This is an Easter story for little people.
Baba = Father
Mamba = an aggressive and venomous snake from Africa
Umfaan = a small boy
“Umfaan, eat your food slowly, you are not a wild animal.”
“I am a lion, Baba. A wild lion.”
“Ahh, Umfaan, the lion is wild; but there was a time when he was much more polite… and much more wild!”
“When was that Baba?”
“That was a very long time ago, Umfaan; when the animals could speak. Do you want to hear about it?”
“Yes please Baba. I want to hear about when the animals could speak!”
“Well then you need to sit nicely, eat slowly and politely, and I will tell you…”
The Lion was King of the forest when the animals could speak. He was a good King; he was thoughtful of the tiniest of creatures and he was wilder then the wildest lion that has ever lived, and he was very polite.
Almost all of the animals loved him, some of them were jealous of him; but no one dared to plot against him because he was wise and powerful, and very very wild.
One day a hunter man came to live in the forest, he was a bad man who wanted to catch every animal in the forest. So he built a big, ugly house and he built lots and lots of traps that would catch animals, big and small. His traps were long, cruel tunnels, that would lead the animals right into his house. Once an animal entered a trap they could not go back and they could not turn around; and once they got into his house he would put them in cages and torture them.
At night the animals of the forest heard their captured friends screaming, and they were all terrified. No one knew when the next animal would be captured in one of the hunter’s traps.
Eventually the good King Lion called the remaining animals together to discuss what to do about the hunter man and his awful traps.
“We must destroy his house,” suggested the Elephant, “I can run it over with the help of Rhinoceros here, then he will run away and never come back.” Rhinoceros nodded his head in agreement.
“Yes,” agreed the animals, “let’s destroy his house.”
King Lion smiled and shook his head, “my friends,” he said, “you have forgotten that so many of our friends are in that house, they would be destroyed also.”
The Elephant was silent.
“I will lie in wait for the hunter,” said the Mamba snake, “and when he comes I will strike him and he will die.”
“Yes,” agreed the animals, “let the Mamba kill the hunter man.”
Again King Lion smiled and shook his head, “my friends,” he said, “if he is dead how then will we enter his house to free our friends captured inside?”
The Mamba was silent.
So the day went on, each animal spoke of some plan to get at the hunter man, and each time King Lion had to remind them that in their anger they had forgotten about their friends captured in the hunter man’s house.
Eventually the King sighed a big sigh which silenced all the animals, “I have a way to free our friends,” he said, “at first you will not understand it, but you must all trust me.”
With that he stood up slowly and walked away with his head down and a very sad look in his eyes. He turned round to look at them, “don’t follow me,” he told the animals, “just trust me.” Then he walked silently away as all the animals spoke about what he could possibly mean.
The King’s friend, Eagle, followed him despite the King’s instruction. He jumped into the air as soon as the Lion had walked off and watched him from high up as he made his way through the forest.
The King Lion stopped at the entrance of a cave. But from high in the air the Eagle could see that it was not a cave, but was actually one of the hunter man’s traps!
The Eagle called as loud as he could, folding his wings into a steep dive. Perhaps he would be in time to warn the King.
When he reached the cave, he called out, “come out from the cave, it is a trap!”
“Ahh, my friend,” came the Lion’s deep voice from deep inside the cave, “I know it is a trap, didn’t I tell you not to follow me?”
The Lion’s words were kind, not angry, and very very sad.
As the Lion entered the trap it got narrower and narrower until it pressed in on him from all sides. Sharp teeth came out of the sides to the tunnel away from the cave, they prevented him from turning round or backing out and they cut him cruelly.
It was a long and painful day for the King as he crawled froward down the tunnel, He imagined the confusion and hopelessness of the animals as the Eagle told them what he has seen, he could hear of all his friends suffering in the hunter’s cages as he got closer to the hunter’s house; he felt his own pain and despair… but still he pushed on through the tunnel.
Towards the evening King Lion reached the house. His great head appeared in the tunnel exit, blood dripped off his nose as he paused before entering.
Inside it was dark, the dirty curtains pulled closed. The house was filthy inside, hundreds of animals were trapped in cages of all sizes, there were holes in all the walls, the lion recognized them as tunnel exits for all the traps the hunter had set in the forest.
In the cages some animals lay motionless, some sat sobbing, they were all injured and in pain. The hunter man was busy around the cage of a monkey. He was poking him through the bars of his cage with a sharp sword while a fire on the other side of the cage singed his skin and burned his fur.
The hunter was laughing as the monkey screamed in fear and pain. The monkey stopped rather suddenly when he saw the Lion’s head.
The hunter turned round and looked at the Lion.
“Ahhh,” he said walking toward the Lion, “what a wonderful surprise! I didn’t expect you so soon, come on in, let me get your new home ready.”
The Lion forced himself through the hole and collapsed in a heap on the floor. His body and paws were covered with open cuts and he looked exhausted.
The hunter was laughing loud and congratulating himself as he pulled a large cage out from under a pile of rubbish.
“I had not been expecting to use this for some time,” he said, “good thing I had it ready for you.”
He turned to look at the Lion on the floor.
“Look at you!” He said mockingly, “the Great King of the forest, lying in a heap on my floor… Ha ha ha.”
Then he whispered, close to the Lion’s head, “There will be a new king now that you are out the way; I will rule the forest. Actually I have been ruling for some time now. Have you noticed how fearful your subjects have been lately?”
He stood up and threw his hands in the air, “Well imagine how fearful they will be when they realize I have captured the King! I have the great wild Lion, the wildest Lion that ever lived right here in my house!”
Just then the Lion began to stir, he shifted his weight onto his front paws and began to stand up.
“Wait a minute,” said the hunter man, as the truth slowly began to dawn on him, “I have a Lion… a wild Lion… IN MY HOUSE!”
The King Lion was on his feet now and the whole house began to vibrate with his growl, his lips lifted revealing the glimmer of his teeth, his claws started pushing through the fur on his paws; and in his eyes was an anger the hunter had never seen before.
“No, no, you are supposed to get in the cage, here, get in the cage.” said the hunter pointing to the cage while backing away from the King.
The Lion shook himself, his muscles rippled under his skin, he forgot the pain of the of the cuts and opened his mouth and roared at the hunter. The hunter turned to run, “I have a Lion in my house! Help!” he shouted.
With one leap the Lion was on him, and with a single swipe he hurled him right into the cage he had prepared for the Lion, the door slammed shut. The hunter screeched in agony, the Lion’s claws had shredded his shirt and opened his back.
Then the Lion began breaking apart the house, punching holes in the walls and breaking open the cages setting all the animals free.
“Nooooo!” Wailed the hunter man through the bars of his cage.
“Silence!” Said the Lion, with a voice like thunder, as the roof caved in and sunlight poured into the house.
Then the King smashed open the front door and all the animals made their way out of the wreck of a house and back into the forest, some leaping for joy, others slowly helping the weak and the badly injured. Only a few hung back and respectfully thanked the King for rescuing them.
The free animals were overjoyed to see their friends again and made them tell the story of the Lion’s rescue over and over again and they nursed them back to health.
No one ever heard of the hunter man again, but there were rumors that he was last seen in the cage, crying like a little baby, being dragged by the Lion into the deepest, darkest part of the forest.
The Lion arranged teams of animals to destroy all the traps that the hunter had setup and there was peace once more in the forest.
The King Lion became known not just for his wisdom, his kindness and his politeness; but also for his courage. And he was still the wildest lion that ever lived.