina replied, “he taught me so that one day I might be able to show you what progress I’ve made, and maybe play with your hind paws too.  I’ve played with his hind paws, and they are so cuddly, just like the rest of him.  Mum, I believe you had cuddly paws once, and want them to be cuddly again.”  Kamchatka swallowed hard, fighting not to cry.

       “I do want to have cuddly paws again Ekaterina,”  she choked.

        “Your paws want you to let them be cuddly like they used to be,”  the cub replied, “I can feel that very strongly.”  Kamchatka wanted so much for her cub to play with her paws, and to be able to play with Ekaterina’s paws too.  Not massage them, she’d done that, but play with them like Conrad did, tickle Ekaterina’s pads and play with her toes Kamchatka knew however that things would take their own course, at the moment she had no strength to get out of the water, let alone play with her cub’s paws, so she knew it wasn’t time yet.  Time was for relaxing, letting tiny but powerful paws do their magical work.  Kamchatka knew for certain what she really felt about her cub, Ekaterina was beautiful from her nose to her paws, and with a jolt, Kamchatka realised her paws, not her eyes, knew her cub’s beauty, her eyes had almost forgotten what she looked like, but her paws, they knew very well what Ekaterina felt like, from soft body fur to soft wrinkled paw pads, Kamchatka’s paws reminded her of everything.  Kamchatka enfolded Ekaterina’s right forepaw in her left fore, the cub not resisting her touch.

       “Lovely soft paw pads you have Ekaterina,”  Kamchatka thought, gently caressing her cub’s tiny paw in her own larger one, “I know my labour was hard, the birth difficult, but I don’t regret a minute of it now.”  Ekaterina felt her mum relax totally for the first time in her life.  Kamchatka drifted in a dream while her mate and cub stroked her paws.


Meanwhile, Samson and Fleur watched everything from their lie up.

       “Poor Kamchatka,”  Fleur mewed, “she’s gone through hell.”

      “But it was a family affair, and not pride or community business,”  Samson replied, “the bears keep their internal troubles just that these days, as do we lions.  We are a community, but only when the collective is threatened, say, a crime committed by a big cat against a bear. That kind of thing.  Otherwise, we’re separate families.”  Samson looked troubled.

       “Kamchatka was biting her own paw fleur, she was harming herself!”

       “She was at rock bottom Sammy,”  Fleur mewed.

       “Yes, but, but now, now she’s not, just look at her now!”  Samson said.


Indeed, Kamchatka and her cub were out of the bathtub and playing with Ekaterina, the cub laughing as her mama tickled her paws.  Kamchatka awakened to a new tactile world, kept her eyes closed as she played with her cub.  Ekaterina’s paw pads were soft and warm beneath Kamchatka’s, the cub loving her mama’s touch.

      “I love you Ekaterina, I love you so much, I’m so sorry dear cub, so sorry I caused you pain.”  Ekaterina snuggled up close to her mum, loving her warm paws and soft fur.


Conrad padded into the bathroom, sitting down beside Kamchatka and his cub.  Watching his mate play with her cub’s paws.

       “I would like to show you a special place,”  Kamchatka said to her mate and cub.  Conrad got to his paws and Kamchatka helped Ekaterina into her crawling posture, Conrad playfully tickling the toes of his cub’s right hind paw with his left fore, Ekaterina giggling with delight.

       “tickle my toes would you?”  she asked, “well I can curl my toes, like this!”  Conrad laughed as Ekaterina curled her tiny toes, catching his larger ones.

       “Now you can’t tickle my toes!”  the cub laughed.  Conrad gently tugged at his trapped toes, Ekaterina holding on tightly.

       “I can make you let go of my toes,”  Conrad said grinning at his cub.

      “Bet you can’t!”  Ekaterina challenged.  Conrad, smiling broadly, brought his other forepaw over and stroked the pads of his cub’s right hind paw, Ekaterina releasing her sire’s toes.  Ekaterina laughed helplessly as her toes relaxed.

       “I loved every minute of that,”  the cub said.  Conrad kissed the sole of his cub’s right hind paw, Ekaterina sighing with contentment.

        “Let’s go to the pool complex,”  Kamchatka suggested, her eyes shining with delight.  Conrad and their cub followed Kamchatka to the pool complex, Conrad staring round him at the pool and the tower up to the slides.  Under his paws he could feel non slip tiles, his pads almost stuck to the floor by the interaction of his rough paw pads with the tiles.  Conrad tried to make his paws slip along the tiles, but he could not move them sideways or foreyards without lifting them.  Grinning, Conrad padded after his mate and cub, Kamchatka leading them to the open slide, dragging out a raft and sitting Conrad in the front of the raft, instructing Ekaterina to get in the middle section and pushing off down the slide before getting into the back section.  Conrad and Ekaterina laughed as they hurtled down the slide, Kamchatka anxious in case she got to the end of the slide and she got the weight distribution wrong.  If she’d done so, Ekaterina could be injured or worse.  Hitting the water, the raft spilt its ursine passengers into the water, Ekaterina floundering until Kamchatka swam up to her, the cub clinging to her back, the grizzly bear carrying her cub to the edge of the pool.

      “That was amazing!”  Ekaterina said, clambering out of the water, her mum and sire following.

       “You both  have wrinkled paw pads!”  Conrad laughed, “I saw them, I saw them!” Kamchatka and Ekaterina laughed helplessly.

        “got to love paw pads,”  Kamchatka said.  Conrad smiled:

      “I do, I do!”  he replied.  Kamchatka rolled Ekaterina onto her back and looked at the soles of the cub’s paws.  Ekaterina’s paw pads were wrinkled, bunching up even more as she curled her toes with pleasure as her mum breathed on her pads and kissed her toes.

