One day, a young lioness, whose claws were not yet strong enough for any thing but play, went off to discover the world, and liked every thing she saw. Her name was Fantasia.
As she was climbing a stony track on the hillside, she found in her path a huge round, Smooth River’s egg, shining in the sun.
The little lioness wanted to play with it, she was only a cub(a young lion is called a cub), and in any case, in those far off times, when the clouds used to fall on the ground and bounce, and the birds were only just finding out how to use their wings.
The whole world was just one great game. It was not the world we know today. The lioness wanted to play with the river’s egg, and the hill wanted to play with the lioness. What could be simpler?
The cub gave a leap (a jump), and the hill also gave a leap. What a wonderful game first thing in the morning. A number of animals came to watch.
The egg also liked the game and bounced about like a ball; the lioness rolled it on the hill, and the hill bounced it back; to and fro it went, the hill growing rougher as the game went on.
All trees shouted happily ‘’Higher! ” and they would catch the egg in their long bending branches, each time just a little higher than the last. Then a rock came up and pushed out his round stomach for the egg to bounce on.
There was a cracking noise, and sure enough, the egg broke!
That stopped the game, then at once a mad stream of water came pouring out of the shell and rushed down the slope, carrying every thing with it, trees, bushes, great rock, mud and stones until it was like a flood, and the little lioness was swept along with all the rest.
She struggled and made a low noise and begged the river to throw her on the bank (the land that is near the river), but the new born river could not listen. As the mad river rushed along under the stormy sky, the lioness managed to catch a big tree trunk floating down on the water.
Suddenly she saw the vulture’s huge wings. He must have seen that there was a small live animal down there in the leaves, too frightened even to shout, and he came down to see who it was.
‘Are you the panther’s daughter?” asked the bird.
“No I am the daughter of the lion”.
“I don’t know him” said the vulture.
“He is one of the kings of the savannah”.
Oh have pity on me, or the water will swallow me up. Pick me up in your claws, and carry me to the bank. “My father will reward you well”.
I don’t want any thing from your father, said the vulture, but you have a beautiful coat and beautiful eyes. I will save you on one condition.
One day you will have children. Keep your first born for me. Will you promise to give him to me?
“Yes, yes,” cried the poor almost drowned Fantasia.
“Then take hold of my claws tightly.”
With one flap of his wings, he was up in the air, with a dripping Fantasia, and next she knew she was being put gently down on the soft slope of a field which had gone to sleep in the sun.