The Colony
V. Ducain

Lessons - Part II

        Jay and Melissa found a nice cool out of the way shady spot on the ledge in front of the cave entrances, curled up together and dozed off. Some time later the peacefully sleeping cubs were rudely awakened by a couple gourdsfull of cold water and found Brandy, Buffy and a couple of their old sisters' friends standing over them. Backing up together while facing Brandy and the others, hissing and spitting warningly, Jay and Melissa crouched ready to defend themselves from the older cubs. Brandy and hir friends knew the smaller cubs were not bluffing and had also learned they had very sharp claws and teeth that they would not be at all slow to use to 'defend' themselves, even if it meant a beating from White Tip. Brandy and Buffy also knew White Tip would be even harder on them if shi decided they had started the fight. White Tip had been allowing Brandy to call hirself Black Tail, and had even been using hir chosen name, but shi had warned Brandy that could change if shi acted more like a cub then an adult, so Black Tail resisted hir urge to put 'The Brats' in their place.

        A challenging smirk on hir face, Black Tail sat in front of the wet hissing cubs, hoping they would start something. When it was clear Jay and Melissa were not going to do more then hiss and spit, Black Tail said, "May asked us to wake you pests up for school," as shi got up to leave. Looking back over hir shoulder, shi added, "I don't know how yea got away, but I know yea knocked me in the pool."

        Jay muttered, "va taHqeq"

        Black Tail immediately turned in a flash and slapped Jay across hir muzzle then replied in a threateningly, "bej raj nuj, ghew!"

        At Jay's surprised look Black Tail said, "Didn't think I understood what yea said, did yea, yea little ghew!"

        While Buffy and the other two older cubs chuckled and laughed as they padded away with Black Tail Melissa said, "va! Why did GoFar and Copperhead haveta go'n teach those petaQ tlhIngan Hol?"

        Jay stretched as shi said, "They'll teach anyone who wants to learn tlhIngan Hol. Too bad school isn't as much fun..." then padded into the cave with Melissa to get their writing slates and chalk.

        Melissa asked, "You ready for the alphabet quiz?"

        "Yeah, but I still don't see why they changed everything... I already know my ABC's."

        "Me too, but the new alphabet is suppose to make spelling a lot easier. May said, 'if you can pronounce it, you can spell it' and Night Runner said we'll be able to 'spell' sounds 'n things we can't pronounce so someone else will know what it sounds like."

        "Still a big kink in the tail to learn all those different letters and sounds."

        Melissa laughed and reminded Jay, "More than kink-in-tail for lotta adults... even White Tip and Black Mane isn't doing as good as we are."

        "I think DiVargin is having trouble too, but yea know how shi hates admitting Black Mane can do 'brain-work' as good as shi can."

        The school was outside under a high wide overhang a little way along the ridge from the cave entrances. Only a third of the students were cubs, the rest were adults which included most of the community leaders. May, whose eidetic memory made hir the best teacher as far as certain subjects like the new alphabet was concerned, began the class by reminding everyone about the quiz, then quickly reviewing the 60 letters and 12 tonal modifiers of a basically Shavian-Shaw phonic alphabet.

        After the review May explained, "This will be a two-part quiz. In the first part you will write on your slate the symbol or symbols that best represent the sound or sounds presented to you. There will be twenty-five questions in this first part. The second part will be verbal in which I will call on each of you individually. I will either point to seven to ten letters or modifiers, or write a combination of letters with modifiers on the board and the one called on will pronounce the sound represented, use it in a word, or explain why that letter combination used that way is unpronounceable.

        "Anyone other than the one called on speaking or otherwise being a distraction will be failed and asked to leave. I’m sure extra work details will be found for anyone so failed. Are there any questions before the quiz begins?"

        Jay raised hir hand and asked, "That part about failing and extra work for adults too?"

        White Tip spoke up in reply to Jay's question, "Yes, it does. Anyone, means anyone, but the only one you have to worry about is Jay."

        Not all of the sounds were parts of words, two were actually simple animal calls provided by Weaver. Of course several people, all adults, objected to 'weird noises' being part of the test, which did not do them any more good than it would complaining cubs. As expected, the second part lasted much longer then the first part as each student was called on to verbally provide answers to their questions. Since there was no other classes for the day, most of the students were excused after completing the verbal part of their quiz, but since Black Tail and Buffy and their friends were excused first, Jay and Melissa decided it would be best to stay in class, and to hang around White Tip and other adults for a while to avoid a possible-probable ambush by the older cubs.

