The Bear Says North
One day while the bear was prowling about the woods he caught a grouse.
"Well done!" he thought to himself. "And wouldn't the other animals be
surprised if they knew this old bear had caught a grouse!"
He was so proud of his feat that he wanted everyone around to know of
it. So, holding the grouse carefully in his teeth without injuring it,
he began parading up and down the forest paths.
"They'll all certainly envy me this nice plump grouse," he thought.
"And they won't be so ready to call me awkward and lumbering after
Then the fox sauntered by. He saw at once that the bear was showing
off, and did not want to indulge him with any admiration. Instead he
pretended not to see the grouse at all. Instead he pointed his nose
upwards and sniffed.
"Um! Um"" grunted the bear trying to attract attention to himself.
"Ah," the bear remarked, casually, "is that you? What way is the wind blowing today? Can you tell me?"
The bear could not answer without opening his mouth, so he grunted
again, expecting that the fox noticed why he couldn't answer. But the
fox didn't glance at him at all. With his nose still pointed upwards he
kept sniffing the air.
"It seems to me it's from the south," he said. "Isn't it from the south?"
"Um! Um!" the bear grunted.
*'You say it is from the south? Are you sure?"
"Um! Um!" the bear repeated, while growing more impatient every moment.
"Oh, not from the south, you say. Then from what direction is it blowing?"
By this time the bear was so exasperated by the interest the fox showed
in the wind when he should have been admiring the grouse that he forgot
himself, opened his mouth, and roared out, "North!"
The moment he opened his mouth, the grouse flew away.
"Now see what you've done!" he stormed angrily. "You've made me lose my fine plump grouse!"
"I?" asked the fox. "What had I to do with it?"
"You kept asking me about the wind till I opened my mouth – that's what you did!"
The fox shrugged his shoulders. "Why did you open your mouth?"
"You cannot say, 'North' without opening your mouth, can you?" the bear demanded.
The fox laughed heartily.
"See here, bear, don't blame me. Blame yourself. If I had had that
grouse in my mouth and you had asked me about the wind, I should never
have said, 'North'"
"What would you have said?" the bear asked.
The fox laughed. Then he clenched his teeth and said, "East!"