A Snake in the Grass
|A Snake in the Grass|
Cover of A Snake In The Grass
|Illustrators||Laureen Burger Brooks, Rachelle Campbell, Denise Shimabukuro|
|Collection||The Lion King: Six New Adventures|
A Snake in the Grass is the fourth book in The Lion King: Six New Adventures.
A Snake in the Grass begins by introducing Timon, a meerkat, and Pumbaa, his warthog friend. Timon is asking Pumbaa why all leaves are green, and Pumbaa, being Pumbaa, has no idea. Timon then explains that the "big yellow thing in the sky puts special green glop on them". Pumbaa responds by saying that he thought that "the green stuff helps them make food from light"; but Timon, of course, says that Pumbaa is wrong, even though in actuality, Pumbaa is the one with the right answer. The two friends are getting ready for their early-afternoon nap, the nap they usually take in between their after-lunch nap and late-afternoon nap. But they are interrupted when Kopa, the prince of the Pridelands, crashes into them with his mother, Nala, following close behind him.
Nala laughs at Kopa, saying, "Kopa, you're just like Simba when he was your age!" But Kopa doesn't respond, only crinkles his nose and sniffs loudly. Nala then begins to ask him what's wrong, and causes Timon to do the same thing. But Kopa gets mad at them both, and begins yelling at them, claiming that he's perfectly fine. Timon then pats Kopa on the head and tells Nala to leave him with them, for they would cheer him up by talking about science. Nala quickly agrees, says good-bye to Kopa, then heads to Pride Rock.
Timon and Pumbaa sit down beside Kopa and ask him what's wrong. They ask if "a girl cub" knocked him down, since Nala used to knock Simba down all the time. But when Kopa hears this, he is greatly surprised, appalled that anyone could knock his father down. But then he remembers that he's in a bad mood, and begins snapping again, not telling either of his friends what's wrong. Timon and Pumbaa try to persuade the young cub to tell them, but he continues to get even angrier, and even yells out, "Who cares anyway?" Timon then responds by saying that he doesn't care, and when he asks Pumbaa the same thing, the two begin to argue, and Kopa, exasperated with them both, decides to tell them what's wrong.
Kopa asks if they know about Afua, Kopa's best friend, and they both respond that they do. But Kopa surprises them by saying that Afua is a "dope" and that he hates him. Timon and Pumbaa try to ask why Afua was a dope, but Kopa says, "he's stupid, that's all". Timon and Pumbaa get into a debate whether Afua was "smart last week", and soon begin to have another argument. But Kopa says that the real problem was that Afua only wanted to hang out with Beba, a cheetah cub, and didn't want to play with Kopa anymore. Kopa then says that Afua thought that Beba was "the fastest runner and the best climber and the highest jumper around", and that Beba was better than Kopa.
Timon and Pumbaa, inspired by what Kopa had said, remember a story from when they were younger, in which both them and Simba all got into a huge argument, learning to hating each other, and not wanting to talk to one another. Timon and Pumbaa continue by saying that not one of them knew it, but that they were being tricked into hating each other. This, of course, sparked Kopa's attention, and he asks them what happened. But Pumbaa interrupts by suggesting that Kopa may only be mad at Afua because he's jealous of Beba. Kopa is infuriated at this, and starts to leave, when Timon and Pumbaa both say that they were jealous when arguing with each other. Kopa stops at this, still curious, and Timon and Pumbaa go on to explain that the argument was the fault of the python, Joka.
The two then tell Kopa to sit down and listen to their story. When Kopa does so, Timon offers him a grub, and Kopa takes it, beginning to munch on it carefully. They begin their story by talking about how good a friends they were, and how they had taken in Simba as one of their own. They then continue by saying that one day, Timon was alone in the jungle, "fooling around, singing a song, doing a dance, playing a little hide-and-seek with the grubs".
While he was searching for grubs, he hears a rustle in the bushes. He stops his fooling around and listens. But when the sound is not repeated, Timon shrugs and goes back to his hunting. But as he continues his search, he hears the rustling again, followed by hissing. Timon is a little uneasy over this, but continues his search.