        After moving away from the class a little, Jay whispered, "Yea know Brandy's gonna get even for the dunking."

        Melissa shrugged and replied, "Yeah, so what is new about that? A' least this time shi'll have a reason, and besides what shi gonna do, dunk us? Shi won't really hurt us, so it'll be fun figurin’ what shi's gonna do 'n doin’ it to hir first."

        Shortly after the cubs made themselves comfortable near the class where they could watch the others finishing the quiz, yet where they thought no one could sneak up behind them, a familiar voice said, "I am pleased to find you two rested and with empty time to fill."

        Jay's and Melissa's heads snapped around to the source of the voice and found Weaver sitting half a body length away smiling down at them with hir tail wrapped around hir feet. As the cubs looked around trying to figure out how Weaver managed to sneak up on them this time shi continued, "Come, I have use for nimble hands and curious minds." before standing and, silently as always, padding away.

        As the cubs followed Weaver, Jay muttered, "How shi do that? There's no way shi could sneak up behind us this time!"

        Melissa shrugged and whispered in return, "Like I told yea, Weaver's a witch... bet shi can be invisible when shi wants."

        Weaver stopped at the hospital first where Jay and Melissa let White Tip's and Katherine's kittens play with their tails while Weaver talked to Katherine, "A group of hunters made a big kill out on the prairie. I believe you and White Tip said something about finding ways to put the excess energy of certain precocious cubs to constructive use. If possible, I would like to have these two go out with me to help with the butchering. We may be away two, possibly three days."

        Watching the cubs playing with the kitten Katherine commented, "Aren't they a little young to be doing that kind of heavy work?"

        "Young in years maybe, but eager and quick to learn, and there will be many tasks well suited for them."

        Katherine sighed and said, "I agree with White Tip that we must allow the young ones as much freedom as possible to grow and develop, but I also know those two face and probably even play with potentially lethal dangers every day which we can do little to protect them from, short of keeping them on a leash all the time. We worry about them all the time they are out of sight, but we can see they are more alert, happier, and actually better behaved than the cubs whose parents try to protect them from every possible danger. Even before our transformation, White Tip and I both knew it was simply not possible to protect children from all of life's dangers if they are to ever grow up to be responsible adults. Here and now, we know it is even more important our children, our 'cubs', have the freedom to grow and develop into confident responsible adults, but allowing them that freedom is so hard because we also realize it will be paid for in young lives."

        Weaver watched the cubs and kittens playing a while in silence before replying, "I know you are an elder, as am I, old enough to have lost most of those who you cared about in your life. I am the only survivor of my generation, as well as the one that followed. Most of my childhood siblings and companions died long before you were born, most died young. It has been many, many years since death held any terror for me, and I doubt you have much fear of death either, but it still hurts when family or friends leave us. We have been most fortunate this world has only claimed two lives so far, but we both know many more will die as we make this world our own, and no matter how well their parents strive to protect them, many of those who die will be curious cubs and kittens. Yet to kill that curiosity, that need to learn in the young, would be far worse then allowing them the freedom to explore their world and possibly dying in the quest."

        Changing the subject, Katherine asked, "How are you and DiVargin getting along as shi gets closer to hir time?"

        "Honey Tongue is of course loath to admit it, but shi is adjusting quite well and is looking forward to hir coming motherhood."

        Katherine could not keep from giggling at Weaver's use of DiVargin's 'pet name' and commented, "God, I wish I had thought of 'Honey Tongue' for White Tip... I assume you're referring to more than hir oratory skills."

        Weaver just licked hir lips and smiled in reply, then commented, "I have to admit, I am surprised by how many former males are finding themselves pregnant."

        Katherine snorted smiled as shi said, "Even more surprising how many claimed they did not realize they were in heat, as if anyone would actually believe that excuse." Then shi raised hir voice and said, "Melissa, Jay get your saddlebags and overnight hunting kits. You will be going with Weaver, and I of course expect you to mind hir as you would me White Tip or May."

        Melissa and Jay were having fun playing with the kittens and seemed to have their full attention on the playful little fur balls, but were still aware of Katherine and Weaver watching them while they talked. Of course they were curious about what the adults were talking about, but Katherine and Weaver were among the few adults who did not forget how acute cub's hearing was, and always pitched their voices when nosy cubs were around to make it much harder to eavesdrop on them without being obvious. The kittens’ noise only made eavesdropping harder so neither cub really heard enough to make sense of the few words and a name Honey Tongue they did pick up.

