One kola, one puma and a whole lot of love.
Whitie, lying drowsing the day away in the lower branches of her favourite tree in the depths of the wood behind the house, heard something scrambling up the trunk of her tree. It had four paws, and was an agile climber. Whitie also caught the scent of the stranger, and it was a strange scent, in that she didn’t know the scent, nor was it the scent of any animal she’d ever encountered before. The thing seemed so intent on climbing that it failed to notice her tail wrapped around the branch until it touched it with a paw.
“I’m so sorry!” The thing said, sounding terrified.
“You would be even sorrier if you knew to whom the tail belongs,” Whitie thought, but said:
“No problem. Please, tell me what you are.” The creature, shaking violently, clung to the trunk of the tree and Whitie’s tail with desperate paws.
“Well, I’m, I’m
a koala,” the creature said. Whitie knew
what a koala was, and wondered what on earth one was doing in a wood in
“So,” Whitie said, “how can you survive here? You eat eucalyptus leaves, and lots of them. We don’t have any eucalypts here, well not to my knowledge.”
“I’ve tried to eat the leaves of English trees,” the koala replied, “and they haven’t done me any harm. In fact I was just going to get a meal when I touched your tail. What are you?”
“I’m a snow leopard,” Whitie replied.
“What’s one of those?” The koala asked.
“It’s a big cat with large paws and a long tail.” Whitie replied. The koala looked nervously at Whitie.
I can see you have big paws,” he said, “and, and a long tail too! Are you friendly towards Koalas?” Whitie smiled:
“As you haven’t done me or my friends harm, then yes I’m not going to harm you,” Whitie mewed. The koala examined as much as he could see of Whitie from nose to tail.
“I’ll leap down from the tree and you can continue your meal in peace,” Whitie mewed.
“No, you’re fine where you are,” the koala replied, “I’ll clamber over your tail and continue my journey, if that’s all right with you of course. The truth is, I’ve seen you here before, and, and then, then I was already in the tree and able to stay here until you left. Now, now we’ve met, and this is your tree!”
“Sounds like it’s your tree too,” Whitie mewed. The koala clambered up to Whitie’s level and looked at her. He felt strange, looking into the eyes of this big cat.
“How would it be if you went and got the leaves you want to eat,” Whitie mewed, “then returned to me? You can sit on my back while eating if you like, and maybe we can talk?” The koala, uncertain as to whether he should accept this invitation, thought for a minute.
“If I don’t accept, she’ll go mad,” he thought.
“Yes, that would be fine,” he said. Whitie sensed the kola’s fear.
“Now I don’t want you feeling that you would be in danger if you refused,” Whitie mewed, “because you wouldn’t.”
“No,” the koala replied, “I’ll accept, just let me get some leaves and I’ll be back.” Whitie heard the koala scrambling up the tree, feeling its large hind paw touch her tail as it negotiated her branch. Sounds of ripping leaves reached the female snow leopard as she lay on the branch, and then she felt the kola’s large paws padding along her tail and then her back towards her head. Seating himself on Whitie’s back, the kola began to eat his leafy meal.
“What’s your name?” Whitie asked the koala.
“My name’s Narbethong Wirake,” the koala replied, “it means lively or cheerful friend.”
“Koala’s aren’t known for being particularly lively or particularly cheerful, exceptions made for present company,” Whitie mewed. Narbethong chewed leaves, bits of stem and leaf showering down on Whitie’s back.
“Please,” Whitie said, “Brush those leaves from my fur when you’ve finished. The Koala brushed away leaves, Whitie finding his paw soft and touch gentle.
“My mother named me Narbethong in an attempt to make me change the way of koalas all over the world. I added my second name because those who knew the meaning of the aboriginal name would shy away from me, telling me I couldn’t possibly be lively or cheerful. I’m not that bad, there are worse. What’s your name?
“My name’s Whitie,” the female snow leopard replied. Whitie couldn’t see the Koala, and nor could she get paws on from where she was.
