Stressful times for Clarence.
Elsa saw the look in Ellie’s eyes and snarled menacingly at her.
“You might fall for Clarence’s charms, but he’s my mate!” the lioness warned. Ellie shrank back from the enraged lioness, knowing she was no longer, “all right” , with Elsa.
“Okay, okay!” Ellie mewed, “I’m sorry!”
“As for Clarence saying he loves you, he means as a friend, not a mate! Got that? Well, you’d better have got it Ellie, or I will rip your paws off!” Elsa screamed. Ellie was now terrified!
“No Elsa no!” Clarence protested, “don’t say things like that, please! Look, Ellie means no harm, she doesn’t want me to sire her cubs, I couldn’t! She’s lonely and needs a friend. She also wants stability and a secure place for her cub Pipin, and I am willing to provide that for him. So what if Ellie likes having her paws stroked? As a matter of record, so do you Elsa. You play silly games like making paw prints on rugs. I don’t mind those games myself, though I couldn’t possibly have dipped my paw in that ink well, it was too small! Anyway, Ellie might be having romantic ideas of spending her life with me as her mate, but that won’t happen. I will play with her, stroke her paws, tickle them even, but this is what I would do for any adult animal or cub who wanted to play. I am mated to one lioness, and one only! Now will you apologise to Ellie and forget this conversation! I am here for all those who want a hug or time out. I don’t want a peaceful atmosphere spoilt by misconceptions. If it’s cubs you’re worried about, Tembi and Tembo are quite enough to deal with. I don’t want any more cubs thank you. If you want cubs Elsa, there’s that other lion who stands close to you, he might want cubs. I don’t want any more cubs of my own.”
“the trouble with you Clarence is that You’re too dam busy looking after the reprehensible offspring of other animals you disgusting creature!” Elsa screamed.
“Reprehensible offspring?” Clarence mused, “no I cannot accept that. What has Pipin ever done to harm anyone, what have Whitie or blanche done to harm anyone? What has Tembi done to harm others?” Clarence asked.
“Tembi’s done nothing, but those others, they’re not our breed!” Elsa screamed.
“So you’re a breedist now?” Clarence asked.
“If breedism means hating you looking after the cubs of other breeds of cat then yes, yes I dam well am!” Elsa yowled.
“I’m sorry for you,” Clarence yawned. He was tired of the conversation already, “I have cubs to look after, even if you don’t Elsa.” Elsa turned tail on Clarence and stormed off, almost spitting with rage!
Clarence looked at Ellie. The poor lynx was shaking with fear from nose to tail.
“I shouldn’t have thought it, let alone hinted at it,” Ellie said miserably. Clarence smiled:
“I know what you were thinking,” he purred, instantly relaxing the female lynx, “shall I tell you why I was thrown out of my pride Ellie?”
“Okay,” the female lynx replied, now interested, “Why were you thrown out?”
“Because I didn’t want to procreate,” Clarence replied.
“Oh right,” Ellie said, “but you did the once, with Elsa?” Clarence nodded:
“Just the once,” he said, “and I didn’t like it much. I love Elsa, but I wish cubs were born another way. I can’t stand all that pain and mess.
“so it’s birth you can’t stand,” Ellie said. Clarence nodded.
“It’s nice when the cubs are born and all the yowling and mewing are over with, but during the birth of the cubs, I can’t listen to it, let alone watch.” Ellie remembered Pipin’s birth, it had been messy and painful, but there was nothing unusual in that.
“He probably wants cubs to be dropped by a bird or something,” Bruin scoffed.
“it’s unlikely any of us will have cubs here,” Ellie said, “it’s a pity, for if you knew what really went on, you might not be so frightened of the whole thing Clarence.” Clarence looked down at his paws.
“I’d probably be more frightened than ever,” the lion replied. Tinka buried her face in her paws.
“I wish this subject hadn’t been raised,” she mewed, “the birth of my cub was terrible!”
“Sorry to hear that,” Elli replied, concerned, “what happened?”
“I’m not discussing it!” Tinka snapped, “it’s private!”
“In all fairness Tinka,” Matilda replied, “if you didn’t want to talk about it, why mention it in the first place?” Tinka was caught in a corner, and she knew it.
“So what happened during the birth of your cub Tinka?” Foster asked. Tinka dug her paws into the soft cushion on which she lay.
“I’m leaving!” Clarence whimpered, crawling from the sofa.
