Time to think and time to play.



Alaska kissed Helga’s nose, the tiny brown bear cub wriggling with pleasure.  Roxanne, now half grown herself, padded into the lie up, saw the brown bear cub and almost leapt for joy!

      “Whose cub is that?”  She asked.  Olga raised her paw.  Roxanne stared at her.

      “You’re, well, um, new here?”  She asked.

      “yes,”  Olga replied, “I am new here, well, Alaska found me under a bush, I was in the midst of giving birth to my cub,”  Roxanne saw Allie and Arki drying their eyes with their paws, and clearly wanted to ask why they’d been crying.

       “What’s wrong?”  She asked.  Arki smiled:

       “We’ve just watched the most amazing video,” Arki said, “Alaska helped Olga here gives birth to her cub.  Watch this!”  Arki replayed the video, Roxanne watching with wide astonished eyes.

       Alaska, you’re only a month old and you did all that?”  Alaska smiled shyly.

      “Mum, would you show her the video of Kamchatka and me in the lie up?”  Allie went to a control panel, accessed the index of recent videos and selected the one of Kamchatka acting out a cubbing.  Roxanne watched with wrapped attention, then, when the video had finished, she ran to Alaska, pushed a surprised brown bear cub gently out of her path, and hugged the young polar bear.

        “That was wonderful!”  She exclaimed, “The way you helped Kamchatka was so gentle, so caring!”  Alaska smiled and looked down at her forepaws, which were entwined; she was embarrassed at all the attention.

       “I just want to help,” Alaska said.  Roxanne looked at Helga, examining the tiny cub from nose to paws; rolling her over with her nose and touching her belly and paw pads, Helga laughing helplessly.  Olga watched intently, for she didn’t know what to make of Roxanne or of her behaviour towards her cub.

       “Stop tickling my paws!”  Helga laughed, clearly giving Roxanne a paw to tickle.  Roxanne kissed Helga’s right hind paw, which the tiny cub had just given her to tickle.

      “Heehaw, that feels great!”  Helga said, “Will you kiss my other paws too?”  Roxanne smiled and did as Helga asked, the cub giggling with delight.

       “So playing with my paws, as well as letting others play with them feels good, that’s something to remember!”  Helga said.  Roxanne smiled as Helga rolled onto her chest, crawled to her and touched the toes of her right forepaw with those of her left fore.

      “Can I play with your paws?”  She asked.  Roxanne smiled and sat down, letting Helga explore her right hind paw, the tiny cub squealing with delight as she found a larger version of her own paw.  Exploring Roxanne’s paw, Helga found the larger brown bear’s sole pad and toes, the tiny cub’s gentle exploration of her paw making Roxanne giggle rather like the little cub had.  Roxanne smiled hugely as her toes were caught by the older bear’s.

      “Your toes are bigger than mine!”  Helga exclaimed.  Roxanne smiled and curled the toes of her right hind paw gently round those of Helga’s forepaws, the tiny cub laughing merrily.

      “Your sole pad is bunching up too!”  Helga laughed, “That’s so lovely!”

      “Your sole pads will do the same if you curl your toes dear,” Roxanne said.  Alaska watched Roxanne and Helga.

       “My time with her is nearly over,” she said to her mum.

      “No Alaska love,” Allie said, “Helga’s not dismissing you love.”  Helga and Roxanne played for a while, but Helga realised Roxanne was too big to play with her.

        “I’m going back to Alaska,” Helga said, “she’s more my size!”  Roxanne laughed merrily and pushed the cub towards Alaska, Alaska going to Helga and helping her to crawl away towards her mother.  Olga picked up her cub and hugged her.  Alaska smiled at Olga and her cub.

        “I love you both,” she said.  Olga smiled broadly.

        “How was it giving birth to Helga?”  Arki asked Olga.

       “Painful,” Olga replied, “I wanted nothing more than to sit up and take a hind paw inn my forepaws and squeeze my toes as hard as I could, but there was no room!  That time when I managed to put weight on the toes of all four paws and push was great, but I was so unstable I could only do it once.  I really would have liked to brace the soles of my hind paws against something, really push against something as I gave birth to Helga, but there was no space.  So I just had to push against the ground with my forepaws and concentrate on the feel of Alaska’s toes massaging my left hind paw.  What was that about Kamchatka acting out a cubbing with my help?”  Kamchatka nodded and smiled:

       “I re-enact cubbings for other bears to show them what it’s like, or just for fun,” Olga nodded.

       “I’m interested,” she said, “how would you have given birth to your cub?”

       “Don’t ask that!”  Arki warned, “Kamchatka’s only too glad to show you!”

     “And I’m only too willing to watch her if she wants to re-enact the birth of a cub,” Olga replied, “Do you think I would get tired of watching cubs being born?”

      “No,” Arki replied.

      “I want to show you how I would give birth to a cub,” Kamchatka said.

       “What do you get out of it?”  Allie asked, “Kamchatka, tell me honestly, what do you get out of re-enacting a cubbing?”

      “I love the challenge of re-enacting having a cub with very little guidance as to how to have the cub.  I can improvise, I can challenge myself, it stretches my mind, and the pushing against my own paws strengthens my limbs and gets rid of any stress.  I get high on doing a good job Allie.”  Allie knew she’d been given a straight answer to a straight question.

       “I’ve seen your performance, and it’s bloody real,” Allie replied, “I can see you enjoy the challenge.”  Kamchatka smiled and touched Allie’s paw.

       “I know your cubbings haven’t always been trouble free, and for that I’m sorry,” she said, “but most cubbings go well.”  Allie smiled at Kamchatka.

        “Can I touch your belly?”  Allie asked.  Kamchatka smiled and nodded.

       “I can feel a cub in there,” Allie said, “There’s a cub ready to be born I think.”  Kamchatka grinned hugely.

     “I want to have this cub,” she replied, “please, let me have it my way.”  Allie smiled:

      “Good luck,” she said.  Kamchatka lay down on her stomach and settled her head on her forepaws, closing her eyes, getting herself into character.

        “I can feel the urge to give birth to this cub growing,” Kamchatka panted, wriggling convulsively.

     ”ah, ooowww! The cub wants to be born!”  Kamchatka squealed.  The grizzly bear wriggled, then rolled onto her back, then sat up, gripping her right hind paw in her forepaws.

      “Maybe, maybe playing with my hind paw will help!”  Kamchatka panted, “I remember it helped me feel good when I was a cub!  Maybe playing with my paws will help me have this cub!”  Alaska, Allie and the other bears watched or listened to Kamchatka’s growing discomfort and pain.

       “Got hold of my right hind paw now,” Kamchatka panted, narrating her own struggle to have her cub, “right hind paw in right fore, play with the toes of that paw with left fore, ooowww! Ow, ow, ow!  Cub wants to be born!  Must push! Push, push!”  Kamchatka closed her eyes, breathed deeply and began to rock back and forth as her contractions got more powerful and frequent.

       “Are you all right?”  Allie asked.  Kamchatka opened her eyes and looked at the polar bear.

       “I’m doing okay, but, but, it’s getting worse!”  She yelled.  Allie and Olga watched intently as Kamchatka bounced on her backside and rocked some more, squeezing her right hind paw with her forepaws as she rocked forward, pushing with all her might, and releasing her hold as the pain lessened.

       “Is Kamchatka using her hind paws as something to brace against?”  Olga asked.  Alaska nodded and whispered that Kamchatka was indeed doing that.  Kamchatka, all four paws soaked in sweat, the toes of all four paws curled, grunted, squealed and growled her way through her contractions, her rocking coming to a critical point, where she overbalanced and landed on her back, still holding her right hind paw in both her forepaws.  Kamchatka screamed with pain as she rolled on the floor.  Kicking her right hind paw free of her forepaws, she waved all four paws in the air, and then pedalled the air with her hind paws while covering her mouth with her forepaws and screaming hysterically.

      “I must, must, must brace my hind paws against something solid!”  Kamchatka roared, crawling to a wall and bracing her hind paws against the wall, “Ooowww! Aw! Aw! Ow, ow ooowww!”  Kamchatka screamed, pressing both hind paws hard flat against the wall.

       “Can I touch Kamchatka’s paws?”  Helga asked.  Olga shook her head, but Kamchatka, overhearing her, panted and gasped that Helga could, that she would try and keep control for a few minutes.

      “After the next contraction, she can then, can, can touch my left hind paw!”  Kamchatka panted, kicking the wall hard with her left hind paw as she bore down against her imaginary cub to bring her body round.

       “Okay, come now Helga!”  Kamchatka invited.  Helga crawled over to the labouring grizzly bear and touched the sole pad of her left hind paw while the bear herself held tightly onto her own right hind with white knuckled forepaws.

      “Ow, ooowww!”  Kamchatka squealed, curling the toes of all four paws, gripping her right hind paw with all her might and also inadvertently gripping the tiny toes of a newborn cub’s forepaws in those of her left hind.

       “Good luck Kamchatka,” Helga said gently, kissing the large sole pad of the grizzly bear’s left hind paw.  Kamchatka panted and released Helga’s toes.

     “Thank you Helga, thank you!”  Kamchatka whimpered.  Helga crawled away, wincing as she heard Kamchatka’s cry of pain.

       “Cub’s nearly here, nearly here!”  Kamchatka panted, rolling onto her back, and gripping the toes of both hind paws with her forepaws, squeezing them with desperate strength.

       “Ouch, ouououoch! Ow, ow ooowww! Kamchatka screamed, trying to pull her hind paws free of her fore, using the added effort to distract herself and gave herself more leverage.

      “Push Kamchatka Push!”  Kamchatka screamed to herself, wriggling, twisting and rocking while still holding the toes of her hind paws with those of her fore, the toes of all four paws locked together.  Sweat poured off the grizzly bear as she fought her internal battle.

       “The cub’s head is now out!”  Kamchatka panted, “ouch, ouououououoch! Must push, got to push, got to try, try harder, try much harder!  Push dam you Kamchatka, push!”  She sobbed, screaming hysterically and rolling about on the carpet.        “O

One more push, just one more push!”  Kamchatka whimpered pitifully, giving birth to her cub lying on her side, all four paws still locked together.

       “Must push, push, Puuuuuush!!!”  Kamchatka encouraged herself, her face registering her own horrendous effort and anxiety.

     “All done Kamchatka, all done!”  Allie said, “You were brilliant, your cub’s here now!”  Crying out with delight, Kamchatka released her hold on her hind paws and relaxed, reaching out with her forepaws to embrace anyone she could get her paws on.  The grizzly bear’s aching paws found Alaska first, and she hugged her enthusiastically.

       “You were wonderful!”  Alaska said.  Kamchatka smiled weakly:

      “Thank you,” she whispered.  Alaska could feel the grizzly bear’s exhaustion in her shaky embrace.

       “Don’t do too many of those Kamchatka,” Alaska said, “If you do, you’ll wear yourself out.”  Kamchatka kissed her nose.

       “Hard work though it was,” she said, “I loved every minute of it.  I lost myself in my act, talking myself through my cubbing, just as I had when I gave birth for real.  I was on my own then, as now, I worked on the idea noone was there to help me.  I went with the flow, and my body told me when it was time for the cub to enter the world.  I love my acting work Alaska, I really do!”  Alaska kissed the bear’s sweat drenched left forepaw.

       “You were wonderful!”  Alaska enthused...

      “I think you are screwed in the head!”  Younger Brunetta yelled, “How on earth could you re-enact a cubbing? A painful, horrible experience?”  The brown bear ran in, and then cuffed Kamchatka across her face!  Kamchatka crawled away with blood streaming down her face, and then all hell broke loose, Allie and Olga slamming Younger Brunetta to the floor!


“Am I right to do what I do?”  Kamchatka asked herself later that night once all had calmed down.  Younger Brunetta’s attack on her had shaken her up big time, for Kamchatka was a gentle bear at heart.  Her wounds having been bathed, Kamchatka was trying to relax in her lie up, but her mind was far from relaxed.