        “I love having my paws touched, played with and kissed,”  Ekaterina said, “I can’t get enough of it, I want more!”  Kamchatka and Conrad smiled broadly, Kamchatka rolling onto her back and waving her paws in the air just like her cub had.  Conrad, seeing this, sat down and picked Ekaterina up in his forepaws, letting her feel how her mum was lying on her back, waving her paws in the air.  Ekaterina wanted so much to  be larger so she could play with her parents on more equal terms, to properly hold their paws in hers was one of the cub’s greatest wishes, as was to be able to embrace her mum and sire properly.

       “I want to hold your paws properly in mine, but my paws are too small!”  Ekaterina said.  Helga ran in then, chased by Olga.

       “since this cub found her paws she’s a pest!”  Olga panted, Kamchatka and Conrad laughing merrily.  Helga leapt upon Kamchatka and tickled the soles of her forepaws.

       “Who’s this mum?”  Ekaterina asked, pointing her nose at Helga.  Helga, remembering Ekaterina couldn’t see her, broke off tickling Kamchatka’s paws to embrace the younger cub and introduce herself.

       “My name’s Helga, I’m Olga’s cub,”  the brown bear cub said.  Ekaterina felt warm paws holding her own, they felt like cuddly paws, like her sire’s and mama’s.  Helga felt Ekaterina’s tiny paws in hers, gentle paws they were, the paws of an innocent cub, a cub who relied on her paws more than most, for they seemed to be asking her questions.   Helga closed her eyes, uncomfortable with what she was feeling, but unable to let go of the younger cub’s paws.  It was then she realised what she was feeling, the probing but gentle and respectful touch of a blind creature.

       “I didn’t know, I’m sorry,”  Helga whispered, Ekaterina soothing the older cub’s discomfort.

       “My paws are my eyes, I thought yours were too,”  Ekaterina said.  Helga gulped hard.

       “I, I can, I mean, my eyes work properly, I know yours don’t, so, so you use your paws.  I thought, thought I used mine to a great extent, but not like you use yours.  It was a shock that’s all.  I don’t mean to be reserved, I just wasn’t expecting to feel what I did.  I inhabit a different world to you, a world, where, well, we don’t use our paws as much as we should.”  Ekaterina kissed Helga’s nose, breaking the older cub’s control on her emotions.  Ekaterina shook her forepaws free of Helga’s and tried to embrace the older and larger cub.  Helga felt herself recoiling, Ekaterina’s paws were too powerful for her.  Kamchatka saw this and stopped her cub.

       “Ekaterina, Helga doesn’t want to be hugged,”  Kamchatka said.  Helga, ashamed, turned and ran away sobbing.

      “What did I do?”  Ekaterina asked, “I said nothing to her.”

       “Helga can’t cope with your touch,”  Kamchatka replied, “it asks too much of her.”

      “But I asked nothing!”  Ekaterina whimpered, “I just wanted to embrace her, and she ran off crying!”

        “let me take your paws,”  Olga said.  Ekaterina let the brown bear take her paws.  Olga started back, dropping the cub’s paws.

        “they ask questions of me I don’t want to answer!”  she screamed, turning and running away.

       “Maybe you’re asking them too much?”  Kamchatka asked.

       “If I am, I don’t mean to,”  Ekaterina replied.  Kamchatka took hold of her cub’s forepaws, feeling their message instantly.

        “You ask them to use their paws too much,”  Kamchatka said.

      “but they ask me to use something I can’t,”  Ekaterina replied, “they can use their paws, but they don’t want to.  I can’t use my eyes.  How is it that you and Conrad respond positively to my paws?”

       “Because we want to use our paws like you do,”  Kamchatka replied, “Helga knows she should use her paws like you do, but can’t bring herself to do so, and Olga can’t bring herself to even think of it.”

       “You mean they’re scared of my paws?”  Ekaterina asked.  Kamchatka and Conrad looked at each other, Conrad nodding to his mate.

       “yes,”  Kamchatka replied softly.

      “But I’m no threat to them, I won’t hurt them with my paws!”  Ekaterina said, getting upset.

        “you are asking them to be more honest with their paws,”  Conrad said, “me and Kamchatka can be honest with our paws, but Helga and her mama can’t be so honest.  They can love each other with their paws, but they can’t let you touch them.  Your touch is too deep, they don’t want to think about the answers to the questions your paws ask.  You ask them to go to places which scare them, places of darkness, places which scare them because they don’t know how to use their paws to find their way around the places.”

        “Basically the world you live in frightens most other bears,”  Conrad said.

      “But you can see Conrad, why doesn’t my world frighten you?”

     “Because I have learned to use my paws,”  Conrad replied, “I don’t fear using paws like some do.  Some say they use their paws, but do they really use them?”

        “is it that they don’t like the idea of me needing to touch more of them than just their paws to find out about them?”  Ekaterina asked.  Kamchatka sighed heavily.

       “Yes,”  she said, “they don’t understand it.  Helga wants to understand it, wants to let you explore her with your paws, but Olga doesn’t.  Helga just needs time, and she’ll let you touch her, Olga might not.”



Meanwhile, Olga and Helga were talking in their lie up.

       “Ekaterina’s paws are scary!”  Helga whimpered, “they wanted to take me into dark places, places I could not get out of!  She’s horrible!”

       “have you ever touched Tigger’s or Namrah’s paws?”  Petra said padding in, “they feel the same as Ekaterina’s.  The thing is, Ekaterina lives in a different world to us.  She can’t see a thing so she uses her paws to find out about her world.”

      “You sound very comfortable with all this Petra,”  Olga said, “maybe you’d like to touch Ekaterina’s paws.  then you might feel differently.”

       “I have touched her paws,”  Petra replied, “they’re soft and very warm, and she’s a playful little cub is Ekaterina.”

      “I’ll bet she’s adopted you as her aunt,”  Helga scoffed, “everyone adopts fat old Petra!”  Olga slapped her cub hard!

       “That’s disrespectful!”  the grown brown bear snapped, “Petra’s not old!”

       “who knows how old she is,”  Helga said, “she’s ageless, or so Kamchatka says, who has adopted the fat lioness too!”  Petra knew she was a big lioness, but to be called fat was too much!

