The truth about Tembi.


Petra slept for a long time, waking with the dawn.  Getting to her paws, she padded round the room with her eyes half closed, concentrating on the feel of the carpet beneath her paws.  The carpet caressed each of her paws as she placed them down, enveloping her paws in soft warmth.  Petra loved this pass time.  She was still doing this when she noticed Theo watching her.

    “Oh Theo!”  She mewed, shaking herself and hoping she didn’t look too silly.

      “yes my cub?”  Theo asked, smiling broadly.

      “Nothing,”  Petra lied, “it’s nothing, you frightened me that’s all.”  Theo knew what his cub was really thinking.

       “You were in your own world,”  Theo said, “rubbing your paws on the carpet.”

      “Yes,”  Petra mewed, now ashamed, “I’m sorry Theo, it won’t happen again, I promise.”  Smiling at his cub, Theo rubbed his left forepaw on the carpet.

     “Nice feeling isn’t it,”  he said.  Petra realised Theo knew what she’d been doing all along, and that he too enjoyed the feel of the carpet on his paws.

        “don’t laugh,”  Petra said, now eager to tell Theo exactly what she’d been doing,“ I was concentrating on the feel of the carpet under my paws and between my toes, it felt wonderful!”

      “I know,”  Theo purred.

      “You mean you like it too?”  Petra asked hopefully.

      “I do,”  Theo replied, “I wish more animals would learn to use their paws properly.  Learn to explore the world through their paws as well as their eyes, Then we’d have a better time all round.”

      “So it’s not wrong to enjoy paw massage?”  Petra asked.

     “No, of course it’s not wrong to enjoy that,”  Theo said, “If I was told I could not have my paws stroked, why, I’d go crazy!”  Petra snuggled up to Theo.

     “would you stroke my paws, please?”  She asked.  Theo enveloped one of Petra’s tiny forepaws in one of his massive ones.

      “How’s that?”  He asked, stroking her pads with his.  Petra purred contentedly, her mind soothed by the paw massage.  Theo’s paws were large, and some said fat too.  Theo preferred his paws to be described as well padded rather than fat.  Theo stroked all four of Petra’s paws, the white cub cuddling close to him.  When he’d finished the massage, Petra looked into Theo’s face.

      “Theo,”  she said, “I wonder, could I stroke your paws?  I’ve never done it, not seriously.  I want, I mean I’d like to.”  Theo looked into his cub’s face.

      “I would love it,”  he said, “physical contact with my cubs is always a wonderful thing.”  Petra picked up Theo’s left forepaw, it was almost too heavy for her to lift, for he’d relaxed, his huge paw now a dead weight in both her smaller ones.  Theo saw the struggle Petra was having to hold his paw.

     “If we go to the bathtub, there the water will help you by lifting my paws,”  Theo suggested.  Petra agreed, and they adjourned to the bathtub.  Tigger met them there, he hardly left his post.

      “Petra wants to stroke my paws Tigger,”  Theo said, “would you help her?”

     “I will,”  Tigger replied, “that is if you want her to stroke your paws of course.”  Theo smiled and nodded.

     “Very much,”  he replied, “it’s just that she’s not strong enough to pick up my paw when I’m relaxed, my paws are too heavy for her to lift.  I thought the water might help.”

     “Indeed it will,”  Tigger replied, “get in the tub both of you, and I’ll talk you Petra through how to stroke Theo’s paws properly.”


Petra got into the water, the warm water caressing her paws.  Theo joined his cub, and lay down in the water.

     “Now take Theo’s right forepaw Petra,”  Tigger said, “take it gently and hold it in both of yours.”  Petra did, finding the water helped her lift Theo’s paw.  Tigger threw in some oils and things which made the water smell of coconut.  Petra knew these oils were only used on special occasions, so she and Theo were having a rare treat.

      “Now massage Theo’s pads with the pads of one of your paws Petra,”  Tigger instructed, “gently rub his pads with yours, then curl your toes round his and massage them gently.  Petra did her best to envelope the toes of her sire’s right forepaw in hers, but her paw was just too small to do the job properly.

     “My paws are too small to do it right!”  she mewed, getting angry at herself.

     “Don’t get angry Petra,”  Tigger said, “you’re meant to be soothing Theo.”

     “I know!”  \Petra snapped, “but I can’t do that if my paws are too small to do it properly!”