       “I love the thrill of acting out a cubbing,” Kamchatka thought, “it’s exhilarating and challenging.  Yes it’s painful and includes horrendous stress, but its part of life!  I do it because I love the thrill; I’m addicted to the thrill of doing my best at a hard job, as well as the thrill which playing with my own paws produces...  is this wrong?  I don’t think so.  I also want to help mothers to be understood what is going to happen when they have their cubs.  I love challenging myself to make a cubbing different every time.  I want to make a difference, and Arki thought I could make a difference.  I have made a difference to the lives of at least two cubs and one mother brown bear.”

       Kamchatka,” a voice said.  Kamchatka looked round, and saw a white lioness she knew well.

      “Rowena?”  She asked.  Rowena smiled:

       “You asked yourself if you were doing a good job,” she said, “you know you are, and so does Eohippus.  I saw what your re-enactment did for Alaska; she’s committed to her work thanks to you.  Thanks to you, Alaska helped a mother give birth to her cub.  You showed her the way Kamchatka!  You know what you are doing is helping the ursine community.  I’d recommend going with your feelings, though I can’t force you to stay on at your job.”  Kamchatka looked into the lioness’s eyes.

      “I want to do the best I can,” she said, “I love my job Rowena.”

       “I know you do,” Rowena mewed, “I could see that in every action you performed.  Go on, go on and help mothers to be have their cubs Kamchatka.”  Kamchatka felt relief flood through her, as if she’d had the best paw massage in the world.

      “I am doing a good job; I am doing a good job!”  She told herself, “look at Alaska’s love for her work, you were partly responsible for bringing her on to feel she could help Olga.  Love your job Kamchatka!”  Kamchatka realised she was panting with distress.

      “Calm down Kamchatka,” she told herself, but she couldn’t settle.

        “Still playing silly cubbing games then Kamchatka?”  Younger Brunetta scoffed.  Kamchatka’s anger suddenly boiled over!!

        “Get out of my lie up!”  She screamed.  Younger Brunetta stood her ground until Kamchatka was almost on top of her, and then fled the grizzly’s lunging paws only inches from her.

       “Catch me if you can bitch!”  Younger Brunetta goaded.  Kamchatka pounded after the three quarter grown brown, polar bear cross cub.  Younger Brunetta’s paws skidded on the tiles of the passage as she ran away.  Kamchatka ran after the young bear, younger Brunetta losing her footing and collapsing in a heap on the floor, screaming for mercy as Kamchatka barrelled down the passage towards her.

      Kamchatka, please!”  Younger Brunetta screamed, “Don’t, and don’t crush me!”

        “I will murder you you horrid animal!”  Kamchatka roared.

       Kamchatka, please, stop!”  Petra pleaded.  Kamchatka’s forepaws dug into the tiles, the bear almost falling over her own paws in an attempt to put the breaks on.  Her paw pads became hotter with friction, Kamchatka screaming with pain as her paw pads began to hurt.  Sitting down, she began to lick her forepaws, and then rub her hind paws, trying to cool her burnt pads.

        “My paw pads hurt!”  Kamchatka whimpered.

      “Maybe it will stop you playing with your toes and stroking your pads then!”  Younger Brunetta spat.

      “I thought you liked paw play!”  Kamchatka said.  Younger Brunetta snorted:

      “I like it, but you are debasing it by playing with your paws while cubbing!  If you feel you must re-enact cubbings, just get on with having your cub! Don’t play with your paws!”  She screamed.

       “You’ve never had a cub have you?”  Kamchatka asked.  Younger Brunetta shook her head.

       “Well then you wouldn’t know what it is like!”  Kamchatka roared, “It’s painful, stressful, and hard work!  I enjoy the challenge of re-enacting the cubbings, and believe I’m doing well for the community as I’m helping others to understand the birth of a cub! So, so just leave me, my life, and my paws alone!”  Kamchatka struggled to her paws, the sudden breaking she’d had to do to stop her crushing younger Brunetta having taken the top layer of skin off the pads of all four paws.

       “You are all soft pawed bears now anyway!”  Younger Brunetta scoffed, “get you in the wood, you’d not last five minutes!  You’d have sore paws before you’d walked five miles!”  Kamchatka had to agree this fact, but the community lifestyle didn’t call for hardened paw pads, quite the opposite, and as for her job, the softer her paws were, the better for the bears she worked with.  Kamchatka limped away, trying not to show her pain.


Nanuq junior, having seen everything from the control room, stormed downstairs to deal with his sister.

       “Get up,” he commanded, dragging her to her paws, “up, up up!”  Younger Brunetta protested mightily, but her brother was angry!

       “I want to teach you a lesson!”  He snapped, “A lesson about cubbing and how paw play can help ease the pain and make cubbing easier!”

       “How do you propose to do that?”  Younger Brunetta snapped, “Make me have a cub?”

       “No, of course not!”  Nanuq junior snapped, but you could do worse than ask Olga about the birth of her cub,” Nanuq junior said, “she’ll tell you.  You can even watch the video of her delivering her cub!  You then try to tell her and Kamchatka that paw play and massage doesn’t work!  Olga was in horrendous pain and fear before Alaska came along, to help her.  Kamchatka isn’t stupid, and nor is Olga!  They know cubbing sister Brunetta, you don’t!”

        “I just saw Kamchatka playing with her paws and didn’t think her use of paw play was appropriate,” younger Brunetta said, “it’s pleasurable, it’s play, not pain relief.”

        “Not pain relief?”  Her brother asked, “For Eohippus sake! Sister Brunetta, what the hell are you on about?  Of course it’s pain relief!  It’s distraction, it’s sensation, it’s concentration, all that conspires to trick the mind into forgetting a little of what’s going on inside.  Do you think bears would play with their own paws if it had no effect?  Of course not!  Wild bears even play with their paws somewhat while they are cubbing in their dens.  Claw marks in the roof of a den mean the mother rolled on her back pressing her paws into as well as digging her claws into the roof for support during her labour, so don’t try to tell me wild bears don’t play with their paws in some way or other!  Olga is wild, as was Kamchatka once.  You ask them; ask them if they braced their paws on the ceilings of their dens during the worst moments of their cub’s births.”

      “I can’t ask such personal questions!”  Younger Brunetta whined.

      “Why not?”  Her brother asked.

      “Because, well, because I hit Kamchatka across her face and she won’t talk to me now, and Olga, well, she’s paw in paw with Kamchatka as it was Kamchatka who gave Alaska the skills to help her through Helga’s birth!  I’m busted!”

        “Before you slam Kamchatka for doing what you think is unnatural, check your facts you idiot!”  Nanuq junior yelled.

        “Indeed,” Olga said, padding into the passage, “wild bears do brace their paws against the rooves of their dens during their confinement.  I know this, for I’ve done it.  Helga isn’t my first cub, I had one other cub a year or so back, and now he’s gone on his way.  I can tell you that during his birth I was denned up properly, and I did indeed roll onto my back during labour so I could brace my paws against the roof for support during the worst contractions.  I curled my toes into the earthen ceiling, and also pushed with the soles of my paws as hard as I could during the worst of my pain.  Pushing with my paws against the roof of my den was a great relief giver, as was clawing at the roof of the den as a contraction spent itself.  I left deep claw and pad marks in the roof and walls of my den that cubbing season.  The den was a mess after the cubbing, but it was nothing a little smoothing out with calmer paws couldn’t fix.  I left the paw pad and claw marks in the roof of the den however, just so that when I was lying on my back with the little light coming in from the chimney, I could look up and see the paw prints and claw marks on the ceiling to remind me of what I’d gone through to have the cub I was cradling in my paws.  To remind me what a natural process giving birth to a cub is.  I would recommend all mothers to brace their paws against something soft like snow or earth during cubbing, then keep the impressions of their paw prints in the earth or snow, just to remind them what they went through and how they coped.  If I could have denned up properly before Helga’s birth I would have done, but it was not to be.  Alaska’s massage of my left hind paw worked just like the earth on the soles of my fore and hind paws did during that first time.  The rubbing of paw pad on paw pad soothed me, and the purchase given to my paws by my claws dug into the earth was a great help.  Kamchatka braces her paws by gripping the toes of her hind paws with those of her forepaws, but that is because she has nothing to brace her paws against for the most part.  If she was in a den, she’d be bracing her fore and hind paws against the walls, roof and floor of her den as much as she could, of that I’m certain.  The urge to push with everything you have at your disposal during a cubbing is so strong; you will push with your back and your heels and toes, everything to help get that cub born.  The overriding need for the mother bear during a cub’s birth is to hold on tight to anything and everything during a contraction, her own paws, the roof, walls or floor  of her den, even her mate or a birthing attendant if one’s around.  Mothers will hold onto solid things with all four paws if they can, and the grip of their paws will be fierce, really fierce.”

       “I could show you how fierce a mother’s paws can be, if you want,” Kamchatka invited, padding into the passage.  Younger Brunetta looked at the huge grizzly bear.

       “You just want to hurt me don’t you,” she said, “You want to teach me a lesson!  That’s why you offer to do such things!”

       “If you won’t listen to words, maybe actions will speak louder,” Kamchatka replied.

       “Let me do this,” Olga said, “I can go wild, really wild, for I remember the pain of cubbing, and I would love the chance to get rid of my pain.”

        “We are trying to teach her a lesson, not kill her,” Kamchatka said.  Olga turned her eyes on Kamchatka, and the expression in them made her pause.

       “You’re really angry aren’t you Olga,” Kamchatka said.

      “Yes, yes yes yes!”  Olga snapped, “I know what you’re trying to do Kamchatka, I respect you for it, and this,” Olga stamped on Brunetta’s right forepaw, “this piece of worthless dung clawed your face for no reason!  I want to hurt her, for words don’t work with this bear!”

        “Brace you Sister Brunetta, for there’s a rough ride ahead, no matter who demonstrates the power of a labouring mother bear’s paws,” Nanuq junior said.  Younger Brunetta looked at Olga’s paws, the brown bear sitting down so she could get a look at her paw pads.  Flexing her toes, Olga made it quite clear what she wanted to do to younger Brunetta’s paws.

         “I won’t deliberately go out of my way to hurt you, despite what I really want to do,” Olga said, “but be warned, if my pain gets too intolerable, I will squeeze your paws hard, hard enough to break your toes.”

      “Olga will get like Allie was during her flashback of her cub’s birth in the lie up,” Nanuq junior said.  “I know she came very close to breaking the toes of one hind paw during that.  She’s bruised the toes of both hind paws that are for sure.”  Younger Brunetta looked scared.

        “Okay, okay, play with your dam paws!”  She screamed.

       “I want you to apologise to Kamchatka!”  Olga snarled, “She didn’t deserve what you did to her younger Brunetta!”  Younger Brunetta leapt to her paws and ran for her life!

Later that day Olga met with Kamchatka in her lie up.

       “You’re like a cub with a new ball of string,” the brown bear said to the grizzly.

      “I know I am Olga, and I will stop acting out cubbings as often as I am now, but it’s so much of a release of stress to act out a cubbing.”  Kamchatka said.  Olga took Kamchatka’s paw.

       “Your pads are hot,” she said, “did you?”

       “Yes, after my run in with younger Brunetta, I braced my paws and quite literally pushed the horrid feelings out of my mind,” Olga nodded and stroked Kamchatka’s paw pads.

       “You know the power of the paws, as do almost all community members here,”  the wild brown bear said, “I know how powerful paws can be too.”  Kamchatka kissed Olga’s nose, the brown bear’s eyes filling with tears.

       “I know what Alaska did for you,” Kamchatka said.  Olga nodded and covered her eyes with her free forepaw.

       “Your cubbing was hard work,” Kamchatka said, “I know that, Alaska knows that too.  We don’t hold anything against you Olga.”

       “No, Kamchatka, that’s not why I cry,” Olga sniffed, it’s just, well, younger Brunetta has no idea!  She doesn’t know, doesn’t know that all you portray is so accurate, so, so accurate.  When I saw you bracing your paws against the wall, I almost felt the earth under my paws once more, I was back in that den Kamchatka, pushing with all I had against the roof of the den to bring my cub into the world.  I wish I’d known how to play with my paws then,” Olga said, “now, now I know, and I will use the skill.  Back then though, in that den, oh dear.”

