Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is The Lion in Love. This is chapter three of three. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/LionLove3. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/LionLove3. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
I’m going to do just a short introduction today because I have lots of words to introduce and I don’t want to stop you from hearing the exciting end to the story.
But first, I just want to say that I am so excited! So I mentioned in a previous episode that I’m a big fan of Carly Rae Jepsen, and soon, in May, she is going to release her new album. And I cannot wait to hear it! She’s already released some of the tracks. The other day she released Julien, and I Ioved it so much. I am so excited. It sounds very much like the music from her last album, Emotion, but it’s got a new style as well.
So if you’re also a Carly Rae Jepsen fan, and I know there are lots of you out there, please do let me know because I would love to talk about it. Send me an email at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com.
OK, so I’ll just remind you of what happened in chapters one and two.
So in chapter one we found Gentle the mouse and Crush the lion, who are good friends. Crush falls in love with a deer called Charcoal, a female deer. Gentle thinks this is a bad thing because Crush is a lion, and a lion can’t fall in love with a deer, can it?
Anyway, Crush goes to Webhorn, the King of the Deer, to ask him if he can marry his daughter, Charcoal. Webhorn says yes, but only if Crush removes his teeth and claws. And he needs those for hunting, because he is a lion, after all!
In chapter two, we hear that the news spreads quickly through the forest. Gentle and Crush go to Steady the tortoise for advice, because Steady is very wise. Steady asks Crush how he will hunt without his teeth and claws. Crush says that Gentle has wanted him to take a vegetarian diet for a long time, to stop killing other animals. But Steady doesn’t think this is possible for Crush. She says, ‘Have you ever had a day when you didn’t need your teeth and claws?’
Still, Crush is deeply in love with Charcoal. He sends Gentle to bring her a message, and in return, Charcoal says that she thinks Crush is handsome. When Gentle brings this message back, Crush decides he will do anything for love. So he goes to the human woodcutter to remove his teeth and claws.
And now some words for the final chapter of the story.
A cabin is a small, wooden building. You usually find them in forests. For example, in this story the woodcutter lives in a cabin.
Gums are the pink skin that you have above your teeth. So they’re very soft and you have to look after them just like your teeth.
“Feel a lump in your throat”. This is something that happens when you’re very sad and you have a lot of emotions. You feel a sort of hardness in your throat and usually it comes with crying.
Similarly, sobbing is a type of crying that’s loud enough to be heard. Like this. [imitates sobbing]. Those are sobs.
Antlers are a type of horn that you find on stags. So they’re very complicated horns. Like Webhorn has his horns in the shape of a spider’s web.
Desperate means you have no hope and you do stupid things. For example, it might be someone whose child has died, someone who has just had a divorce. All of these people will be desperate.
A clearing is a round area in a forest where there are no trees.
“All hail the king” is a phrase that’s used to worship kings. “Hail” is an old-fashioned word for saying hello, or shouting in praise of someone.
To say something sarcastically means you don’t actually mean it. Sarcasm is when you say one thing but you mean the opposite. For example, if you ask your friend, ‘Oh, is this a nice outfit?’ they might say, ‘Oh yes, it looks beautiful on you…’ when really they mean it looks terrible on you. That wouldn’t be a very good friend, unfortunately.
Finally, “pass out” means to lose consciousness. So it’s when you go to sleep, in a way. People pass out when they have a big shock, when they’re very tired, when they haven’t eaten for a long time. Usually you fall over when you pass out, and it’s not very good for your health.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Lion in Love Chapter 3
‘Crush, don’t do it! You’ll regret it!’ Gentle cried.
‘What are you talking about?’ said Crush. ‘You’re always telling me I need to stop eating other animals. Don’t you want this?’
The mouse jumped onto the lion’s back to keep up with him. Crush was walking quickly through the forest, heading for the wood-cutter’s house.
‘Please, Crush,’ Gentle whispered into his ear. ‘It’s not worth it!’
‘Yes it is. Love is worth anything.’
Crush shook his head and Gentle fell out of his mane. Gentle had to run to catch up with him. Between the trees, the wood-cutter’s cabin started to appear.
‘I was wrong!’ shouted Gentle. ‘You can’t give up eating meat! I was being silly… Crush, you won’t be able to live without it.’