        While the adults watched, Jay and Melissa eagerly scrambled to gather up their saddlebags and gear, then presented themselves for inspection after they had their loaded leather saddlebags and harness strapped on. Weaver pulled a pair of throwing sticks from Melissa's harness, checking their weight and balance, then asked, "You make these, or trade for them?"

        Melissa replied, "I traded for them, but I had to shorten them and adjust the balance to make them throw better."

        Examining the workmanship, Weaver said, "Good job. Did you have help?"

        "Just a little, Wind Runner showed me what needed to be changed, but I did most of the work."

        "Are you as good with these as you are with your sling?"

        "Almost; just need to practice a little more."

        After returning the throwing sticks to Melissa, Weaver pointed to the atlatls and javelin-darts both cubs carried and said, "Leave those here. We will be working, not hunting this time, so you will not be needing them."

        Feeling disappointed Jay pleaded, "Can't we take them to practice with... please?"

        "There will be little opportunity for you to practice since we have over 80 kilometers to cover as quickly as we can. If you are willing to carry the extra weight you may do so, but I will still expect you to keep up."

        "But my thrower and darts weigh less then Melissa's throwing sticks."

        Weaver smiled and replied, "That is true, but I think you will find four, five foot darts will prove a heavier load then two, throwing sticks a quarter that length."

        While Jay was pleading with Weaver, Katherine found Jay's and Melissa's personalized comb and brush sets in their saddlebags and exchanged them for a much plainer set, putting the brush in Melissa's and the comb in Jay's saddlebag. After checking the rest of the contents of their saddlebags, Katherine ran hir fingers through Melissa's mane as shi said, "You take care of Jay and both of you mind Weaver. You are older so I will expect you to keep Jay from doing anything you know you two are not allowed to do."

        "Okay Kathy, I'll make sure Jay behaves."

        Katherine hugged Melissa and Jay as shi said, "You both be careful and mind Weaver." Then shi kiss-licked both cubs and gave them a little push toward Weaver.

        As the cubs trotted along side Weaver Melissa asked, "What did the hunters kill?"

        "I believe it is one of the larger tusked four-horns."

        Jay asked, "How big are those?"

        "The one the hunters killed weighs about as much as an adult elephant. Most in that family are smaller, but I understand there is at least one kind which grows more then twice that size."

        Melissa asked, "You think we will see a three-horn whip-tail?"

        "Not if I see it first. Those are to be avoided, not hunted or bothered. They are far too dangerous and hard to kill with the weapons we have."

        Jay joked, "Good thing they don't like each other too."

        Weaver seriously replied, "Yes, a good thing."

        Jay asked, "There be lot more of them, wouldn't there?"

        "Yes, that is possible"

        Weaver and the cubs met with a dozen others, including Jay's older 'brother' Randal, who was taking part in the butchering and recovery expedition. Randal was not the only one questioning Jay's and Melissa's presence, but accepted Weaver's assurance of their good behavior. At the same time shi subtlety reminded the cubs their behavior would now reflect on hir honor. In addition to their personal packs and gear, all of the adults were packing a substantial load: about 50kg of supplies that would be needed to butcher, prepare and transport an elephant-sized kill. Since Jay and Melissa were just carrying their own packs, they were expected to keep up the pace regardless of their young age. This was a fact Jay and Melissa were really appreciating long before the first rest stop, the halfway point about three hours after setting out.

        When Weaver finally called a stop a little before sundown to eat and rest a while, Jay and Melissa collapsed with great drama, much moaning and groaning. While the cubs were not the only ones glad for the break, they were the only ones who had no inhibitions about loudly letting everyone know how 'totally tired out' they were, and how they would not be able to move for hours. Of course, in well less than an hour, more like fifteen minutes, the cubs had little trouble finding the energy for a wrestling match which abruptly ended to give chase to a bush-bunny scared up by the overactive cubs. The chase was noisy but short, over before any of the adults got annoyed enough to complain to Weaver who was keeping a casual eye on them from the comfort of a tree-rest in the branches of one of the few good-sized trees in the area.

        Like good hunters, the cubs returned to the camp with their kill, a nice plump 6 kilogram bush-bunny, and offered to share it although it was pretty clear they would prefer to keep it for their own meal. Climbing down from hir tree-rest, Weaver examined the cubs' kill as shi commented on their hunting techniques that shi had observed from hir tree-rest, then said, "When you offer to share your kill it should be done because you truly wish to share."

        Melissa said, "Oh, but we thought it was the polite thing to do... you know, like saying good morning when it's not."