He lifts up a log, and shoots his hand under it, pulling out a grub (one of the "minty" kinds). But when he finishes the grub, he hears the same rustling, and turns around to see the giant python, Joka, slithering towards him. Joka's tongue is flicking in-and-out of his mouth, and he was giving Timon a nasty smile. Timon, frightened of Joka, tries to run away, but is hypnotized by Joka's eyes, and is unable to move. Joka then wraps himself around Timon, and begins to squeeze him, his mouth wide open. But, just in the nick of time, Simba leaps over the fallen log, and slashes at Joka's head. Joka lets go of Timon, who slumps to the ground, and turns to face Simba. Joka taunts Simba, then lunges towards him, but Simba twists out of the way, and pins Joka to the ground with all four paws. But Joka manages to wriggle free, and slithers off into the grass. Timon, horrified at the catastrophic event, falls over in a dead faint. Simba, seeing this, rushes over to Timon and tries to awaken him, concerned for his frightened friend.
Pumbaa, who had been watching from afar, rushes up and begins worrying over Timon as well. But after a moment, Timon sits up, and begins feeling himself all over, appalled that he's still alive. After he is reassured by his friends, the three of them agree that they should never seperate, and should stick to each other day and night, just in case Joka decided to return. But, unknown to the three friends, Joka was hanging from a nearby tree and had overheard the whole conversation. When they had gone, he continues to sit in the tree, trying to think up a good plan to get Timon on his own. Finally, in the middle of the night, an idea comes to Joka and he decides to try and destroy Timon's friendship with Pumbaa and Simba. The next morning, Joka approaches Pumbaa, who was waiting under a banana tree for some fruit to fall. Joka greets Pumbaa in a friendly manner, then starts to hypnotize him. Pumbaa tries to run away, but is unable to and stays rooted to the spot. Joka then starts lying to Pumbaa, saying Timon had called Pumbaa "stupid" and thought that he "smelled bad". And after confusing the dazed warthog, Joka slithers away, leaving Pumbaa confused and dizzy. When the warthog comes to, he hears Timon and Simba singing as they dig for grubs.
Simba, who had been concerned about Timon, is relieved to find that the meerkat still has a large appetite. But Timon reassures Simba, saying he feels perfectly fine, especially since he fought off a python and actually won! But Pumbaa, confused, says that it was the python who attacked Timon. Timon then tries to deny this, but Simba tells Timon that he probably hit his head while fighting with Joka, and thus lost a part of his memory. But Timon still denies his friends' accusations, saying he had the whole situation under control, and that Simba had just got in the way of the fight. Both Pumbaa and Simba don't believe him, but don't say anything more to him on the subject. Pumbaa then tells his friends that he feels tired, not remembering his encounter with Joka. But Simba doesn't want to take a nap and wants to go cool off in the mudhole instead. But Pumbaa, still dazed, tells his friends that he'd rather stay behind and take a nap. Timon doesn't think much of it, saying Pumbaa was a heavy sleeper and would probably stay asleep if the python was to attack anyway. Pumbaa, hurt, asks if they'll miss him. But Simba and Timon are already on their way to the mudhole. Joka is seen slithering after them.
Simba tries to start a conversation about science with Timon, but Timon is too concerned about the python, trying to figure out if the python is hiding nearby. Simba begins to get suspicious, accusing Timon of only wanting him around as a bodyguard. But Timon quickly denies this. But Simba keeps persisting, saying Timon didn't want Pumbaa around because he was too hard to wake up. But suddenly, Timon hears a noise and starts screaming for help. Simba whips around, but sees it's just a vine. Simba once more accuses Timon of only wanting him as a bodyguard. But Timon asks him why he thinks this. Simba, dropping the subject, once again asks Timon about science. Timon states that he doesn't care, jumps off Simba's back and races towards the mudhole, looking over his shoulder now and again to make sure Simba is still following him. Simba does follow, but slowly, and with a low growl rumbling in his throat. Joka, who was nearby, smiles at this, happy to know that his plan is starting to be carried through.
