The birth of Elsa’s cubs and what happened next.

 

 

The time for Elsa’s cubs to be born drew near.  Throughout everything, Clarence was never far from her, for which Elsa was more grateful than she could put into words.  Clarence asked a lot of questions of Ellie, Theo and Tembi about cubbing and related subjects, so he was as clued up as he could be so he could do his duty when the time came.  Unlike Tembi, Elsa’s cubs were no secret, so she was able to spend time choosing a place to have her cubs.  She wanted a place that was warm, secure and had soft bedding so she could have her cubs in as much comfort as possible.  Elsa knew that the bedding would have to be a rug of some kind, one that didn’t give off fibres when a paw was dragged across it.  This was important so her cubs didn’t breathe in the fibres from the rug.  Elsa also wanted a strong rug, so she could dig her paws into it during her labour without ripping it.  Having settled on a place, a secluded alcove in the spare room of the house where no animal went, Clarence and Elsa furnished it with a rug.  Clarence and Elsa settled down there, spending most of their time there to get used to the cubbing den.  Clarence knew Elsa was nervous, for he could feel it in her paws as he stroked them.  Clarence tried to reassure his mate about the birth of the cubs, but he knew his words sounded empty, for Elsa must realise he was as nervous as she was.

 

Elsa’s labour started one cold night.  She was downstairs, chatting with Leo when the first contractions came.  Elsa knew she had time, or she thought she did.  Suddenly she felt an irresistible urge to push against her cub!

      “This shouldn’t be happening yet!”  She yelled, “I want to push against my cub!  It’s too early for this!”  Elsa, despite her protests, knew she had to do what her body demanded of her, and, squatting on her haunches,  pressed down against her cub.  Leo, realising what was happening, covered his mouth with his paw, breathing deeply, as he thought he was going to be sick with fear.  Elsa moaned and panted, her labour progressing faster than she’d anticipated.  After the initial urge to push against her cub, Elsa was able to lie down on her side before another pain gripped her.  Clarence was by her side in an instant, and when Leo saw him, he leapt to his paws and ran for the garden.

       “Labour wasn’t meant to be like this!”  Elsa sobbed, giving herself up to another urge to press down against her cub, “it’s too quick!”  Clarence was worried, he’d heard fast labours could mean problems with the cubs, but then they could also mean the body knew what it was doing and just got on with it.

      “Can you get upstairs?”  Clarence asked.

      “I don’t know!”  Elsa mewed.  Now all the animals were crowding round, shouting advice and encouragement.  Clarence yelled at them all to:

     “Shut up and give us some room!”  The animals fell back, Elsa hardly noticing them.  She was fighting to bring her cubs into the world when she was ready, not when they were, and losing the fight.  Whimpering with fear and pain, Elsa braced her paws and heaved!  Clarence watched as the tiny forepaws and head of a lion cub emerged.  Now he felt no fear, for what was the use of it.  Elsa was frightened enough as it was, and Clarence knew that his fear would only make things worse.  Elsa bore down against her cub once more, and it slid into the outside world.  Clarence stroked Elsa’s paws as she delivered a second cub, gripping his paws with hers, crushing them as best she could when her pain got too much.  Clarence didn’t mind, for the pain he was suffering was nothing to Elsa’s.

     “We’re not going to make it upstairs now!”  Elsa mewed.

     “Don’t worry about that,”  Clarence said gently, “just concentrate on having your cub.  Elsa bore down against her cub for the last time, feeling her pain ease as  the cub slid free.  She knew two cubs were all there were, and the immediate relief was wonderful.  Elsa lay, her body drenched with sweat.

      “what’s that!”  Someone yelled.  Clarence looked round, to see Ellie waving her paw at one of the cubs, which was struggling onto its tiny paws.  The cub was white from nose to tail!

       “What is it indeed,”  Clarence thought.  Elsa caught the general drift of the conversation, realised there was something wrong and roused herself, turning to look at her cubs.  She at once saw the white cub.

      “What have I given birth to!”  she yelled.

     “There’s nothing to worry about,”  Clarence said quickly.

      “But, my cub, it’s white!”  Elsa mewed.  The tiny cub staggered over to Elsa and tried to suckle from her milk supply.  Elsa growled at the white cub and pushed it away with her paw.  The cub, confused, looked at its sibling, who’d got to its paws and staggered towards Elsa in a similar manner.  Elsa let this one drink.  The white cub tried again to drink, but Elsa snapped at its head, and drove it away.  Clarence watched Elsa and her cubs with growing alarm.