       “Shut up!”  she snapped.

       “Are you going to make me?”  Helga challenged.  Petra leapt upon the half grown cub, Helga screaming as Petra used the skill learned from Samson to throw the cub onto her back.

        “You bully!”  Helga whined.

       “Don’t call me fat or old!”  Petra yelled, spanking Helga’s nose.  Helga, screamed as the nerves in her nose complained.

       “Ooowww ouch!”  she shrieked.

        “Lions can slap,”  Olga remarked.

      “Shut up mum, just shut up!”  Helga sobbed.

        “now I’m going to talk to my adopted niece,”  Petra mewed, padding theatrically away.  Helga, lying on the floor and rubbing her nose with her forepaws, felt anger towards Petra boiling up inside her.

       “that dam lioness is a bloody flea-bitten, mangy moggie!”  Helga yelled.

       “Say that again, I’ll break your toes one by one!”  Kamchatka snarled, padding into the lie up.  Helga screamed with fear!

        “I told you grizzly bears were our enemies mum!”  she yelled.  Kamchatka slapped Helga hard.

        “You bloody fool!”  she snapped, “I’m not your enemy, I just don’t like you insulting my family that’s all!”  Helga stared up into the eyes of the massive grizzly bear.

        “Where’s your cub mama?”  she asked.  Kamchatka snorted and padded away, disinterested in the brown bear cub.

       “now, where were we?”  Olga asked.  Helga sat up and looked at her mum:

       “I was ranting about Petra, though I don’t know if that’s such a good idea now,”  the cub said

       Kamchatka’s cub’s a funny one,”  Olga said, “her paws, they asked me to use my paws more than I wanted to.  The dam cub wanted to explore me from nose to tail with her paws!  that’s okay within families, but not strangers.  Ekaterina wanted to touch my face, neck, belly, legs, paw pads and toes!  Ugh, no!”

        “I know I was dead against it at first,”  Helga said, “but now, since, since thinking back over what I felt when I closed my eyes, I can see why Ekaterina might want to touch my face, neck, belly, legs paw pads and toes.  she can’t experience them any other way.  I can see your body, I know what you look like, but Ekaterina doesn’t.  we can examine each other’s paw pads and toes by sight, but Ekaterina can’t.  We can watch videos, but Ekaterina can’t.”

      “Howe are we going to show her what happens during the birth of a cub if she ever watches those?”  Olga asked.

        “Someone will have to tell her what’s happening, or let her get paws on with them while they re-enact parts of the video, like Kamchatka did for me.  I’ll quite happily take my hind paws in my fore and squeeze my toes, or lie on my back holding the toes of my hind paws with my forepaws.  I’ll even roll about a bit too.  Of course I will show Ekaterina how to play with her paws too, Kamchatka probably already has.  Mum, I was blind once, the difference between me and Ekaterina is that Ekaterina will be blind forever.  She needs all the paw contact and freedom I had.  Kamchatka will give her that, but so should we.  Why should she be denied the full affect of a cubbing video.  They are compelling watching, and if someone can let Ekaterina touch them while they re-enact bits of it which clearly can’t be heard on the tape, such as showing her the position a mama bear or other creature has adopted to give birth in it would help her greatly.”

       “Well if you want to do it, you can!”  Olga snapped, “I’m not.”

        “I will then,”  Nanuq Junior said, “I don’t mind.”

      “You?”  Helga asked, “but you’re male!”

        “wasn’t it ever the way in theatre that the gender roles were reversed?”  the male polar bear asked.  Helga laughed.

       “I’d love to see you acting out a cubbing!”  she whooped.

        “if neither of you will, then I’ll show Ekaterina what she’s missing as best I can,”  the male polar bear replied, “for it doesn’t take much to hold a hind paw in one’s forepaws and curl your toes while bouncing about a bit.  it’s quite a release actually.  I’ve done it.”

        “Tell me you’re joking!”  Olga said.  Nanuq Junior shook his head.

       “You know how much I love playing with my paws Olga.  From time to time I’ll have a bit of paw time, where I play with my paws, stroke the pads of my hind paws, play with my toes, hold my hind paws in my forepaws, push back against my forepaws with my hind paws, roll onto my back and grab my hind paws in my fore.  I’ve got video of it somewhere.  It’s only a step from that to adding a bit of rolling about, curling my toes a bit and panting.  I remember while I was in discomfort with a stomach upset, I began rolling about on the floor holding my hind paws with my fore and straining hard to pass whatever it was making me ill.  Of course nothing happened, but I did all that.  Okay that’s the closest I’ve got to labour pain, but it was pretty painful.  I just imagine that if I want to re-enact a cubbing.”

      “have you no inhibitions?”  Helga asked her sire.

       “Um, there are things I won’t do, but they come under the heading of indecent or illegal acts, not strange behaviours.  I will do anything if it appeals.  Roll about like a cub, crawl on all fours, let cubs tickle my toes, tickle and play with my own toes, pretend my forepaws are stuck to my hind, all that.”  Olga smiled, for she’d seen some of the pretend play Nanuq junior and senior got into.  They would get their paws into a right tangle and pretend they were stuck, then it was a battle of imaginations as to who freed themselves first.  Lots of curled toes, pad contact, rolling about on the floor and snarling went on during those games, which sometimes could last for an hour or more.  Starting with one bear chasing another to get his paws, and once the bear being chased had been caught, the bear doing the catching would find his quarry had surprisingly sticky paw pads, or strong toes with which to catch his paws.  once that was done, it was a job to free the two bears, which they took time over, making as much noise and protest as they felt a struggle to free eight paws warranted.  Nanuq Junior told Olga and Helga all about his and his sire’s antics, Helga realising to be so open with her paws was okay, to play act was okay too!

        “I almost want to try it now,”  Helga said, “try acting as if my paws are stuck to each other, I want to roll about on the floor and kick my paws in the air, and, and I want Ekaterina to know all about it too!”  Olga stormed off.