Meanwhile, Alaska was exploring again.  She’d found her way to the boss’s floor by pressing buttons on the lift until she got there.  Padding along the corridor, whose floor was covered in carpet rather than the regulation tiles which covered the floors of the other passages, Alaska bounced on her toes, feeling the carpet beneath her pads.  Entering a room with a blazing log fire in it, Alaska found herself looking into the eyes of a large female snow leopard that had a strange silver coated cat beside her.  The snow leopard looked elderly, and did not seem to see Alaska enter, but the silver grey cat did.

      “Mum,” silver said, “we have a visitor, “you remember me telling you about Alaska?”  Whitie, now weak from heart trouble which had been brought on when her first cubs were born, twitched an ear at her adopted daughter cub.

      “I remember,” she said, her breath short, “I think she helped a brown bear have her cub under a bush, that was a long time ago though wasn’t it?”

       “No mum, only yesterday,” silver mewed.

       “Um, hi!”  Alaska said cheerfully.  Whitie stretched out her paws to touch the polar bear cub, Alaska sensing the big cat was blind by the way she sort her out with her paws rather than her eyes.

       “Here’s my paw,” Alaska said, going close to the snow leopard.  Whitie’s paw was thin and wasted a symptom of her hart condition which had robbed her of her strength in a year flat.

        “I remember Arki and Allie are they still here?”  Whitie asked, “They’re dead now probably.”

      “No, Allie’s not dead,” Alaska said, “I’m her cub; I’m a month old, though that month seems like an entire lifetime to me sometimes.  I’ve learned so much.”

       “Your Allie’s cub?”  Whitie asked.  Alaska nodded, the bony toes of the female snow leopards paw enfolding her own strong, well padded ones.

        “So it was Allie’s cub that saved the brown bear mother and her cub then,” Whitie said.  Silver replied:

     “Yes mum,” Whitie, confused about time and day now, could hardly remember the beginning of a day which started at seven AM when it was only ten AM.  Now she was seriously confused.

        “You are a strong cub, strong bear cub,”  Whitie said dreamily, “I had a strong cub once, one cub, Namir his name was, but he’s left me now.  I can feel, feel your strength in your paw little Alpaca,”

       “Its Alaska mum,” Silver mewed softly.

        “Oh yes, Alaska,” Whitie mewed, “sorry.”  Alaska felt Whitie’s failing health as if she herself was experiencing it.  She knew this snow leopard was in serious trouble.

       “I am so sorry for getting your name wrong,” Whitie mewed, “shortly after my cubs were born, I got a virus, and it attacked my heart, and my brain.  I can’t hold recent events in my head, and time goes so strangely for me now.  I feel I’ve been awake for hours but it’s only an hour after I woke.  Allie seems old to me, probably because I think of her like me, but she’s not, she’s got health on her side, and long may she have it.  I’m dying Alaska; I can’t stay here long now.  I must go soon, very soon, ever so soon, but it was nice to touch paws with you.”  Alaska saw the snow leopard’s head sink down on her forepaws, one of which was still holding her toes in its weak grip.  Alaska saw Whitie close her eyes for the last time.  Silver looked at Alaska.

         “You should not have come up here!”  She snapped, “Who the hell do you think you are?”

      “I was exploring, and I found my way up here!”  Alaska snapped back, “Who are you anyway?  Don’t you dare speak to me like that!  Silver raised a paw to cuff Alaska, but the polar bear cub was angry, and something stopped her from slapping Alaska’s face.

       “No silver,” Alaska said, “I know you, my mum told me about everyone in the community.  I know you’re Blackie’s cub.  I know your parentage.  Though why that should matter here I know not, but just so you know I know.  I’m Alaska, sixth cub of Allie, fifth cub of Sam.”

     “Allie only had five cubs,” Silver snapped, one on the ice before she came here, Orsa, Bjorn, Younger Arki, and you.  Where was the sixth cub?”

      “Her spirit went to Eohippus yesterday,” Alaska said with deadly seriousness.

      “Where mum’s has gone now,” Silver said, feeling the polar bear cub’s deep understanding of the current situation.

        “I must tell Snowy about this,” Silver mewed.

      “No need Silver dear,” snowy half tail said, padding stiffly into the room, “I know what’s happened.  Whitie prepared me for her passing last night.  She said she hadn’t long to go until her paws took her to Eohippus.”

        “I suppose Whitie had to make contact with one more cub before she left us,” Silver said, “and that one cub happened to be you Alaska.”  Snowy half tail padded round to Alaska’s left side; seeing the bear cub’s left forepaw was still held in the grip of Whitie’s now lifeless paw.  Hearing Snowy’s gasp of shock, Alaska gently removed her paw from the dead snow leopards and, very gently, crossed Whitie’s paws beneath the snow leopard’s chin before kissing her nose.

      “Go in peace,” Alaska whispered.  Silver choked back tears, and then exploded with anger!

       “You’re not meant to be saying things like that!”  She yowled, “Rowena’s meant to be saying stuff like go in peace!  Who the hell do you think you are?”

        “She can say what she wants,” Rowena mewed, padding into the room, “Alaska is only wishing your mum safe journey to Eohippus.”  Silver looked at the polar bear cub.

      “I heard you’d helped a mother brown bear have her cub, is this true?”  Alaska nodded.

       “She was in a bush giving birth to her cub,”  Alaska replied, “I helped her have her cub, I helped her by massaging her hind paws, she did really well!”

       “By all accounts you did well too,” Silver mewed.  Alaska nodded.

       “I love Helga very much Silver,” Alaska replied.  Silver and snowy watched Allie as the polar bear cub took control, phoned the badgers and got them to attend to Whitie’s body.

      Alaska,” Allie said, “you don’t need to deal with this, and it’s not your responsibility.”

        “But, but, mum, someone’s got to tell the badgers,”   Alaska replied, “We can’t let Silver deal with this alone.”  Allie gulped hard.  Sitting in her lie up, the handset in her right forepaw, she struggled for control.

      “No, Alaska, we can’t let her deal with this alone,” Allie choked, “I’ll, I’ll tell the badgers, leave it with me my dear cub,” Allie put her phone down, and then looked at Olga and Kamchatka.

      “Whitie’s died,” Allie said, “Alaska found her way to the boss’s place, and there she found Whitie and Silver, and, and, well, Alaska was there at the end, Whitie holding my cub’s paw in hers.  Alaska, Alaska said, said, said Whitie told her she wanted to touch the paw of one more cub before she died!”  Allie was crying openly now, weeping into her paws.

      “Whitie was a lovely leopard,” she sobbed.  Kamchatka and Olga had never met Whitie, so they couldn’t comment.  Kamchatka hugged Allie tightly.

       Alaska is strong,” she said, “she’ll be okay.”  Allie wiped her nose on the back of her paw, sniffing hard.

       “My cub needs to see something happy now,” Allie sniffed, “she can’t keep seeing death.  She needs to see life, play with a cub and tickle its paws, feel the pressure of a bear’s hug, all that, she must feel that now.”

       “You go to her Allie, go now!”  Kamchatka commanded.  Allie fled.  Olga looked at Kamchatka.

       Alaska deserves the treat of all treats; you got any honey round here?”  Kamchatka smiled and nodded.

      “I’ll go find her a huge pot, right now,” she replied.


Allie found Alaska being cradled by Silver, while the badgers did their thing.  Allie fussed over her cub, Alaska loving every minute of it.

       “I had to help Whitie mum,” Alaska said, “she was dying, I knew she was dying!  I felt she needed to hold my paw!”  Allie hugged her cub tenderly.

      “You did the right thing,” she replied, “Alaska, you were lovely to Whitie.  Whitie was grateful to you for being with her.”

      “Are you sure?”  Alaska asked, now questioning her own certainties.

      “Yes, very sure about that,” Allie replied, kissing her cub’s nose.  Silver watched Allie and Alaska.

       “You were very kind to my mum Alaska,” she said.  Alaska, lying on her back as she was, took Silver’s paw in her forepaws, the lynx leopard cross bred cat gasping with surprise.

       “You, you, I mean your paw, it feels like Fleur’s does.  You’re a polar bear cub, I know you’re a polar bear cub Alaska, but, well, I hope you know what I mean when I say your paw feels like Fleur’s!”

       “Big, soft and comforting?”  Allie asked.  Silver nodded, tears in her eyes.

       “I can’t believe none of this affects you Alaska,” Allie said to her cub.  Alaska looked at her mum, and then hid her eyes with one well padded forepaw.

       “You shouldn’t be seeing stuff like this,” Allie said softly.

      “No mum,” Alaska said, “tell me, do you think fleur doesn’t cry buckets when she’s alone in her den?”  Allie hadn’t thought of that.

        “I suppose she does,” the polar bear replied.

       “I think we need to talk Alaska,” fleur said as she padded into the room.  Alaska looked at the cross bred cat, then at her mum.

      “Go with her Alaska,” Allie said.


Down in Fleur’s lie up, the big cat and polar bear cub settled down together.

       “Some of the community have been comparing you with me,” Fleur said, “Alaska; some think your paws have the same healing abilities as mine seem to.  You heard Silver’s words; your treatment of Whitie and of her body when she’d died was thoughtful and compassionate.

       “I felt I just had to do what I did,” Alaska said, “Whitie wanted to hold my paw, so I let her, and after she’d passed on, I arranged her forepaws in a way that made the sight of her body more bearable.”

        “Not just that,” fleur mewed, “your treatment of Olga and her cub, the way you helped Olga through the birth of her cub under the bush.  It’s not just Olga who’s saying this, it’s everyone!  I hear it Alaska, I know what they are saying to me, and to Brunetta.  You have shown you can cross species boundaries and talk to the cats as well as the bears.  I can’t do this so well.  Give; give me your left forepaw Alaska.”  Alaska did, placing her paw in Fleur’s right forepaw, the pads of her tiny paw touching those of Fleur’s larger one.

        “Here,” Alaska said as the pads touched.  Fleur squealed suddenly, her whole body jerking as if she’d been electrocuted!  Gripping the rug with the toes of her free paws, fleur stared wildly about her, panting and mewing.

       “Oh, oh!  For Eohippus sake!  Oh, oh dear!”  Fleur gasped.  Alaska tried to take her paw away, fearing some disaster, but Fleur’s free forepaw clamped down on it with such urgency that she kept it there.  Fleur’s whole body began to shake and she obviously couldn’t control herself.

      “What’s happening?”  Alaska asked, now terrified.

        “It, its okay, its okay!”  Fleur gasped, bracing her hind paws into the carpet with as much force as she could muster in an attempt to keep her paws on the floor.

          “It’s not okay,” Alaska said, “I give you my paw and you have a fit!  What the hell’s going on?”

       “No, Alaska, just, just let me alone for a minute, “fleur panted.  Then she moaned as if she were having a cub!

       “It’s okay, okay!”  Fleur panted, her eyes tight shut, “ooowww! Ow, ooowww! Yowowowowwww!”

      “I’m causing you pain!”  Alaska yelled, “It’s not okay!”

      “Not pain, not pain, I don’t know what it is!”  Fleur roared, “I want, want, want to, oh, I don’t know what I want to do!”  Fleur mewed.

      “What on earth’s going on here?”  Samson demanded, running into the room.

        “I’ll, try, try, Oh Sammy!  I’ll try putting it into words when it’s over, more like when I can cope!”  Fleur whimpered, “Which might be never!”

      “What did I do?”  Alaska asked.

      “Nothing, not your fault,” this is wonderful!”  Fleur panted, “Just, just turn it down Alaska, and turn it down!”

      “How can I turn anything down when it was never turned up?”  Alaska asked.

      “Don’t think about anything, clear your mind, please!”  Fleur begged.

       “I can’t, I mean, I have Helga to think of, then you, then mum, and everyone else,”  Alaska said, “and as for poor Silver losing her mum like that.  She’ll need help too!”  You’re not doing too well yourself fleur, I want to help you too,” Alaska replied.  Fleur knew this; it throbbed through her like she was holding a fifty thousand volt cable with all four paws after having just got out of the swimming pool!  Fleur wanted to curl her toes round those of Alaska’s fore and hind paws and press her pads to those of the polar bear cub!  Writhing with mental distress and pleasure, fleur tried to get a grip on her to match the grip she had on Alaska’s forepaw.