“When you’ve finished your meal, can we get to ground level?” Whitie asked, “there, would you let me examine you with my paws?”
“Why on earth do you want to touch me?” Narbethong asked.
“I can’t see you like you can me Narbethong,” Whitie mewed, “I’m blind.” Narbethong touched her ear with his paw.
“I’ll get on the ground first, and then you follow,” he said. The koala leapt from the tree, and Whitie followed. Narbethong heard Whitie land unsteadily, and when he saw her once more on steady paws, he approached her.
“I’m in front of you Whitie,” he said, “Here’s my paw.” Narbethong gave her his left forepaw, Whitie taking it in her right, Narbethong feeling her grip soft and warm.
“I come in peace,” Narbethong said.
“That makes two of us,” Whitie mewed, kissing the Koala on his nose. Narbethong smiled. Whitie lay down and hugged Narbethong in her huge paws, the koala snuggling up to her. Whitie ran her paws all over his body, from his ears to the pads of his paws, Narbethong wriggling with pleasure and, once he’d realised what having his paws massaged was like, making sure Whitie massaged his paws as much as possible. Whitie smiled at Narbethong, massaging his fore and hind paws with as much care as she would if he was her own cub.
“This is wonderful,” Narbethong said, working his left hind paw into Whitie’s forepaws. Narbethong wiggled his toes as Whitie worked on his paw.
“I think I like this,” he said, deciding that even if Whitie was to leave him now, meeting the female snow leopard was one of the best things which had ever happened to him.
“Do you want to come home with me?” Whitie asked. Narbethong, his right hind paw now in Whitie’s, smiled at her.
“Yes,” he whispered, “yes I would like to come home with you.”
“I’ll stop stroking your paw, and then you make the choice,” Whitie mewed.
“I wanted to come with you as soon as I met you,” Narbethong said. Whitie smiled at him.
“As long as the paw massage has nothing to do with your decision,” Whitie said. Whitie took Narbethong’s left hind paw in her forepaws, and the koala drummed his toes on the pads of her left forepaw, making Whitie smile.
“I have watched your community members,” Narbethong said, “I know most of them by sight, but not by name. Now I knew about the paw drumming thing, and that was why I drummed on your pads with my toes, so you knew.” Whitie curled her toes round Narbethong’s. The koala smiled and reached with his forepaws to embrace Whitie.
“Take me home!” Narbethong pleaded. Whitie lay down and the koala clambered onto her back. Whitie carried the koala to the house.
Matilda, watching from the garden gate, saw Whitie padding back to the house. Seeing what rode proudly on her back, Matilda smiled and bounced over to Whitie.
“You have a koala!” She exclaimed. Whitie and Narbethong smiled.
“I don’t have Narbethong, he’s free to leave at any time,” Whitie mewed. Matilda smiled and touched the Kola with her paw.
“Welcome home,” she said. Narbethong smiled at her. Whitie led Narbethong into the house and was met by Theo, who stared at him.
“What is this?” He asked.
“It’s a koala,” Whitie mewed, ~”he’s gentle and needs a home.”
“What kind of food does a, what did you call it? Eat?”
“I’m a Koala,” Narbethong said, “My name’s Narbethong Wirake.” Theo could be seen silently trying to get his tongue round the koala’s name.
“Right,” Narbethong,” he said, “What do you eat?”
“Leaves,” the koala replied, “eucalyptus leaves in my natural home, but leaves can be from anything like oak, willow or any non toxic tree. I taught myself to eat them, and they don’t do me any harm, or haven’t yet, and I’ve been here for a year now. I escaped from that zoo not too far away from here.” Theo touched the Koala’s paw.
“I trust you’ve met Whitie,” he mewed.
“I have, and she’s even massaged my paws!” Narbethong replied, “I want to massage her paws, but I don’t know if she’ll let me.”
Of course I will,” Whitie mewed. Narbethong stood on his hind legs and threw his forepaws round Whitie’s neck, bringing tears to Whitie’s eyes.