       “playing these games within a family is one thing, taking them outside the family is another!”  she snapped.

       “Are we?”  Nanuq Junior asked, “we’re the ursine family, all of us. Pandas, brown bears, grizzly and polar bears.  Come on Olga,. Try to delight in your cub’s enthusiasm for this.”  Olga walked away, Helga looking at her sire.

      “I’ve seen those videos,”  she said, “I know how paws on you and your sire get, it’s lovely Nanuq, really lovely!  The game when you pretended your hind paws were stuck to Nanuq seniors, you two spent hours working the toes of your forepaws into any little gap you could find between your hind paws to free yourselves, toe by toe, inch by inch you freed each paw.  There were some hard parts too, freeing your sole pads looked painful, you were working your toes around the sole pads of one set of trapped paws at a time, working the toes of your forepaws into a little gap, then pulling, wiggling your toes, then pulling a bit more, panting and puffing with the effort.”

      “That was all imagined effort,”  her sire said, “we could do it now, sit down and play that game.”  Helga sat down quickly.

      “Come on then,”  she said, “show me, show me!”  Sitting down, Nanuq Junior pressed his hind paws flat against his half grown cub’s, feeling her pads touching his.  Their paws were much the same size, so that wasn’t an issue.

      “once you’re comfortable, just relax and concentrate on the feel of my paw pads against yours,”  Nanuq Junior advised.  Helga did so, trying to imagine her hind paws glued to her sire’s.  Ekaterina, Kamchatka and Conrad wandered in then, and were soon involved, Nanuq telling Kamchatka that Ekaterina could get paws on with things.

       “Now because Ekaterina is exploring what’s going on with her paws,”  Nanuq Junior said, “we’ll have to take things slowly, so not to hurt her.”

      “slow working of toes between stuck paw pads, and gentle tugging to free our paws sounds great,”  Helga replied, “we can concentrate on acting trapped too.”  So Nanuq and Helga sat opposite each other, the pads and toes of their hind paws pressed together, while Ekaterina explored the scene with her tiny paws.

       “I can feel how tightly your paws are pressed together,”  Are they stuck together?”  the young cub asked.

      “You try and free us,”  Helga suggested.  Ekaterina tried by working the toes of her right forepaw between the sole pads of Helga’s left and Nanuq’s right hind paws.  she could not get her toes even close to separating the trapped paws.

       “I can’t do it!”  she whimpered.

       “now we’ll have a go,”  Helga said, “Ekaterina, this is only play, but there will be snarling and puffing as we try to free our hind paws, okay?”

       “I thought there might be,”  the young cub replied, “but okay, I’ll be gentle when exploring, try not to get in your way.”


So the game began, first the two bears tried leaning backwards, pulling their hind paws apart, with much snarling and grunting,   of course this didn’t work.  Then with Helga attacking her left hind paw with her forepaws and younger Nanuq attacking his right hind with his forepaws, the two bears tried to pull their paws apart toe by toe, inch by snarling, wiggling inch.

        “This is hard work!”  Helga panted as she worked the toes of her left forepaw down the slight gap between her and her sire’s trapped left and right hind paws.  meanwhile, Nanuq Junior was working on the other side of the same paws to his cub, with his own left forepaw.  Ekaterina felt the two bears working their toes into little gaps, then when they’d worked a little way, they’d physically try to pull their paws apart, jamming the toes of whichever forepaw was handy into any little gap they’d created.  The two bears would then pull gently at their hind paws while wiggling the toes of their forepaws into the widening gap with desperate urgency until their strength ran out, then they’d relax, their forepaws holding their hind paws apart, sweat pouring off them.  Sometimes, their paws would slip, and the two bears work would be undone, the paws stuck as firmly as ever.  Throughout all this, Ekaterina was paws on with the two older bears, loving every minute of their cubbish paw play and wanting to join in.

       “Go on Helga, pull, pull your paw free!”  Ekaterina encouraged, while Kamchatka and Conrad encouraged Nanuq Junior similarly.  At the end of the first hour the two struggling bears had got one set of hind paws free, the paws freeing themselves with a sudden rush, Ekaterina able to massage the pads and toes of both bears freed hind paws while they recovered a bit.  Helga wiggled and curled the toes of her left hind paw as Ekaterina explored it, the younger cub laughing helplessly at how big Helga’s paw was.

      “It’s gigantic!”  the cub giggled.  Helga leant down and kissed the cub’s nose.

      “Now we’re going to free our other hind paws,”  she said, “that will be a fight just as big as the first one was.  now, here goes, wish us luck.”  Ekaterina kissed the large sole pad of Helga’s left hind paw and tickled her toes a little, the older cub giggling cubbishly and rapidly revising her views.

      “Now do your best you two,”  Kamchatka said to Nanuq junior and Helga, “I want to see the soles of eight paws within an hour.  Helga grinned.

      “We’ll try,”  she promised.  After more worrying at their trapped hind paws with the toes of their forepaws accompanied by lots of growling and snarling, Ekaterina could feel the sole pads of Nanuq’s left hind, and Helga’s right hind paw coming free, only the toes were still trapped.  With a bit more  tugging and wriggling, the two bears freed themselves, both ending up on their backs from the final tug at their trapped paws.  Ekaterina leapt clear as the two bears fell apart, then was invited to get paws on with both of them, which she did, very paws on, feeling the sweat soaked fur and pads of the two large bears, who Ekaterina could tell had enjoyed every minute of the two hour game.  Once the tiny cub had examined the fur and paws of both larger bears, actually clambering over them like they were climbing frames, which Helga and Nanuq junior loved as much as Ekaterina did, Helga lay back, surprised at how gentle Ekaterina was with her paws.

       “Your paws are so gentle, so very gentle!  Helga laughed merrily.  Ekaterina kissed the pads of Helga’s right hind paw, the larger cub giggling with pleasure.

       “Kiss all four of my paws if you want,”  Helga invited, when what she really meant to say was, “I want you to play with, stroke and kiss my paws!”  Ekaterina did as Helga asked, and Helga rolled over onto her side and embraced Ekaterina in her paws.

