The Cozy Lion_ As Told by Queen Crosspatch
Copyright, 1907, by
THE CENTURY CO.
Published October, 1907
Printed in U. S. A.
I AM very fond of this story of the Cozy Lion because I consider
it a great credit to me. I reformed that Lion and taught him how
to behave himself. The grown-up person who reads this story aloud
to children MUST know how to Roar.
THE COZY LION
I SHALL never forget the scolding I gave him to begin with. Oneof the advantages of being a Fairy even quite a common one isthat Lions can't bite you. A Fairy is too little and too light.If they snap at you it's easy to fly through their mouths, andeven if they catch you, if you just get behind their teeth youcan make them so uncomfortable that they will beg you to get outand leave them in peace.
Of course it was all the Lion's fault that I scolded him. Lionsought to live far away from people. Nobody likes Lions roamingabout—particularly where there are children. But this Lion said hewanted to get into Society, and that he was very fond of children—little fat ones between three and four. So instead of living on adesert, or in a deep forest or a jungle he took the large Cave onthe Huge Green Hill, only a few miles from a village full of thefattest, rosiest little children you ever saw.
He had only been living in the Cave a few days, but even in thatshort time the mothers and fathers had found out he was there, andeverybody who could afford it had bought a gun and snatched it upeven if they saw a donkey coming down the road, because they wereafraid it might turn out to be a Lion. As for the mothers, theywere nearly crazy with fright, and dare not let their children goout to play and had to shut them up in top rooms and cupboards andcellars, they were so afraid the Lion might be hiding behind treesto jump out at them. So everything was beginning to be quitespoiled because nobody could have any fun.
Of course if they had had any sense and believed in Fairies and hadjust gone out some moonlight night and all joined hands and dancedslowly around in a circle and sung:
Fairies pink and Fairies rose
Fairies dancing on pearly toes
We want you, Oh! we want you!
Fairy Queens and Fairy slaves
Who are not afraid of Lions' Caves
Please to come to help us,
then it would have been all right, because we should have come inmillions, especially if they finished with this verse:
Our troubles we can never tell
But if you would come it would all be well
But they hadn't sense enough for that—of course they hadn't—ofcourse they hadn't! Which shows what loonies people are.
But you see I am much nicer than un–fairy persons, even if I havelost my nice little, pink little, sweet little Temper and if I amcross. So when I saw the children fretting and growing pale becausethey had to be shut up, and the mothers crying into their washtubswhen they were washing, until the water slopped over, I made up mymind I would go and talk to that Lion myself in a way he wouldn'tsoon forget.
It was a beautiful morning, and the Huge Green Hill looked lovely.A shepherd who saw me thought I was a gold and purple butterfly andthrew his hat at me—the idiot! Of course he fell down on his nose—and very right and proper too.
When I got to the Cave, the Lion was sitting outside his door andhe was crying. He was one of these nasty–tempered, discontentedLions who are always thinking themselves injured; large round tearswere rolling down his nose and he was sniffling. But I must say hewas handsome. He was big and smooth and had the most splendid maneand tail I ever saw.
He would have been like a King if he had had a nicer expression.But there he sat sniffling.
"I'm so lonely," he said. "Nobody calls. Nobody pays me anyattention. And I came here for the Society. No one is fonder ofSociety than I am."
I sat down on a flowering branch near him and shouted at him,"What's the use of Society when you eat it up?" I said.
He jumped up and lashed his tail and growled but at first he couldnot see me.
"What's it for but to be eaten up?" he roared. "First I want itto entertain me and then I want it for dessert. Where are you? Whoare you?"
"I'm Queen Crosspatch—Queen Silverbell as was," I said. "I supposeyou have heard of me?"
"I've heard nothing good," he growled. "A good chewing is whatyou want!"
He had heard something about me, but not enough. The truth was hedidn't really believe in Fairies—which was what brought him intotrouble.
By this time he had seen me and he was ignorant enough to thinkthat he could catch me, so he laid down flat in the thick, greengrass and stretched his big paws out and rested his nose on them,thinking I would be taken in and imagine he was going to sleep. Iburst out laughing at him and swung to and fro on my flowerybranch.
"Do you want to eat me?" I said. "You'd need two or three quarts ofme with sugar and cream—like strawberries."
