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21. The Lion Becomes the King of Beasts (continued)
As he spoke several of the beasts caught sight of him, and at once the great assemblage hushed as if by magic. The biggest of the tigers came up to the Lion and bowed, saying:
"Welcome, O King of Beasts! You have come in good time to fight our enemy and bring peace to all the animals of the forest once more."
"What is your trouble?" asked the Lion quietly.
"We are all threatened," answered the tiger, "by a fierce enemy which has lately come into this forest. It is a most tremendous monster, like a great spider, with a body as big as an elephant and legs as long as a tree trunk. It has eight of these long legs, and as the monster crawls through the forest he seizes an animal with a leg and drags it to his mouth, where he eats it as a spider does a fly. Not one of us is safe while this fierce creature is alive, and we had called a meeting to decide how to take care of ourselves when you came among us."
The Lion thought for a moment.
"Are there any other lions in this forest?" he asked.
"No; there were some, but the monster has eaten them all. And, besides, they were none of them nearly so large and brave as you."
"If I put an end to your enemy, will you bow down to me and obey me as King of the Forest?" inquired the Lion.
"We will do that gladly," returned the tiger; and all the other beasts roared with a mighty roar: "We will!"
"Where is this great spider of yours now?" asked the Lion.
"Yonder, among the oak trees," said the tiger, pointing with his forefoot.
"Take good care of these friends of mine," said the Lion, "and I will go at once to fight the monster."
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