      “Get a grip fleur get a grip!”  She thought frantically.  Then, Alaska thought of the cat that she’d just seen in distress.  Fleur screamed with shock and ecstasy!  Then Fleur was throwing Alaska away from her, kicking her away with all four paws!  Alaska laid on the rug, the blows from the funny furred cats paws hardly registering with her.

       “I cant’ cope!”  Fleur sobbed, “It was too much Alaska, too much!  I had to kick you away, to free my paws!  If I hadn’t, I would have gone crazy!  Too much, too much pleasure, too much of everything!  I was overloaded, my brain couldn’t cope!”

       “I know,” Alaska said, “that I can guess, but what did I do to hurt you?”

      “It wasn’t hurting me,” fleur mewed, “quite the opposite, but it frightened me how pleasurable holding your paw was!  It flowed from you in enveloping waves, and when you thought of me in particular, the feeling filled me completely!  I could not do anything!  Bracing my hind paws and pushing hard like I was having a cub was the only thing I could think to do, but even that didn’t help!  I had to kick you away, break my hold on your paw, if I hadn’t done that, I would have gone mad!”

       “But I did nothing!”  Alaska said, starting to cry, “I didn’t’ want to hurt you fleur, I promise that!”

       “The only one who can cope with this is Rowena,” fleur mewed, “she’s strong enough to cope with this.  Go find her.”  Alaska lay on the rug where she’d been thrown and wept into her paws, not obeying the funny furred cat’s instructions.

       Alaska?”  Rowena said, maybe ages later, “Alaska, dear cub, come with me.”  Alaska felt a nose brushing hers, it was a cold nose, but its owner had warm breath, and the kiss placed on her own nose felt as loving as her mother’s.

       “Rowena?”  Alaska asked.  Rowena picked the month old Bear cub up in her paws and, lying on the rug held her close.

       “Come with me,” she mewed softly.


Alaska padded after Rowena, following her back to her lie up.  Settling down, Rowena settled Alaska comfortably, then settled her.

      “Please,” Alaska said, “I believe you know these things Rowena, could you please tell me why fleur went crazy when I touched her paw?  She asked me to touch her paw!  She went mad!”

      “Fleur went crazy because she met her match,” Rowena said.

     “Met her match?”  Alaska replied, “But, I’m not in competition with her!”

       “I meant she’d met the one who is as caring and gentle as she is.  She was overcome by your innate compassion for others.

      “I’m no saint,” Alaska replied, “Rowena; fleur was yowling, screaming, wriggling and jerking like I’d electrocuted her!”

         “She felt in the touch of your paw pads what we all feel from her every day.  The thing is, fleur has never felt such strong emotions.  She’s met her successor as a medic.  You want to help anyone and everyone, and fleur thought she could see it, but the emotion she felt in the touch of your paw confirmed it to her.  Don’t worry about her reaction, just do your thing.”  Fleur padded into the lie up, looking exhausted.

      Alaska, let me touch your paw again,” she mewed.  Alaska gave fleur her paw; the funny furred cat took the cub’s paw in hers, tears rolling down her nose.

      “Come and work with me,” she said, please Alaska!  You can continue to work with mothers to be, helping them having their cubs, but please, come work with me and Brunetta.”  Alaska looked into Rowena’s face.

      “Go with her,” Rowena said.


Fleur took Alaska to her lie up, where she collapsed in an exhausted heap.  Alaska looked the large cross bred cat over, taking her in from nose to paws.  Fleur watched her with mounting distress.

      “Can I touch your paws?”  Alaska asked.  Fleur shook her head, but could not stop her paws reaching for Alaska’s.  Alaska gently picked up each of Fleur’s paws, examining the fur, paw pads and claws.

      “Muddy brown fur with black spots and pinkie black paw pads,” Alaska said, fleur whimpering with distress.

      “I hate my paws!”  She wailed.  Alaska looked down at Fleur’s left forepaw, then her right fore, then left hind, then right hind, fleur curling and relaxing her toes as her distress increased.

       “I like these paws,” Alaska said, gently kissing the bunched pads of Fleur’s right forepaw.  Fleur cried openly.  She knew for sure this bear meant what she said.

      “I love your paws fleur,” Alaska said.  Fleur took a deep breath and tried to get a grip on her emotions.

       “I know, I know!”  She sniffed.  Alaska felt the toes of Fleur’s right forepaw curling.

      “Squeeze my paw if you want to fleur,” Alaska said gently.  Fleur suddenly grabbed Alaska with both forepaws and hugged her tightly.

        “Hey fleur, it’s okay, it’s okay!”  Alaska said gently as the big cat sobbed into her fur.

       “I’ll be okay in a while,” Fleur mewed, sniffing hard, “I’m just being silly.”  Alaska kissed Fleur’s nose, and the toes of her right forepaw.

       “It’s not silly fleur,” Alaska said, “you feel anxiety about your paws, and you’re letting it go finally.  Tell me, have you ever seen the soles of your own paws?”  Fleur shook her head.  Alaska got a mirror, and showed fleur the soles of her own paws.  Fleur saw muddy brown fur with black spots and pinkie black paw pads, when she curled her toes, the spots vanished in furrowed paw pad.

     “They’re not so bad,” fleur admitted.

      “Now fleur,” Alaska said gently, “will you let me do what I really want to do to your paws?”  Fleur took a deep breath and nodded.  Alaska gently rolled fleur onto her back, then, ever so carefully, took each of the big cat’s massive paws in hers and kissed Fleur’s pads and toes.  Fleur gasped with surprise.

       “I don’t think anyone but Samson has done that with more gentility,” fleur mewed.

       “I’ve wanted to hold your paws for a long time fleur,” Alaska said, “though I can’t say why I’ve wanted to hold them.”

       “Because you know how I feel about my paws, or used to at any rate and wanted to help me,” fleur mewed.  Alaska looked at the big cat’s face.

       “I suppose you’re right,” she replied, “but I can’t say, because I don’t know.”  Fleur, now used to the intensity of Alaska’s gift, began to enjoy her attention.

      “I, like Samson, love you from your nose,” Alaska said, touching Fleur’s nose with her paw, “to your toes,” the bear continued, touching the toes of Fleur’s right hind paw, the big cat curling her toes round the bear’s.

       “You can do anything you want with my paws,” fleur mewed.  Alaska smiled and padded away to Fleur’s bathroom, where she found a bottle marked paw oil.  Picking it up, the bear cub returned to fleur, dripped oil onto her right hind paw, and then began to rub it into her pads, fleur mewing with pleasure.

     “This is wonderful!”  She mewed, trying not to curl her toes, even though she wanted to.

       “I could get addicted to this, seriously, incurably addicted!”  Fleur mewed, wriggling with pleasure.  Alaska smiled broadly, and then concentrated on her job, massaging all four of Fleur’s paws.  Fleur let herself go, all her worries flood through her paw pads, giving them up to the air.  Panting hard, she concentrated on relaxing everything, her legs, paws, tail, everything.  Fleur soon fell asleep, deeply, happily asleep.

       “Fleur tried to explain to me,” Samson mewed, “what she felt was almost unexplainable.  Alaska looked up at the lion from where she’d been stroking the toes of Fleur’s left forepaw for the fourth time since she’d lain down.

        “She can’t explain it Sammy,” Alaska replied, “I can’t explain it, it’s how I am.  I want so much to help.”  Samson stretched his paw to Alaska, the bear playfully smacking the lion’s outstretched paw with her left forepaw.  Samson grinned.

      “Would you massage my paws?”  Samson asked.  Alaska smiled and nodded.

      “I would love to,” she replied.


Samson lay down, Alaska settling down beside him to massage his paws, fleur sleeping deeply nearby.  Samson looked into the eyes of a young bear, in the last two days he’d seen Alaska turn from a cub into a young bear.  Alaska’s eyes gave nothing away, but Samson knew her eyes weren’t the key, her paws were.  Alaska picked up Samson’s right forepaw, the lion gasping with the intensity of the emotion he felt.

       “I want more of this, much more!”  He mewed, and Alaska hadn’t even started stroking his pads.  By the time Alaska finished stroking Samson’s paws, the lion was sound asleep.  Alaska, her job done, returned to fleur.  Lying down, she suddenly felt very hungry.

       “I want food,” Alaska thought, “but if I leave fleur alone, she’ll wake without someone beside her.  Samson’s just gone to sleep, he’s all right, but fleur isn’t.  She needs someone with her, and if she wakes while I’m gone, she’ll be very upset.”  Alaska knew she must not wake fleur, but she couldn’t risk leaving her.

       “Please, Eohippus, you called me to do this job,” Alaska thought, “I’m only a cub, though I’ve learned a lot, I’m only a cub.  My mind is calm, but my body needs food.  I cannot leave fleur in case she wakes.  Fleur has done so much for others, but now she’s vulnerable herself and needs help.  I want to help her, but I am hungry and need to eat.”

       “Use your paws Alaska,” someone said, “fleur is under your spell, she wants you to guide her, and if you tell her to sleep she will.  Place your paws on her paws and tell her to sleep, she’ll not wake until you are back from eating.”  Alaska did as the voice commanded, and fleur seemed to relax even further.  Alaska crept away, going to her mother’s lie up, where she made herself drink the milk Allie had for her very slowly.  She knew now that to get sick would be a disaster.  Settling down after eating, Alaska drifted off to sleep.  Alaska saw fleur lying on the rug where she’d left her.  Alaska didn’t want to sleep, but her body was exhausted.  Hours later, Alaska woke, expecting the world to have ended, but it hadn’t.  Padding along to Fleur’s lie up, she found the cross bred cat still asleep, still comatose, with Samos anxiously staring down at her.

       “She won’t wake,” he mewed.

       “She needed her sleep Sammy,” Alaska replied.  Fleur’s ears twitched and she stretched languidly, yawning expansively and rubbing her eyes with her forepaws.

       “Oooh, um, ah, this is nice,” she mewed, “warm paws, good sleep and a calm mind.”  Fleur yawned again, stretching her fore and hind paws, curling her toes, and then stretching them to their greatest extent.

      “I love the way fleur is when she’s half awake, the way she rubs her eyes with her forepaws and the way she flexes her toes,” Alaska thought.  Fleur looked blearily around her, smiling at Alaska.

     “You like my paws I see,” she mewed.  Alaska smiled broadly and nodded.

      “What I really like,” Alaska said, “is the way you use your paws to rub your eyes and the way your toes curl and stretch when you’re trying to get life back into your paws after a long sleep.  I would have got paws on with you, but I didn’t know if you’d want it.”

      “Paws on with me?”  Fleur asked dreamily, “I’d like that.”  Alaska smiled, padded forward and took Fleur’s left forepaw in both her own forepaws.  Fleur flexed her toes in Alaska’s grip, the bear smiling as she felt Fleur’s pads rubbing against her own.

      “I love you Alaska,” fleur mewed.  Alaska kissed Fleur’s nose.

      “Do you know how I feel about you?”  Alaska asked.  Fleur nodded and snuggled up close to Alaska.

      “I know, I know, because, because I felt it as soon as your paw touched mine!”  Fleur sobbed.  Alaska cuddled fleur with all her might.

      “I could give birth to a cub with your help and it would be a pleasure,” fleur mewed.

      “You’re not in cub are you?”  Alaska asked.

     “No, but I can act,” fleur replied, whispering into Alaska’s ear.  Alaska smiled and buried her face in Fleur’s shoulder.

      “I love you fleur, I love you!” Alaska said. Fleur smiled broadly and kissed Alaska’s nose.  Olga and the others watched in their lie ups, amazed at Fleur’s reliance on Alaska.

       “Is she transferring power?”  Allie asked Rowena.

      “No,” Rowena mewed, “just meeting a kindred spirit.  Fleur’s met someone she can trust implicitly.”

       “Fleur has let Alaska into her most private world,” Tigger mewed to snowy, “the insecurity she feels about her paws is very private.  She usually hides it from everyone, but now she’s shown her paws to Alaska.”  Snowy smiled broadly.

       Alaska will go very far,” snowy mewed.


