The Lion, the Mouse, and the Thorn
copyright © 2003 by Robert L. Blau
Once upon a time, there was a powerful Lion who
the animal kingdom with a mighty paw and a dense skull.
One day, when the Lion was proudly pacing the
of his domain, he had the misfortune to step on a thorn, which lodged
in his paw.
"Eee-youch!" yelped the Lion, and began prancing
on three legs. He roared. He yowled. He shook his
paw in agony. He screwed up his face, which was already screwed
enough. He sucked helplessly at the offending thorn. But it
not come out.
Before long, the Lion's howling attracted the other
"Gosh," said the Elephant. "What happened?"
"Can't you see, you numbskull?" roared the Lion.
damned thorny plants ambushed me and stuck a thorn into my paw!"
"Gee, that looks painful," said the Elephant. "Is
anything I can do to help?"
"Yeah," said the Leopard. "Anything at all.
let me know."
Even the Hyena refrained from laughing. "Hey,
we all feel like we're lions," he said.
"I sympathize, too," said the Zebra. "If you weren't
trying to eat me, I might sympathize a little more."
At length, a tiny Mouse stepped forward.
"Oh, mighty Lion!" said the Mouse, bowing and
with appropriate obsequiousness. "I think I can help. Here's how
will work. You just let me climb onto your paw, and I'll gnaw
thorn out. I'm just the perfect size for this, and it will only
a few seconds."
"Get lost!" roared the Lion. "Anyone touches my paw,
dead meat! Get it?"
"It'll only hurt for a minute, Your Majesty,"
the Mouse. "Then it'll be all over, and you'll never have to worry
"You got a death wish, pipsqueak?" growled the Lion.
out of here before I get really mad! That goes for all
"I don't understand," said the Mouse.
"I am the King!" roared the Lion. "I don't need
your flippin' sympathy! Sympathy is for pansies, and I'm
about unfettered machismo!"
"Uh, we just want to help," said the Crocodile.
"Yeah, sure," scoffed the Lion. "You think I can't
through those tears? Accepting help is a sign of weakness, and I'm
all about strength." He thumped his chest with the injured paw
stifled the scream of pain at the cost of only a few blood vessels.
"But," persisted the Mouse, "why suffer pain when
don't have to?"
"Only wusses are afraid of pain," jeered the Lion.
I can take lots more pain than this! In fact, by my
standards, this doesn't even hurt at all!"
"It's going to get infected," warned the Mouse.
"Hah!" roared the Lion again. "Screw the lot of you!
fight my own battles! In fact, I am about to begin my War on
Plants. Now, you can either help me root out all the thorny
in the world, or I'll know you're traitors."
"Point of clarification," said the Elephant. "If we
you root out thorny plants, wouldn't that be a sign of weakness on your
By your definition, of course."
"Nonsense!" screamed the Lion. "It's entirely
If you guys help me voluntarily when I'm in trouble, that's
If I bully and threaten you into helping me, and you do everything I
you to, that's strength."
"Well," said the Hyena, "that sounds more like
to me." And he sauntered off.
"Where do you intend to begin your War on Thorny
asked the Leopard.
"First of all," said the Lion, "I'm going to root
that thicket right over there. And he rushed in, roaring and
"Oh, Lion!" called the Elephant. "All your thrashing
is creating a huge cloud of seeds and pollen. That's going to
spread these thorny plants far and wide. Are you sure you know
The Lion didn't answer, but after a few minutes, he
limping out of the thicket.
"Success!" cried the Lion. "That's one more nest of
that's never going to bother anyone again!"
"What's all that stuff sticking to your fur?" asked
Leopard. "Looks like more seeds that you're going to spread yourself."
"Won't you reconsider?" begged the Mouse.
picked up several more thorns, both in your paws and elsewhere."
"Phooey!" spat the Lion. "Onward in the War on
"And, uh, where would that be?" asked the Crocodile.
"Antarctica!" declared the Lion.
"I don't believe there are any thorny plants
Antarctica," said the Elephant.
"Ha!" snapped the Lion. "Shows what you
hiding their thorny plants and exporting them to Africa.
I'm already King of Beasts in Africa. There are lots of other
creatures on other continents that need to acknowledge my magnificence.
Antarctica seems a relatively safe place to start. Anyway,
have always pissed me off. Strutting around like they're so
NOTE: Scientists are still debating the meaning of a frozen,
lion carcass discovered in Antarctica. Cause of death is the
of the questions facing the befuddled scientists ...
Index of Stories