       “I’m sorry I ran away from you,”  Helga said softly, “I didn’t know then what I know now.  I will help you Ekaterina, I will help you play with your paws, as long as you will help me play with mine.”  Ekaterina promised she would help.


Ekaterina clambered all over Helga, feeling her nose, belly, legs and paws, the older cub loving the younger cub’s touch.

      “You use all four paws to explore my fur and paws!”  Helga exclaimed, “your paws are so gentle!”

      “Thank you for letting me explore you from nose to tail,” Ekaterina said.  Helga smiled and kissed her nose.

      “you can explore my body and paws whenever you want,”  Helga replied.  Helga explored Ekaterina’s body and paws with her forepaws, then gently took her tiny hind paws in her larger ones.  Olga came back somewhere in the midst of all this, but was quickly restrained by Kamchatka, who hustled her out of the room before she could say anything.

       “You leave them to it!”  Kamchatka snapped.

       “I don’t like seeing my cub letting your cub clamber all over her like she was some kind of climbing frame!”  Olga yelled.

       “they are loving each other, cub to cub, learning about each other’s likes, dislikes and tolerances.  They are learning respect for each other through play.  Helga knows what Ekaterina needs to do to gain a full appreciation of herself as a bear.  Ekaterina can’t see Helga, so she has to touch her!  Touch her nose, her belly and her toes!  Helga gives Ekaterina freedom to touch her, for she knows the cub will respect her dignity.  Ekaterina now loves your cub even more than she did a minute ago.  Ekaterina uses her paws like you use your eyes.  Let her explore Helga, love her, enjoy her company and let Helga enjoy Ekaterina’s company too!”  Olga stared at the screen on which she could see Helga tickling Ekaterina’s toes, the younger cub squealing with delighted laughter.

      “Helga’s tickling my toes!  Stop it Helga!”  the young cub yelled, plainly giving Helga her hind paws to tickle.

     “Ekaterina hates Helga tickling her toes!”  Olga yelled, “I must stop her!”

      “Ekaterina’s pretending she hates it, but she’s giving Helga her hind paws to tickle, watch her!  if you don’t want to get paws on, use your eyes for Eohippus sake Olga!”  Kamchatka yelled.  she and Olga watched as Helga crawled away from Ekaterina, the younger cub following her friend remarkably quickly.  Reaching out with her left forepaw, Ekaterina touched the toes of Helga’s left hind, the older cub laughing merrily.

        “I want you to touch my hind paws with your forepaws,”  Helga said, “find all there is to know about them Ekaterina.”  Ekaterina explored each of Helga’s hind paws with both her forepaws, feeling the wrinkled skin of the larger cub’s sole pads and toes, and how long her claws were.  Helga even curled her toes so Ekaterina could feel how her pads bunched up.

      “Thank you for letting me touch you,”  Ekaterina said.  Helga curled the toes of her right hind paw gently round those of her younger friend’s left fore as they explored them.

      “It is a pleasure,”  Helga said, and she meant it with everything she had.  Helga was becoming hopelessly addicted.  Letting another cub play with her paws excited Helga.  She loved Ekaterina’s touch.

     “Maybe we can play role play games like me and my sire do,”  Helga said to Ekaterina, “how good are you at imagining you have a trapped paw?”  Ekaterina smiled:

      “My sire’s been teaching me those games,”  she said, “I’ve freed his paws and he’s freed mine several times now.  Helga, have you ever rolled onto your back and held the toes of your hind paws with your forepaws?”  Helga released Ekaterina’s toes and turned round to face her.

       “I have,”  the older cub replied, “did you know that mama bears play with their paws when they are giving birth to their cubs?”  Ekaterina shook her head.

      “No, do they?”  the cub asked, “why?”

       “How does playing with your paws make you feel?”  Helga asked.

      “It soothes me, I love it,”  Ekaterina replied, “ah, I get it now!  So when mama bears are in pain, they play with their paws to make themselves feel good!”

       “They do, but they will also use their paws as something to hold onto during the times when they really have to push against the cubs,”  helga replied.

      “Like at the end of my birth when mum pushed really hard to deliver my hind paws?”  Ekaterina asked.  Helga replied that this was indeed true.

       “So mama bears squeeze and play with their toes, stroke their pads and grip a hind paw in both forepaws?”  Ekaterina asked.

      “yes,”  Helga replied, “I can show you if you’d like, slowly so you can get paws on and feel what’s going on.  Mama bears even curl their toes too, like you felt my toes curling earlier.”

       “I suppose bears curl their toes in pain as well as pleasure,”  Ekaterina mused.

      “They do,”  Helga replied, “ask my sire about the time he got food poisoning, he’ll tell you how hard he felt he had to curl his toes.  I’ve seen video of his day of struggle against his own body, and it is dreadful viewing, as he’s in pain, but he acts much like a mother bear in labour acts.  Rolling about on the floor, grabbing at his hind paws with his fore, clenching his teeth and curling his toes, all that.  Forget he’s suffering from food poisoning, and he could be giving birth to a cub, there’s very little difference.”

        “What is a video?”  Ekaterina asked.

      “It’s a recording of past events in sound and pictures,”  Helga replied, “we video all births here, even yours.  So Kamchatka can watch your birth on video.  Cubs often watch their own births when at your age, but you can’t, for you can’t see.  So someone will have to let you get paws on with them and show you as best they can what’s happening by re-enacting what’s going on on the screen.  I’ll do it if you like.”

      “So you pretend you’re having a cub?”  Ekaterina asked.  Helga replied this was indeed the case.

       “I touch your face, paws and body while you copy what’s going on on the screen, and that’s how I know what’s happening?”  Ekaterina asked.

      “yes,”  Helga replied.

       “But that’s intimate stuff,”  Ekaterina said.

