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How the Lion Got Its Mane
Matthia, Age 16, Vernon, BC

Once, a long time ago before there were men, when only animals roamed the earth, there was a mighty, mighty lion. He was a magnificent beast. He was called King by most of the animals of the world. He would settle arguments and fights. He would give away his food to animals that were sick or lame. He was very noble and kind.

Back in those days lions all had long shaggy hair. Their hair was the one thing lions were vain about. They would always keep it clean and untangled. Their hair was also a different colour than the hair of lions these days, it was a deep rich midnight blue. The King lion spent many hours making sure that his hair was clean and untangled.

Though the King was kind and noble, there were those who disliked him. Among those was the hyena. Hyenas had long, quite beautiful, yellow hair. The hyenas were jealous of the lions.

In that time very few male lions were born, so the King was the only male lion alive. One night, the hyenas crept up on the lions and cut all the hair off of the female lions, hoping that the King would find them all ugly and would not pick a wife.

In the morning, the females were horrified to find that all but a mere inch or so of their hair was gone. They did not want to be seen by the king so they hid. The King got suspicious when he finally realized he hadnít seen any females all morning. He found them hiding in the plains by the water hole. When he saw them he told them that they were more beautiful than ever and this was no lie.
 
The hyenas were outraged by this, so that night they cut off all the kingís hair but a ring around his neck hoping to make him appear ugly in the eyes of the females. The chief hyena was afraid that this would not be enough so he poured golden honey on the King.
 
When the King awoke he found himself sticky with honey. He went down to the water hole to wash and, to his horror, found that his hair had been cut. The King jumped into the pool hoping that the honey would wash off and that no one had seen him. When the females came to the water hole and saw the King in the water, they asked why he was swimming so early in the morning. The King couldnít think of a story to tell them so he told the truth.
 
When he was done he thought that they would laugh at him, but instead one of the youngest females asked him to come out of the water. Slowly the King did. When he was fully out of the water and standing on the shore, he realized that everyone was staring at him. He thought it was because they thought he was ugly but they really thought he was more beautiful than ever. Though the King didnít know it, the honey had made his hair golden. It shone in the morning sunlight and he was a beautiful sight. When the King looked down at his hair, he thought it more lovely than the midnight blue it had been. When the King found out that it had been the hyenas who had cut off his mane, he made it so that all hyenas have short, scruffy black and yellow spotted hair. Which is very ugly by any standard.

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