“I can tickle your paws fleur, tickle your paws!”  Alaska said playfully, tickling the pads of the big cat’s right forepaw.  Fleur laughed merrily and batted at the cub’s tickling toes with her free forepaw.  Alaska kissed the batting paw which disabled it.

       “Fleur disarmed with a kiss to her toes,” Alaska laughed.  Fleur smiled and settled back; enjoying Alaska’s company and the fact she’d now stopped tickling her paw pads.

       “You’re a Rogue for tickling my paws,” fleur yawned, very contented with her lot.  Alaska smiled and took hold of Fleur’s left forepaw, stroking her pads and toes.  Fleur’s purr could be heard all over the lie up.

        “We’re going to make a great team you and me,” fleur mewed.


Meanwhile, in another lie up, Helga lay on her back playing with the toes of one hind paw.  Not yet able to sit up, this was the only way she could play with her hind paws, and Helga was not going to let a mere thing like sitting properly spoils her playtime.  Olga watched her from the other side of the lie up, Helga obviously thinking her mother was asleep.

      “Playing with your toes again Helga?”  Olga asked.  Helga dropped her right hind paw suddenly.

      “Um, well,” Helga gabbled.  Olga padded across to her cub and lovingly traced the pads of her right hind paw, Helga laughing as her mum’s touch tickled her pads.

       “Mum that tickles!”  Helga laughed.  Olga smiled and tickled Helga’s other hind paw, the cub screeching with laughter.

       “Stop it mum, stop it!!”  Helga wriggled, kicking with all four paws.  Olga embraced Helga tenderly, the cub becoming still.  Olga then kissed Helga’s nose and the pads of all four of the cub’s tiny paws, the cub laughing merrily.

      “Aw mum,” Helga said, “you taken a soppy pill today?”  Olga smiled and blew gently on the toes of her cub’s right hind paw, Helga giggling with pleasure.

       “Is it okay for me to play with my hind paws?”  Helga asked.  Olga gently stroked the pads of her cub’s left hind paw while she thought about this.

       “Yes it is,” she replied, “we adult bears does it all the time, I know Kamchatka does, and I do.  What we’ll do is ask Kamchatka if you can touch her to find out how she plays with her paws.”

       “I’d like to meet Kamchatka again,” Helga said, “she’s so gentle, as is Alaska.  Mum, where did Alaska go?”  Olga didn’t want to tell her cub of Fleur’s secrets, or to overwhelm her with the idea of Whitie’s death, so she said:

      Alaska’s busy at the moment, she’ll be back soon.”  Helga was content with that.

      “Would you show me how you play with your paws too?”  Helga asked.  Olga smiled and replied that she would.  Sitting down, Olga guided her cub’s forepaws to her hind paws, then Olga took her left hind paw in her left fore, Helga exploring both her mum’s fore and hind paws as she made herself comfortable holding her hind paw in her fore.

      “I bend my left hind leg, reach forward with my left forepaw, then turn the paw so my toes can touch the sole pad of my left hind paw,” Olga said, Helga’s forepaws exploring everything as she described the process of holding her left hind paw in her left fore, “then, then, if I stroke the sole pad of my hind paw very gently, touch my toes Helga, what happens?”  Olga asked.  Helga felt her mum’s left forepaw stroking the sole pad of her left hind, and then found her mum’s toes.

      “Keep stroking your paw mum,” Helga encouraged.  Olga smiled and continued to massage the sole pad of her left hind paw, relaxing her paw totally.  Helga smiled as her mum’s toes relaxed, curling slightly.

      “Your toes curl as you stroke your paw pads!”  Helga whooped.

       “So do your toes curl when you stroke your paw pads?”  Olga asked.  Helga smiled and tenderly squeezed the toes of her mum’s left hind paw.

     “They do, they do mum,” she replied.  Olga wiggled her toes which her cub held in her tiny paws.

      “I love this paw contact Helga,” Olga said.  Helga kissed the toes of her mum’s left hind paw.

      “I love you mum,” she said gently.  Olga felt her emotions welling up.  Helga felt her mum’s toes curling hard expressing her emotions.  Helga smiled and kissed the bunched pads of her mum’s left hind paw, Olga laughing merrily.

      “It’s great to see a mother and cub playing with each other’s paws,” Kamchatka said, padding into the room.  Getting down into a crawling posture, Kamchatka approached Helga; the cub intent on her mum’s curled toes and bunched paw pads.

       “I love you mum,” Helga said to Olga.  Olga wiped her eyes with a clenched forepaw, unable to keep her emotions in check.

       “This is wonderful,” she sniffed.  Kamchatka smiled at Helga and tickled the pads of her right hind paw which were accessible to her, invitingly within reach of her left forepaw.  Helga screamed with laughter, curling the toes of her right hind paw and catching the toes of Kamchatka’s left forepaw.

      “My toes are trapped now!”  Kamchatka whimpered, gently tugging at her trapped toes.  Helga smiled and squeezed harder, Kamchatka whimpering with fear and pulling harder.  Then, snarling, Kamchatka pulled really hard, Helga whimpering as she responded to her need to hold on as tightly to her friend’s larger toes with her smaller ones by curling her toes as hard as she could.

     “Must hold on, hold on tight!”  Helga snarled.

      “I must free my paw!”  Kamchatka whimpered.  Helga growled with effort as her paw took over, relaxing and then curling her toes even harder, Kamchatka puffing and blowing with fear.

      “Try to control your paws!”  She gasped, “Helga, try to control your toes! They’re squeezing the life out of my toes!”

     “I can’t control them; they have a life of their own!”  Helga replied as the toes of her right hind paw relaxed momentarily and then gripped Kamchatka’s with desperate strength.

       “I can’t control my toes!”  Helga whimpered.  Olga smiled at Kamchatka and reached over, stroking the bunched pads of her cub’s right hind paw, Helga panting with relief as her toes relaxed.

      “Thanks mum,” she said.  Kamchatka grinned, flexed her toes, and then drummed with her toes on the toes of Helga’s right hind paw.  Helga laughed helplessly.

       “You love paw play too Kamchatka!”  The cub said, “That’s wonderful!”  Kamchatka kissed the large sole pad on Helga’s right hind paw.

       “Mum kisses my paws too Kamchatka, it feels lovely!”  Helga enthused.  Kamchatka smiled at Olga, who grinned hugely.

     “I was only playing when I squeezed your toes with mine,” Helga said to Kamchatka.  Kamchatka, now sitting holding Olga in her paws, smiled and kissed the cub’s nose.

      “So was I,” she replied.  Olga looked up as Alaska padded into the room. Smiling at the bears.

       “I’ve got something for you Alaska,” Kamchatka said.  Alaska smiled and settled down comfortably.

       “I will wait whatever you have with the greatest anticipation,” Alaska replied.  Kamchatka sent Helga back to her mum, then padded out of the lie up, returning a short time later with a jar of something in a basket she carried in her mouth.  Dropping the basket carefully onto the rug, Kamchatka dug into it with a paw and brought out a jar of something dark yellow.  Alaska stared at it, her mind telling her something good was inside.  Opening up the jar, Kamchatka held the jar out to Alaska.  Alaska took the jar in her forepaws, lifting it to her nose and sniffing carefully.  The sweet smell enveloped her brain.

      “This smells great!”  Alaska said, dipping her paw into the jar and scooping up a pawful of the stuff, licking it off her paw.  The sweet taste almost blew her mind!

       “I know this stuff!”  Alaska said, “even though I’ve never tasted it before, I know what it is, this is honey isn’t it?”  Kamchatka smiled and nodded.

       “It’s a treat for you after what you’ve done for Whitie and Olga,” Kamchatka replied.  Alaska’s mind was consumed by the taste of the honey; it ruled her world until she’d licked the jar clean.  Then she set the jar down, smiling broadly.

      “That was lovely!”  Alaska enthused.

       “I thought you’d like that,” Kamchatka said.  Alaska busily licked the pads of her forepaws for the next half an hour, then padded away to wash them properly.  Returning, she couldn’t help looking in the jar to see if there was any honey left, clearly feeling rather disappointed to find there wasn’t any honey left.

       “No more Alaska,” Kamchatka said.  Alaska went to Kamchatka and hugged her tightly, the grizzly bear returning the cub’s hug, Alaska smiling with huge pleasure.

      “I love your hugs Kamchatka,” she said.  Kamchatka embraced Alaska with everything she had.

        “You soppy thing Kamchatka,” Alaska said as the grizzly’s paws enveloped her in as massive a hug as she could manage.

       “I love you more than I can put into words,” Kamchatka said.  Alaska snuggled up to her grizzly bear friend, burying her face in the grizzly’s thick fur.

        “You’re curling the toes on both hind paws Kamchatka,” Alaska said, catching sight of the huge she bear’s hind paws out of the corner of one eye.  Kamchatka laughed.

      “Bears sometimes do that when they get emotional,” she replied.  Alaska smiled:

       “I love you so much,” she whispered to Kamchatka, who hugged her with all the tenderness of a mother bear.

        “Sometimes I wonder who gave birth to her,” Allie said, padding into the room.  Kamchatka smiled broadly.

        “We both love her dearly, that’s for sure,” she said.

       “I’m glad Alaska has a large family,” Allie replied.  Kamchatka looked down at Alaska, who lay cradled in her forepaws.  Kamchatka kissed the polar bear cub’s nose and paw pads, Alaska giggling cubbishly.

        “You are so beautiful Alaska,” Kamchatka said softly, Allie unable to hide a smile of pleasure.

       “Now you’re helping mothers have their cubs,” Alaska yawned, “who’s taking over food preparation Kamchatka?”

       “I’ll still be doing the food preparation,” Kamchatka replied, “fortunately cubbings don’t happen that often here.  We might be well fed and happy here, but we are sensible too, and tend to keep the numbers of newborn cubs down.”  Theo wandered in, grinning at Alaska and Kamchatka.

        “Hi Theo dear,” Alaska said, leaping from Kamchatka’s embrace and padding quickly to the white lion cub.  Theo lay down and embraced Alaska lovingly.

       “I remember your birth,” Theo mewed, “it was wonderful Alaska; your mum was wonderful throughout.”  Alaska snuggled up to the white lion.

       “You have big soft paws Theo,” Alaska said, “they’re just like your mum’s.”  Theo grinned hugely.

        “I take regular baths just like mum and Samson do,” Theo mewed.  “Shower first to get myself cleans, then, then, the best bit. Soak for ages in a large tub of warm water with soothing oils and gentle relaxing scent.  Ah, sounds good even now.”

      “You’ve only just got out of the bath Theo,” Petra said padding into the lie up.

      “I know,” Theo mewed, “but I still adore my bath times.

      “You’d be in there until your paws got wrinkled like prunes,” Clarence mewed, padding in after Petra.

      “You can’t talk Clarence,” Theo protested, “you stayed in the bath with me the whole time; indeed, it was I who had to drag you mewing and kicking out of the tub!”  Clarence grinned, for the white lion was correct.

       “I like the water, just like my mum does,” he mewed, “fleur loves her bathing times too, and her paws are wrinkled by the time she emerges, I’ve touched them Theo, I know!”   Theo had also touched Fleur’s paws when they’d been wrinkled by water, and this seemed to endear him to the large cross bred cat even more.  Fleur was vulnerable under all that fur.”  Alaska saw Theo’s concern, and touched his paw, hoping to reassure him about fleur.

       “I know you and fleur have a special bond Alaska,” Theo mewed.  Alaska knew she could say nothing to the white lion about what she knew.

        “Fleur’s paws are a source of uneasiness for her,” Theo mewed, “I know this, and she’s now opening up about it, spoke to me today about them, and showed me her pads too.  Fleur’s beautiful from her nose to her paw pads Alaska.”  Alaska smiled:

       “I know Theo, I know,” she replied.

       “Mum played with Theo and me in the bath pool earlier,” Clarence said, “she rolled onto her back and waved her paws in the air, something she’d never usually do.  Has she become less self conscious about the soles of her paws?”

        “I think she has,” Alaska replied.  Fleur padded in, then theatrically rolled onto her back and, mewing cubbishly, waved her paws in the air.  Clarence caught her right hind paw, and looked critically down at Fleur’s pads and toes.