The next morning, Joka finds Simba basking himself on a rock. Joka begins to tell him lies, saying Timon told Pumbaa that he doesn't like hanging around with Simba and only wants him around to be his bodyguard. Simba growls, and Joka slithers away. A little while later, Joka finds Pumbaa scratching his back against a tree. He tells Pumbaa that Timon told Simba that he'd rather hang around with Simba than Pumbaa. Joka says it must be true, since they're always together. Pumbaa, glaring at Joka, trots off. All throughout the day, Joka does things to get under the threes' skins. He rustles the leaves around Timon, making him cranky and jumpy with his other friends, which makes Pumbaa and Simba start to believe Joka's lies. Pumbaa, thinking that Timon only likes Simba, becomes jealous of Simba, and Simba, thinking that Timon only wanted him around as a bodyguard, becomes jealous of Pumbaa, and Timon, thinking he was not being protected well enough, becomes exasperated with them both. By nightfall, none of the three friends are talking to each other.
But in the morning, the three friends feel a bit better and all meet up at the mudhole. Pumbaa, picking up a clot of mud, asks why mud acts the way it does. Timon says that mud is "special magic stuff that is only found in wet places" and that it's "alive, kind of like bugs, but it doesn't taste good". Pumbaa says that he thought that mud was just wet dirt, Simba agreeing with him, but Timon brushes them aside, saying Pumbaa knows nothing about science and that he's lucky he's got someone as smart as Timon around to teach him about it. Pumbaa, getting angry, says that that's not true and that he's not as dumb as Timon says he is. Timon responds by saying that Pumbaa does act dumb sometimes. Pumbaa, who is both angry and hurt, accuses Timon of not being his best friend anymore and says that he wishes Timon wouldn't say things like that. He then stalks off into the jungle.
Timon, thinking he'll be back at any moment, waits at the mudhole with Simba. But when Pumbaa doesn't return, he tells Simba that they should go to the waterfall. But Simba, worried about Pumbaa, suggests that they wait at the mudhole for him. But Timon says that he doesn't care, because Pumbaa isn't his best friend anymore. Simba, greatly surprised at this, asks if Timon really means that. Timon neither accepts nor denies this, and once again asks Simba to come to the waterfall with him, since he can't go anywhere without his bodyguard. Simba, greatly angered at this, tells Timon that he's tired of being bossed around, and that Timon doesn't really want him as a friend anyway. Timon denies this and says that he likes Simba a lot, he just needs him to go to the waterfall with him. But Simba responds by asking, "You mean you care about me, but you don't care about Pumbaa?" Timon mumbles that he does care about Pumbaa, but that Pumbaa doesn't care about him. Simba then says that he misses Pumbaa and wants to go and find him. Timon interjects, reminding Simba of Joka's threat. But Simba is convinced that he scared Joka away and that he's miles away by now. Simba then stalks away into the jungle. Timon tries to call him back, but Simba does not return. Timon begins pacing the clearing, calling out for his friends. But neither reply and he is left alone, wondering to himself about where the python really is....
Going back to Pumbaa, he is shown to be sitting beside the waterfall, brooding over what Timon had told him. Just because Pumbaa didn't know all the things that Timon knew didn't mean that he was dumb! But as he continues to think things over, he hears a rustle behind him. Thinking it's Timon coming to apologize to him, Pumbaa turns to expect his friend emerging from the bushes. But it's Joka, who's hanging from a nearby tree. Pumbaa tries to order Joka away, but the python refuses to leave. He says that he has news from Timon, but Pumbaa asks if he can really believe what Joka tells him. Joka tells Pumbaa that it's up to him whether he believes it or not. He then continues by saying Timon doesn't care whether Pumbaa comes back or not, because his new best friend is Simba. Joka then slithers up into the branches of the tree, leaving Pumbaa alone.
Pumbaa, overcome with sadness for the loss of his friend, comes to the edge of the waterfall, trying to hold back tears. He tries to sing a song, but is then reminded that Timon is the one who always came up with their songs. He then thinks that he should try and wash away the mud clinging to his skin by going under the waterfall. But then he thinks that no one would even care if he was dirty, so why should he wash himself off anyway?
