It was a cold morning and her breath, warm from the recent meal, billowed as she walked and surveyed the pack. Two of her males were not fully grown and to her mind not eligible. Others weren't strong enough. One was particularly unkempt. That left her four good candidates to inspect.
She made her way to the strongest male, a smooth-furred fellow who had striven for years to take the lead role. He had fought a bit too often with the old hunt leader but he also knew when to back down. He had never been hurt in a fight or in a hunt. He was usually second or third to the food. He didn't share with the cubs, which was unfortunate, but on the other hand he rarely tormented them.
“Perhaps your time has come,” she said as she drew nose-to-nose with him. “The pack needs someone in front. Can you lead?”
“Oh, mistress,” he simpered, full of false modesty. He sat back and cleaned his paws for a moment as he considered his reply. “I am not worthy of such a promotion.”
“Right,” she said. She tried to picture him doing the extra work. It was hard. He had never taken a serious risk. Could she let the pack endure a leader who hesitated to accept her offer? “Never mind. I'll find someone ready.”
She turned to her left and went off to the next male.
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