       “I think this cub needs a bath,” he said.  Fleur squealed with mock protest:

      “No, nooooo’o’o’ooo!”  Drawing her paws to her and curling into a ball, fleur began to shiver with mock fear.  Theo and Clarence grinned at Alaska, and then motioned to Kamchatka to help carry Fleur.  Kamchatka, Alaska, and the two lions, followed by Olga and Helga calmest carried Fleur to the bathroom, fleur dragging her paws as much as she could, kicking and shrieking in protest at being forced to have a bath.  Digging her toes into the tiles, fleur hung on with desperate strength, pawing at her tormenters with her forepaws while digging the toes of both hind into the tiles to frustrate her progress to the bathtub.

     “Leave me alone!”  Fleur whimpered.

      “You’re coming for a bath my dear,” Kamchatka said, “stand back everyone!”  Theo and the others dropped back and watched as, Kamchatka, Rearing onto her hind legs, picked fleur up in a fireman’s lift and carried her unsteadily to the bathtub, gently lowering her into the warm water.  So surprised was fleur that she forgot to continue her act.

      “Thought that would silence you little one,” Kamchatka said gently, patting Fleur gently on her head as if she was a naughty cub.  Fleur roared with laughter.

       “You certainly know how to break my stride,” she said, “I was so shocked at being lifted up; I completely forgot my earlier protestations.

     “Now time for your bath my dear,” Kamchatka said.  Fleur lay back while first Theo, then Clarence, then Alaska, then Kamchatka rubbed her down thoroughly from nose to tail.  Fleur had never been so thoroughly cleaned in all her life!  Then, her paw pads still tingling, fleur watched as Kamchatka and Olga set about washing Theo and Clarence.  The white lion and cross bred cub were silenced by the touch of the two bears.  Alaska smiled broadly as she watched Fleur’s reaction to the complete washing.

       “Bears are the best, the absolute best at washing themselves and others,” she declared with absolute certainty.  Fleur, still standing in the water at the edge of the bath pool, looked down at her toes beneath the surface.  Lifting a forepaw, she slapped it down, soaking Alaska.  The polar bear cub laughed helplessly and slapped the water with her own forepaw, soaking fleur.  Ending the session, Olga washed Helga, and then Kamchatka washed Olga.

       “Let’s now compare paw pads,” Clarence suggested, “Drying our paws is not allowed!  Let’s go into the shower room and compare paw pads to see who’s got the most wrinkled pads.”  Fleur grinned.  She liked this game, though knew she wouldn’t have liked it a day ago.  Alaska had given her confidence in her paws, and fleur now loved her paws like any other member of the community.  Fleur looked at Kamchatka and asked:

      “You bears have wrinkly paw pads anyway, so how will we tell what’s water wrinkled pad and what is normal wrinkled pad?”  Kamchatka smiled:

      “I dried one hind paw and have kept one wet,” she said, “look, touch my paw.”  Kamchatka sat down and showed fleur her hind paws; her right hind paw definitely had more wrinkled pads than her left.

      Kamchatka’s got wrinkled pads everyone!”  Fleur whooped.  Kamchatka smiled and wiggled the toes of both hind paws.

      “Now I’ve shown you mine, can I look at yours?”  She asked.  Fleur eagerly rolled onto her back and presented her paws for examination.  Kamchatka took hold of each of Fleur’s paws and examined them by sight and touch.

      “I love your paws,” Kamchatka said softly.  Fleur smiled broadly.

      “I’m beginning to love them,” fleur mewed, “but it’s taking time, after years of hating my paws it’s taking time for me to love them.”

       “Your paws are beautiful Fleur,” Samson mewed, padding into the room.  It was clear he’d been bathing in scented water.  Samson smiled at fleur, his teeth white and very clean.

      “Here’s the king of clean lions!”  Theo mewed.

     “Just because I enjoy bathing,” Samson mewed.  Fleur grinned at him.

       “Let’s tickle Alaska’s paws!”  Samson mewed.  Alaska grinned and rolled onto her back and presented her paws, which Samson tickled.  Alaska laughed helplessly and wriggled furiously with pleasure.


Meanwhile, in Leo and Petra’s lie up, Older Leo and his cub Elsa played together.  This play mostly involved Older Leo tickling Elsa’s paws, which she seemed to enjoy endlessly.  Darkness was falling outside, and Leo was getting tired.  Looking up at the darkened window, Leo yawned expansively.

      “Time for bed I think Elsa,” he mewed, rubbing his eyes.  Elsa looked up into his face.

      “But, but, the fun was just getting started!”  She complained.  Older Leo smiled:

      “For you maybe dear Elsa,” he mewed, “now, let’s gets your teeth clean, wash your face and paws and settle you to sleep.”  Elsa mewed in protest, but reluctantly followed Leo to the shower room where he washed her face and paws, something she could do herself, but loved him doing for her.  Then she made use of the relieving place and washed her paws again in the paw bath provided.  It was then Leo took Elsa to the kitchen and asked Kamchatka to get her a bowl of warm milk.  Elsa drank the warm liquid, and almost immediately felt tired.  Leo, smiling at his cub, led her to their lie up, where Elsa settled down, her protestations now silenced.  Curling up, Elsa snuggled up to Leo, tucking her forepaws under her chin and hind into the space between her body and her sire’s.  Leo examined his cub from nose to tail, getting paws on with her, massaging her from ears to paw pads.  Elsa began to purr, snuggling hard into his fur.

       “I will sleep well now,” Elsa mewed.  Leo hugged his cub, hoping she could feel the love he felt for her in the touch of his paws on hers.

       “I feel safe now, so safe,” Elsa mewed.  Leo’s purr rattled the windows.  Elsa relaxed into her sire’s hug.  It was at times like this Leo thought of the lioness who’d given traumatic birth to Elsa.  The struggle to give birth to the cub he now cradled in his paws often played in his head.  The growling, grunting, roaring, sweat soaked efforts of Older Elsa, then the decision Older Elsa and he’d had to make over Older Elsa’s life, then the convulsive birth of the cub, then his vigil by his cub and mate’s bodies.  Leo didn’t realise he was crying until the cub the circumstances of who’s birth had upset him wiped his eyes with her paw.

        “Leo,” she said gently, “don’t cry dear sire.  Older Elsa wouldn’t want you to be upset.  You did the right thing for her and for me too!”  Leo gulped hard.

     “I know, I know,” he sniffed, “but, sometimes, sometimes, the scene comes back to me, and I can’t help getting emotional.”  Younger Elsa hugged her sire as tightly as she could.

     “I’m here now,” she mewed, “it’s all over, and I’m healthy and love my family, whether they are adopted or not.  I know you’re not my father, but I know you care for me, as does Petra who isn’t my mother.  This is all I need to know.”  Leo kissed his cub’s nose.

      “We all love you Elsa dear,” he mewed.  Elsa picked up Leo’s left forepaw and examined his pads and toes, Leo grinning hugely.  Leo fell asleep soon after, the touch of his cub’s paw soothing him.  Elsa thought back to that dark time when she had been cold, wet and frightened.  She remembered a place of darkness with cold paws and drenched fur.  Shivering, Elsa cuddled up to her mother for warmth, but her mother’s body felt cold, wet and very still.

      “Mum?”  Elsa asked, nudging her mum’s nose with hers.  Her mum didn’t react; there was no breath, no sound, not like before she was born, and no tongue to kiss her nose.  Elsa clung to her mum’s wet fur and cried inconsolably.

       “Elsa, dear Elsa,” Leo purred gently, “Hush my dear cub.”  Elsa clung to Leo, weeping into his mane.

       “I thought, thought I was, that, well,” Elsa mewed.  Leo kissed her nose.

      “I know what you were dreaming,” Leo mewed.

      “But it was no dream,” Elsa mewed, “it was real, so, so horribly real!””

       “It was for me too Elsa love,” Leo choked.

      “But, but I felt my mum’s fur under my paws and everything, I was cold and wet!”

     “It was a nightmare Elsa love.  A vivid flashback.”

      “Will I forget it when I’m older?”  Elsa asked.

       “I can’t answer that Elsa love,” Leo mewed.  Petra padded into the room.

       “Come here Petra, please,” Leo mewed.  Petra, assessing the situation, settled down beside Elsa, who cuddled up to her.

       “Hug me mum, please!”  Elsa begged.  Petra embraced her cub tenderly.

       “Leo and I love you dearly Elsa sweetheart,” Petra mewed.  Elsa buried her head in Petra’s neck.


Simba and Rowena watched from another lie up.  Simba, seeing Petra hug Elsa, dug his toes into the rug, averting his gaze from the screen.

       “Are you jealous of her?”  Rowena asked.  Simba knew that to lie to his half sister would be impossible.

       “What do you think?”  He snapped, “That bloody cub, she’s intruded into our lives!”

       “Simba,” Rowena said gently, “that, “bloody cub,” as you refer to her is your half sister.  Elsa’s mother was your mother and Petra’s too!  If Petra can accept you into her life, then maybe you can accept younger Elsa too.”

       “It was lioness Tembi who poisoned Petra, but older Elsa sided with her own cub.  Petra is bloody strong to be able to care for younger Elsa.  I couldn’t do it.  Older Elsa abandoned me and Petra, and now, to see Petra cuddling that cub is so infuriating!  Petra should hate her as much as she hated Older Elsa!  I hate my mother, and so should Petra!  Petra’s the only one who kept me together until I met you Rowena, but now, now she’s cuddling the enemy!”  Simba yelled.

        “Younger Elsa’s mother died giving birth to her Simba, you don’t mean you wish that cub dead?”  Rowena asked.”

       “Yes, yes I do!”  Simba roared, “Nature meant for that cub to die, Older Elsa could not give birth to it, so she, and it, were meant to die!  It was only down to Petra that younger Elsa lived!  If, if Mum had kept her filthy paws off that cub, now younger Elsa would not be here, being hugged by my mum!”

       “If Petra had turned away from a white male lion cub in a string bag, you’d be dead too Simba,” Rowena said softly.  Simba hesitated:

        “Oh, Rowena, You’re right,” he mewed softly.

        “Look at me Simba,” Rowena mewed.  Simba shook his head and looked down at his paws.

        “Rowena, I can’t,” Simba mewed.

      “Look at me Simba,” Rowena mewed.  Simba shook his head.  Rowena turned to her brother and lifting her left forepaw, balanced Simba’s chin on the back of her paw and lifted it up.  Simba made no protest, offering no resistance.  When their eyes met, Rowena’s eyes told Simba what she felt.

       “You’re meant to be impartial!”  Simba whimpered.

       “I have a duty to guide the paws of those who are not on the right path,” Rowena mewed.  “Your paws are not on the right path, indeed, you seek to turn the paws of others from the right path.  Simba, why do you seek to deny others the love you had and still have?”  Simba knew what she meant.

        “I’m sorry Rowena,” Simba mewed.

      “Don’t speak to me about being sorry; speak to the one you wish dead.  Confess your thoughts to the cub which you hate.”  Simba gulped hard.

      “I can’t do that!”  He mewed.  Suddenly Simba saw Petra get up.  She looked straight into his face, as if she’d heard everything and could see him!

      “Rowena,” Simba asked, “has, has mum heard everything we’ve been saying here?”  Rowena looked at the panel below the screen, and saw that the mic was on.

      “Um, ah, yes,” she replied.  Simba turned and fled!  He didn’t even get as far as the passage.  Petra, with a scream of rage, pounced on her son cub, beating him with her forepaws and kicking with her hind until Simba was prostrate on the floor!

       “Mum, I’m, I’m sorry!”  Simba screamed.

       “You horrid animal!”  Petra roared, “how, how could you even think of what you did!  I rescued you, and now you deny others the same rescue?  I hate you Simba!  What has happened to the kind, gentle lion I knew?  You are busted Simba, completely busted!”

       “Mum, I thought it was private between me and Rowena.  She’s given me enough punishment!”

       “No Simba, no she has not!”  Petra roared, “You deserve to be punished more!”

       “I was only thinking of killing Elsa, I didn’t actually do it!”  Simba wailed.

