Altogether Leo was in a miserable state; and, to add to his misery, his wife turned against him. The sight of his mangy coat and bloodshot eyes, not to speak of the sore, drooping mouth, filled her with disgust, and she growled fiercely whenever he came near her.
In vain he brought her food to eat; but the food was always dead Kaffir, and she would not touch it.
She appeared, too, to turn against the cubs, and, instead of fondling and caressing them as formerly, kept them aloof and chastised them severely with her heavy paws whenever they came too near.
Soon after this one of the cubs died, and Leo’s grief was painful to witness. He licked it all over, put his huge paw on it, and turned it from one side to the other, uttering queer little sounds all the time, and, when he found it would neither move nor respond to his caresses, gave a prolonged howl of misery which struck terror into his wife’s heart.
She had had enough of it by this time; she disliked a mangy husband and scrofulous children, and so the next evening quietly took her departure to some other place where the surroundings were more congenial.
Leo tottered back to his lair that night with staggering, uneven steps to find his wife had gone and that his last remaining cub had just died.
With a cry of pain, something between a roar and a deep growl, Leo stretched himself over the two little, dead bodies of his children and pined and fretted away.
He no longer went for food, not even for Kaffirs, and the villagers and animals in the neighborhood wondered what had become of him, and whether his absence meant some fresh daring on his part.
But there was no more daring for Leo. From the time he laid his long, warm body over the cold forms of his children he never rose again.
For three days he lay there, doing his best to bring them back to life; but on the third day his great head, with what remained of its magnificent beauty, sank for the last time on his heavy paws, and Leo, the king of lions, was dead.
And so this grand, strong, noble animal lost his life through eating human flesh, which he knew quite well he ought not to touch.
On one of the craggy heights of the Alpine mountains, in Switzerland, Chaffer stood, one fine, clear day in October, looking out over the landscape, and wondering what he should do and where he should go.
For, sad to relate, he had just been turned out of the herd by an old chamois, who considered that he and those of his own age had a better right there than some of the young males. So, with a few others, Chaffer had been driven off, but not until he had made a good fight for it. He was fairly strong, and did not at all relish getting the worst of anything, but he was young yet and knew his time was coming— the time when he would drive that old chamois out of the herd far quicker than he had been driven, and get the best of him in more ways than one.