“Come,” Whitie said, “let’s get you bathed and fed.” Narbethong watched Matilda carrying in armfuls of leaves from the garden.
“You Koalas don’t mind water do you?” She asked.
“Um, no,” Narbethong replied, “Though we only take to water in emergencies, though I think I can make an exception this time.” Matilda, who’d been bathed for the first time only a day previously, smiled at Narbethong.
“You’ll love it,” she said, “I did. Fleur got me in the huge shower and turned on the water. She then got me to rub shampoo into my fur. That was lovely. I would love to try a paw massage some time, but I can’t lie on my side, if I did, I’d never get up again. That’s a real pest.”
“I know how much you want a paw massage Matilda,” Whitie mewed, “and I would gladly give you one, but it’s almost impossible.”
“We’ll have to think of a way round that,” Matilda replied. “I’ll get my thinking cap on and see if I can work out a way of getting one hind paw off the floor at a time without losing my balance.” Matilda looked thoughtful.
“I won’t be able to give myself up totally to the massage however, as I’d be scared of falling over. Ah well, no paw massage for me then.”
“We could massage your forepaws,” Whitie said, and then you wouldn’t lose your balance at all.”
“I suppose,” Matilda replied, “but I know I’d want the whole treatment, and I just can’t have it. We sleep standing, we eat standing, and we even give birth standing upright. Some kangaroos will recline slightly while giving birth to their Joey, their heels taking their weight, and they don’t stay like that for long. I should know when I had Skip, I was in that position, and that was the most comfortable position for giving birth to him. I suppose I could try things that way, during paw massage for that would give you access to most of my hind paws. I’d have to lean against a tree or something else that would support me though, or it’s no go.”
“How did you deal with your tail during Skip’s birth?” Whitie asked.
“I bent my tail beneath my body, that kept it out of the way,” Matilda said, “bending my tail was not uncomfortable either.”
“So we could stroke your hind paws if you leant against a tree?” Narbethong asked.
“You could,” Matilda replied, “and I’d like it if someone would someday.” Matilda had seen the pleasure paw massage gave the other animals, and she wanted some of it for herself. Narbethong knew the pleasure of the paw massage, for he’d already had a good sampling, but Matilda, who’d suggested the idea, hadn’t benefited from her brainwave in any way what so ever, while paw massage had become mainstream among the other community members. Massaging Matilda’s paws while she leant against a tree seemed to be the only way she could be massaged safely. Massaging her forepaws wasn’t difficult as she could bend down to stroke her Joey, and her pouch was reachable by most of the taller animals. This meant that they could massage her forepaws, but Matilda would have to lean against a tree to allow her hind paws to be massaged.
Narbethong let himself be taken by one forepaw and led into the bathroom, where a huge cat like creature busied herself running warm water into a bath. To Narbethong the cat looked as gentle as Whitie. Hearing paws on the tiles the cat looked round.
“Ah Whitie,” she said, “and, your friend?”
Narbethong, he’s a Koala,” Whitie replied, “I found him in the wood. Fleur wasn’t surprised by Whitie’s words,
she’d heard of many strange things, and finding an animal native to
“I was about to have a bath,” Fleur mewed, “but Narbethong can have it now.” Suddenly the koala found himself lifted in the paws of the huge cat and gently placed in the bathtub. The water was warm, and bubbled strangely around him, tickling the pads of his paws. Narbethong laughed as the water tickled his paws, fleur and Whitie grinning delightedly.
“You like that?” The huge cat asked. Narbethong swam a little, feeling the water massaging his body and paws. He didn’t want this to end, and the two cats could see it in his eyes.
“It’s lovely,” the koala replied.
“My name’s fleur,” the cat said. Narbethong looked at her. He saw a huge cat with gentle eyes and strange markings. Fleur directed Narbethong to a shallower part of the bathtub where the water was only deep enough to wet his paw pads, once there, he watched the cat pour some liquid into her cupped paw from a bottle and began rubbing it into his body fur, legs and paws. She even rubbed the liquid into his paw pads and worked it between his toes, the sensation extremely pleasing to the koala.