Crush stopped a few metres away from the cabin and turned around.
‘I can’t live without her.’
Then he turned to the cabin and knocked on the door with his claw.
The whole thing took a few hours. Crush spent most of the time convincing the wood-cutter that this wasn’t a trick. The man had heard the rumours, but he couldn’t believe that the King of Beasts would really do this.
Eventually, after he agreed to the plan, the wood-cutter gave Crush something to drink, and the lion fell asleep. Then the human began removing his claws, and then his teeth.
Gentle stood by the window, watching it all, unable to look away. He watched as the wood-cutter collected the lion’s teeth and claws in a bag, looked pleased with himself. Crush looked so strange without his teeth and claws, like a tree without its branches.
As soon as Crush awoke, he roared loudly. Although he was not bleeding, it must have hurt a lot. He blinked, and then looked at paws for a long minute.
The wood-cutter laughed coldly. ‘Well, what are you waiting for, you big ugly beast? Get out of here!’
Then he kicked Crush. Crush growled at him, and tried to show his teeth, but instead he could only show a row of gums to the human. The wood-cutter just laughed.
Crush walked out of the wood-cutter’s cabin, his head bowed low.
‘Crush, are you OK?’ Gentle asked.
Crush didn’t respond. Gentle crawled onto his back. Crush walked through the forest, headed for Webhorn’s territory.
Eventually, Crush spoke. ‘She mmrgh…’
‘What?’ said Gentle. Crush’s words were hard to understand now, without his teeth.
He cleared his throat and spoke again, his voice quiet. ‘She will love me even more, now, because I am soft and gentle like her.’
Someone must have seen Crush and sent a message, because when they arrived, Webhorn was waiting for him, along with about twenty other stags. His daughter, Charcoal, stood behind him. As Crush approached, her eyes grew wider and wider.
Gentle jumped out of Crush’s mane and hid in the grass, to watch the situation.
‘So,’ said Webhorn the stag, ‘here stands the mighty King of the Forest.’
Crush bowed before him. ‘I have done as you requested, Webhorn. Now, I would like to be with my wife.’
Crush looked weak and pathetic, but he raised his head high and walked over to Charcoal.
Then Webhorn started laughing. It was a deep, powerful laugh, and all the other deer around him stood completely still. Crush stopped where he was standing.
‘Oh, mighty King of Beasts. Tell me, how do you plan on catching your food, now that you are without teeth and without claws? My daughter cannot marry a starving animal.’
‘I will eat as she does.’
Webhorn’s eyes flashed, and he laughed once more. He looked around, and the other stags immediately started laughing as well. Crush tried to look at Charcoal, but she avoided his gaze.
‘You are even stupider than I thought,’ said Webhorn. ‘A lion without his teeth and claws is no lion. You are weaker than the smallest mouse. No daughter of mine shall marry you.’
Crush growled and tried to show his teeth. Webhorn raised his head, as if to say, “Are you looking for a fight?” Crush tried to walk past him, to Charcoal, but Webhorn stood in the way. Crush looked at Charcoal, and for a moment their eyes met, but she quickly looked down at the ground.
‘Oh, Crush,’ Gentle whispered. ‘What have you done?’
Crush stood there for a long minute. Webhorn stared darkly at him. All the deer stood still, and then Charcoal turned away.
‘Go home, Crush,’ said Webhorn. ‘You are nothing now. I should kill you right here just for thinking you could marry my daughter.’ A cruel smile came over his face.
Then, without warning, Crush jumped on Webhorn. He knocked the stag to the ground, and pushed his hands down on the stag’s neck.
‘Crush, no!’ Gentle cried.
Webhorn struggled, and the other stags ran to his help, but Crush was too quick for them. He pushed down on Webhorn’s neck with all his strength, and there was a horrible CRACK sound.
The whole forest fell still. Crush stepped off Webhorn’s dead body. Charcoal looked up at him in complete fear. The other stags stood still, unable to believe what had happened.
Crush looked around, gazing quickly at Gentle, before running away into the trees.
‘After him!’ cried one of the stags, and they all chased after him.
Charcoal was left alone with her father’s body. Her huge, round eyes were wet with tears. She walked up to Webhorn and stared.