       “not really,”  Helga replied, “All you’re doing is feeling me play with my paws and roll about a bit.  the only bit which is really intimate is when Conrad pulls you free as Kamchatka pushes.  I’ll just describe how much of your body is visible and touch your nose, or your forepaws, whatever is visible between efforts.”   Ekaterina took hold of Helga’s right hind paw, and  could feel the older cub’s wish to help her experience the video as best she could.


This discussion pushed Olga over the edge.  Screaming, she ran from the lie up into where Ekaterina was playing with Helga’s right hind paw.  Leaping on top of her cub, Olga pulled Helga away, rearing onto her hind legs and lifting Helga high in the air by her left hind paw and shaking her!  Helga, upside down, screamed with fear and pawed at the air with her forepaws!

       “Put her down!”  Kamchatka screamed, barrelling in and catching hold of Helga’s flailing forepaws.  Helga, angry and frightened, kicked at her mother with her free right hind paw, only for Olga to grab the toes of that paw in her mouth and bite down hard!  Helga screamed with pain!

       “Mum, please, no!”  she yelled, Olga snarling and biting even harder!  Helga felt her mum’s teeth grind against the bones in her paw, the pain making her shriek and try to pull her paw away, doing more damage!  Kamchatka, powerless to do anything, watched as Olga maimed her own cub.

       “You’ll break her toes!”  Kamchatka screamed.  Olga suddenly jerked her head downwards, there was a cracking sound and Helga howled with pain.

       “Now try and re-enact a cubbing!”  Olga yelled, “you’ll be in too much pain to do anything!  I told you paws off, and I meant it Helga!”  Olga screamed, throwing her cub to the floor, helga landing heavily and crawling away crying.

        “I hate you Olga, I hate you!”  Ekaterina screamed, crying hysterically.  Olga looked with disgust at the tiny cub.

       “I think you are vile!”  she snarled, making a grab for Ekaterina!  Kamchatka, sensing danger to her cub, floored Olga and pinned her down!

       “You want to try that again?”  Kamchatka asked, “for if you do, you’ll die!  I don’t care if I mothered you, if you mess with my cub, mother will be your worst nightmare!”

        “You couldn’t do anything to me,”  Olga challenged, you love me too much for that!”  Helga watched, half wishing Kamchatka did her mum harm.  Kamchatka stared into Olga’s face.

        “You’re horrible to your own cub, and have murderous intent towards mine!  I cannot let that continue, for the sake of both cubs.  Helga had her problems with Ekaterina, but she’s overcome them now.  You refuse to see sense, and not only that, you are violent towards those who take a different view to yourself!  This is unacceptable, and cannot remain the case.  If killing you will save my cubs, then kill you I will!”  Samson ran in, knowing he could do nothing, but fascinated by this sudden change of situation.

         “I can’t let my cub re-enact a cubbing for Ekaterina!”  Olga snarled, “it’s wrong to let Ekaterina touch her, for Ekaterina’s not family!  She’s got dirty paws!”

       “You reject her, you reject me also,”  Kamchatka replied, “I promised Helga I was her friend, and I am, but you are no longer my friend!  You are my enemy, for you have done what no mother should ever do, injure her own cub when that cub has posed noone any threat!  I hate you Olga!”  Kamchatka looked into Helga’s face, the half grown cub’s eyes begging her to make a decision.

       “She hurt you Helga,”  Kamchatka said, “no mama would do that to her own cub.  Unless she was a spiteful bitch!”  Helga, her right hind paw throbbing, crawled painfully over to her mum.  The bear in front of her looked like, but did not feel like her mum.  Helga closed her eyes, panting with pain and emotion.  Looking up at Kamchatka, Helga saw a massive bear, a bear she wanted to be with.

        “Kill her if you feel it’s right,”  Helga panted, “I can’t think straight enough to do it myself!”

        “Take Ekaterina’s right hind paw in your forepaws and she’ll lead you from here,”  Kamchatka replied.  Helga did so, and the tiny cub led her to safety.  Helga felt warmth radiating from the tiny contact with Ekaterina’s paw pads, her own paw hurting less as she crawled towards the safety of Kamchatka’s and Conrad’s lie up.


Kamchatka looked down at Olga.

       “What you did was born of spite, of pure malice and disgusts me!”  the grizzly bear growled,  If you can do that to your own cub, what could you do to mine or to the cubs of other bears.  I cannot let you live here.  I cannot trust you to keep your filthy paws off cubs here, so banishment to the wood won’t help.  Your death is the only course open to me.

       “Get it over with bitch!”  Olga snarled, “before I retaliate!”  suddenly Olga leapt up at Kamchatka, the two bears rolling around in a fight to the death!  Kamchatka, her wild instinct flaring, soon beat the brown bear female.

         “now you will die!”  Kamchatka screamed, crushing the life out of Olga’s body.  Kamchatka sat back on her heels, staring down at the work she had done.

        “I’m sorry for your mate and cub Olga,”  Kamchatka said, “but you had to die!”  Kamchatka looked round at the sound of heavy padded paws coming into the lie up, straight into Nanuq Junior’s face.

         “I saw it all,”  he said, “I don’t hold your actions against you Kamchatka.  The cubs come first, and Olga forgot that.”

        “I’m sorry I killed your mate,”  Kamchatka replied, “Nanuq, I’m so sorry!”

        “No Kamchatka, you protected your cubs, Olga killed herself.  She knew what attacking Ekaterina would cause.  She knew what you’d do if your cub was threatened.  Olga wasn’t stupid, silly yes, but not stupid.  She fought you at the end, and you won.  Now Kamchatka, go back to your cubs, for they need you.”  Kamchatka crawled to Nanuq junior who embraced her fiercely.

         “I’m sorry,”  Kamchatka whispered into the polar bear’s ear.

        “Olga knew the risks and took them,”  the polar bear replied, “now let’s go on from here, for Helga has lost nothing, and has gained a mum today, someone who will look after her with everything she has.  I know this, and so does she.  Go tend to your cubs Kamchatka, for one is injured I believe.  Kamchatka got to her paws and padded from the lie up.  Nanuq Junior looked down at the body of his mate feeling resentment and anger!

