By Don Ford
Down by the water’s edge, Mother Lion was washing her food in the cool water.
Soon her young ones would be born. She knew she was carrying two babies, and so she was eating for three. Father Lion was away and Mother worried about him. Where could he have gone? Had bad men found him and taken him captive?
The forest was especially quiet the morning Father Lion seemed to have disappeared. This was always a sign of danger. Even the usual sounds of birds from the many trees seemed silent on that day. Smaller animals were not scurrying about as usual. There was a faint smell of gunpowder in the air. No shots had been fired that morning. Something was terribly out of order. This mystery begged to be solved.
The night before a few shots rang out. The powder smell lingered until morning. Papa Lion must have left early the next morning to investigate. As the day wore on there was still no sign of Papa Lion. Mother Lion became nervous.
This was a bad time to be without her mate. She wasn’t completely alone; she had an older cub who was very brave. This young male lion would keep his Mother safe.
Mother Lion sent her cub out to find some food for them to eat. She usually brought home the meal, but she was feeling uncomfortable. Her young cub was more than happy to fulfill his new role as family provider. Now he would have to leave the protection of their den and move out on his own in order to provide for Mother Lion and himself. This would be his first real adventure away from home.
Before leaving, he gave Mother Lion a reassuring nudge.
Three days had passed since Father Lion had gone missing. So far there were no signs of man in their territory. Our fearless cub brought home food enough for them to eat. It wasn’t a feast, but it was sufficient for them to live on.
If Father Lion was still alive, what was he eating? Three days is a long time to go without food, especially for a lion. Too much time had gone by. Could he find Father Lion before it’s too late?
On the next trip out to find food, the small cub decided to try a different direction. He headed away from the forest and headed off towards the rocky slopes of the northern hills. If he timed it right he could be back well before nightfall. It would be the longest time he would have been away from home. He felt it was the right thing to do and he knew he just had to do it. There was no one else; he was on his own.
The rocks were slippery as he began his ascent of them. He would have turned back, but curiosity drove him forward. The more he climbed the higher he went and the more sure footed he became. This was a good exercise for a young cub. Mother Lion would be proud of him.
Father Lion would be even prouder.
Then a tear formed in his eye. What could have happened to Father Lion? Was he already too late?
The mystery of the lost lion was finally solved. There on the other side of the rocky hill was Father Lion, lodged in the rocks. Apparently he had become the victim of a rock slide. Try as he might, the cub was unable to free his father. The reason the father had not cried out before was that this would have alerted other predators to his weakened state since most of his strength had left him. Buzzards had already begun to circle overhead. This was the clue that our young lion had seen earlier and had triggered his move to the rocky slopes.
Fortunately, our cub had reached Father Lion in time. Father was still trapped, and the cub had to get him dislodged from the large rocks encasing him. Feeling hopeless and terribly useless, our young cub began to let out a low cry for help. If the wrong creatures came they could both be in even greater danger.
The young cub tried with all of his might to make a call for help. His lungs weren’t yet fully developed and only small cries went out, but they were enough.
Two men were seen in the distance headed for the cliffs. No guns at all were visible. Instead climbing gear was strapped to their backs. Both the men moved slowly in the direction from which they were hearing the cub’s cries.
When they reached the top of the hill, they saw the lion’s predicament. One of the men got out a large length of rope, made a huge loop in it, and threw it over the rock that had Father Lion pinned. Staying at a safe distance away from the lions, the two men pulled hard on the rope and were able to move the rock enough for Father Lion to scrabble free. He was still weak from the accident but soon he had recovered enough to be able to move his legs. By this time the men were long gone.
Father Lion wrapped himself in a gesture of love and appreciation around his special cub. Then the two of them moved slowly back to their home. By the time
Father Lion arrived and he was able to witness the birth of his two new young cubs. Our hero stood proudly next to Mother Lion and his new sisters.
Mother Lion held up her new cubs for Father Lion and their elder brother to see. Then Father Lion stood besid his son proudly. This day would be one to remember forever.
The usual forest sounds returned to the woods surrounding them. A great feat had been accomplished. Our young cub truly came into full Lion-hood and his life would take on a greater meaning and never be the same again.
This was a great day of celebration for the family, Father Lion’s rescue as well as the welcoming new life into the family den.
*originally published in Floyd the Dog Story Book Commemorative
LionAid is a UK charity committed to halt and indeed reverse the catastrophic decline in the African Lion. Numbers have plummeted from over 200,000 animals back in the 1960’s to around 20,000 today, a decline of over 90%. It seeks to educate, inform, and lobby politicians and the general public in order to change human attitudes to this problem. To lose the Lion in Africa would be considered as our final failure to keep natural populations of large predators alive. Without considered conservation plans Lions will have gone the way of Tigers in the next ten years. A much more positive approach is necessary for the remaining 20,000, and this will need action from people of all walks of life.”
Don Ford is a storyteller who began at 15 to pen Poetry & Short Stories. A Native American writer with a strong belief in Creator God and an Environmentalist caring for the natural world. He writes in every genre. He hopes humor keeps readers turning the pages of his work. Don’s work has landed him publishing contracts throughout the U. S. and Europe; Portugal and Cyprus in particular with connections in 62 other countries. He does Editing for short stories up to novellas, along with cover art for their books. From 2006 to 2011, he was the Forum Moderator for both the Humor Forum and the Spiritual Forum for Readers Digest Magazine. He was also the named Storyteller for the New York State Parks and Recreation Dept. at the New York State Fair Aug./ Sept. 2011. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Don Ford/Author & Illustrator
Editor: Dana Gornall