The Leopard's Child

Part Three

One night, the leopard killed a zebra for her boy. She brought it to his house, and put it outside the door. Then she heard voices. The boy and his parents were talking inside the house.

"Tell us more about the leopard," the boy's father said. "That wicked animal! Didn't you hate her?"

"No," the boy said. "She loved me, and I..."

"But now you love us," his father said. "You don't love her now."

"I...I don't know," the boy said.

His mother was angry.

"You only say good things about that leopard," she said. "Don't you remember anything bad?"

The boy thought for a moment.

"Well," he said. "I didn't like her smell. Her mouth was dirty. It was very bad. Sometimes I turned my face away from her. Yes, I remember now. The leopard's smell was horrible."

The leopard was still listening outside the door. She was very sad when she heard this.

"I loved this boy," she thought. "Every day I hunted for him. I gave him all my food. But he doesn't love me at all!"

She ran away into the forest. The boy's words burned in her heart. She became more and more angry.

The next night, she waited by the path. The boy's father was coming home with the cattle. The leopard jumped on him, and killed him. She carried him to his house, and left him there.

"This man tried to turn my child's love away from me," she thought. "This is my revenge."

The next day, she came back again. The boy's mother was coming home from her husband's grave. The leopard jumped on her and killed her. She carried her to the house and left her there.

"This woman hated me," she thought, "but I fed her child. Now I have my revenge."

The boy found his mother. He began to cry.

"My mother and father are dead," he said. "What will happen to me now?"

The leopard came to him.

"I killed your parents," she said. "I heard their cruel words about me. And I heard your answer. 'The leopard's smell was bad,' you said. 'I turned my face away from her.' Oh, my child! You don't know. You don't understand. Your words hurt my heart. But you are my son. I could not hurt you. It was your parents' fault. They tried to take your love away from me, and so I had my revenge. 

But I learned my lesson. I will never trust people again. They are ungrateful. Only animals are faithful to their friends."


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