“once there was a beautiful young panther who had a co-wife and a husband. Her name was Lara and she was unhappy because her husband and her co-wife were really in love; being nice to her was merely a duty panther society imposed on them. They had not even wanted to take her into their marriage as co-wife, since there were already perfectly happy. But she was an "extra" female in the group and that would not do. Her husband sometimes sniffed her breath and other emanations. He even, sometimes, made love to her. but whenever this happened, the co-wife, whose name was Lala, became upset. She and the husband, Baba, would argue, then fight, snarling and biting and whipping at each other's eyes with their tails. Pretty soon they'd become sick of this and would lie clutched in each other's paws, weeping.
I am supposed to make love to her, Baba would say to Lala, his heartchosen mate. She is my wife just as you are. I did not plan things this way. This is the arrangement that came down to me.
I know it, dearest, said Lala, through her tears. And this pain that I feel is what has come down to me. Surely it can't be right?
These two sat on a rock in the forest and were miserable enough. But Lara, the unwanted, pregnant by now and ill, was devastated. Everyone knew she was unloved, and no other female panther wanted to share her own husband with her. Days went by when the only voice she heard was her inner one.
Soon, she began to listen to it.
Lara, it said, sit here, where the sun may kiss you. And she did.
Lara, it said, lie here, where the moon can make love to you all night long. and she did.
Lara, it said, one bright morning when she knew herself to have been well kissed and well loved: sit here on this stone and look at your beautiful self in the still waters of this stream.
Calmed by the guidance offered by her inner voice, Lara sat down on the stone and leaned over the water. She took in her smooth, aubergine little snout, her delicate, pointed ears, her sleek, gleeming black fur. She was beautiful! And she was well kissed by the sun and well made love to by the moon.
For one whole day, Lara was content. When her co-wife asked her fearfully why she was smiling, Lara only opened her mouth wider, in a grin. The poor co-wife ran trembling off and found their husband, Baba, and dragged him back to look at Lara.
When Baba saw the smiling, well kissed, well made love to Lara, of course he could hardly wait to get his paws on her! He could tell she was in love with someone else, and this aroused all his passion.
While Lala wept, Baba possessed Lara, who was looking over his shoulder at the moon.
Each day it seemed to Lara that the Lara in the stream was the only Lara worth having - so beautiful, so well kissed, and so well made love to. And her inner voice assured her this was true.
So, one hot day when she could not tolerate the shrieks and groans of Baba and Lala as they tried to tear each other's ears off because of her, Lara, who by now was quite indifferent to them both, leaned over and kissed her own serene reflection in the water, and held the kiss all the way to the bottom of the stream. ”
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