“You’re going nowhere,” Ellie replied, blocking his path. Clarence looked as if he was about to be very sick.
“I can’t cope with this!” he whined.
“Clarence dear,” Ellie said gently, “those cubs you love playing with and who love playing with you don’t just appear from nowhere. It’s not so bad as all that. Come on, take the plunge and listen to what Tinka has to say.”
“But it will be a horrendous story, and I don’t want to hear that!” Clarence whimpered.
“All right,” Ellie said, “I’ll tell my cub’s birth story if you’d like.”
“I’d like that very much,” Tinka said.
“You’re next,” Ellie replied, “don’t think you’re getting away with not telling your story Tinka.” Tinka grumbled to herself, but made no outward protest. Clarence dug his toes into the carpet, dreading what he was about to hear. Ellie sat down and began her tale.
“cubbing started with growing pain and discomfort inside me, round about my hocks and my lower belly. Of course I knew I was in cub, and somehow new what to expect, but at the same time it was new to me. The discomfort got more acute, and I could no longer walk, I had to lie down. The discomfort came in waves, infrequently at first, but then more frequently, growing in intensity all the time. I was stuck with it, on my own, with noone to turn to if things went wrong. The discomfort became almost constant, and I suddenly felt an urge to push something out of my body, a big thing which I felt I just had to get rid of. So, I pushed the thing into the world, and that thing, as I knew then and know now, was my cub. Delivering him was hard work, but worth every minute.” Clarence looked at Ellie’s face, the female lynx’s eyes were shining with the memory of her cub’s birth.
“You enjoyed all that pain and mess?” Clarence asked incredulously.
“No,” Ellie replied, “but now I can look back on it with good memories, for I know all was fine in the end. Painful and stressful it was, but worth it all the same.”
“Watch out,” Bruin warned, “Ellie will re-enact a cubbing in a minute if we’re not careful.”
“Don’t be so disgusting!” Tinka mewed, “how could anyone think of it?”
“I hardly noticed Skip’s birth,” Matilda said.
“Oh lucky you!” Tinka snapped, “of course, your joeys are an inch long, so you don’t have to struggle to birth them. You have it easy rat!”
“I saw many cubs born before I had Pipin,” Ellie said, “so I knew what cubbing was. Of course, after Pipin was born, my mate wanted to kill him, so we fled for our lives.
Clarence was deeply moved by Ellie’s description of Pipin’s birth. He felt that if he’d been there, he would have wanted to take Ellie in his paws and hug her, tell her all would be well, if only she took things in her stride. Ellie noticed the look in Clarence’s eyes.
“I’m not about to have a cub,” she mewed, “that’s all over now, I’m not in danger.” Clarence took Ellie in his paws and hugged her.
“It wasn’t too bad was it?” he asked gently. Ellie, realising the huge lion was close to tears, rubbed his huge left forepaw with her tiny right forepaw and replied that Pipin’s birth was one of the best things that had happened to her.
“If you want more stories about cubbing,” Bruin said, “go and talk to that dammed white fox. She’s a rum old customer! I ask you, what the hell was her cub doing when it first set paw in here, falling all over the dam place!”
“that “dammed fox,”” Clarence said with irritation vibrating from every muscle, “has a name, her name’s Brushtail, and her cub was suffering from heat stroke! You do not! Ever! Talk about Brushtail in that manner!”
“Oooh, come and look at the big fierce lion everyone,” Bruin scoffed, “Clarence, you couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding!” Clarence lost his temper totally! Walloping Bruin with all his force, he dragged the bear off the sofa and threw him onto the carpet!
“You want more gold standard retribution?” Clarence asked quietly, “if so, you’re going the right way! I’ll knock the stuffing from you Bruin!” Ellie cowered under the dining table with Pipin.
“Now we know,” Bruin said ominously, “we know what Clarence likes. Not content with making overtures to another species of big cat, he’s into female foxes too, a dog! A bitch! You like bitches do you Clarence?” Clarence knew what Bruin was saying and his words upset and angered him.
“Brushtail’s a friend, that’s all,” he said.
“A, “friend”, Clarence says,” Bruin scoffed, “A ,”friend,” and so was Ellie, now look where you two almost were!” Clarence’s paw suddenly smashed down on Bruin’s nose! Bruin screeched with pain!
“You disgusting animal!” Clarence yelled, “you are an abomination!” Bruin, in pain though he was, mocked the huge lion.