      “There must be some kind of explanation for this!”  He yelled.  Tommy looked at the white cub, sniffed at it, then walloped it!  The cub flew across the room, smashing into the back of the sofa where Clarence slept.  The cub fell onto the seat of the sofa, limp and apparently lifeless.

       “Everyone, get out of here!”  Clarence yelled.  He picked the white cub up in his mouth and carried it upstairs to the spare room, where the prepared cubbing den was.  Lying the tiny cub down in the warm rug, which Clarence himself had been lying on when he heard Elsa’s squeal of pain, he lay down beside the cub to protect it, wondering how on earth he was to feed it, for Elsa wouldn’t, or would she?  Miserably, Clarence examined the cub, who snuggled up to him as it felt his touch.  The cub had tightly shut eyes, normal pigment of lips and paw pads, but its fur was white.  It was white from the tips of it’s  ears to the soles of its paws.  Clarence gulped hard, realising this cub wouldn’t have long to live if he didn’t do something soon.

     “I can’t let it die,”  he thought.  Clarence got to his paws, picking the tiny cub up in his mouth, feeling it relax as all cubs do when being carried.  His vision blurred by tears, Clarence made his way to the door onto the landing.  He was about to leave when Elsa arrived, brushing past him.  She was carrying her other cub, the one with the regular markings.  Clarence put the white cub down gently on the carpet and turned to his mate.

      “Don’t even ask,”  she said, “The answer is no.”  Clarence opened his mouth to protest, but Elsa waved her paw at him.

     “Drown it,”  she said, It’s bad enough having Tommy’s cubs, but having a white cub too?  I can’t cope with that!”

      “but you asked me to look after them,”  Clarence mewed, “it’s not this cub’s fault it was born white!”  Elsa looked with distaste at the white cub.

      “Take it away!”  She yelled, “I don’t want it!”  Clarence, leaden pawed, picked up the tiny bundle of fur in his mouth and carried it downstairs.  Tigger heard his friend’s scuffing paws, and felt Clarence’s mood.

       “Let me hold the tiny cub Clarence,”  Tigger said.  Clarence was about to refuse, when he realised that his and Tigger’s love might be the only thing this cub knew before it starved to death.  He placed the tiny cub in Tigger’s paws, the blind tiger embracing the tiny white form tenderly.  Tigger felt the tiny cub lick his paw, trying to find milk.

     “Poor thing,”  Tigger mewed.  Clarence looked down at the tiny cub, wondering how long he had to find a solution to the problem of food before it was too late.

      “Can anyone help?  Please!”  Clarence sobbed.  The other animals, tigers, bears, otters and leopards all looked at each other.  Aslan, Tembi’s tiny blind cub crawled over to Tigger and stroked the white lion cub’s paw with his.

       “Mum’s still got some milk,”  he said to Clarence, “now if I forgo half what I drink, then this little cub can have some too.”  Clarence stared at Aslan.

      “You’d have to ask your mum,”  he said, “she might not want to give her milk to a cub which isn’t hers.”

      “I’m sure she won’t mind,”  Aslan said.  Tembi spat on the carpet.

      “You little rogue!”  She yelled, words almost failing her, “How dare you!”

      “Tembi,”  Theo mewed, “Aslan’s right.  It’s not the cub’s fault it was born white.  Elsa doesn’t want it, so it will die if we don’t help it.  Aslan’s been born a month now, but you still feed him with milk, how about if you fed the white cub too?  It wouldn’t be difficult.”

     “No, no and no!” Tembi yelled.  Theo watched as Aslan crawled over with the tiny white cub.  Tembi watched also, as Aslan, as blind as the newborn cub itself, guided it by one paw.

      “She’s already been abandoned by her mother,”  Aslan said, “you didn’t abandon me, so please, don’t abandon her.”  Tembi looked at the white cub, now shivering with cold.

     “Go on,”  Theo said, “take her in your paws, hug her.”  Tembi took the tiny cub in her paws and did just as Theo suggested.  Tembi felt the cub snuggle up to her, and her reservations evaporated.

       “What was I saying?”  She asked, “I don’t know what came over me.  Of course I’ll help this cub.”  Soon the white cub was drinking thirstily from Tembi’s ample milk supply.

     “There will be enough to go round,”  Tinka mewed, “there always is in small families of one or two cubs.”  Tembi knew this.

     “Thank you mum,”  Aslan said.  Tembi hugged her older cub.

