“After a time a brave hunter with his son wandered into the kingdom of the great bear to hunt. Day after day old Mah-to followed the man and boy. But the hunter was cautious as well as, brave, and the old bear was afraid of his sharp arrows and did not dare to attack him openly.
“When the snow began to fall, the hunter built a lodge and kindled a fire. He cut down a great many trees and brought the wood close to the door of the lodge.
“‘Now,’ said he, to his son, ’we must keep the fire going day and night. Then we shall not freeze.’
“Old Mah-to, who was sneaking about the lodge, heard this and thought, ’I will watch and wait until they have gone away or are asleep, and then I will put out the fire. Then they will have to go away or else freeze.’
“But the hunter was very careful. When he went out to hunt, he left the boy in the lodge to keep the fire burning. The old bear was afraid of the fire, which he thought was some kind of magic, and so he did not dare to touch the boy. At night the hunter and the boy watched the fire by turns, and so kept it burning brightly.
“The old bear watched for many days before his chance came. At last one day when the hunter had gone away, the little boy fell asleep and allowed the fire to burn low.
“‘Now,’ thought the old bear, ‘now is my chance.’ So he walked into the lodge and trampled the fire with his great, wet feet, until he thought he had put it all out. He meant to kill the boy, but the fire scorched his feet and scared him. So he went away again to the edge of the forest and sat there licking his burnt paws, waiting to see what would happen.
“Now O-pee-chee had followed the man and the boy into the Northland. He watched the old bear and saw what he did. When he went away, the robin flew down and scratched about among the ashes until he found a small, live coal. Then he brought some splinters and dry moss and laid them upon the coal and fanned it with his wings until the fire caught the wood and burned up strong and bright.
“The heat of the blazing splinters scorched his breast and made it red, but the robin did not stop until the fire was blazing brightly.
“Just then the hunter walked into the lodge and saw what the robin was doing. He saw, too, the big footprints of the great bear and he knew that the robin had saved his life and the life of his boy.
“All that winter the good hunter fed the kind robin and sheltered it in his lodge. When he went back again to his people, he told them the story, and they grew to love the robin more than before. To this day they are never tired of telling their children the story of O-pee-chee the Robin and how his breast became red.”
XII. HOW THE BEES GOT THEIR STINGS
Little Luke was fond of watching the bees. He was not afraid of them, for he knew that if he did not disturb or annoy them, they would not sting him.