      “Do the best you can little cub,”  Tigger mewed, “that’s all I expect of you.  If you can only massage two toes at a time, then that’s all you can do.  Just don’t get mad at yourself, for it won’t help you and it certainly won’t help Theo.  Now come on, concentrate your whole mind on Theo, and on making his paw massage the best you can.  Try to enjoy your work, after all, it was you who wanted to stroke Theo’s paws.  Now he’s letting you and you’re mewing and spitting with anger at yourself.  Just do what you can, and if you can’t do something, just stroke Theo’s pads with yours.  Stroke his paw in the way you know that soothes him, for you do know how to do it Petra.  Just let your paws guide you.”  Petra relaxed, and the massage techniques came more easily to her.  It was true her paws weren’t large enough to stroke Theo’s paw in the conventional way, but she found her own way, and Theo was soon comatose with pleasure.

     “Now for Theo’s other forepaw,”  Tigger mewed.  Petra picked up her sire’s other paw.  Theo wiggled his toes, letting Petra know he was enjoying her ministrations.


Once Petra finished massaging his paws, Theo hugged Petra in both forepaws, embracing her tightly.  Petra felt her sire’s large well padded paws embracing her, and it felt wonderful!  Mewing softly to his cub, Theo licked Petra’s ear.  Theo and Petra left the water.  Petra watched Theo padding towards the towels set out for their use.  She saw the wet paw prints Theo’s huge paws left as he walked.  Her own paws were much smaller, and made much smaller prints.  Reaching the towels, Theo gripped the edge of a towel in his mouth and lay down on his side, Petra lying down beside him.  Anchoring the towel between his teeth, Theo used his paws to rub Petra down with the towel.  Of course, this took a bit of time, but it didn’t bother either of them, the more time Theo took, the more time he had with his cub.  The best bit of the rub down for Petra was of course when Theo rubbed the pads of her paws.  Something which she asked him to do twice over, even though her paws were dry.  Theo, knowing how much his cub liked her paws stroked, complied, for he liked contact with his cubs too.  Then it was time for Petra to dry Theo off.  She took her time.  In fact she had no choice but to, as she was considerably smaller than her sire, and didn’t have the coordination to get four paws doing two things at once as Theo had.  For he’d used his hind paws to dry hers, and his fore to dry her forepaws.  Petra knew then that she’d like to learn how to dry animals off like Theo had done for her.  Petra rubbed his belly and back, and down all four legs.  She even threw the towel over Theo’s head and dried his mane, ears and face as best she could, Theo purring throughout.  Theo smiled when he realised Petra had left his paws until last.

      “Don’t forget to dry my paws little cub,”  he mewed, waving his paw.

     “but they’re dry already,”  Petra replied.

       “That’s not the point,”  Tigger said.

       “I know,”  Petra replied, “come on Theo, give me that paw.”  But Theo decided he’d play the part of the uncooperative cub, refusing to let Petra take hold of his paws, wriggling, rolling and mewing pitifully to be left alone.  Theo, realising how silly he sounded and must have looked, began to laugh helplessly, his act going to pieces.  Petra found Theo’s display hilarious and could not stop laughing long enough to think of how to tackle the problem.  Petra’s laughter was infectious, and Theo soon forgot all about acting and hugged his cub.

     “It was silly wasn’t it,”  he said, thrusting a paw towards Petra, “let’s get these paws dry.”  Petra rubbed Theo’s paws with the towel, vigorously rubbing the fur on the backs of his paws, then rubbing his pads and toes, working methodically to make sure his paws were completely dry.

     “Don’t forget to dry between his toes too,”  Tigger advised, “Theo will have sore paws if you don’t.  Petra did as Tigger asked, and soon Theo was dry from nose to tail.

      “That was fun!”  Petra mewed.

      “yes it was,”  Theo purred.


Tigger put the towels in the washer, and Theo took Petra’s paw, guiding her into the living room.  They found Leo standing over Tembi, whom he’d floored and now stood over, growling menacingly.

      “What has she done now?”  Theo asked wearily.  He was getting tired of his mate’s antics.

     “I am trying to decide what to do with this, this worthless,”  Leo snarled, words failing him at the last moment.  Leo kicked Tembi with disgust.  Tembi moaned as Leo’s paw, claws sheathed, thudded into her body.

      “You force fed your cub, and then used your paws to bring harm to her when she was at the mercy of a dreadful poison!”  Leo yelled.  Tembi mewed her protests, but Leo wasn’t listening.

      “You will be banished to the concrete shed!”  Leo snarled, “to be kept there until you learn to appreciate your cubs and mate!  Or maybe by the time you are let out of there, Theo, Aslan and Petra will have disowned you forever!”  Tembi squealed with pain.

      “But I love Theo, and Aslan, and Petra!”  Tembi wined.

       “It’s a pity you don’t show your love for them.  If you really love them that is Tembi!”  Leo snarled, “Your love for them seems to be in words alone!  If it is, you are the worst kind of lioness, one with no heart and no pity for anyone or anything!  You are a disgrace to the community!”  Tembi spat at Leo, Leo bringing his paw down on the lioness’s tail.