“Let that work for a bit,” fleur said, then you can swim about a while and wash yourself down, unless you’d like me to do it for you.” Narbethong knew from Whitie’s smile at Fleur’s words that most of the community who came to her for baths opted for fleur to wash them down, rather than just swimming about in the large tub. Smiling at fleur, Narbethong looked into her face.
“Would you wash my fur?” He asked. Fleur looked at Whitie and said:
“Anyone would think he was never taught how to wash his fur!” Fleur’s tone was playful, and Narbethong had to smile.
“I will,” fleur said, “come here Narbethong.” With that she washed the shampoo, for that was what the liquid was, off his fur. Fleur then reached for another bottle, poured some different liquid into her cupped paw and asked Narbethong to close his eyes, before rubbing the new liquid into his facial fur. This didn’t stay on half as long as the first shampoo did, and fleur was soon washing it off. Once this was done, Narbethong was led from the bathroom and dried off by Whitie. He loved this almost as much as he had the bath, especially when the snow leopard rubbed his paws dry. When he was warm and dry, Narbethong ate some of the leaves Matilda had found for him.
“I’m meant to be nocturnal,” he said when he’d finished eating, “but you all are diurnal creatures, so I must adapt, ah well.”
“That’s okay,” Whitie said, “Fleur’s up at all hours, so you’ll be fine.” Narbethong turned at the sound of scuffing paws to see a female tiger cub crawling towards him. Reaching him she hugged him. Narbethong smiled delightedly and returned the cub’s hug.
“I’m sure Narbethong doesn’t want you bothering him Sally!” Whitie said sharply.
“I think they’ve met before Whitie,” fleur said. Her words shut Whitie up.
“I’m so glad you are here,” Sally mewed, kissing Narbethong on his nose. The koala held her tightly.
“I’m glad too,” he replied. Sally touched his nose with her paw, Narbethong playfully sticking his tongue out at her.
“You are lovely,” Sally mewed. Narbethong buried his head in the cub’s shoulder. She was small for a tiger cub of her age, but this made it easier for Narbethong to hug her, as well as for them to play, and best of all, for each to tickle the other’s paws, a pastime which they enjoyed.
“Where did you meet Narbethong Sally?” Fleur asked. Sally, intent on stroking Narbethong’s paws, didn’t answer at first.
“We met in the wood; he was hiding beneath a bush when I found him. Narbethong was terrified, but I convinced him I was friendly, and bit by bit we got talking, then he touched my paw, I touched his, and we became firm friends.
“Now you enjoy touching each other’s paws,” Fleur stated.
“We do,” Narbethong replied, “we like tickling each other’s paws too.” Narbethong had large fore and hind paws, great for climbing trees, but also good to stroke too. Sally stroked each paw in turn, carefully massaging Narbethong’s pads and toes, to his evident delight.
Matilda watched Sally and Narbethong, wishing she could have her own paws stroked as easily as the koala. She bounced slightly on her toes, trying not to leap forward, just to bounce on the spot, lifting her heels while keeping her toes on the ground. Matilda knew she could leap quite a distance, but found herself wishing she had small hind paws, ones that could be massaged. Fleur watched Matilda.
“Look,” fleur said, “why don’t you try lying back and letting me stroke your hind paws Matilda?” She asked. Matilda, now desperate for relief, settled back, her back against the wall of the living room, her tail under her body, and weight resting on her hind quarters.
“Can you get up from that position?” Fleur asked. Matilda took a deep breath, rolled forward, and dug her heels into the carpet, then, panting hard, forced herself to her paws, her agile tail bending under her body, ending up behind her in its usual position.
“Right,” fleur said, “now we know you can get back on your feet, how about that paw massage?” Matilda smiled.
“I would like that very much,” she replied.
