“Keep away from them!” Matseng roared. In the silence of the mountain, it was like thunder in the wolf’s ears. “Yes, you, wolf!”
“We have had our differences, but this is no time for that. Can’t you see that your youngsters are in trouble?” pleaded Mystic Moon.
Matseng roared again, but Cleo intervened, moving to stand in front of Matseng, looking into the big lion’s face. Mystic Moon waited patiently. He could feel the wind building up.
One of the cubs, the darker brown one with some black hairs on the ridge of his back and just behind his neck, slipped and small pieces of stone rained down and landed on a small outcrop halfway down the mountain. Mystic Moon couldn’t hear what Cleo was saying to Matseng, but now and again, Matseng let off a soft growl that petered out.
Finally, Mystic Moon yelled “You will never reach them in time. Let me help them!”
One of the cubs whined and a blast of wind whistled through the grass and rocks.
“Fine,” Matseng said, looking up at Moon. “Just this once because you are up there and we have everything to lose.”
Cleo stepped to the side and joined Matseng in looking up at the brown rocks and the three animals up there.
Matseng’s ears were up and directed slightly forward; his tail bristling. He leaned a bit forward on his forelegs. It struck Mystic Moon that Matseng was as worried as Cleo, although he tried to hide it.
Mystic Moon leapt down to a spot in front of the cubs. He grabbed one by the scruff of the neck. Then, after measuring the distance with his eyes, leapt across the crevice to a flat rock. He put the youngster down and went back for the other one.
When both cubs were on the other side, he led them and said. “Come, follow me. I know an easy way down.”
He first climbed up higher to pass a spring before making a turn to a path on the other side of the gully and sticky mud. The cubs followed him.
“I am Mystic Moon, a wolf,” he said, as he waited along the path for the cubs to catch up.
“Thank you, we were so scared,” said the tawny cub.
“I wasn’t,” said the brown youngster with sprinkles of black hair on the back of his neck.
“If you say so, but it is no shame in feeling scared sometimes,” Mystic Moon replied. He noticed the young lion lifting himself higher on his forelegs and raising his tail.
“Truly, I wasn’t. By the way, my name is Little Warrior,” the cub said.
Moon shepherded the cubs down the pathway. Halfway down, Moon stopped and the cubs brushed past him on the path before also coming to a stop. Moon could see Matseng pacing slowly down below. Cleo was resting on her forepaws on a small mound; she kept looking up.
Mystic Moon called out, “Here they are, Matseng and Cleo!” He turned and made his way back up the mountain.
He heard Cleo roar and imagined it was a friendly roar. “Thank you for helping us, mister Wolf,” he heard the light brown cub call out.
He glanced back briefly, nodded his head, and continued to climb. The wind had blown many more clouds over this part of the Magaliesberg mountains; they hung low. It was going to rain for sure. Mystic Moon picked his way from stone to stone and between the bushes, heading towards his cosy den higher up.
Tell us: Do you think Mystic Moon did the right thing by helping the cubs of these lions?