By Mark Willis
In a land far away there roamed an impressive coalition of lion brothers, 4 large fearsome lions and their younger brother cub. As the cub grew up he watched his elders with awe and admiration….. one day hoping to be just like them. They were big and magnificent beasts who seemed to know everything and could do anything. But it was a tough life for the little cub, always on the receiving end of the bigger brothers’ jokes and rough play.
The summer months on the plains were hot and food was scarce. The cub was always hungry and asked the brothers how they grew so big on so little food.
The brothers all told stories of how at first light they would venture into the jungle, overpower their foes and evade all perils to catch extra prey, while each other slept. The cub longed to do the same but was too fearful to go by himself. Each time he asked to go with them they laughed and said he was too little and would be eaten alive by the beasts that lay within the jungle.
Determined, the cub ventured in one night alone. He didn’t go far, at each step he felt he was being tracked by the “predators” his brothers had told him about – he was scared….. but if his big brothers could do this, he was sure he could. ‘Tomorrow I will try again’ he thought……. Scared and uncertain he again entered the jungle and went further using all of his senses and agility to navigate safely.
Each night he went a little further until one night he came across a narrow clearing where he could hear a deep rumbling roar in the distance. He crept slowly, shaking with fear as he went. The roar got louder and louder until he saw a waterfall with the most magnificent lion he’d ever seen crouching down, approaching him slowly, blocking his way. This must be the beast…..my brothers had told me about as he turned on his heels and ran away. Each night the cub came back and each night the lion seemed bigger and more powerful than before, bigger than two of his brothers combined….. “how was I ever to get past this lion like my brothers do” he thought?
One night, many moons later…….. after more taunting and rough play with his brothers, the cub went into the jungle with extra steel in his will……. That night the cub instead of creeping down the passage came up with a new plan……. “I might not be able to overpower this magnificent lion…….. but while he is twice the size of my brothers……….. there are 4 of them and I still survive…… I’ll use my speed and agility to get past the beast instead”…..so this time the cub closed his eyes and ran as fast as he could…… closer and closer to the roar and where the lion would be, until the noise of the water was so loud he could no longer hear his paws thump on the ground as he ran…… just as the noise reached a crescendo he leaped….. Expecting to get a heavy clump and begin the fight of his life……. but instead he felt a simple wash of cool water over his body as he landed with a thud on the other side of the waterfall…….
He looked around……. amazed at what he saw…. the lion behind him had gone and ahead was a plain where food was bountiful beyond his wildest dreams……..and he feasted ! How impressed he was with himself for doing this…… and now he could share in his bothers stories and grow strong just like them. On the way home the waterfall lion was still nowhere to be seen – confused but glad, the cub made his way home swiftly.
The following night the cub awoke to almighty commotion, there was a fire on the plains and the lions were forced away from their home and into the jungle. “No problem” the cub thought, “I know where to go”, but his brothers were panicked…..and to his surprise, they stayed behind him as he headed to the jungle the way he’d been rehearsing all these nights. Nearing the clearing, there as usual was the guarding lion in front of the waterfall, getting larger and larger as the cub approached…. this time something was different, there was the outline of 4 smaller lions behind it…… shimmering in the spray from the water! But there was not time to think……closing his eyes he again leaped at the oncoming lion and again the clump eluded him as he landed on the other side of the fall……. Dripping with fresh cool water the cub awaited his brothers to follow…..but they never came….. as he turned back the guarding lions had once again vanished….. but he could just see his brothers through breaks in the water…..standing facing him…… scared to come any further…….