Seela thought no more of the fisherman after this; he only thought of the agonizing pain all over him and of the water—the cool sea water, where he would not only be eased and comforted, but where he would be safe. But alas! he had gone so far from the water in his eagerness to get near that treacherous music that it was now impossible to get back. It was always a great effort for him to walk on land and very exhausting, but now he was getting so weak that he could scarcely move at all.
In vain he looked round for that fisherman, but the fisherman took very good care to keep on the blind side of him, for a wounded seal is a dangerous animal to face. In vain he tried over and over again to turn round and make his way back to the sea, all the time sending forth harsh cries, which filled the air with curious echoes.
His voice grew hoarser and fainter after a few minutes, and his flabby, soft body was now lying in a pool of thick, dark blood, which trickled down the banks and crept in between the grass, stones and pebbles as though to hide itself.
Presently there was a convulsive struggle, a faint sound like a soft, hoarse whisper, and Seela was dead. He had been a real old rascal in his time, and had scarcely ever thought of any one but himself: moreover, he had robbed the fishermen time after time of their food, and yet he had died at last, not from any fresh treachery or meanness, but simply from a love of music, which had drawn him on and led him to his death.
Brunie was feeling very lonely and sad, and sat, with her brown body all huddled up, sucking the soles of her feet in a subdued, disconsolate manner.
For the summer was over; October had come with its autumnal chills and cloudy days, and Brunie’s husband had already betaken himself to his winter quarters to commence his long sleep, utterly regardless, and supremely indifferent, as to what became of his wife.
He had fattened himself well before retiring by eating large quantities of honey, nice ripe cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cloudberries, and all sorts of other berries which grow so plentifully in the Scandinavian forests; not to speak of some beautiful, ripe corn, which he had eaten in a luxurious manner— seating himself on his wide haunches, and collecting with his outstretched arms great sheaves at a time, the ears of which he picked off and consumed at his leisure.
Then he had laid in a good stock of ants and ants’ eggs, together with the remains of pine leaves, and other substances which he had scratched out of the ants’ nests.
Old Bruin knew perfectly well that this matter, composed of pine leaves and other substances, was absolutely essential to him for the winter, for this is what makes the “tappen.” And as the bear sleeps the whole of the winter without food, nature has provided this wonderful contrivance by which he can go on sleeping and remain as fat as ever.