The lion repents

Have you heard?" whispered Bea the Beaver one morning.

"Heard what," replied Delma who was doing her early morning 10 laps before she set off for school.

"It's Leon! He's returned! I heard his roar last night near the lake," she said with a shiver. Saying this, the beaver scampered off.

Delma was puzzled. In school too she could hear whispers of the name `Leon'. She tried to ask her jelly fish friends but even they — who were known to enjoy a good gossip — did not answer her.

That evening Delma asked her best friends Dazel and Din Din who in the world Leon was.

"Leon! Yes I have heard too. He has returned. His paw prints were seen near the Dark Forest!" replied Dazel with a quiver of her bright wings.

"But will someone tell me who or what Leon is," retorted Delma in exasperation.

"Leon is a lion. The so-called king of D'Land," said Din Din softly.

"But I have been in D'Land for long now," replied Delma. "I've never heard his name."

"That's because Leon disappeared all of a sudden a few years before you came to D'Land," said Dazel.

"Tell me more about him. Why is everyone so scared of Leon," asked Delma in confusion.

Dazel gave a short laugh, "Have you ever seen a lion, Delma."

"No," Delma replied with a shake of her smooth head.

"That's why you are asking me why everyone is so scared of him." Dazel explained. "The lion belongs to the carnivorous cat family called the Panthera leo. They are huge cats with a length of around 5 to 8 feet and a tail of around 24 to 40 inches."

"My dad says that Leon has a huge mane around his head and neck which makes him look majestic and scary. Leon has strong legs and powerful jaws to kill a prey and then feed on it. I have heard from my dad that there were many species of lions in D'Land — but Leon defeated and killed all of them," added Din Din.

That night Delma could not sleep.

"What does Leon look like? I wish I could see him. But if I did see him he would kill, no! I don't want to see him," Delma thought to herself.

It was way past midnight when Delma finally fell asleep. But soon she was awakened by a sound. "What was that," she thought as the remains of sleep fled.

Her acute sense of sight helped her make out the shape of an animal prowling at the edge of the lake. Her sharp sense of hearing was alert.

"Could it be...?" Delma whispered to herself softly.

Terror held her back but her curiosity was more powerful than her fear. Slowly she swam towards the animal at the lake's bank.

As she approached, the creature looked at her, its hazel eyes glinting in the moonlight.

Delma could see that it was a large cat and had a thick mane around its head.

"This is Leon," she said in awe.

Suddenly she was not afraid. She was simply mesmerized by the large, majestic creature before her.

Leon looked straight at her.

"Who are you?" he uttered in a low growl.

Delma was too transfixed to answer.

"Aren't you afraid of me like the rest of them," Leon asked menacingly.

Delma still couldn't say a word.

"I'm ...I'm Delma the dolphin," the dolphin finally replied. "And for some strange reason, I am not afraid of you even though I have heard so many stories about you from my friends."

"Really?! You are a brave one," laughed Leon—a deep, husky laugh. "So what have you heard about me? That I am fierce and mean?"

Delma said, "I don't believe in rumours or stories. I form my own opinions.

Leon suddenly bowed his head. In an instant, he looked old and haggard. "You wouldn't say that if you knew what I have done in my past. All the stories you have heard about me are true. I killed all the other lions in D'Land, but my last fight with a mountain lion left me severely injured."

Delma waited for Leon to continue.

"I went to a remote cave in the furthest part of D'Land to recover but there in my weakness and injury I realized that all I had done to become the most powerful lion of D'Land was so wrong. In my quest for power I had lost all my friends and in my hour of need there was no one to help me," said Leon in his rough voice.

"Are you better now?" asked Delma softly.

Leon looked at her gratefully, "Yes. Much better now. But I want to start over again. I want to be remembered for my strength but not for my wickedness. But I'm afraid it is too late."

"It's never too late," said Delma encouragingly. "I'm sure the creatures of D'Land will give you a chance. I will help you."

"But how?" Leon asked.

"Leave that to me and my friends," said Delma.

The next evening Delma confided in Dazel and Din Din.

"Are you sure Leon wants to turn over a new leaf?" asked Din Din in apprehension. "It's hard to believe."

Delma said, "You should have seen him. He was in tears. If someone wants to repent for his deeds we must give him a chance."

So the three friends set about talking to all the creatures they knew. And now D'Land was abuzz with the words, "Its Leon! He's back. And he has changed completely."

That Sunday a huge crowd gathered at the lakeside. They had been told that Leon was going to make a comeback. A reformed Leon. And the creatures of D'Land all wanted to see whether the rumours were true.

When Leon walked into the clearing near the lake, a gasp rippled through the crowd.

"Dear friends," Leon began in his raspy voice. "I am here to apologize. I am here to make amends for all I have done wrong. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me and befriend me." He bowed his mane.

Silence followed this speech. And then the lakeside thundered with applause. "Welcome back Leon!" cried the creatures in unison. "Everyone deserves a second chance."

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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