      “You were right to ask,”  she said, “I was wrong to refuse.”  Aslan felt no triumph, just relief he’d not had to witness the preventable death of a cub.

      “She’s got white fur from nose to tail,”  Theo said to Aslan, “she’s beautiful!”

       “Her fur felt soft and warm when I touched her,”  Aslan said.  Theo extended a large paw and touched the white cub’s tiny one.

     “How could Elsa abandon you little one?”  he asked.

 

Clarence watched everything, relieved someone had found milk for the tiny white cub.  The full enormity of what Aslan had forced Tembi to do hadn’t hit home yet.

     “Aslan saved that cub’s life Clarence,”  Tigger mewed.

      “What?”  Clarence asked.

      “Didn’t you hear what he asked Tembi to do?  He asked her to let the white cub drink from her milk supply.  She was reluctant, but he told her that the cub had been abandoned by her birth mother, and it would be a crime to let her suffer needlessly.  So now Tembi’s letting the cub drink milk.”  Clarence looked at Tembi, who smiled.  Having the white cub snuggled up to her, purring contentedly felt very good indeed!

      “this cub’s mine now,”  she mewed.  Clarence ran to Tembi and hugged her, then threw his paws around Aslan, almost crushing the cub in his embrace.

      “You saved that cub!”  Clarence sobbed.  Tembi and Aslan smiled, Tembi kicking herself for initially refusing to help the white cub.

 

Elsa padded in, saw her white cub snuggled close to Theo, and realised what he and Tembi had done.

      “You, you horrid creatures!”  Elsa yelled, “how dare you give a home to that, that freak of nature!”

     “It’s not her fault she was born white,”  Aslan said, “if you’re talking of freaks of nature, then why not have a go at me too?  I’m not meant in the normal course of things to survive as long as I have, but I have.  I will not have you talking of this cub like that!  She’s beautiful from her ears to her paws!”

      “How do you know she’s beautiful!”  Elsa yelled, “you can’t see her!”

      “I felt her fur, I felt her paws, and she’s beautiful inside that white fur,”  Aslan said, “I’ve been told she’s white from ears to paws.  Theo seemed to like what he saw anyway.”  Elsa spat at Aslan.

      “You are impossible!”  She yelled, “I gave birth to that cub only three hours ago, and I want it dead!”

     “You don’t own this cub,”  Aslan said, “she’s not your property.  Her life is not yours to throw away.”  Elsa clenched her teeth, trying to suppress an urge to kill Aslan!

      “You mark my words,”  she said, “that cub’s no good!”

      “I don’t think her condition is life threatening,”  Kalahari said, “I think it’s a gene Tommy carried which has transmitted to one of his cubs.”

     “And what would you know about this!”  Elsa yelled.

     “The condition is called leucism, Kalahari replied, “it’s caused by a recessive gene which causes loss of white pigment in the skin and fur.  it’s non lethal, just a bit of a pest when summer comes.  Cubs who have this are not albino, as their lips and paws have pigment, their eyes do too.  It’s said your cub will have golden yellow or blue eyes when they open.”  Elsa was frightened.

      “This cub’s a genetic misfit!”  She yelled.

      “Join the club,”  Snowy mewed.

       “that’s horrible!”  Clarence snapped, angry at snowy for cracking a joke about such a serious subject.”

       “There’s nothing wrong with white animals,”  Salty mewed, “and snowy, you’re not a genetic misfit, nor is our newest arrival.”

     “I think she is!”  Elsa yelled.

       “Let’s all settle down,”  Kalahari suggested, “let’s all see what happens shall we?  The white cub is no problem to any of us, none at all.  Let her live, let her play like any other cub.”  Elsa knew she was outvoted, and stormed upstairs to tend to her other cub.  Leo padded back into the living room, looking decidedly unwell.

     “is it over?”  he asked.  Theo looked at his brother.

     “Settle down,”  he said, “there’s quite a tale to tell.”  When Theo finished telling the tale of the birth of Elsa’s cubs and what happened next, Leo was crying.

     “that poor white cub,”  he sobbed.

    “she’s all right now,”  Theo said, “she’s safe.”

      “You rescued her?”  Leo asked.  For in truth, he’d been so upset by Elsa’s rejection of her cub that he’d taken little notice of anything Theo had said after that.

     “I told you, Tembi’s feeding her, and Aslan’s adopted her as his sister.”  Leo looked through his tears at the white cub snuggled up to Aslan, who was stroking her paws.

     “she’s, so, so beautiful!”  Leo mewed.

 

 

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Martin Wilsher © 2006

 

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