According to the author of this story, it seems that it is a true story, and not at all a tale as I allow myself to assert.
It must be said that the author is long dead – and that he comes to us from a time when perhaps science was a little less fussy about the notion of what was possible and what was plausible.
The author is a Latin man who writes in Greek – so I’m sure of it, despite what you can find on the internet. His name is Aelian, the book is called : On the Nature of Animals, and you can find the English translation of this text on the site Attalus.org.
But as the author lived in Rome in the great age of Rome, obviously, one would have to censor almost everything – or rework – or forget to translate to make these writings acceptable to our somewhat fragile and distraught little souls.
So, rather than telling you about the misadventures, often fatal, of males of many species, led astray by their unbridled sexuality, I preferred to tell you the true story of the lions, the madam bear and the woodcutter.
It takes place in the countryside of antiquity, at a time when lions were still easily found elsewhere than in Africa, bears in shambles and trying to survive in the middle of these charming predators, human beings.
The lions were in pairs. They had in their den their cubs, still very weak, unable to defend themselves. As you know, in this species, it is the lady who is better at hunting. So she went hunting for her cubs, accompanied by her lion husband, who probably wouldn’t have wanted to look like an unworthy father.
The cubs are alone in the den, located in a tiny cave.
Alone … not for very long.
They must have been screaming, calling for food, making noises.
Because soon they alerted a madam bear who was not far away.
She saw the cubs, alone.
She surely checks that the parents are not in the area.
They are not there.
It’s good to have a baby lion, especially after an orgy of honey – sugar doesn’t digest too well.
She was hungry, this lady bear, she ate the whole litter of cubs.
I’ll give you my opinion for what it’s worth, on this subject, I admit, not much, but it seems to me that she had eaten too much – she didn’t stray far from the place of her feast – and found herself taken with an irresistible urge to nap.
Who would attack a bear, I ask you?
Here is our lady falling asleep under a tree.
Alas, the parents come back. Loaded with food for their babies, like the attentive parents they are.
They see the massacre. A human does not shine by his flair. But a lion on the other hand….
They howl, follow the track, wake up our beautiful sleeping bear, who runs away with all the speed of her paws.
But the lions are fast and furious – what to do?
They can’t climb trees – not as well as a bear. So she jumps up, climbs, pulls herself up to the top and waits for the lions to get bored.
But they are determined to avenge their children.
They try to climb – to topple the tree – nothing to do.
They get under the tree and wait.
It’s a kind of animal version of trench warfare.
Time passes – and the desire for revenge grows, grows, grows.
Then the lion pretends to leave.
In the thicket, he leaves the lioness.
Perhaps this departure has reassured the bear a little?
The lion goes down as fast as he can towards the village of men – almost in the village. He knows who he is looking for.
And he finds him – he is a robust man – but alone.
When he sees the lion, it is too late: the animal is on him.
He drops his axe.
But the lion does not attack him. It licks him.
He shows a kind of affection. He turns around his legs.
The woodcutter can’t believe it – if he doesn’t die, you can be sure he’ll be telling the whole village about it for the next 50 years.
The lion moves away from the man when he feels that he has tamed him.
Then he takes the axe in his mouth, and lays it at the man’s feet.
He forces him to take it in his hand and then, gently, gently, he invites the man to follow him.
The woodcutter is not a fool – he is not a coward either. He follows the lion.
Arriving under the bear tree, he first sees the lioness, who steps aside to let him pass and raises her muzzle upwards – the man sees the bear.
So he takes his axe, and slowly, surely, he cuts down the tree.
What happens next is too fast for him – he sees a huge brown mass fall, the two lions jumping and … yes, they have avenged their cubs.
The bear torn, the lion then looks at the man and again, invites him to follow him. It seems that he accompanied him to the entrance of the village.
While I find it a little hard to believe everything, especially the ending, I am willing to admit that it is possible that a woodcutter, who witnessed the flight of the bear and the anger of the lions, interfered in the story by cutting down the tree.
It’s a bit incredible, but why not?
And then a story is better when it is a little incredible.
This one, created for the children’s audience, would be a sure hit. A nice moment of play and fear in virtual reality, if you end up with the bear, at the top.
With this, it’s a story that I didn’t need to censor or adjust for modern ears: so it’s perfect.