Meanwhile, Simba had been searching everywhere for Pumbaa, looking in all his favorite spots. But he still couldn't find the missing warthog. Tired, Simba begins to climb a tree to take a short nap, so he could wake up, refreshed, to continue searching for Pumbaa. But when he climbs the tree, he runs into Joka! The python brings him a false message from Timon, saying "the warthog" was found and that neither wanted to see Simba again. Joka then leaves, Simba roaring after him, and slithers off into the jungle.
Simba begins to feel sad over the loss of his two best friends. He no longer had anyone to sing songs with or dig for grubs with or splash in the waterfall with. But as Simba starts to pace, brooding over what had happened, he begins to think over all the odd things Joka had said. He finally comes to a conclusion that Joka was lying, realizing that Timon would never call Pumbaa, "the warthog". He would call him Pumbaa! Simba then realizes that Joka was setting a trap for Timon and that Simba had helped set it!
Meanwhile, Timon is gathering a pile of sticks, planning to throw them at Joka if the python tries to appear. But he then mumbles to himself that it may be better to hide under the pile, rather than throw the sticks at Joka. He then decides to climb a tree, since it would be safer from the snake. But as he approaches a tree, he's horrified to find that Joka is hanging from one of the branches! Timon backs away, but falls into a mudhole. Joka slithers down the tree and approaches Timon. Afraid of getting hypnotized again, Timon refuses to meet the python's eyes. He instead tries to run away, but Joka cuts him off every which way he tries to go. Unable to think of anything else, Timon begins to dig a hole to try and escape. But Joka is faster and wraps himself around Timon, beginning to squeeze him. But, just in the nick of time, Pumbaa bursts into the clearing and demands Joka drop Timon. But the python refuses, and Pumbaa rushes at him. Pumbaa tries to help free Timon, but every time Pumbaa tries to spear Joka with his tusks, the python moves Timon in the way of the dangerous horns. Pumbaa begins to get worried he may accidently spear Timon, so he stops the attack.
But just as Joka continues to squeeze Timon again, Simba leaps into the clearing, demanding Joka drop his friend. But Joka refuses. Pumbaa then takes Joka by surprise and pins him up against a tree. Simba leaps in and claws at Joka, freeing Timon, who collapses to the ground and drags himself away from the battle. With Timon out of the way, Pumbaa begins to spear Joka with his tusks. But Joka begins to wrap himself around Pumbaa and starts to squeeze him tightly. Simba then leaps forward and snaps at Joka's neck. Joka immediately lets go of Pumbaa and cowers to the ground, realizing that the battle is lost. He tries to make it up to the three and get away without any scratches, but the three decide to throw him into a ravine, so he would never return.
Going back to Pride Rock, Kopa is amazed at the story and asks what happened next. Timon and Pumbaa say that Simba dropped Joka over the side of the ravine. Kopa then asks if the three friends ever made up, and Timon chuckles, saying it took awhile before Pumbaa fully believed that Joka had been lying. Kopa asks how he ended up realizing that Timon and Simba were right, and Pumbaa says that he believed it when Timon said it with his own mouth. And the three made up, realizing that they had been friends for too long to split up over some silly rumors. They then go on to tell the rest of the story, saying things went back to normal, and that Pumbaa even ended up washing all the mud off.
Kopa, who had been listening with rapt attention, then admits that maybe he should go and talk to Afua, since the lion cub may not mean any harm in saying that Beba is better at everything than Kopa. Both Timon and Pumbaa agree with this, and encourage Kopa to make up with his friend. Kopa then turns to go and find Afua. Nala, who had come back, asks where he's going, but Kopa is already walking away, eager to tak to his friend. Nala then comes up to Timon and Pumbaa, expressing her relief over Kopa's change of mood. Upon asking what was wrong, Nala is told about the feud between Afua and Kopa, but that Kopa was willing to make up with his friend.
After Nala leaves, Timon and Pumbaa reflect back on their story and on their trust in each other. The two then begin arguing over who trusts the other more. The two begin to get into a huge argument and Pumbaa stomps away, leaving Timon brooding in anger. But Nala, who had overheard the argument, knows that the two will soon make up, since good friends don't split up for long.