“Wasn’t it a struggle to get to your feet from that position?” Sally asked the kangaroo.
“A little,” Matilda replied, “but it’s not so bad.” Skip, Matilda’s Joey, had left her ages ago, and Matilda was free from maternal cares once more. Matilda settled back once more, letting fleur have access to all four paws.
Fleur massaged Matilda’s paws, starting with her small forepaws, then her larger hind. The kangaroo closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation the massage was feeding to her brain. Smiling to herself, she let the massage take her away; focusing her mind on whichever of her paws was being massaged. Matilda found she loved the paw massage, her body and paws relaxing totally.
Meanwhile, in another room of the house, Sally and Narbethong were busy stroking and tickling each other’s paws. Sally loved everything about her koala friend, from his nose, to the pads of his paws, paws which could fit snugly into her own, with rough but warm pads and toes which Narbethong used to tenderly hold her own. She rubbed him down from ears to paws, Narbethong making sure she spent extra time on his paws, for they were sensitive, and massage of his pads and toes gave him much pleasure. Narbethong, while receiving pleasure from others stroking his paws, could also use them to give pleasure to others. He used his dextrous paws to stroke Sally in a way she’d never been stroked before, using all four paws to rub her down from nose to tail, using his forepaws to massage her from her ears to her belly, and his hind to massage her from her lower belly and hind paws right down to the end of her tail. Sally purred contentedly as Narbethong’s fore and hind paws worked over her thoroughly from nose to tail.
“Is it wrong for a half grown tigress to befriend a koala?” Sally asked. Narbethong smiled.
“I was about to ask if it’s wrong for a koala to befriend a tigress,” he replied. Sally and Narbethong had known each other for months now, and had grown very fond of each other. They didn’t give a thought to their physical differences; each loved the other’s mind. When they first made physical contact, touching paw pads, and realised each liked the touch of the other’s paw pads, they became even closer. Sally loved everything about Narbethong, and he loved everything about Sally. The koala and young tigress lay curled together on the rug, the toes of their forepaws entwined. When these two spoke of love for each other, they spoke of love for each other’s minds.
“I love you from your nose to the toes of your well padded paws,” sally mewed to Narbethong.
“I feel the same about you Sally dear,” the koala replied. Sally lifted her left hind paw and touched the pads on the sole of his right hind paw, the koala smiling at her. When he felt the touch of the tigress’s toes on the sole of his paw, Narbethong curled his toes, the single pad on his hind paw furrowing as his toes curled. Sally stroked Narbethong’s pad, knowing his pad would become taught as a drum skin when he relaxed his toes. Narbethong smiled as he felt her touch.
“Touch and stroke the palms of my forepaws and the soles of my hind as much as you like,” he said, “touch the toes of my fore and hind paws too, for I love all of it.” Sally smiled and kissed Narbethong’s nose.
“Touch and stroke my paws too Narbethong, please,” she mewed.
“That’s nice to see,” Rani said.
“How much have you seen?” Sally asked her mother.
“Everything,” Rani mewed, “I was asleep and you were so wrapped up in each other you didn’t notice me here.”
“You don’t mind, us,” Narbethong asked. Rani smiled.
“No,” she replied, “it’s lovely. You love each other’s minds, and you find paw massage pleasurable, so that’s fine.” Narbethong looked relieved.
“We do,” he replied.
Meanwhile, Matilda concentrated on what her left hind paw was telling her. Fleur held the kangaroo’s left hind paw in both her forepaws and was stroking her pads and toes, Matilda half asleep.
“This is wonderful!” Matilda said softly, “I didn’t know this could be so good!” She wiggled her toes, fleur patting her pads.
“There’s plenty more where this came from,” she mewed. Matilda wanted the massage to go on forever. Soon it was over, and Matilda got to her feet.
“Same time tomorrow?” Fleur asked.
“What’s the minimum time between massages?” Matilda asked.
“About half an hour,” fleur replied.
“Would you?” Matilda asked, trying not to sound too desperate.