Gentle was shaking. Crush, his best friend in the world, had killed the King of Deer, the second-most powerful animal in the forest.
No, the most powerful. Without his teeth and claws, Crush was weak compared to Webhorn’s army.
Charcoal started sobbing. The mouse ran up to her.
‘I’m sorry, Charcoal,’ he said. ‘He was a good deer.’
‘Oh, Gentle!’ she cried. She looked around, as if her tears had blinded her, before seeing the mouse. ‘You… were a good friend of Crush’s, weren’t you?’
‘I was,’ Gentle said. He felt a hard lump in his throat. ‘I don’t know if I still am. I am truly sorry for what he did.’
‘No, I am the one who should be sorry. I didn’t know that father, father had…’ She couldn’t speak through her tears.
They both turned around. Two of the stags chasing Crush had returned. They ran up to her.
‘You must not stay here alone. It is not safe. Come with me.’
The other stag stood by Webhorn’s body. To protect it. Gentle looked up, and saw that the vultures were already arriving, having smelt death in the air.
Charcoal left, sobbing again, and the other stag stared down at Gentle.
‘This is no concern of yours, mouse. Leave.’
Gentle did as he was told.
The hunt lasted several days. Crush was desperate, and he was able to run and hide much better than he ever could before. But in the end, he was a big animal, who had never had to run very fast or hide very well. Webhorn’s army tired him out, until they found him at the edge of the forest, near the wood-cutter’s house, starving and exhausted.
The worst thing was, they did not kill him. They carried him on their backs to the centre of the Great Forest, where all the animals gathered. They threw his body into the middle of the clearing, and Wreathchest came forward to address the animals.
Wreathchest was Webhorn’s son. He was a very young stag, so young that many animals hadn’t even known he existed. His antlers were still quite small, but he stood with pride.
‘Animals of the Great Forest,’ he said. Although his voice was not strong, the other animals were completely silent. ‘My father, Webhorn, King of the Deer, has passed away. As I am his son, I shall take his place from now on. To help me, I have Narrow Hoof and Thin Fur, two of my father’s most trusted friends.’
Two thin, strong-looking stags stepped forward and bowed. Gentle recognised them. They were the two who had told Gentle to leave after Charcoal’s* death. Narrow Hoof and Thin Fur’s eyes looked all around, and it seemed like they didn’t want to step back behind the tiny king. Gentle wondered just how “helpful” these two would be.
‘Next to me lies the former King of the Forest. Crush was once a powerful lion, and while he was not wise, he gained respect through strength. But love can make any of us weak, if it is not true love. And what lion, what King of Beasts, would fall in love with an animal of another kind? My father only agreed to Crush’s offer because he thought it was a joke. He never thought that Crush would truly remove his teeth and claws.’
Whispers were heard through the crowd. Gentle couldn’t believe it. Wreathchest was lying! It was Webhorn who had made the offer in the first place, and Gentle was sure now that he had tricked Crush.
Narrow Hoof and Thin Fur stepped forward again, and their powerful gazes silenced the whispers.
Wreathchest continued as if nothing had happened. ‘My father believed in ruling by being kind, and not by punishing. Therefore, I shall let Crush live. For him to live without his teeth and claws will be enough punishment already. But be warned: he is not without strength. He took my father’s life through strength alone. So Crush will only be allowed to live in his cave, so that he cannot hurt anyone else. Two of my stags will stand guard outside.’
More whispers and cries of surprise were heard throughout the crowd. Clearly, they had been expecting Crush to be killed.
‘Animals of the Great Forest,’ cried Wreathchest. ‘The King of Beasts is no longer! All hail the King of Beasts!’
The stags cheered sarcastically for Crush. They forced him to his feet, hitting him with their horns. Crush looked like he might pass out at any moment. The other animals joined in, walking him through the forest and into his cave, cheering and shouting all the way. Finally, when Crush was safely inside, two stags stood outside his door, blocking him from leaving.
The whole of the Great Forest laughed at Crush, the lion without teeth and claws. Gentle looked on from a distance, his eyes filling with tears.
His friend was broken, and so was Gentle’s heart.
THE END, FOR NOW
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*This should say “Webhorn”. Sorry for the stupid mistake!