written by Debbie Williamson
"Little Willow," called Rain Man, her grandfather. "Come quick!"
Rain Man was the medicine man of the village. He was looking after Little Willow's father, Brave One, who lay injured in a cave.
Little Willow dropped the pieces of leather that she had been trying to sew together to make a pair of moccasins with. She quickly ran to the mouth of the cave.
It was very hot and humid in the village on this particular summer day. The coolness of the cave felt good on Little Willow's sweat soaked body.
Looking into the eyes of Rain Man, who was sitting beside Brave One, Little Willow feared the worst.
"My father," cried Little Willow. "Will he ever get better?"
The wrinkled eyes of Rain Man grew harsher as he looked down at his only granddaughter.
"No," said Rain Man. "He is still alive but, just barely. Listen to me, little one. The fate of your father will depend on you now, my dear. I cannot leave my son, now."
"Yes," Little Willow said bravely. "I will do whatever you wish. What is it that you need?"
The 80 year old medicine man closed his eyes and spoke to Little Willow in a firm voice.
"I will only say this once, so listen very carefully, granddaughter," the old man said.
"Yes, grandfather," Little Willow said.
"Deep in the cave of the lioness, grows a wildflower," began the old man. "It is the only one that grows with the lions. Bring me several of these wildflowers for your father. The nectar of these flowers is the only thing that will save him. You must hurry little one. Your father will not live long without it."
Little Willow hurried off in the direction of the lioness' cave. She knew where it was as this was the very cave that her father had gotten injured in.
Brave One and a group of hunters were hunting lions the other day. A lioness, who had just given birth to two cubs, had become quite possessive of her new family. She had struck out at the hunter nearest her and had ripped him with her huge claws. That hunter happened to be Brave One.
Little Willow reached the mouth of the cave in no time at all. She ran all the way there. Her heart was pounding as she stood at the entrance. The cave was empty. The mother had probably moved her cubs to a new and safer location.
She entered the dark cave and found the wildflowers Rain Man had told her to collect. She quickly gathered as many of them as she could and put them in the small leather pouch that she wore around her waist.
Just as she was leaving the cave, she heard a ferocious roar. The lioness had come back. Terrified, Little Willow ran for the mouth of the cave. There was only one way out and she hoped that she would beat the lioness to it.
Little Willow felt the fierce paws rip through her thigh. The lioness had clawed her. Despite the pain, Little Willow ran as fast as she could back to the village. She knew her father's life depended on her.
Reaching her father's cave, Little Willow collapsed just as she told Rain Man that the wildflowers were in her pouch.
When she gained consciousness the next day, Little Willow looked down at her leg and saw that it had been bandaged. She glanced around the cave and there in the far corner, her father and Rain Man both smiled at her.