Once upon a time in a mountain, lived a gentle bear. He was full of love and wished the best for all of God’s animals. The Bear didn’t have any family of his own but was strong, hard-working and generosity. The gentle bear was giving and always sharing his fish with other animals. A vulture and a fox ate together with the bear as he brought them all kinds of fishes. But the vulture and the fox kept wanting more and more and got greedy.
The cunning vulture one day said to the bear,
“Bear, I know the secret to becoming human that only takes two years. I will teach you how to become human if you give me a fish everyday for next three months.”
The bear listened and brought the vulture a fish everyday for three months. The vulture ate happily all this free food. But the vulture, at the end of the three months, it demanded even more.
“If you now give me three fishes a day, I will teach you how to become a human in six months.”
The bear had heard enough.
‘I imagine this bird will keep lying to until I feed him the entire ocean.’
It smiled at the bird and said to himself,
“That’s the way that God designed vultures. I cannot change his cunning nature but I showed him the best kindness I can. And I learned my lesson not to trust vultures. And that is enough.”
And the gentle Bear went on his way.
For the next few months, the vulture tricked other animals into doing hard work and lied to them in order to get food and pick up the scraps. But the next time the vulture tried to trick a large animal, he wasn’t so lucky. It was a Panther. When the Panther realized that he had been tricked by the vulture’s lies, it became angry.
“How dare you trick me! I’m one of the fiercest creatures in the jungle. I will teach you a lesson.”
The Panther bit the vulture by the throat and killed him instantly for breakfast.
The Fox wanted to trick the gentle Bear as well. The fox used his cute children to get the Bear’s attention.
“Oh, gentle Bear, I have these six little fox babies to feed but I’ve hurt my leg and cannot hunt. We are hungry, cold and weak. Please share your fishes with us every day for next few weeks.”
The Fox was actually unharmed and capable of hunting but lying to the Bear. But the Bear felt sympathy for the family. The Fox’s children had big eyes and said hello to the Bear whenever He came near. The Bear brought them a fish for every single member of the family every day for months. They ate joyously. After this, the Fox said.
“Oh, gentle Bear. Thank you. Now keep doing this and I will help you. I am smart and have the respect of other big cats, even panthers and tigers. I will help you someday become the king of the mountain but for now, keep feeding us. Keep feeding my babies until they become big and strong. Keep feeding us for the whole next year.”
But the Bear was not stupid. He knew that if he had kept on working and feeding the fishes to the Fox and his family instead of feeding himself for an entire year, he would surely exhaust or starve himself. The Bear saw through the Fox’s greedy nature.
“Oh Fox. I’ve shown you the best kindness I could show, but you still demand more from me. Your needs have no limits. I cannot help anymore. I am too exhausted.”
The Bear then said his goodbyes to the Fox and his children and left. The Fox and its children looked at the Bear with disappointed eyes but the Bear knew that he had to leave them or they would keep taking advantage of his gentle nature.
“I cannot give more kindness than I can afford. I must take care of myself as much as I take care of others. Or others will keep taking from me without leaving anything for my own,” the gentle Bear realized.
A few weeks later, a severe drought hit the mountain. There was no water for days and scarcely any food to be found. Because the thieving Fox had depended on the Bear for food, it had forgotten how to hunt properly and not saved up anything for emergencies. The fox and its children became thin and weak. When a hungry Panther walked by them, they became easy meals for the Panther’s breakfast.
“A bunch of small fox children and their good-for-nothing Dad. I guess it’s better than eating nothing,” the Panther muttered to himself after his meal.
The gentle bear was starving too during the drought and fainted from tiredness in the middle of the mountain. He was thin and weak.
“Oh, I guess this is the end for me,” the Bear said.
“At least I loved everybody as much as I can. Although my friends tricked me, I’ve lived helping friends in need. I regret nothing. I can die happily.”
The Bear was on the ground panting his last breaths.
That is when he heard the light steps of a human. It was a young woman with long black hair dressed in a white robe and wearing a silver necklace and shiny earrings. She was carrying a satchel and hiking in sandals. Soon behind her, a group of servants came running after her.
“Please be careful, princess. There are wild animals and bears and panthers in these mountains.”
The Bear looked up and saw the face of the woman brimming with curiosity and wonder. The Bear licked her hand as she reached down her fingers towards his face. She felt unafraid and smiled at him.
“What an amazing nice bear. I feel bad for him, he is about to die. Let’s bring him food and water.”
The princess asked her servants to bring a huge palanquin that could put the gentle bear inside. When the group made it back to the village with the palanquin, all of the village folks gasped and shouted in wonder and excitement to see a large bear gently and calmly sitting inside a large palanquin for humans. When the Bear arrived at a huge palace garden, the servants laid out fishes, grasses, berries and insects for the Bear for a feast. The Bear gobbled up the feast while the Princess smiled besides him and watched him in delight.
And the Gentle Bear and the Princess became best friends for 10 years to come. When the Bear became old and frail, the Bear died peacefully in his sleep in the Princess’s arms. People all cried for him.
“Let’s remembered him as the hero, the gentle protector of the mountain,” the Princess declared while wiping her eyes.