        “Did you think you could get away with this Olga?  Did you?”  he asked out loud, “you are a fool, a dangerous fool!”  Stepping over Olga’s body, Nanuq Junior left the room to find his cub

Finding Helga having her injured hind paw bathed by Ekaterina, Nanuq Junior sat down beside Kamchatka who was monitoring the treatment.

        “I saw what Olga did to Helga,”  Nanuq junior sobbed, “it’s, it’s horrible!  Helga and Ekaterina, they, they were only playing Kamchatka, only playing!  For Eohippus sake!  Why?  Why would Olga do that to her cub?”  burying his face in the grizzly bear’s shoulder, Nanuq cried bitterly, “I don’t understand, I don’t understand!”  the bear sobbed.

          “I can’t answer your questions my dear,”  Kamchatka replied, “I too have had my hours of darkness, but they were not fuelled by a hatred of my cub, only a hatred for myself for misreading her situation.  Olga’s darkness was deeper than mine, for it permeated her soul.  When things weren’t as she thought they aught to be, she flipped, and lost everything and everyone.  Now she is gone, and your cub is here, injured, but alive and well.  Love her Nanuq, love Helga with all four paws, love her like your sire loves you, and you two will do well.”

       “Loving Helga is what I want to do,”  the male polar bear replied, “I want to love her like I have been loved, with all four of my paws, with my hug and touch and play.  I know how to play, I love to play, for Helga loves to play too.  She’s a beautiful cub whether I see her or not, my paws tell me she’s beautiful, and I want her to remain that way.  I want her to help Ekaterina if she wants to help her.  I want to see her loving her life, loving her paws, loving her playtime!  Paws are for playing with!  I have no objections to Helga helping Ekaterina to experience her birth video.  My only wish is that Helga does her very best, which I’m sure she will.”


Helga crawled up to Nanuq Junior and wordlessly sat down and lifted her injured left hind paw, the male polar bear cradling it in his larger forepaws and leaning down, kissing the cub’s now bandaged toes.

       “My poor cub,”  Nanuq junior sobbed, “my poor dear cub!”  Helga withdrew her hind paw and Nanuq embraced her in his forepaws, taking her full weight in his forepaws, rolling backwards so he lay on his back, pulling Helga onto his chest, even though she was half grown, hugging her like a mother bear would, wrapping her in his forepaws, Helga gripping his fur with the toes of her three uninjured paws, while touching his belly with the toes of her injured paw.

         “You are safe now my cub, totally safe, I promise!”  Nanuq junior whispered, the brown bear cub snuggling hard into his thick warm fur.  Ekaterina, touching the pads and toes of Nanuq junior’s right hind paw with her tiny forepaws, felt the larger bear’s toes curling with emotion, the pads bunching beneath her own toes.

        “he really means it,”  she thought, “and that’s lovely.”  Ekaterina kissed the bunched pads and curled toes in front of her.

       “Peace to you both,”  Ekaterina said softly.


Feeling the touch Ekaterina’s kiss on his paw pads and toes, Nanuq Junior looked at the tiny cub.

       “Can I hug her?”  he asked Kamchatka, who nodded.  Helga rolled to one side, allowing Kamchatka to place Ekaterina in Nanuq’s paws, the large male polar bear embracing the tiny cub with gentle loving paws.

        “I like this,”  Ekaterina said, “this hug is as warm as Conrad’s is.”  Conrad, having watched all from his and Kamchatka’s lie up, padded in and sat down beside his mate.

      “Is that okay with you?”  Kamchatka asked, waving a paw at Nanuq junior.

        “I was hugged by that male polar bear as we watched the going’s on from mine and your lie up.  We comforted each other Kamchatka.  Nanuq Junior is a close friend of mine.  He has no malice in him and only wants the best for both his and our cubs.”  Nanuq Junior rolled Ekaterina onto her back and was now tickling her paws, much to the young cub’s delight.

        “Stop that!”  the cub remonstrated, while giving the larger bear her hind paws.  Nanuq Junior kissed the pads of all four of Ekaterina’s paws, the cub giggling with pleasure.

       “You are as soft as my mama and sire!”  she said, kissing Nanuq Junior’s nose.

         “I love you little one,”  Nanuq Junior whispered.  Ekaterina snuggled up to Nanuq Junior, cuddling him as best she could.

        “she’s your cub as much as she is ours,”  Kamchatka said, “after all, we’re one big family here.”  Nanuq Junior gulped hard, tears in his eyes.

         “I love you,”  he whispered to Ekaterina.  Ekaterina buried her face in the larger polar bear’s neck.

        “I know,”  she whispered, “I know because my paws tell me strongly.”  Ekaterina crawled off of Nanuq Junior’s chest, the massive polar bear rolling over onto his side and catching hold of one of her forepaws in both of his, examining it with the toes of one forepaw.  Ekaterina laughed as she felt Nanuq Junior’s toes working over her tiny paw pads.

       “your paws are lovely!””  the cub said, kissing Nanuq’s toes.  Nanuq Junior sighed deeply, loving Ekaterina’s presence.

         “My sister and I love you endlessly Nanuq,”  Ekaterina said.  Nanuq, feeling Helga’s paws enfolding his right hind paw, knew what the tiny cub meant.

       “I love you both!”  he choked.  Conrad and Kamchatka watched Nanuq and the cubs, loving every minute of their interaction.

        “I saw Ekaterina’s birth,”  Nanuq said, “I wanted to help Kamchatka, I wanted to hold her paws and stroke them even if she curled her toes and braced her paws as hard as she could!  I wanted to help so much!”  Kamchatka crawled over to Nanuq Junior and touched his nose with her paw.

       “When you’ve had your fill of hugging our cubs and they’ve hugged you all they want, you can explore my paws,”  she said, “I will curl my toes and brace my paws, and you can stroke them.”  Nanuq Junior touched the pads of Kamchatka’s right forepaw with his nose, then kissed them.