That made him so angry that he sprang roaring at my tree andsnapped and shook it and tore it with his claws. But I flew up intothe air and buzzed all about him and he got furious—just furious.He jumped up in the air and lashed his tail and thrashed his tailand CRASHED his tail, and he turned round and round and tore up thegrass.
"Don't be a silly," I said. "It's a nice big tufty sort of tail andyou will only wear it out."
So then he opened his mouth and roared and roared. And what do yousuppose I did? I flew right into his mouth. First I flew into histhroat and buzzed about like a bee and made him cough and cough andcough—but he couldn't cough me up. He coughed and he houghed andhe woughed; he tried to catch me with his tongue and he tried tocatch me with his teeth but I simply made myself tinier and tinierand got between two big fierce white double ones and took one of myFairy Workers' hammers out of my pocket and hammered and hammeredand hammered until he began to have such a jumping toothache thathe ran leaping and roaring down the Huge Green Hill and leaping androaring down the village street to the dentist's to get sometoothache drops. You can just imagine how all the people rushedinto their houses, and how the mothers screamed and clutched theirchildren and hid under beds and tables and in coalbins, and how thefathers fumbled about for guns. As for the dentist, he locked hisdoor and bolted it and barred it, and when he found his gun hepoked it out of the window and fired it off as fast as ever hecould until he had fired fifty times, only he was too frightened tohit anything. But the village street was so full of flashes andsmoke and bullets that Mr. Lion turned with ten big roars andgalloped down the street, with guns fired out of every window wherethe family could afford to keep a gun.
When he got to his home in the Huge Green Hill, he just laid downand cried aloud and screamed and kicked his hind legs until hescratched a hole in the floor of his cave.
"Just because I'm a Lion," he sobbed, "just because I'm a poor,sensitive, helpless, orphan Lion nobody has one particle ofmanners. They won't even sell me a bottle of toothache drops. And Iwasn't going to touch that dentist—until he had cured me andwrapped up the bottle nicely in paper. Not a touch was I going totouch him until he had done that."
He opened his mouth so wide to roar with grief that I flew out ofit. I had meant to give him a lesson and I'd given him one. When Iflew out of his mouth of course his beautiful double teeth stoppedaching. It was such a relief to him that it made quite a change inhis nature and he sat up and began to smile. It was a slow smilewhich spread into a grin even while the tear–drops hung on hiswhiskers.
"My word! How nice," he said. "It's stopped."
I had flown to the top of his ear and I shouted down it.
"I stopped it," I said. "And I began it. And if you don't behaveyourself, I'll give you earache and that will be worse."
Before I had given him his lesson he would have jumped at me butnow he knew better. He tried to touch my feelings and make me sorryfor him. He put one paw before his eyes and began to sniff again.
"I am a poor sensitive lonely orphan Lion,' he said.
"You are nothing of the sort," I answered very sharply. "You arenot poor, and heaven knows you are not sensitive, and you needn'tbe lonely. I don't know whether you are an orphan or not—and Idon't care. You are a nasty, ill–tempered, selfish, biting, chewingthing."
"There's a prejudice against Lions," he wept. "People don't likethem. They never invite them to children's parties—nice littlefat, tender, children's parties—where they would enjoy themselvesso much—and the refreshments would be just what they like best.They don't even invite them to grown–up parties. What I want to askyou is this: has one of those villagers called on me since I camehere—even a tough one?"
"Nice stupids they would be if they did," I answered.
He lifted up his right paw and shook his head from side to side inthe most mournful way.
"There," he said. "You are just as selfish as the rest. Everybodyis selfish. There is no brotherly love or consideration in theworld. Sometimes I can scarcely bear it. I am going to ask youanother question, and it is almost like a riddle. Who did you eversee try to give pleasure to a Lion?"
I got into his ear then and shouted down it as loud as ever Icould.
"Who did you ever see a Lion try to give pleasure to?" I said."You just think over that. And when you find the answer, tell it tome."
I don't know whether it was the newness of the idea, or thesuddenness of it, but he turned pale. Did you ever see a Lion turnpale? I never did before and it was funny. You know people's skinsturn pale but a Lion's skin is covered with hair and you can't seeit, so his hair has to turn pale or else you would never know hewas turning pale at all. This Lion's hair was a beautiful tawnygolden