Why the bear sleeps all winter.
Soon Ukko spied a horse that was nibbling some grass.
"Dear horse," said Ukko, "could you carry me across this river?"
The horse didn't even bother to look up from his nibbling.
"I'll gladly reward you, sir," Ukko said.
"Can't you seem I'm busy?" said the horse with his mouth full of grass. "Go away!"
Ukko plodded upstream. He was kneeling for a drink when a reindeer came leaping past.
"Dear reindeer," Ukko called out, "could you stop for a moment and carry me across this river? It's almost dark and -"
"What," the reindeer snarled, "and stop my leaping about? Not for a moment!"
And the reindeer sprang away
Darkness fell. Now Ukko had to cross the river. He took off his shoes and waded into the water. But the current was strong. It swept the wizard off his feet. He reached out to grab what he thought was a fir tree.
But it wasn't a tree at all. No, Ukko's arms were wrapped around a huge brown bear!
For a moment, the bear stared down at Ukko, Then he spoke, "My friend, this river is too dangerous for you to cross. Jump on my back, and I will carry you."
So the bear swam across the river with Ukko on his back.
"Dear bear," Ukko said as they reached the other side, "for this good deed, I will give you a special talent. You will never have to hunt or shiver in the cold winter again."
Since that time, bears have slept through the winter, snug in their dens, dreaming warm thoughts of the coming spring.
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|Title Annotation:||short story|
|Publication:||Jack & Jill|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1995|
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