One day as Leo was walking to the park to meet his friends he stopped to pet a dog. But as Leo reached out his hand he realized that, despite being tied up outside a shop with a leash and a collar, this was not a dog. It was a Lion. A full-sized Lion with a magnificent mane, a huge Lion’s snout, and great paws full of fierce claws.
As Leo stroked the Lion’s head he thought that this Lion seemed very serious. Gravely serious, in a way that was not like any dog he had ever met.
This is not normal, thought Leo.
As Leo continued on his way to the park he saw more Lions. Lions tied up outside stores. Lions being led by on leashes. All just as if they were dogs. But they were all huge, full-sized Lions, and they all had the same very serious look.
This is really not normal, thought Leo.
Leo hurried the rest of the way to the park. He was in a rush to tell his friends about the Lions.
When he got there Leo found all the littlest kids standing together in a serious little group, right in the middle of the park.
“LIONS,” was all Leo said when he reached them. They all nodded, but no one said anything. “Did you tell the bigger kids?” asked Leo.
“Yes,” said Tommy. “But they don’t believe it. They say they are just dogs.”
“And the grown-ups?”
“They don’t believe it either.” “But they ARE Lions.”
“Yes,” said Tommy.
“This isn’t normal,” said Leo.
“No, it isn’t,” said Tommy.
Everyone was silent. The children sat down together on the grass. They stayed there a long time, a serious little group in the middle of the park.
Just as it was nearly dark Leo spoke.
“I think we need to ask the Lions what they are doing here. It must be something very important,” he said.
All the other kids had been thinking the same thing. They stood up together and fanned out across the park. Each of them stopped in front of one of the Lions. The Lions still had the same very serious look and the kids had a very serious look too.
“We would like to know why you are here,” said each child to his Lion. “It seems to us it must be very important. And we are wondering where all the dogs have gone.”
Slowly, the Lions turned their great heads toward the children.
“The dogs have been living among you, in our place, for a long time,” they replied. “They have done their job faithfully, and are being rewarded. But now we have returned.”
This was very puzzling. But the children had a feeling they understood what the Lions meant.
“The big kids and the grown-ups can’t see you.”
“This is exactly the problem,” said the Lions.
All at once, the Lions shook their great manes, and the leashes and collars around their necks shattered like glass.
“Come with us,” they said.
The children walked side by side with their Lions, moving through the park in a great, silent procession. The Lions led them to a lonely part of the park where there was an old iron gate, held shut by a huge rusty chain and an enormous old padlock. Behind the gate was a dark, dark tunnel.
The Lions shook their great manes, and the rusty lock and chain shattered like glass. Slowly, the gate swung open.
At the same moment, all over the world, other Lions were walking side by side with small children. Old gates slowly opened, and the Lions led them everywhere into dark, dark tunnels. Once they were inside the Lions said:
“You will walk with us through the center of the earth. As we walk we will tell you all the secrets of the world. And when we come out again Lions and Children shall rule the world.”
And so they are walking. Maybe you can feel it under your feet. The patter of Lions’ and Children’s feet as they wind their way through dark tunnels, passing through the center of the earth.
And be sure to be kind, as when they come out again, Lions and Children shall rule The World.