“”Abominable individual,” oh wow! Boohoo!” he scoffed. Clarence suddenly leapt on top of Bruin, crushing the air from his lungs!
“I’ll give you something to think about!” Clarence yelled, now totally losing control! “You disgusting, imbecilic halfwit!” Clarence could have used stronger words, but he was conscious of cubs around him.
Ellie watched with Pipin mewing and crying beside her.
“it’s all right,” Ellie said gently, “Clarence is angry with Bruin, not with you Pipin.” Clarence began battering at Bruin’s head with his paws!
“You’ll kill him!” Isaac yelled, “Stop it Clarence!” Clarence wasn’t listening, was incapable of listening, he was angry beyond reasonable thought, he’d lost it totally!
“Stop it Clarence, please!” Ellie begged, “you’ll kill Bruin, and then what will you do?”
“this bear’s caused me so much grief!” Clarence yelled, “now he’s for it!” Clarence delivered a double pawed blow to Bruin’s head, knocking the brown bear unconscious.
Tigger watched the goings on from the doorway into the living room. He felt sorry for Clarence, for he knew the lion better than anyone else in the house.
“No wonder the poor fellow lost it,” Tigger thought, “Bruin hates Clarence, and his all embracing love for cubs, no matter who’s cubs they may be, infuriated Bruin beyond sense. Now the bear’s said one thing too many, and Clarence has done his worst.” Tigger crawled into the room, and touched Clarence’s paw, the lion having slumped weeping onto the carpet after knocking Bruin out.
“I can’t cope Tiggie,” Clarence sobbed, “I lost it, and now look what’s happened! What have I done!” Tigger checked Bruin over, and found a bruised bear, nothing more.
“He deserved all that!” Brunetta said crossly, coming into the room and looking down at Bruin’s unconscious form.
“You’re his mate!” Winifred yinnied.
“I don’t know if I am sometimes Winifred,” Brunetta replied, “I don’t feel certain about anything these days.
Meanwhile, Tigger was soothing Clarence, the huge lion clinging to him as if he were drowning.
“I’m gonna be sent away for this,” Clarence sobbed, “the boss will go mad!”
“I’m sure he will understand,” Tigger replied, “the boss knows more about us than we think he does. He will know what provoked you into doing what you did. Now come with me my friend, for we have two lynx to comfort.” Clarence dried his eyes and followed Tigger to where Ellie and Pipin huddled together beneath the table.
“It’s all over now,” Tigger said gently to the two lynx, who’d worked themselves into sobbing shivering wrecks.
“Clarence killed Bruin!” Ellie sobbed, “now he will be sent away, and we will be sad forever.” Tigger took Ellie in his paws and embraced her tenderly.
“You know me don’t you Ellie?” Tigger purred. Ellie, shell shocked by what she’d seen, faintly mewed a response to his question.
“It’s all over now, all finished, noone will hurt you or your cub Ellie. I promise that.” Ellie clung to Tigger’s paw, her own paw shaking so much she had to fight to keep hold.
“Bruin was saying such horrible things about Clarence, horrid, disgusting things!” Ellie sobbed.
“I know, I know,” Tigger replied, “Bruin spoke rubbish, we know the real Clarence, the kind, gentle lion who would put his life on the line for cubs which are not his own.” Ellie released Tigger’s paw and crept forward until she found Clarence’s forepaws. As if blind, Ellie felt her way over the lion’s huge paws with hers, creeping closer to him until their noses touched. Ellie touched Clarence’s nose with her left forepaw, then began to examine his face with her paws, much as Pipin had once done. Clarence let her do this, wondering why she was acting so strangely. Ellie snuggled up to Clarence, working her paws into the lion’s thick mane. Clarence took Ellie in both forepaws and hugged her tenderly.
“I love you Ellie,” he whispered. Ellie burst into tears.
Meanwhile, Bruin was getting the benefit of the business end of Tigger’s anger. The tiger told the now semi conscious bear in no uncertain terms what he thought of his views, and his general behaviour.
“You disgust me!” Tigger concluded, storming out of the room. Clarence carried Ellie, then Pipin back to the sofa, where he lay them down gently. Climbing up and settling into his rug, Clarence saw Tembi making a bee line for the two lynx. When she got to them, Ellie and Pipin hugged her tightly.
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Martin Wilsher © 2005
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