Deep, deep in the
rainforest, a very long time ago, a jungle mother gave birth to six,
perfect little kittens and the Spirit of the Forest was pleased.
Four of them looked just like their mother, soft and
gold and spotted all over, like tiny leopards, a pattern designed by
nature to hide them in the deep forest from ancient and fearful enemies
who liked kittens for lunch.
The other two, however, were different. They, too, had
coats as soft as velvet, but one of them was all gold, as bright as the
sun and the other was as white as the full moon! Mother named them
Sunlight and Moonbeam.
She named her other kittens more traditional names,
names that had been passed from mother cat to daughter cat, on and on,
down through the generations: Panthera, Tiger Lily, Orchid and Raven.
Deep in the nest, hidden in the secret glen behind the
waterfall, in the thickest part of the rainforest where the trailing
orchids bloomed in a wild and colorful profusion, Mother cared for her
kittens and worried.
She knew that her son Moonbeam and her daughter Sunshine
would soon be exposed to a very dangerous world and with their
beautiful, bright coats, they would stand out like lights on the jungle
floor, easy for enemies to see.
As the kittens grew and the day approached when they
would be venturing from the safety of the den, Mother began to counsel
them in the ways of concealment: To Sunshine and Moonbeam she said:
"Now, remember, until you are grown and can run very fast, you must stay
under leaves and vines so you will be hidden from above. Never venture
into the open jungle unless you can sit in a spot of bright sun or a
beam of the full moon, for that is what you look like.
To her spotted children she said: "You must also be
cautious, but you may use the pattern of the forest floor as your
camouflage. When stalking your prey, move only when they look away and
when you freeze in place, your spots will help you to disappear into the
sun dappled jungle.
And so it was that the two kittens learned to hide their
special beauty, venturing out from beneath the leaves and vines only
rarely, while their spotted brothers and sisters came and went as they
pleased, carrying their concealment with them. The Spirit of the Forest
One bright, sunny day, Mother took her four tiny
leopards on a hunting lesson, warning Sunlight and Moonbeam to stay
hidden until they returned.
"I don't want to stay here all day." complained
Sunshine, "Me either. I want to watch Mother." replied Moonbeam. "Why
don't we just creep from plant to plant and keep hidden. She will never
know we're there." suggested Sunshine. Off they went, excited to be on
an adventure, and, being the good kittens they were, proceeding
cautiously as well, remembering all the lessons their mother had taught
They could smell the scent of their family and followed
it. They scampered on, always under the leaves of low growing plants,
while the sunlight painted beautiful, undulating patterns of deep shade
on their bright coats.
Suddenly, the smell of danger raised the hairs on their
backs and they froze like statues even before they saw the horrible
sight. As their eyes adjusted to the pure sunlight, the kittens saw they
were at the edge of a brightly lit clearing, filled with dry weeds and
golden grasses. Up against a rock wall were their brothers and sisters,
cringing in the presence of... Jackal! A very large Jackal! He was in
between Mother and her kittens. Mother was crouched and snarling behind
him. Everyone knew, Jackals eat kittens!
Glancing back and forth between the kittens and their
mother, Jackal sneered and boasted to her, "You know I'm going to get at
least one of them, maybe even two. Why, I'll be out of here with my
lunch before you can reach me. I just don't know which one to take
first. They are all so fat and yummy looking."
Under the cover of a leaf, Sunshine and Moonbeam looked
at each other and passed a single thought between them. "Mother's
lessons!". They silently circled the small clearing, keeping to the
cover of the forest. Now they were on opposite sides of Jackal and
entered the dry weeds. Softly. Quietly. Keeping as flat to the ground as
the dry, dusty rocks, they inched toward their ancient enemy, each
moving only when he turned his attention to gloat to Mother or frighten
the kittens. As they neared the Jackal, Mother's crouching posture
changed just slightly, subtlety. She knew they were there! She couldn't
smell them because they had wisely placed themselves down wind of the
enemy, but she could just barely see her bright and beautiful children
in the bright sunlight of the field! Intent on the kittens he had
cornered, Jackal was oblivious, he never knew what hit him.
Jackal took half a step toward the frightened kittens
frozen against the rock face and Wham! The earth before him erupted in a
squalling, screaming fury of knives and teeth! Stunned and frightened,
Jackal felt Mother's teeth sink deeply into his rear haunches and her
claws rack his sides. Slashing, screaming demons were fastened to his
head! Leaping madly about the clearing and crashing into trees and
rocks, Jackal finally managed to dislodge his attackers and all he could
see with the eye that was still open, was the tail end of Mother, as she
disappeared into the jungle.
Panthera, Tiger Lily, Orchid and Raven had been stunned
by the apparently sudden appearance of their brother and sister, but
wasted no time streaking past the besieged Jackal, into the safety of
the rainforest. They were followed shortly by Sun, Moon and Mother.
Together, they ran swiftly through the jungle, to the safety of their
hidden den, in the secret glen, behind the waterfall, in the thickest
part of the rainforest where the trailing orchids bloomed.
It had been a miracle. Nothing needed to be said. Mother
cleaned her kittens and purred them to sleep.
Sunlight and Moonbeam awoke at dusk, from a deep slumber
of complete exhaustion. They crept out of the den, called by a silent
summons. There! Under the big tree, or was it part of it? They thought
they could see the faint form of the Spirit of the Forest. They knew it
was she who had summoned them. Her voice was like the whisper of the
leaves or maybe the passing breeze, but the kittens could hear her
plainly in their heads. This was strange, indeed. Not in the time of any
ancestor they could remember, had anyone actually seen the Spirit of the
Forest, but, oddly, they were not frightened.
She spoke, "You are all my children and I love you. Even
the Jackal is one of my children, but it was not his destiny to eat
kitten for lunch today. You have performed a selfless act of incredible
bravery and shall be rewarded. I give you something you have always
wanted, the gift of concealment."
To Moonbeam she said: "You will be a cat of the night: I
bless you with the misty shadows of the leaves and vines, falling across
your back by the light of the full moon. You will be able to pass by
unnoticed in the night jungle."
To Sunshine she said: "You are to be a cat of the day,
wearing the deep shadows of the leaves and twisting creepers across your
body, letting your glittering sunlit coat sparkle through in bits and
swirls. You will be impossible to see in the jungle on a sunny day. Step
The kittens stepped out from under the leaves they had
instinctively stood under and were amazed to see that their coats now
had the patterns of the vines and leaves. As her image and voice began
to fade, The Spirit of the Forest said, "From now on, your names will be
Secret Sun and Hiding Moon. All of your unspotted descendants will be
blessed with these marking as well, to conceal them safely in either sun
or moonlight. I am pleased."
To this day, marbled kittens carry with them the
patterns of the leaves and vines of that long ago jungle, the reward of
their ancestors' uncommon courage: the shadows cast upon them through
the trees, by the sun and the moonlight.
Discovered by Susan
Dunsworth after countless hours of research, pouring over ancient texts
and speaking with cats.
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