Kalitan and Ted fished awhile, and then Ted wandered away a little, wondering what lay around a point of rock which he had never yet explored. Something lay there which he had by no means expected to see, and he scarcely knew what to make of it. On the river-bank, close to the edge of the stream, was a black figure, an Indian fishing, as he supposed, and he paused to watch. The fisherman was covered with fur from head to foot, and, as Ted watched him, he seemed to have no line or rod. Going nearer, the boy grew even more puzzled? and, though the man’s back was toward him, he could easily see that there was something unusual about the figure. Just as he was within hailing distance and about to shout, the figure made a quick dive toward the water and sprang back again with a fish between his paws, and Ted saw that it was a huge bear. He gave a sharp cry and then stood stock-still. The creature looked around and stood gnawing his fish and staring at Ted as stupidly as the boy stared at him. Then Ted heard a halloo behind him and Kalitan’s voice:
“Run for Chetwoof, quick!”
Ted obeyed as the animal started to move off. He ran toward the camp, hearing the report of Kalitan’s gun as he ran. Chetwoof, hearing the noise, hurried out, and it was but a few moments before he was at Kalitan’s side. To Ted it seemed like a day before he could get back and see what was happening, but he arrived on the scene in time to see Chetwoof despatch the animal.
“Hurrah!” cried Ted. “You’ve killed a bear,” but Chetwoof only grunted crossly.
“Very bad luck!” he said, and Kalitan explained:
“Indians don’t like to kill bears or ravens. Spirits in them, maybe ancestors.”
Ted looked at him in great astonishment, but Kalitan explained:
“Once, long ago, a Thlinkit girl laughed at a bear track in the snow and said: ‘Ugly animal must have made that track!’ But a bear heard and was angry. He seized the maiden and bore her to his den, and turned her into a bear, and she dwelt with him, until one day her brother killed the bear and she was freed. And from that day Thlinkits speak respectfully of bears, and do not try to kill them, for they know not whether it is a bear or a friend who hides within the shaggy skin.”
The Tyee and Mr. Strong were greatly surprised when they came home to see the huge carcass of Mr. Bruin, and they listened to the account of Kalitan’s bravery. The old chief said little, but he looked approvingly at Kalitan, and said “Hyas kloshe” (very good), which unwonted praise made the boy’s face glow with pleasure. They had a great discussion as to whom the bear really belonged. Ted had found him, Kalitan had shot him first, and Chetwoof had killed him, so they decided to go shares. Ted wanted the skin to take home, and thought it would make a splendid rug for his mother’s library, so his father paid Kalitan and Chetwoof what each would have received as their share had the skin been sold to a trader, and they all had bear meat for supper. Ted thought it finer than any beefsteak he had ever eaten, and over it Kalitan smacked his lips audibly.