“I would,” fleur replied, “oh and by the way, I sense Narbethong and Sally have been stroking each other’s paws too.” Matilda smiled.
“Those koalas have very strokable paws,” she said.
Meanwhile, back in the other room, Narbethong and Sally set about stroking Rani’s paws, something the large tigress wasn’t about to argue with. Rani loved the attention her youngest cub and her koala friend lavished on her, both stroking her belly and paws with such tenderness and care.
Once the koala and tiger cub had stroked Rani’s paws once each, Rani reluctantly put an end to the paw stroking session, as she had to attend to other things.
Narbethong and Sally padded towards the swimming pool complex, and almost walked straight into a fight.
Liang and Yi Jie were scrapping on the crazy paving outside the swimming pool complex. Sally turned and fled for help, while Narbethong stood and stared.
“What the hell’s going on!” Narbethong yelled. The two pandas broke off their fight and the koala’s presence seemed to calm the situation.
“It’s nothing really,” Liang said, “it’s big brother, and we’re arguing about it.”
“It’s stupid really,” Yi Jie replied, hugging her mate.
“Big brother’s ending now, so let’s leave this,” Yi Jie pleaded. Liang licked her ear, kissed her nose and squeezed her paw.
“I love you really,” he said, “why do we scrap about silly things like big brother?”
“I don’t know, but it’s stupid,” Yi Jie replied.
“I’m glad you two aren’t scrapping any more,” Narbethong said. Yi jie padded up to the koala and hugged him. She rubbed him down from nose to toes with her huge paws, Narbethong smiling and working each of his paws into hers as she reached them.
Sally arrived with reinforcements to find Liang and Yi Jie at peace.
“I thought the fur was flying!” Sally mewed.
“You weren’t meant to see any of it,” Liang replied, “Yi Jie and I tried to keep our discussions private, but it didn’t work this time.”
“You aren’t the only newcomer here,” Aslan said to the koala, “we have a puma too, his name’s Gosheven. Apparently he escaped from the zoo too. Gosheven is a Native American name meaning great leaper, and apparently he had to leap some distance to escape from his prison, he’s now with fleur in the bathroom getting the customary bathing.
Indeed Gosheven was getting the full treatment from fleur and Pepper, who’d joined her mother for this one. The puma, having never encountered anything like this, and feeling out of his depth, let fleur and her daughter cub do their work. Gosheven smiled as his body and paws were warmed by the water and soothed by the paws of the two large cats. He didn’t know whether he’d like this place, but as things stood at the moment, all was fine.
Meanwhile, Yi Jie finished Narbethong’s rub down, giving way to Liang, who took the koala in his huge paws and hugged him. Narbethong felt the giant panda’s huge warm paws envelope him, and they were as gentle as Yi Jie’s had been. Narbethong noticed Liang had a brown patch surrounding the pads on the sole of each paw. Commenting on this caused Liang to roll onto his back and wave his paws in the air, Narbethong seeing all four of his paws had brown soles. Narbethong mischievously tickled the pads of Liang’s left hind paw, the panda laughing helplessly.
“You rogue!” He laughed. Narbethong stroked his paw gently, the panda relaxing.
“You’ve got fat paws Liang,” Narbethong said. Liang wiggled his toes, the koala tickling them enthusiastically. Liang laughed merrily.
Liang put an end to Narbethong’s assault on his paws and hugged the koala.
“Let’s all go to the pool,” he said, there we can play some more.”
“Maybe it’s time
for us to venture from the confines of the garden and go deep into the
woodland. I know we’ve walked there
before, but we should do it more often.”
“I love it when
you do that,” he said,
“Come with me
“Catch my tail,
and then catch my paws,”
“I love you
“Let’s go into
the wood Aslan dear,”
“Let’s walk a
while,” she mewed. Aslan and
“Come here Aslan,
please,” she mewed. Aslan smiled and
went with his mate, watching her lie down in a clearing. He lay beside her, and
“I love you
“I love you too
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