        “Planning is a crime too,” Petra said, “Simba, what has come over you?  Are you envious? Jealous?  What?  Why not go after Theo if you hate all my latest cubs?”

        “I hate Elsa because she’s the offspring of my loathsome mother!”  Simba roared, “Elsa deserves to die!”

       “I am also the offspring of your loathsome mother too Simba,” Petra mewed, “do I deserve to die too?”  Simba looked into Petra’s face, into the face of the lioness that he loved, and who’d loved him selflessly and unconditionally.  She’d known about his parentage from the start, he was sure.  Petra knew who he was, even though she didn’t realise it at the time.

        “NO mum,” Simba mewed; tears rolling down his nose, “no.”

       “Elsa will live Simba,” Leo said padding into the room.  Simba looked up, but didn’t see Leo.  He saw a lion with a white coat that looked like Leo.

       “Older Theo?”  Simba asked.  The apparition smiled.

       “So you do recognise me,”  the spirit replied, “I thought I might put in an appearance, as I believe Older Leo is having some difficulties at the moment, as is his cub.  Simba, you were rescued by a lovely lioness, one who gave you everything she had, and now you are on your paws, you seek to deny others that help?”

        “I suppose I wanted to do just that,” Simba mewed, “for older Elsa is our enemy.  She it was who gave birth to Petra and rejected her to be abused and nearly murdered by lioness Tembi.  Surely you hate her too?”

        “Elsa knew no better,” Older Theo mewed, “she wasn’t enlightened, did not know that white lions are just as healthy as tawny ones.  She cannot be blamed for her actions.  She was a simple lioness.  She gave birth to her cubs, and if they did not look right, she pushed them away.  How could she know what Petra would become?  Elsa was thrown out long before Petra became the lioness you know.  Petra was abused by a higher power for years before you knew her.  Now Simba, do not deny others the care of this lioness who rescued you in the full knowledge of what you were.  Petra doesn’t care who younger Elsa’s mother is, for the cub herself has done no wrong.”



Meanwhile, in the bathroom, fleur was tending to an injured lioness.  The lioness had limped into the wood an hour ago and collapsed on the track.  When Alaska and fleur had gone out to investigate, the lioness was lying covered in mud and blood.  The only words the polar bear and cross bred cat could get out of the distressed lioness were:

      “Help, Mercy.  For Eohippus sake, mercy.”  Now fleur was cleaning the lioness up, and found she had deep puncture wounds on her flank and that her right forepaw was crushed beyond repair.  The injuries to her paw were old, but still painful.

       “What happened to you?”  Alaska asked.  The lioness, her eyes closed, shook her head.

      “She doesn’t want to talk Alaska, leave her,” fleur mewed.  Petra padded into the bathroom shortly after, having left Simba to face older Leo and Elsa.  Petra looked at the lioness in the bathtub and recognised her instantly.

      “Look at me Tembi,” Petra said, “open your eyes and look at me.”  Tembi opened her eyes and met the eyes of the lioness that she’d tried to kill as a cub.  The physical shock of seeing Petra made Tembi vomit.  Quickly, fleur got the lioness out of the bathtub and changed the water.  Tembi laid shivering and crying on the tiles of the bathroom.

         Petra, Petra!”  Tembi gasped.  Then she vomited again, almost choking.  Petra held her head, Tembi spitting out what remained of her last meal.

        “I’m nothing to you,” Tembi mewed, “Petra, I’m nothing to you, for I tried to kill you, but you treat me like this.  Why not let me choke on my own vomit?  Why hold my head in your paws to save my life when I have done so much wrong to you?”

        “How can I hold anything against you now?”  Petra asked, “Tembi, you are not the lioness you once were.  You are a broken lioness.  I cannot hate for years.”

         “You are very strong Petra,” Snowy said, padding stiffly into the bathroom.  Petra looked up at her.

     “If I let hatred and loathing continue for years it eats into me,” Petra mewed, “and this lioness is not the lioness I remember.  She most definitely is lioness Tembi who once did a tiny white female lion cub huge wrongs, but she can’t do them now.  That said, we will not accept her into the community, but we will treat her wounds, feed her and then, when she’s strong, send her on her way.”

       “What if she’s never strong enough to survive?”  Snowy asked.

        “We help her until she’s as strong as she’s going to get, then we turn her out,” Petra mewed, “my paws will not harm Tembi, and neither will the paws of others here, but we won’t let her into the community.  Noone, least of all me, will allow that.”  Snowy looked into Tembi’s eyes.

         “You’re once daughter cub is more merciful than I could ever be,” the tigress said.


Later that day, Rowena spoke with Petra.

       “Mum,” Rowena said, “your decision regarding Tembi was most merciful.  I know your tale, and commend you for your restraint and mercy.”

       “I remember every last bit of what she did to me,” Petra mewed, “and I will never forget it.  But Tembi’s a broken lioness now.  Even though she will grow stronger, she’ll never be able to fend for herself properly.  I wasn’t entirely merciful.”

       “Noone can be entirely merciful until total and sincere apology has been given by the offending party,” Rowena mewed, “and I can feel none coming from Tembi.  You are offering Tembi what the community offers to injured creatures, and that is all.”  Petra nodded.


Meanwhile, Simba was prostrating himself at Elsa’s feet, telling her what he’d wanted to do to her.  The cub was a bit mystified at all this remorse and apparent craziness, but Petra had told her that was how things were done round here.  Simba told Elsa he’d wanted to kill her and the reasons why he’d wanted to kill her.  Elsa, while upset, did not grasp the full extent of the situation.

       “Well, as long as you’re not going to kill me now, I’ll be fine with that,” she mewed.  Simba promised he would keep his paws off her unless it was to hug her.  Leo nodded and dismissed Simba, the disgraced lion running for peace and quiet in his own den.

Meanwhile, in Kamchatka’s lie up, Boris, Roxanne, Nanuq junior, Olga and Helga were chatting.  The cubs were becoming bored with their usual paw play games, and wanted something more.

       “I don’t want to abandon our paws completely though,” Helga said, “they’re important to us.”

       “I’ve got an idea,” Boris said, “how about if we use our paws to try and work out who’s who?”

      “What are you on about?”  Roxanne asked.

      “Well  Boris replied, “we bears use our sense of smell to identify each other long before paws come into contact,  So what if we got something from the kitchen, herbs or something, got a cloth and dipped them in the herbs, then draped it over our noses so we had no scent clues.  Then it would be down to our paws to tell us who was who by exploring each other’s paws and guessing.  It’s a kind of “how well do we know each other’s paws?”  Game.”  Nanuq junior, while not officially a cub, still played with them, and was up for the challenge.

       “I wonder what Kamchatka will have to say about this?”  He asked.  Leaping to his paws and trotting from the room.


Finding Kamchatka in the kitchen, engrossed in her usual job of chopping vegetables, Nanuq junior put the idea to her.

      “So you want me to put a bag of herbs on a string, so you cubs can mask your sense of smell to play a touch only game?”  Kamchatka asked.  Nanuq junior nodded.

       “We’d keep our eyes closed, so we don’t need to cover those,” he replied.  Kamchatka sighed with mock exasperation, but Nanuq junior saw her smile of pleasure.

       “We all were cubs once,” she thought, bringing out a bag of herbs and putting it into a little string bag.

      “Here,” Kamchatka said to Nanuq junior.  The Young polar bear lay the herbs aside, hugged Kamchatka, then, picking up the little bag of herbs, he was seen almost dancing through the door.


Returning to the lie up, Nanuq junior grinned and, taking the bag in his teeth, flicked it over his nose, breathing deeply, he found he could not smell the other bears in the room, even though he could see them.

      “Right, I can’t smell you now,” he said.

     “Close your eyes Nanuq,” Boris said.  Nanuq junior did, and the bears moved places.

      “Fore or hind paws?”  Olga asked.

      “Hind,” Roxanne replied, “easier all round.  So Nanuq waited for the signal to start his exploration of the assembled bear’s hind paws.  The signal for him to start was a bottle cap thrown onto the rug by one of the bears.  Nanuq junior felt his way to the first set of hind paws and found them to be large, very large!  Nanuq was under strict instructions not to tickle the pads of any paws he came across, so was firm in his touch.

      “I think these paws, with their rough large pads and scuffed nails belong to Olga,” Nanuq junior said.  Olga curled her toes round Nanuq’s, confirming his answer.

       “Now for the next set of paws,” Nanuq junior thought.  Finding his way to a smaller set of paws, Nanuq found tiny toes and softer smaller pads on an all together smaller paw.  Grinning, Nanuq lowered his head and kissed the toes of the paw he was exploring.  Helga tried not to gasp with emotion, biting down on her left forepaw to stop herself.

       “Helga’s paw I think,” Nanuq said.  Helga removed her forepaw from her mouth and said:

     “Yes, and Nanuq, kissing my toes felt lovely.  Nanuq smiled and kissed the toes of Helga’s other hind paw.  Helga loved Nanuq junior’s attention.

      “On with the game you two,” Olga said.  Nanuq correctly identified Boris’s paws, then Roxanne’s.

      “You can’t be misled can you,” Roxanne said.  Nanuq junior smiled and removed the herbs from around his nose.

       “I love paws,” he said.


Meanwhile, Lioness Tembi’s treatment had nearly finished, and she was close to being returned to the wood.  Fleur let her eat, and then led her to the door.

      “Walk away from here and return to the wood Tembi,” she said.  Lioness Tembi limped from the house.


Meanwhile, Nanuq junior and Olga sat together.  Olga was a young brown bear, she and Nanuq being roughly the same age.  Helga had stayed behind after the game finished, and now sat listening to the talk between the two older bears.

       “Nanuq,” Olga said, “this might sound strange, but, but, could I tell you something?”  Nanuq junior nodded.

       “Go on,” he said.

       “I want, well, need to, have an urge to, well, an urge to talk about the births of my cubs.”

      “You want to describe them to me you mean?”  Nanuq junior asked.

       “I’d like to, but, but if you don’t want me to, I quite understand,” Olga babbled.

       “I understand your need to share that experience,” Nanuq junior replied, “and I would be only too honoured to hear you describe the cubbings to me.”  Olga touched his paw with hers.

      “But, cubbings intense, it’s painful.  Male polar bears don’t get involved with it, usually don’t.”  Olga said.

      “This one does,” Nanuq junior replied, “I will get my paws as dirty as you wish to get yours Olga.  I’m not afraid of cubbing.  Tell me, even act out the cubbing if you need to.  I’ll be here for you.”  Olga squeezed his paw.

      “Thank you,” she replied.  Helga pricked up her ears.

       “I would like to know too,” she said, “Alaska’s been telling me the tale of my birth and showing me the position you gave birth to me in.  Alaska wept as she retold the tale, saying it affected her deeply.”

       “It affected all of us deeply Helga love,” Olga replied.

      “So where do we start?”  Nanuq junior asked.

       “First let’s start with how I felt,” Olga replied, “I felt vulnerable, scared, and was in the worst pain, including when I’d trapped my paw that I’d ever felt.  Contractions had me screwing my eyes shut clenching my teeth and curling my toes.  I wanted to scream, but the fear of discovery made me whimper pitifully instead.  I wanted to scream Nanuq, open my mouth and roar my pain, but I could not!  It was only when I heard Alaska crash into my bush refuge that I let go, I had to, for I’d been discovered and nothing mattered now.  I wailed and squealed with everything I had.  That first time though, giving birth to my first cub in the den, insecure and worried about being discovered and killed, I had to just brace my paws and breathe deeply, holding on with all four paws and pushing as hard as I could to deliver the cub without giving my den’s location, or what was going on in it away.”

       “So you wanted to scream and push with everything you had?”  Nanuq junior asked.  Olga looked into his eyes.

       “I wanted to then, and I want to now,” she replied, “I felt fear and terrible pain during the birth of my first cub.  Indeed the pain was worse because of the fear.  Alaska’s presence at Helga’s birth gave me the chance to scream and beat my paws on the ground, pant and cry.  Because of her presence, I was able to have an easier labour.  Labour in a den, alone and frightened is a trade off between giving birth to the cub and concealment.  I wanted to roar and cry, but all I could do was whine and pant in case of detection.  Now, now I want to redress the balance.  Nanuq, take hold of my left hind paw, please!”  Nanuq junior carefully took hold of Olga’s left hind paw, the brown bear whimpering and puffing with distress.

