Amy T. Wilkinson
Illustrations by Austin Beach
A long time ago, in Africa, when lions were numerous and free
there lived a mighty lion king who one day did decree:
"I am old and tired. I have ruled for a long time,
I will choose a new king to be the leader of our pride."
Our old king was a clever lion, he had learned much during his reign,
so he decided to gather the young lions so he could ascertain
which lion was the wisest choice, he would need to use discretion.
It was a considerable decision to make, appointing his line of succession.
He called a meeting for any lion who desired to be next in line.
He watched as they walked into his den and wondered which he would assign.
The first to enter was Rex, who was burly, strapping and tall.
Without a doubt, he was the sort of lion who would be respected by all.
The next lion was sturdy as an ox, he answered to the name Ade.
His robust stature assured that he was one the others would obey.
After Ade there came Akin, he was temperate and devoted,
and though he was not a warrior, those traits were duly noted.
Second to last came skipping in a lion by the name of Rey.
He was one to make you laugh and was always blithe and gay.
The last to enter was Kuno, who was loyal, just, and true.
When he saw the other four he wondered what he had gotten into.
Kuno was a little lion, not powerful, strong, or brawny.
In fact, when it came to size, our Kuno was awfully scrawny.
Kuno lurked behind the others, feeling out of place and weak,
But he listened attentively when the king began to speak.
The king said, "Listen close, Iím going to give you all a task.
All you must do is be honest and good and do exactly as I ask.
To each of you, I will give an egg; it will be yours to tend.
You will keep it warm and care for it until it hatches in the end."
"We are lions," the king continued, "Itís not in our nature to be warmhearted.
But when it hatches you will have an animal that is yours to keep safe and guarded.
In one year from today you will meet me here with your animal in tow,
and they will tell me who should be king because they will truly know
if you can treat those smaller than you with kindness, compassion, and care.
When they have said what they think of you, it is then I will name my heir."
The four young lions stared at the eggs with curiosity and confusion
Rex took a breath and got to his feet and loudly voiced his objection,
Said he, "Our king, what Iím about to say, I say with most respect,
Would not some sort of battle be easier and more direct?"
"Yes," exclaimed Akin, "We should have a battle of the wits!"
Rex shook his mane and said, "I was thinking a battle of the fists."
Said Ade, "Iím inclined to agree with Rex, it would be easier this way.
You would know the next king today and there would be no undo delay."
"Enough!" roared the mighty lion king, "It shall be the way I say.
If you do not like the test I have chosen, you are free to walk away.
So take your eggs and leave, I will not be otherwise persuaded."
Rex took an egg and left, feeling foolish and slightly jaded.
Kuno took an egg gently in his mouth, and went to find an accommodation
where he could keep it safe and sound and away from aggravation.
He made it a little nest, and a pillow for its head,
then he curled down on top of it and, together, they went to bed.
Two weeks later, at the watering hole, he heard Ade exclaim,
"My egg has hatched. I will be king; the title is in my name.
You lot donít even compare, you should probably go ahead and quit.
Itís embarrassing for you to even try, itís a crown youíll never get."
Kuno ran to his house to check on his egg but it remained the same.
He covered it with moss and straw and sighed, feeling ashamed.
He treated the egg, every day, with affection and great care,
hoping it would hatch soon into a turtle, duck, or hare.
Rexís egg was the next to hatch, he claimed his animal was clever.
He boasted that after hearing it, the kingship would be his forever.
The other lions strutted about, claiming their animals were growing strong,
still Kuno stayed with his egg, each and all day long.
When, a year later, the day arrived that they were to go and meet the king,
Kuno walked slowly, feeling embarrassed and afraid that he was to bring,
not a beautiful flying bird, but an un-hatched egg instead.
When he thought how the king would react, he cried and hung his head.
He walked to the back of the den and placed his egg down at his feet.
He saw the lionís animals and knew that he could not compete.
He stood and turned to walk away, but the king ordered him to stay.
"Kuno, you will sit and you will listen to the words I have to say."
Kuno turned and took his place at the back side of the room,
The King seemed to think for ages, but finally he did boom,
"You lion cubs will stay right here, your animals may go,
I am very disappointed in you, for reasons you should know."
The animals all made for the doors, while the lions shook with fright.
"Kuno is the only one of you who has done this experiment right."
The lion cubs all began to speak, they roared and cried and squalled.
"We all had beautiful animals and Kuno has nothing at all!"
"You had one job," the king bellowed, "It was to be honest and sincere.
If you quiet down and listen to me the reason will be clear.
Just last year when I gave you the eggs, I told you to take good care
and at the end of the year you would come to me and we would all compare."
"The one thing I didnít mention, is that they were not eggs but rocks,
so tell me how you hatched these stones into an otter, duck, and fox.
Kuno is the only one who was trustworthy, genuine and true.
That is the reason he will be your king and rule over all of you."
"You may be a warrior, an intellect, or a clown;
but it is he who is just and true that is fit to wear a crown."
Eventually the other cubs grew up and became wiser than they were in youth,
They realized that life was easier when they simply told the truth.
Read other Bedtime Stories by Amy Wilkinson
Amy Wilkinson is a graduate of Hood College with a Bachelorís in Law and Society and lives in Frederick Maryland.
Amy began writing and telling stories at a very young age. Starting with daily journals at around 8 years of age, she later progressed to fiction and poetry never putting her pen down for more than a few hours. Nature and animal lover, essayist, and poet, Amy Wilkinson sets many of her stories in a forest or other outdoor setting. Much of the
material for children focuses on various life cycle, coming of age, morality, and individual interaction issues frequently seen through the everyday lives of her woodland creatures. Her bedtime stories balance equal parts of lively prose with food for parent/child discussions.
Austin Beach graduate from Urbana High School and is a current Frederick Community College student studying art.
Austin has been drawing since before he could walk but did not begin learning other traditional mediums until high school when he began art classes. He has worked in most mediums including but not limited to oil paints, watercolor paints, pastels, Ink pen, charcoal, pencil, and digital media. In addition he has worked with many mixed media projects, clay, and found objects.
Austinís subject matter has included landscapes, figure studies, portraits, whimsical illustrations, and fantasy related scenes and characters among other things.
In addition to art Austin has worked with numerous advocacy oriented organizations in Frederick and has been recognized as an emerging leader by Vice President Biden for founding and becoming Executive Director for a local Non-Profit.
He can be reached for other commissioned work via Facebook at Facebook.com/AustinBeachArtist.