      “You will be thrown into the concrete shed!”  Leo roared, “Salty, help me get her into the shed!”  Snowy muzzled Tembi, then Salty and Tigger took one of Tembi’s forepaws each, Leo and Nanuq a hind each, and Tembi was dragged out of the house and thrown into the shed, where the muzzle was removed and Tembi was left to her own devices.  Theo watched Tembi as she tried to get comfortable on the concrete floor.

      “You need to think hard on what you really feel about me and your cubs, for you know we can cope without your help, as we’ve demonstrated this over the last few weeks.  Nanuq and I will look after Aslan and Petra.  Meanwhile, you will reside here, to think of where your life is going and whether you truly love me and your cubs,”  Theo said.  He then turned and walked away, his paws as heavy as lead.  Tembi lay in the concrete shed.  This was worse than the wardrobe, for there was a concrete floor and concrete walls.  The door was made of metal, which grated and banged as it was opened or closed.  The shed was cold, very cold, and Tembi’s paws were soon freezing and becoming stiff.  She lay Shivering, her coat not designed to withstand the cold.  Miserably, Tembi tried to sleep, but the cold kept her awake.  Her paws ached with cold, and soon she couldn’t feel her toes.  Tembi had never been so cold.  She felt cold outside and inside.  Tembi knew why she’d hit Petra when she was ill, it was because she didn’t understand her.  Tembi realised that she’d gone from being a kind, thoughtful and gentle cub, to a demanding and unobservant adult.  Tembi wept as she remembered what she’d done to Petra.  Force feeding the cub was nearly the worst thing she’d ever done in her entire life.  The worst was clobbering Petra when she was so dangerously ill.  Tembi buried her face in her cold paws.

     “I didn’t take the time to understand you Petra, I’m sorry,”  she sobbed.  Though Tembi knew just saying she was sorry wouldn’t do much to restore things.  Then there was the question of Theo and what he thought of her.  he seemed able to connect with others on a different level to herself, a deeper, more spiritual and intimate level than she could manage.  Theo seemed to connect with others in a way which reassured them, even though it was alien to most.  Tembi admitted to herself she’d been scared of Theo’s inner sight from the moment she’d met him.  If he could see into her mind, then why couldn’t he see she was just a frightened cub when it came to matters which she didn’t understand, that things she didn’t understand frightened her.?  Maybe it was not like that at all.

      “Maybe Theo sees I’m scared.  He knows how frightened I am, but wants me to conquer my fear.  I can’t do that!  I can’t believe what I see, what I feel.  It’s not my way, and it’s not the way others round here think either.  Theo seems to be able to divine whether animals are telling the truth, is he that intuitive?  Or was the unmasking of Tarker a lucky guess?”  Tembi thought.

      “Look into my eyes Tembi,”  someone said gently.  Tembi opened her eyes and saw Theo looking into her face.

      “Look into my eyes little cub,”  Theo said.  In any other setting, Tembi would have torn the paws off anyone who referred to her as “little cub,”  but not here, for she indeed was a cub when it came to Theo and understanding him.

      “That’s better,”  Theo said gently, “now Tembi, tell me.  Do you feel you know all there is to know to rejoin your family and your community?  Do you feel you know everything there is to know?”

       “I used to feel that way,”  Tembi replied, “I didn’t listen, more like wouldn’t listen really.  I refused to listen to you or Petra.  I heard your words, but they were just words to me, meaning nothing, for I thought I knew best.”  Tembi suddenly felt her belly tighten as she remembered force feeding Petra the meat and how upset Theo had been.

      “I’m sorry Theo,”  she mewed, “Sorry for making you force feed your cub.”

      “My cub?”  Theo asked softly, “Petra’s not your cub also?”

       “No,”  Tembi sniffed, “because, because I did things to her which no mother would do!  I deliberately made her sick!”  Tembi sobbed.  Tembi shook and trembled with emotion.

      “I don’t deserve cubs.  It’s easy to give birth to cubs, but then you must understand them, and I don’t!  I nearly did what my mother wanted.  Theo, I nearly killed Petra!”

     “What do you mean you nearly killed Petra?”  Theo asked.

      “Just that,”  Tembi mewed, “after force feeding Petra the meat, I was so furious with her, that, that when I heard Tarker’s plans to put fish oil in Petra’s food, I helped him do it.  Tasting the food to make sure the fish couldn’t be detected.  An otters taste is different to a lion’s.  So I helped him!  Then when Petra was ill, I ran out with you to be with her, but it wasn’t to comfort her, it was to see if she would die!”