        Resisting a smile Weaver explained, "You are not being 'polite' in making an offer you hope will not be accepted... But, you are young, and the offer is appreciated."

        Using razor sharp chipped glass blades Jay and Melissa quickly had the bush-bunny shinned, then instead of gutting it and roasting it over the campfire the two cubs divided it between them and ate the whole thing with obvious enjoyment. Randal and a few other adults looked a little ill and found something else to look at while the cubs were enjoying their meal. Randal did complain to Weaver, "That was totally gross! How could they do that and look like they enjoyed it just to gross everyone out!?"

        Weaver shrugged and replied, "While they may have intended to be mildly annoying, I believe they did enjoy their kill as they seemed to."

        "But how could they enjoy eating like that, like... like animals?"

        "Why do you say that? Because they ate their kill uncooked?"

        "Well... yeah!"

        Pausing to turn a fallen log over, shi began tearing into the rotted wood now exposed with the heavy claws of hir hand-paws as shi said, "I see you have not spent enough time out in the field, away from The Caves..."

        Shi paused to pick out a couple plump thumb-sized grubs from the shredded wood which shi tossed in hir mouth and ate with obvious enjoyment before continuing, "Otherwise I'm sure you wouldn't feel that way."

        Picking out another plump grub which shi handed to Randal saying, "Here, try one. These are quite tasty, even better then than the green beetle forest grubs I remember enjoying back home."

        While Randal stared at the pale squirming grub in hir hand, Weaver continued, "Insect grubs, caterpillars, termites, small reptiles, seafood of all kinds, even small mammals were commonly enjoyed by many people on Earth. Not everyone shares American food taboos. The French are said to eat anything that is not proved poisonous, at least from the British and American point of views. There are many things which are not usually worth the trouble of bringing back to camp, but which can provide tasty snacks for a hungry hunter."

        When Randal did not seem to be eager to have a grub snack Jay saw it and asked, "Oh, that's a big one, can I have it if you don't want it?"

        Melissa, looking for hir own grubs instead of trying to mooch off Randal and Weaver, held up two plump grubs and commented, "Yeah, these are lot bigger then the ones back home. Are they the same kind?"

        Weaver replied, "A related species I believe, but the size difference may be due to more moisture in the ground and more availability of food."

        While most of the adults were satisfied with the food they were carrying, Jay and Melissa, as well as Weaver and a couple others, found the area quite rich in 'snacks' like the grubs. After eating, Jay and Melissa joined Weaver and a few others up in the tree branches for a nap. If not for hir prehensile tail, Jay would have fallen a good three body-lengths to the ground when shi forgot where shi was and rolled off the makeshift tree-nest when Weaver woke hir and Melissa. Although it was well after sunset and overcast, making it quite dark, none of the chakats gave it much thought anymore about how that would have effectively blinded them before their transformation.

        Although the darkness slowed the group a little they had no trouble maintaining a steady pace for the first hour through the last of the 'badlands' and a little faster pace for the last two hours crossing the rolling prairie terrain to arrive at the kill site a little after midnight. The twenty-some Prairie Hyenas busy harassing the four hunters guarding the kill were most upset by the arrival of the work party. Quite understandably the four hunters of the six-person hunting team who made the kill were quite happy to be reinforced before even more scavenger/predators showed up to contest the kill.

        After splitting up into three work parties, two swept the area up to a mile around the kill, gathering all the saplings, stag-horn thorn bushes, and anything else that might be useful such as several fist-sized chert nodules. The third work party began the messy job of continuing the butchering which had been interrupted by the harassing hyenas. While they moved away, they remained in sight; a constant threat and reminder of other scavenger/predators yet to make their appearance. Since the hyenas were over twice the size of the cubs, Weaver did not have to explain to Jay and Melissa the probable result if they wondered away from the adults. As Weaver expected, the cubs kept a very good watch on the hyenas as well as the surrounding area in general for anything else that might try sneaking in to make a snack of a careless cubs while the adults were busy butchering the huge carcass.

        As the two gathering work parties returned, they began building a flimsy-looking fence around the carcass and work area. This took a while but. when completed, the thorny fence would slow down any marauding scavenging predators, except for the thankfully-rare Three-horn-whip-tail. If one of those showed up, it would not even notice the fence, and all the hunters could do would be to stay as far away from it as possible. A Three-horn-whip-tail might back off from something like a T-rex if anything like them existed, but it sure would not avoid anything less impressive.

