Submitted for Project # 21: "Pretty Paper, Ribbons, and Bows" as a gift for tHP member Saana Tykkä
On my recent world tour to promote the Herscher Project Anthology I traveled to Finland for a visit with one of the other writers. In the evening the children begged and pleaded for a bedtime story so everyone gathered in the sitting room and while the little ones sat wide-eyed at her feet, Saana told the following story:
Now, everyone knows the Lion is King of the Jungle. One day the Bear thought, Gee, I'm much bigger than the Lion, I think I should be King of the Jungle. The Bear decided to challenge the Lion for the title. “Lion, I am bigger than you. I will be King of the Jungle.”
“Oh, no you won't,” replied the Lion, for although small, within his breast beat the heart of a King.
“Don't you see that I am big and able to beat you up?”
“You are big and can surely beat me up, but that won't make you King of the Jungle.”
“Sure it will. Now step aside so you don't have to fight me.”
The Lion didn't move. “I am prepared to fight you.”
The Bear could hardly believe his ears and eyes. Here stood the Lion, ready to fight him. Angered by this defiant attitude, the aggressive Bear charged at the Lion. With a tremendous crash heard all through the jungle the great beasts collided. The Bear bore down upon the Lion and the Lion defended himself.
On and on the two fought. The whole day and then the next day and the day after that. They clashed with tooth and claw and their combat shook the trees. The ferocious Bear kept coming and the brave Lion never backed down. The Lion grew weary but he had sisu1 within him and would not give up. They kept fighting for three whole months!
But it could not go on forever and when the greatest battle the jungle had ever known finally subsided, the Bear considered himself the victor. “I am King of the Jungle!” he cried.
But no one listened to him. The heart of the golden Lion proved more powerful than the brawn of the brown Bear, for although the Lion had been more severely battered, the Bear did not subjugate him. The Lion remained and is still to this day known as King of the Jungle.
“Now,” Saana said, with a clap of her hands, “all children to bed!”
After they'd scampered off and a quietude had returned to the room, I said, “Saana, that was a very enchanting tale.”
With a twinkle in her eye she replied, “That was a true story.”
1sisu: a special strength and persistent determination; a resolve to continue and overcome in the moment of adversity…an almost magical quality, a combination of stamina, perseverance, courage, and determination held in reserve for hard times.
On November 30, 1939 the Soviet Union began an invasion of Finland. The tiny country looked to her Scandinavian neighbors for help and although individual Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes volunteered to fight, the three kings of those countries did nothing. Finland turned to the Allies: Britain, France, and the United States. The leaders of those countries promised aid in the form of equipment, soldiers, and money, but delivered only token help. Finland stood alone against the might of a country fifty times her size. And she fought. For three months she fought, finally signing a peace agreement on March 13, 1940. Finland lost the war, but retained her independence, never falling under the control of the Soviet Empire. The Lion was still King of the Jungle.