       “I would like that,”  he replied.  Conrad smiled at Nanuq Junior and crawled over to him.  Carefully, he gathered up his two cubs and held them close.

       “My paws want to be touched,”  Kamchatka said, “my toes want to curl up and be soothed by your paws!”  Conrad smiled:

        “I want that too, but I will wait my turn,”  he said.  Kamchatka rolled over, presenting the younger bear with all four of her paws, Nanuq Junior taking hold of her right forepaw, Kamchatka curling her toes as hard as she could, the polar bear working his toes into her pads, Kamchatka concentrating on curling her toes, feeling the polar bear’s love transmitting to her.  when her paw had filled up, she relaxed her toes, panting with effort and relief.

      “that’s one paw,”  she gasped, but there are three more, and, and, owww! My toes are curling up already!  Help me Nanuq, help me!”  she whimpered.  Kamchatka wriggled with discomfort, Nanuq Junior finding himself using all four paws to soothe her, working the toes of all four paws into the pads of her fore and hind paws in an effort to soothe the distressed grizzly bear.  Kamchatka relaxed after five minutes of being touched by Nanuq junior’s loving paw pads.

      “I love you Nanuq Junior,”  Kamchatka said softly, the polar bear smiling broadly.

       “how are your paws?”  He asked, “are they soothed?”  Kamchatka sighed deeply.

        “They are,”  she replied, “I love the way your paws worked on mine, you are wonderful!”  Nanuq Junior grinned:

       “My mama and sire should take full credit for that,”  he said, “first my mama for introducing me to the delights of playing with paws, and my sire for letting me express myself through my paws.  I love my paws Kamchatka, and I love yours too.  I would like to feel Conrad’s paws too, for my mind tells me he wants his paws played with too.”  Conrad settled the two cubs and crawled over to Nanuq Junior’s hind paws, touching his right hind paw with his right fore.

       “My paws want to be played with,”  he said, “they are desperate to meet the paws of the bear who loved the cubs they helped form.”  Nanuq Junior curled the toes of his right hind paw round Conrad’s toes, the younger bear smiling broadly.

        “I love this,”  he said, kissing the toes holding his.

       “it’s lovely to see this,”  Samson said, having watched with distress as Kamchatka killed Olga, then with relief as the bears made their peace.

        “I love Kamchatka, Conrad and our cubs,”  Nanuq Junior said.  Samson smiled with pleasure.  He loved watching the bears.  Helga looked at Kamchatka.

       “Can I hug you?”  She asked.  Kamchatka drew Helga into a massive bear hug.

        “I wondered when you’d ask, though you don’t have to ask,”  Kamchatka said kissing Helga’s nose and embracing her tightly.

      “I feel so safe here,”  Helga said.  Kamchatka kissed Helga’s nose and paw pads, gently examining each paw, and even more carefully examining her injured left hind paw, the feel of the bandage around her toes saddening Kamchatka.

       “I tried to help,”  she said softly, tears wetting the bandage.  Helga wriggled until she was face to face with the larger grizzly bear.

       “You did all you could,”  Helga said softly, “I don’t blame you for any of this.  I will be able to help Ekaterina, I want to do that more than ever now.  I want to play with my paws while re-enacting a cubbing so Ekaterina can know what’s going on in her birth video.”  Kamchatka held Helga close.

        “I watched Ekaterina’s birth video, it brought it all back to me, all the pain and effort, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  I must say, the sight of myself in labour made me take my right hind paw in my forepaws and play with my toes, I needed to do that.”

      “I understand,”  Helga replied, “for if I saw myself in labour, I would want to do the same as you.  I know the power of my paws.”  Kamchatka examined Helga’s paws, the cub had beautiful paws with black paw pads and brownie black claws.  When she curled her toes the black pads bunched in the most endearing manner.

        “I love the way your pads bunch when you curl your toes,”  Kamchatka whispered to Helga, the cub giggling.

      “I love it too,”  Helga replied, “I caught sight of the soles of my hind paws in an angled mirror, and was amazed at how they looked when my pads bunched up.  I know this sounds cubbish, but I couldn’t help curling and relaxing my toes over and over, watching my pads bunch and relax.  I even got paws on with my paw pads, and it felt so good to feel my pads bunching and toes curling!”  the cub laughed, “it’s probably sounding silly to you.”

       “It’s not,”  Kamchatka replied, “it sounds like what we should all do from time to time, get paws on with our own bodies.  Too many of us ignore our paws, and I think it’s sad.  I play with my paws often, and have a reputation for it I believe.”  Helga grinned:

       “You do,”  she replied, kissing Kamchatka’s nose.  Kamchatka giggled cubbishly, Helga snuggling closer.

       “I watched the way your paw pads bunched as you strained to deliver Ekaterina,”  Helga said, “your paws were shaking with the effort of pushing your cub into the world.”  Kamchatka nodded.

       “it was a struggle,”  she replied softly, “I pushed as deeply as I could, right down into my tail, so far down, but sometimes made little progress.  Other times though, the cub surged forward, only to be stuck at the final stage, when Conrad had to aid me.  I strained, he pulled, and we got Ekaterina out into the world, but it was a close run thing.  That last push, ooh, that was difficult, dredging up strength and ignoring horrendous tiredness and the knowledge I was going to cause myself more pain was hard to do.  The effort was worse, I gripped the toes of my hind paws with my fore and heaved with everything I had, wriggling to free Ekaterina’s hind paws while Conrad pulled gently.  I felt Ekaterina’s paws come free, and there was one final push against nothing.  Then it was all over.”  Helga held Kamchatka’s left forepaw in both of hers, feeling the grizzly bear’s need to tell her cub’s birth story.

       “I love my cubs Helga,”  Kamchatka said.  Helga grinned:

        “I can feel that,”  she replied.


To go to the list of diary entries:


Click here


To go to the site homepage:


Click here


To send mail



Click here


Martin Wilsher © 2008



This website is hosted by 34sp.com