        Once the fence was up and things got organized, the thick hide of the carcass was stripped off in large sheets, then the main muscle groups were cut from the bones and the tendons carefully separated from the meat. The strong tendon filaments were wound on sticks, and the meat was cut into strips and set over low smoky fires to dry. While one group processed the meat and tendons, a smaller group processed the intestines, stomachs, bladders and edible organs. The edible organs were roasted, the other parts cleaned and initially prepared to eventually be made into all sorts of useful things. Then partially-dried meat and cooked organs were wrapped in woven grass mats. Tendons were carefully separated from the meat and wound on wooden sticks.

        By the time the dawn sky was just beginning to lighten, the systematic reduction of the huge carcass was well underway and the first of the six to eight person transport details arrived. About two hundred pounds of partially dried meat and roasted organs was wrapped in tightly-woven grass mats and packed away in each pair of oversized saddlebags of the new arrivals. After a short rest, the six-person transport detail set off for home. About every six hours, a new transport detail arrived to be loaded up with 150 to 200 pounds of meat, bones, ivory, horn or whatever was ready to be carried back to the home caves. In this way, the 5000kg carcass was reduced to little more then blood soaked ground in less then two days.

        The hunters and butchers gathered up the last few remaining parts of the kill and headed to a small river a few miles from the kill site for a good long soaking bath, and an even longer restful grooming session. The gathered scavengers wasted little time investigating the kill site as soon as the strange but very dangerous pack of competitors left. The only thing they found was the skinned carcasses of the hyenas, a few of the bigger black-maned 'jackals', and other smaller scavenger/predators who had to learn the hard way about coming too close to the new ones-who-kill-from-a-distance. While the hyenas and black-maned jackals did not eat their own dead, or the dead of the others, the other smaller scavengers who followed them and the scavenger-birds were not so picky.

        A few thrown rocks were more then enough to keep a jackal and a half dozen hyenas from following the chakats too closely as they made their way to the nearby shallow river. After checking the river and sweeping the near and far banks for any known or unknown lurking predators, a half dozen chakats stood watch while the others enjoyed washing-playing-wrestling in the water like a bunch of oversized cubs. The adults, including Weaver, had as much fun as Jay and Melissa, but still made sure the cubs remained surrounded by the majority of the group. This was especially so when a pair of the rarely seen huge lion-like Prairie cats made an appearance on the far bank to drink, and lay in the shade watching the chakats playing in the shallow river. It was clear the pair had made a kill recently and had eaten their fill, so they where much more interested in dozing in the shade while their last meal digested then just about anything else. As long as they were not bothered by the chakats' activity, they would be quite content to just lay in the shade and watch the strange six-limbed felines who actually seemed to like playing in the water.

        Jay and Melissa found the sight of the huge cats fascinating. Since Weaver and most of the adults more or less ignored the two Prairie Cats, after studying them a few minutes, the cubs got the idea they were not a threat, but knew better to even think of approaching them regardless of how peaceful they acted. The cubs moved to where Weaver dozed in the shade and began grooming hir and each other. As shi brushed Weaver’s tail, Jay asked, "Aren't those big lion-things dangerous?"

        "Yes, they can be very dangerous to cubs or a lone chakat, but those two are no danger for now."

        "Why aren't they dangerous now? How can you tell?"

        "Those are called Prairie Cats and they usually hunt in pairs with the grazers being their usual prey. They have made a kill in the last couple hours. They've cleaned themselves now, but from the blood on their fur when they first appeared, it was clear they made a kill in the last hour or two. You can tell they have eaten and have full stomachs from the roundness of their bellies. Right now, all those two are interested in is finding a nice shady spot to doze in while they digest their meal."

        "They don't look sleepy to me."

        "They are just curious about us and watchful because we are here. I expect they will watch us a while then move away from the riverbank to a safer and quieter location to doze. You two stay away from them, and don’t go wandering away. While the Prairie Cats may not be hungry, there are many other predators around here that are, and they would love to make a meal of a careless cub, so I expect you two to stay in view of at least two adults at all times."

        After they finished grooming Weaver and each other, Jay and Melissa went off 'exploring' after promising again to stay in sight of at least two adults. While the cubs usually did not bother taking weapons or anything else when they went 'exploring' back home since there was no large predators left in the area that actively hunted chakats, that was not true here. Here, both cubs where quite well armed and knew how to use their weapons if they had to when they slipped away into the brush. Both cubs carried slings and a razor sharp chipped glass broad bladed 'knife'. Jay also carried hir atlatls and five darts, and Melissa carried hir heavy curved throwing sticks. Melissa made sure that shi and Jay did not stray beyond the boundaries set by Weaver, not just because shi well understood the danger of going off too far by themselves, but also because on more then a few occasions, Weaver had turning up totally undetected and unexpected.