      “I felt there was something wrong,”  Theo mewed, “but my love for you was so strong that I dismissed my inner feelings as terrible fantasy.  Now I know I should have listened to my own mind.  You hit Petra out of frustration with her for not dying, not as a misguided outlet for your fear.”  Theo clenched his paws, digging his toes into the concrete.

      “How long have you hated Petra?”  Theo asked.

      “Ever since she was born,”  Tembi admitted, “I only let her nurse because my instincts kicked in.  As soon as she refused my milk, then I began to hate her anew.  I can’t help how I feel.  Like Elsa, I don’t like white cubs.”

      “I can’t let you go anywhere near Petra or Aslan ever again!”  Theo growled, “you are a danger to them!”

      “I suppose I am,”  Tembi replied.

      “I can see you are,”  Theo said, “I cannot let you stay here any more.  Leave now, or I will have to make sure you’re never able to cause any more harm.  You are saying that if you hadn’t helped Tarker with the preparation of the poisonous mix, he’d have failed to get Petra to eat the tainted vegetables?”  Theo asked.

      I am saying that,”  Tembi replied, “for an otter can’t tell if a lion can taste fish oil.  Tarker was all for leaving the fish oil barely seasoned, but I sent him back to do it again and again until the oil could not be tasted.”

      “You are an accessory to attempted murder then,”  Theo said.

       “There’s no point in trying to cover my back,”  Tembi replied, “you know the answer to all that.  You’ve known all along what happened Theo!  Why did you not act sooner?”

       “Can’t you guess?”  Theo asked, his eyes full of tears.

       “Your love for me was so great that you hoped I’d reform?”  Tembi asked.

      “I didn’t know of your collusion with Tarker,”  Theo said, “when I saw your anger at Petra, I truly believed it was fear.  Then, when Tarker’s involvement came to light, I began to think, and though I could see Tarker being spiteful enough to carry out such a plan, he could not have carried it out alone, for ever since Petra’s been eating solid food, it’s been either me or you who have given her meals to her.  No otter has ever given Petra a meal, even though they may have prepared it.  That day, you gave Petra her meal, and I thought nothing of it.  I knew you were angry with Petra for being a silly cub, as you saw it, but not to the point of murdering her!  I didn’t know what you were doing in the kitchen.  If I had, I would have tried to stop you.  Our relationship aside Tembi, why try to kill a defenceless cub?  She’s done you no wrong!  Petra’s never harmed, nor said anything against you in her life, and you do this to her.  You abuse her trust, her love!  I can’t put into words what I feel about you.  I’ve failed too Tembi, failed because I didn’t listen to my instincts where you were concerned.  I denied the evidence of my own feelings, and it nearly cost me my cub!  I have learned a lesson here, one which thanks to others I can put into practise.  You though, like your mother are murderous lioness’s!  You don’t care for cubs that are different to the norm, you will kill them, but do it in the most horrid way possible, making them and everyone around them suffer!  I’ve been in denial, all because I loved a lioness, who, if she’d loved me, would have left our cub to live in peace.”

     “I will leave now then,”  Tembi said, “and you’d better get rid of Elsa too!”  Indeed Elsa had walked out of the house behind Theo, knowing he’d worked her out too.

      “Both of you will leave now!”  Theo yelled.  Theo snarled, then roared, chasing Elsa and Tembi from the garden, into the wood and away from the community.


Theo then returned, went sadly into the house and slammed the door.  He met Leo in the living room.

      “Tembi and Elsa are no longer here Leo,”  Theo said, “I have banished them from the community.  Leo looked at his brother.

       “You Theo have no right to do that!”  Leo snarled, “it’s my job!  I’m leader here!”

       “Leo, Leo, Leo!”  Snowy said, “listen to me.  You who do not have spiritual connection do not know why we who have it do what we do.  Tembi and Elsa would have murdered Petra for sure if they had the chance, and for what reason, for the fact Petra was a white cub.  They don’t love a cub for who they are, they love them for what they look like.  I believe it was only thanks to Aslan’s eyes opening when they did that his life was saved.”

      “You mean Tembi would have killed him if she could have?”  Leo asked.

       “I think she would have done so,”  Snowy replied.

       “Now we can try and live our lives in peace.”

      “so you had to throw them out,”  Leo said to his brother, referring to Tembi and Elsa.

      “yes Leo, for the safety of my cubs, I did.  I’m just, just sorry I didn’t listen to my instincts sooner!”

      “You are a young lion with little experience of such things,”  someone said.  Theo looked round to find Tigger crawling into the room.

       “You need to get used to your inner voice and trust it Theo,”  Tigger said.  Theo looked at the Bengal tiger.

       “so what do we do now?”  he asked.

       “you need to go to Petra and Aslan and lie down with them, play with them, be with them Theo,”  Snowy replied.



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