The Bear Man

: Indian Legends Retold

A hunter once trailed a bear and shot many arrows into its body, but

to his surprise they seemed to make no impression. Finally the bear

stopped, pulled out the arrows, and turning to the man, he handed them

back to him, saying pleasantly:

"You see it is no use--you can't kill me. Better give it up and come

home with me instead!"

The hunter was curious and followed the bear to his den, where

slept all winter, gradually growing thick black hair over his whole

body. When spring came, he was wakened by the shouts of his friends as

they surrounded the den.

Not knowing what else to do, he went forth to meet them, looking like

a bear, but walking upright like a man. He spoke to them, and they

knew his voice and spared his life.

"You have done wrong," said they, "and we cannot allow you to remain

here. Come back with us--your poor wife mourns for you as for one


"I wish for nothing but to come back," the Bear Man declared. "Tell

her, however, that for seven days I must neither eat nor speak. That

will break the charm, and I shall be once more a man! Otherwise I must


Accordingly he betook himself to a solitary teepee on the outskirts of

the village, and there continued his fast. His wife was told that he

still lived, and was overcome with joy. Five days she waited for him

to come to her, and at the end of the fifth day she could wait no

longer. She went to him, threw herself into his arms, and compelled

him to answer her questions, thus causing his death.