        The cubs found the freshwater crayfish-like shellfish which made their homes in the riverbanks to be quite tasty snacks, and had discovered how to tease them out of their dens with a baited stick without having to dig them out. Since the shellfish was quite sensitive to any noise or movement near their dens, the cubs had to exercise their stealth skills in approaching a group of den holes. As a result of this, the cubs picked up the scent of hyenas close by before they saw them and before hyenas detected the cubs laying in the brush only a few body lengths away.

        It did not take the cubs long to realize where and how close the hyenas were or what they were up to. It was pretty clear to the cubs the Hyenas was trying to sneak up on two of the younger adult chakats who was farther from the main group then they should have been, and who were far more interested in each other than their surroundings. Jay and Melissa could have and should have simply raised the alarm as they fled back toward the closest group of adults, but this did not occur to either cub. Jay and Melissa quickly and quietly readied their weapons as they picked their targets. At a silent signal, the cubs reared up from the brush and Jay buried a dart in the base of the neck of one hyena while Melissa bounced one of hir throwing sticks off the skull of another hyena. As their attacks struck home, the cubs gave out very respectable chakat roars, then Melissa hurled hir second throwing stick at the remaining unwounded but still startled Hyena as Jay quickly fitted another dart to hir atlatls. Melissa missed the hyena's skull but still smacked it a stunning blow across its jaw, stunning it just long enough just long enough to catch Jay's dart in its throat.

        The next thing the cubs knew, several adult chakats knocked them head over heels as they charged right over the cubs toward the hyenas the cubs had not spotted. By the time the cubs picked themselves up, the two wounded hyenas were being finished off and the other hyenas were out of sight with a half dozen chakats in pursuit.

        From the far bank, the Prairie Cats had watched with interest as six hyenas crawled through the brush toward a pair of the strange felines lounging on the far bank a little away from the others. The dart that suddenly sprouted in the neck of one of the partially hidden hyenas, and the curved stick which bounced off the skull of a second hyena, surprised the Prairie Cats almost as much as it did the hyenas. The two huge felines stood in mild alarm as the two smallest of the strange felines leaped from concealment, gave a surprisingly loud screaming roar, and actually charged the much larger hyenas. At the same time most of the larger strange felines also gave the loud screaming roars as they also charged the startled hyenas or paused to throw rocks, sticks and other things at the hyenas before also charging. Only three of the hyenas were able to make their escape while the other three were quickly finished off. The Prairie Cats decided to move to a quieter location away from the strange felines, and casually walked away from the riverbank into the riverside brush.

        Standing over the two cubs Randal yelled, "What the hell did you two brats think you were doing!"

        Melissa tried replying, "Megan and Two Step was..."

        Randal interrupted, "Why did you brats sneak away from the safe area? I know you were told not go wandering off like you're always doing back home."

        Weaver quietly asked, "Yes, why were you way over here?"

        Jay said, "We were catching crawdads..."

        Melissa added, "They taste really good and there is a lot crawdad holes around here."

        Jay explained, "You said stay in view of at least two adults, and Megan and Two Step were right over there."

        Weaver looked over to where the two young chakats stood, then nodded and asked, "Very well, then why did you attack the hyenas instead of raising the alarm?"

        Jay stammered, trying to think of something to say, "Ah... Ah, well..."

        Melissa hurriedly said, "Ah, the hyenas were too close, and... and they might have caught us if we tried running away..."

        Nodding in agreement Jay added, "Yeah, we thought if we attacked them before they spotted us, we could give the alarm and get away while they were confused by our attack..."

        Weaver just turned away as shi said, "We will speak of this with White Tip when we return."

        The cubs’ eyes grew wide as they watched Weaver walking away. Randal's smirk and comment, "Mmmm... I would not trade places with you two for anything," did nothing to reassure the cubs about the results of their 'discussion' with White Tip and Weaver.

        Jay complained, "But… but we didn't do anything wrong!"

        Melissa muttered, "this time... "

        Weaver paused in front of Megan and Two Step to say, "Come, walk with me." and walked off into the brush. Megan and Two Step looked a little puzzled, and maybe a little worried as they followed Weaver away from the camp. Exactly what Weaver said to them was not known but whatever it was, the two young chakats looked about as happy as Jay and Melissa.

(of this day's lessons)

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