Hidden

Treetop came home. Staghorn saw her dart furtively into the burrow under their leaf-tent, and lay down on the bed of leaves with her back to him. He knew she was hiding something. He did not want to talk to her though.

He sighed in frustration: Gods, she drives me crazy! Well, there’s no avoiding it. So he went over to where she was and squatted down.

Then he saw it. The tiny wolf cub latching on to her breast, suckling.

“What are you doing!” he spat, reaching for the cub. She slapped him away.

“Shhh!” she hushed. “If they see her, they’ll try to kill her.”

“I want to kill it too! Give it to me!” Staghorn demanded.

“No!” She pushed him away. “The cub is mine. I have lost my baby now. I love her, and I want to keep her.”

Staghorn could not believe what Treetop was saying. His mind spun. Has anyone ever tried to keep a wolf cub? He could not remember anyone doing that.

“Are you insane? No one has ever kept a wolf cub. No one ever will. The wolf is our enemy. The wolf kills our people. We have to kill them. If you raise this wolf, it will simply turn on us and kill us too.” Staghorn shook his head.

“I don’t care. I want to keep it and I will. If you love me, you will help me hide her.” She kept her back to him.

He thought to himself: “That’s it. I cannot stand her any longer.” He turned to walk away.

But he knew: He could not live without her. This was just another one of those things that drove him crazy about her. But when he thought about it, how she would not bend to his will, how he wanted to mate with her then!!

Gods! It was annoying. But if it wasn’t Treetop, it would be some other cross woman.

“Alright. You can keep it. For now. But how will you hide it?” he asked.

“Stop calling her ‘it’!” She insisted. “I don’t know. I need you to help me. Say that I am sick. Bring me food. I will keep her here with me and feed her. After a few days, maybe we will think of something.”

And so it was. They kept the little thing, who eventually he started to call “her”. And then an amazing thing happened. When he lay in the burrow with Treetop, spooning with her, watching her feed that tiny cub, he began to hate her a bit less. Gradually, she opened her eyes and began to gaze into his. He saw his soul in there, sometimes.

He found himself after a few days hopelessly in love with her too. He knew, crazy as it sounded, that if someone tried to kill this cub, he would have to kill him.

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