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Lion and Cat.
By Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Far away on the other side of the world there lived, long ago, a lion
and his younger brother, the wild cat, who were so fond of each other
that they shared the same hut. The lion was much the bigger and stronger
of the two--indeed, he was much bigger and stronger than any of the
beasts that dwelt in the forest; and, besides, he could jump father and
run faster than all the rest. If strength and swiftness could gain him a
dinner he was sure never to be without one, but when it came to cunning,
both the grizzly bear and the serpent could get the better of him, and
he was forced to call in the help of the wild cat.
Now the young wild cat had a lovely golden ball, so beautiful that you
could hardly look at it except through a piece of smoked glass, and he
kept it hidden in the thick fur muff that went round his neck. A very
large old animal, since dead, had given it to him when he was hardly
more than a baby, and had told him never to part with it, for as long as
he kept it no harm could ever come near him.
In general the wild cat did not need to use his ball, for the lion was
fond of hunting, and could kill all the food that they needed; but now
and then his life would have been in danger had it not been for the
One day the two brothers started to hunt at daybreak, but as the cat
could not run nearly as fast as the lion, he had quite a long start. At
least he THOUGHT it was a long one, but in a very few bounds and springs
the lion reached his side.
'There is a bear sitting on that tree,' he whispered softly. 'He is only
waiting for us to pass, to drop down on my back.'
'Ah, you are so big that he does not see I am behind you,' answered the
wild cat. And, touching the ball, he just said: 'Bear, die!' And the
bear tumbled dead out of the tree, and rolled over just in front of
For some time they trotted on without any adventures, till just as they
were about to cross a strip of long grass on the edge of the forest, the
lion's quick ears detected a faint rustling noise.
'That is a snake,' he cried, stopping short, for he was much more afraid
of snakes than of bears.
'Oh, it is all right,' answered the cat. 'Snake, die!' And the snake
died, and the two brothers skinned it. They then folded the skin up into
a very small parcel, and the cat tucked it into his mane, for snakes'
skins can do all sorts of wonderful things, if you are lucky enough to
have one of them.
All this time they had had no dinner, for the snake's flesh was not
, and the lion did not like eating bear--perhaps because he never
felt sure that the bear was REALLY dead, and would not jump up alive
when his enemy went near him. Most people are afraid of SOME thing, and
bears and serpents were the only creatures that caused the lion's heart
to tremble. So the two brothers set off again and soon reached the side
of a hill where some fine deer were grazing.
'Kill one of those deer for your own dinner,' said the boy-brother, 'but
catch me another alive. I want him.'
The lion at once sprang towards them with a loud roar, but the deer
bounded away, and they were all three soon lost to sight. The cat waited
for a long while, but finding that the lion did not return, went back to
the house where they lived.
It was quite dark when the lion came home, where his brother was sitting
curled up in one corner.
'Did you catch the deer for me?' asked the boy-brother, springing up.
'Well, no,' replied the man-brother. 'The fact is, that I did not get up
to them till we had run half way across the world and left the wind
far behind us. Think what a trouble it would have been to drag it here!
So--I just ate them both.'
The cat said nothing, but he did not feel that he loved his big brother.
He had thought a great deal about that deer, and had meant to get on his
back to ride him as a horse, and go to see all the wonderful places
the lion talked to him about when he was in a good temper.