“Now, I’ll tell you,” Omnok said to Huskie, “Big White Bear is a great big bully. He likes to fight all the little folks of the tundra and sea because he is so big. It would be a good thing if we could show him that he isn’t so awfully big, after all. Wouldn’t it?”
“Ki, yi, yiyi,” said Huskie, which meant he thought it would.
“Well, then, this is what you must do. Go running about on the ocean ice everywhere and hunt for him. I will be hunting too. If you find him first, run away, then call me. I will shoot him. Do you see?”
“Ki, yiyi,” answered Huskie again, meaning this time, “I do.”
Huskie ran up and down, in and out among the ice piles, until his feet were sore. He was very anxious to find Big White Bear. Whenever a little fellow has a chance to harm a big fellow he thinks is a bully, he always wants to do it. Did you ever notice that?
So Huskie ran on and on, even if his feet were sore.
“Hello!” He had just gone around something he thought was an ice pile when he heard a voice.
Looking up, he saw the face of Big White Bear. What he was going around wasn’t ice at all. It was Big White Bear. And, my! What a monster he was! Huskie had to look away off at Cape Prince of Wales Mountain and look again at Big White Bear before he could tell which was the larger, bear or mountain.
He wanted to run away. But Big White Bear was so very near he didn’t dare to, so he just said “Hello!” But to himself he said, “Big White Bear is a big, big bully, just as Omnok said. I am glad he is going to get killed.”
“Who are you?” asked Big White Bear.
“I’m Huskie, the Malemute dog. Who are you?”
“I am a Polar Bear. Where did you come from?”
“My home’s over there on the shore,” said Huskie, pointing his nose toward shore. “Where’d you come from?”
“I came from far, far North. I’ve never been here before. Didn’t mean to come this time. Last night I went to sleep on a corner of Old Ocean’s blanket. Old Ocean put up his knee in his sleep, and my corner of the blanket slid right down here. What do you think about that?”
Now Huskie is a great fighter himself, for a little fellow. And great fighters like fight stories. He was just itching to know all about Big White Bear’s big fights.
“Who’d you kill last?” he asked.
“Who did I kill?” said Big White Bear, opening his eyes very wide.
“Yes, was it a very bad fight?”
“A bad fight?”
“Yes, you don’t seem much scratched up for a great fighter. Look at me; one leg bent, nose split, and scarred up all over,” said Huskie proudly.
“Do you think I’m a great fighter?”
“Of course you are. Omnok says–” Huskie caught himself just in time. If Big White Bear knew all about Omnok, he’d run away.
“Why, I never fight anybody,” said Big White Bear gravely.
“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed Huskie. “That’s a good story. You never fight any one. What a fib!”
“It’s the truth.”
“The truth? Ha! Ha! Of course that’s not true. You’re a bear. All bears are fighters, and great big bullies, besides! Why! I bet you’ve got claws three inches long.”
“You think so?” Big White Bear put out his front paw which was as big as the trunk of a small tree. Huskie dodged.
“Look,” said Big White Bear.
Huskie looked at Big White Bear’s claws. They were not as long as his own. They were broad and blunt, just sharp enough for climbing over the ice.
“I don’t know why they name me Bear,” said Big White Bear; “Old Buster Grizzly, Buster Brown, and Buster Black, now, are very distant relatives of mine. Indeed, they have long claws and are great fighters. But my nearest relative, Tusks, the Walrus, is no fighter at all, and believe me, neither am I.”
But Huskie was a very quarrelsome and suspicious fellow.
“That will do to tell,” said he; “but I know it is not true. As for those claws of yours, I can guess how that is. They look very harmless now. But when you want to fight, you run them out like a cat’s.”
“It’s no such thing,” said Big White Bear.
“Oh, yes, it is. Omnok says it is. I am going to tell him now, and he’ll fix you!” Vain boast! Huskie had forgotten himself.
In another instant, before he could dodge, Big White Bear had grabbed him and hugged him tight. Huskie could not call out at all. His voice became the tiniest little squeak.
“Let me go! Let me go!” he squeaked. “I won’t tell! I won’t tell! Oh! Oh! Please, Mr. Bear, let me go!”
But Big White Bear only grinned, and said “Huh?”
“Oh, I’ll not kill you,” said Big White Bear finally. “It’s just as I have told you. I am no fighter. I never hurt anybody, unless I am driven to do so. I’ll not kill you, but I am going to make your teeth chatter so you can’t call your master.”
At that, Big White Bear dropped right down into the cold, cold water with Huskie in his arms.
Now Big White Bear lives half the time in water, and he does not mind it a bit. But poor Huskie! When Big White Bear put him back on the ice, he couldn’t have said a word to save his life.
“Now, go and tell your master that you have seen Big White Bear,” said Big White Bear, grinning. “But you don’t know where he is just now.”
Then he dropped into the water and disappeared.
Huskie did not wait to hunt up his master. He ran home as fast as he could go. Try as he might, Omnok has never been able to get him to go hunting for Big White Bear again.
Look up and define these words:
- Bully —
- Trunk –
- Suspicious –
- Vain –
YOUR REACTIONS TO THE CHAPTER
In this story, we hear the hunter calling the polar bear a bully, but in reality we see the polar bear isn’t much of a bully at all. Tell us what makes a person (or an animal) a bully? Write them down or make a drawing out of them! When you’re done e-mail it to us at email@example.com or mail it to us.
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