      “Go on mum, let it out,” Helga said gently.  Nanuq gently stroked Olga’s paw pads, the brown bear curling and relaxing her toes.

       “I want to brace my paws and scream!”  Olga sobbed, “I must, must do this Nanuq! Oh, please Nanuq, stay with me!”  Nanuq junior kissed the curled toes of Olga’s left hind paw.

      “I’m with you Olga, come on, let that anger and pain go.  Let it go, let the pain out with everything you have.  Scream, wriggle, brace your paws, curl your toes, cry, beat your paws on the floor, do what you need to.  I’m here for you.”  Olga panted, then, whimpering, she pulled her left hind paw free of Nanuq junior’s grasp and drew her hind legs up to her, gripping the toes of both hind paws with her forepaws and squeezing them hard.

       “Oououououowowowoouch!”  Olga wailed, “ow, owww! Owwww!”  Helga looked at her mum and then at Nanuq junior, who was rubbing the bunched pads of Olga’s hind paws.

       “Push if you need to Olga, push my dear,” Nanuq junior said gently.  Olga whimpered, braced her hind paws against Nanuq junior’s and wailed with pure unadulterated pain and fear.

      “I’m ready to push, to have this cub, but the fear I feel is too much to let me push with as much strength as I’d want to, I want to push, but I can’t!”

      “You can, you’re safe, totally safe,” Nanuq junior said gently.  Olga gasped, wriggled and pushed hard against Nanuq junior’s forepaws with her hind paws, pushing with all her strength.

       “I must push some more, much more, got to push more!”  Olga yelled, pressing down hard into Nanuq junior’s paws, pushing and heaving  as hard as she could, trying to push his forepaws away with her own  hind paws, while gripping his toes with hers and screaming hysterically!

      “You can have this cub the way you wanted,”  Nanuq junior said softly, “go on Olga, do what you wanted to do in the den, let it all go!”

       “I can get rid of this pain; I want this pain gone now!”  Olga screamed.  Nanuq junior leant down and kissed the bunched pads of Olga’s right forepaw, the she brown bear screaming into his face!

       “Ow! Owwww! Ouououoch!”  Nanuq junior rode out Olga’s mental pain, stroking her sweat soaked paws and soothing her as best he could.

      “That’s it, that’s all done, finished!”  Olga panted.  Nanuq junior smiled broadly.

        “Thank you Nanuq dear,” Olga said gently.  Nanuq junior kissed the pads of all four of Olga’s [paws, soaked in sweat though they were.

       “I’m sorry I’m in a mess,” Olga said.  Nanuq junior smiled broadly.

       “I think you’re beautiful just the way you are,” he said, kissing her nose and taking Olga’s left forepaw in his.

       “I love you Nanuq junior,” Olga said, “I was in a trade off between concealment and giving birth in the den, now though, now I can have a cub with total confidence, able to express myself as I want to, and it’s all thanks to you Nanuq junior, for you give me the security to do what I really want during the birth of a cub.  Alaska did it, and now you can do it too.  Though, in your case, I’ve found the polar bear I want to have cubs with.  The cubs might be larger than normal, but I can get through anything with you holding my paw, I know I can.  Nanuq junior, you kissed the paws of my cub, now, now you’ve kissed my paw pads too.  We both know you love us with everything you have, you don’t need to tell us anything.”  Nanuq junior was crying unashamedly.

      “I do love you Olga,” he said, gulping hard, “I love you and Helga dearly. From nose to paws both of you!  I want to protect both of you!”

       “Will you play with us too?”  Helga asked.  Nanuq junior nodded and smiled.

      “I will, I will!”  He replied.  Nanuq junior kissed the top of Helga’s head, the cub laughing merrily and batting at his nose with her paw.


Meanwhile, Simba was not having such a good time.  Hiding from the world in his lie up, he wished the world would just go away.

       “I’m putting my paws in all the wrong places,” he thought miserably, “I can’t help feeling jealous towards Elsa, that’s how I feel!  She’s come into our lives, and turned mum all cub crazy once more.  Giving birth to Theo I can understand, for she was desperate for a cub of her own, but now she’s got one, leave the others to fend for them!”

       “Your thoughts poison you Simba,” Arki remarked.  She was walking past the lie up and sensed the white lion’s mood.

      “No they don’t!”  Simba roared, “what rubbish you talk Arki!”

       “Trust me,” the polar bear replied, “bad thoughts poison your mind and you’ll never love anyone ever again if you carry on with them.  You will die prematurely, and be known as a miserable lion throughout your short life.”

        “Sod you Arki!  Screw you!”  Simba roared.

       “I’m sorry for you,” the polar bear replied, “really sorry.”  With that she padded from the room.  Simba, feeling sick, realised he was about to vomit.  Running to the relieving place, he vomited violently, losing his breakfast.

         “I feel worse now!”  He screamed.

        “Simba, please,” Leo said padding into the room, “try to accept little Elsa.  She’s done you no wrong, and holds no ill will towards you.  You could roll on the rug with her in play, she’d like that very much, but you choose to hate yourself and her.  My cub is no threat to you Simba.”  Simba looked at Leo.

      “He looks so much like older Theo it’s scary,” Simba thought.

       “Older Theo and I are of the same breed of lion Simba,” Leo said, “athletic body, with rather fat cubbish paws.  I like my paws very much.”  Simba looked down at his paws; they were slender, rather feminine paws really.

        “I’d much rather have your paws,” Simba mewed, “at least yours don’t look like a lioness’s.”

       “I’m thought of as a cub on account of my paws,” Leo mewed, “that’s hilariously funny I think.  Other creatures see my paws and immediately think, “Hey he’s a big cub!”  I’m no cub! But I don’t mind others thinking I am.”  Simba smiled for the first time that day.


Meanwhile, back with Olga Nanuq junior and Helga, things were calming down a bit.  Olga, now certain of her standing with Nanuq junior, started to look at the polar bear.  Nanuq junior sat back on his backside, letting Olga examine him from nose to paw pads.  Watching Olga’s eyes, Nanuq junior wiggled the toes of each paw as her eyes fell on it.

      “I love your face, paws and body,” Olga said, “You’re handsome Nanuq junior, and lovely to me and my cub.”  Nanuq junior smiled broadly.

      “Can I touch your paws Nanuq junior?”  Olga asked.  Nanuq junior smiled and nodded.

       “They’re yours to touch, tickle, and stroke and explore,” he replied.  Olga crawled over to Nanuq junior, feeling that to walk would be inappropriate.  Nanuq junior watched her, his eyes loving her every move.

      “Choose a paw,” Nanuq junior invited.  Olga sat down opposite Nanuq junior and picked up his left hind paw in her forepaws, balancing it on her right hind leg and looking down at the male polar bear’s pads and toes.  Nanuq junior wiggling his toes and then curling them made Olga smile.

     “I love the way your pads bunch up when you curl your toes,” Olga said.  Nanuq junior smiled at her and covered her right forepaw with his massive left fore.

       “I too like the way your paw pads bunch when you curl your toes, and you were doing a lot of that earlier,” Nanuq junior said.

       “I wanted to show you my paws and me in my worst moments,” Olga said, “in case I gave you the wrong impression of me.”  Nanuq junior smiled and squeezed her right forepaw with his left.

       “I love your eyes, ears, nose, body, legs, paws and tail,”  the polar bear said, “I just wish you’d been curling your toes with pleasure rather than pain.”

       “I will be curling my toes with pleasure soon,” Olga replied, “look down at my left hind paw.”  Nanuq did, and saw Olga’s toes tightly curled with the intensity of her emotions.  Nanuq junior leant down and kissed the curled toes of Olga’s left hind paw, the female brown bear gulping back tears.

       “Being with you is heavenly,” Nanuq junior said.  Olga leant forward and kissed the male polar bear’s nose.

       “You are perfect dear sweet Nanuq,” she said softly, “perfect from your nose to your toes.”

       “I feel the same about you Olga love,”  Nanuq junior replied, “I love you and your cub and think both of you are beautiful to look at, even better to hug, and indescribably lovely to play with.”  Olga and Helga laughed merrily, and then Helga crawled to her mum and began to explore her left hind paw.  Olga released Nanuq junior’s right hind paw and drew back, finally picking her cub up in her forepaws and shuffling forward so the pads and toes of her hind paws touched Nanuq junior’s.  Nanuq junior curled the toes of his right hind paw around those of Olga’s left hind, and she curled the toes of her right hind around his left.  Placing Helga on her back in the middle of the space between their outstretched hind legs with her paws in the air, Olga let Helga go.  The cub looked up into the faces of the two grown up bears, while they gazed down at her with gentle expressions.

      “Helga’s eyes opened a day ago,” Olga said, “she was very quick at opening her eyes Nanuq junior.”  Nanuq junior smiled and lowered his head, Helga reaching up to touch his nose with her left forepaw.  Olga leant down too, and Helga touched her mum’s nose with the toes of her right hind paw.  Olga blew gently on the pads of Helga’s right hind paw, the cub laughing helplessly.

      “I love that!”  She whooped, “I love it mum!”

       “Can I blow on your paw pads little one?”  Nanuq junior asked.

      “Why do you ask?”  Helga asked, “I’m your cub too.”  Nanuq junior couldn’t stop tears rolling down his nose and splashing onto Helga’s face.

      “You’re not my cub, not really,” Nanuq junior sobbed.  Helga reached up and tried to pull Nanuq’s face down to her level, the male polar bear not resisting.  When she could reach his face, Helga wiped away his tears with her paw.

        “Now I’ve got my paws wet with your tears, you can blow on my pads and toes to dry them Nanuq,” Helga said.  Nanuq kissed Helga’s forepaws, and then blew on her pads, Helga grinning happily up at him.

      “I love you Helga,” Nanuq said softly.

     “I love you too Nanuq,” she replied.

       “Why is it Alaska at birth was so much bigger than Helga at hers?”  Olga asked, stroking Helga’s right hind paw with the toes of her own left fore, “Alaska showed us the video you see.”

       “Yes,” Helga asked, “I’ve been wondering that too.  Also, Allie was very expressive during her labour, mum wasn’t, until Alaska came along that was.”

       “Your mum not being able to express her pain and fear was because of the likelihood of intruders hearing her cries and threatening her and you,” Nanuq replied, “Allie had no such concerns, as your mum had no concerns earlier and felt able to let her pain and fear out today.  Also, because there are no threats here, the mothers to be can concentrate on their bodies, feeling everything.  Whereas in the wild they are scared and unable to concentrate on having their cubs.  Mothers can express their pain here, whereas in the wild they find it more difficult.”

      “I wouldn’t have let go with just any bear though Nanuq,” Olga said, “you gave me the courage and security to let my pain out.  It’s you who have made this bear very happy.  But why are the cubs here born so much larger than Helga was?  That I can’t work out.”

       “The food is plentiful and we are warm and safe,” Nanuq replied, “so the cubs grow big and strong inside their mothers and the births are that much harder, though with help, as you found Olga when Alaska helped you, the birth of a cub can be a wonderful experience, one which we want to keep on record.”  Olga looked at Nanuq junior.

      “Nanuq,” she said, “would you help me have cubs in future?”  Nanuq junior grinned:

       “Let’s bring little Helga up first, then we’ll try for cubs,” he said.  Nanuq junior looked down at Helga, the brown bear cub looking up into his eyes and, gently removing her right hind paw from her mum’s grip, waving all four paws at him.

       “You are so beautiful Helga,” Nanuq junior said softly.

       “I think you are gentle and very sweet Nanuq,” Helga said.  Older Nanuq padded into the lie up, smiling at his Son cub.

       “I’m so pleased for you,” he said to the bears.  Olga, Helga and Nanuq junior smiled broadly. 

    “Thank you,” they said. 


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



Site contents Copyright  Martin Wilsher 2010

Email m.wilsher@btopenworld.com



This website is hosted by 34sp.com.  why not check out their services,