Wiyukcan Hexaka had just sat down for his morning tea, when a group of squirrels came bursting through the door very angry about something. Now, squirrels are hard to understand when they’re not upset, but get them angry, and the Old Moose couldn’t understand a word they were saying. He did manage to understand “bear” and “acorns,” but that was all, so he decided to go outside and check on things near where they hid their winter food supply.
He hadn’t gone far when he heard grunting and growling, presumably coming from the bear in question. When he came in sight of the sounds, he found a young bear digging at an old rotted log and pulling out acorns and other edible things the squirrels had stored there for winter.
“My friend, what are you doing?” Wiyukcan Hexaka asked as he approached the small brown bear stuffing his mouth.
“I’m hungry and these where here, so I’m eating them,” the bear replied, taking another mouthful.
“Those belong to my friends the squirrels. It’s their winter food,” the Old Moose said, “and you are eating everything without asking first.”
“Why should I ask?” the bear demanded. “It’s right here. I need to eat, so I’m eating.”
Wiyukcan Hexaka stepped closer and slowly pushed the young bear away from the log. “Because it is not polite to take something that is not yours,” he stated. “Didn’t your mother raise you with manners?”
“She tried,” the bear said, trying to get around the Old Moose and back to the log. “But, why not just take what I want? After all, it’s right here.”
“What is your name, young bear?” Wiyukcan Hexaka asked, gently shoving the small bear further away from the log.
“My name is Brian, and I don’t care what you say, I will take what I want.”
Wiyukcan Hexaka was forming a plan to teach Brian a hard, much needed lesson, but first he needed to save the squirrels food supply. He called for the squirrels, and when they came running, he quickly told them to gather up what was left and put it in the cabin while he kept Brian away from it.
When they had all that was left hidden away in the cabin, the Old Moose told Brian to go home and come back the next morning. He told Brian he would take him to a great food source deeper in the woods.
That night Wiyukcan Hexaka took a long stroll through the forest, stopping along the way to talk to a few of the forest creatures about his plan. They all agreed to help teach the young bear a lesson he would not soon forget.
The next morning, the two of them headed out for the great store of food Wiyukcan Hexaka had promised. Soon, they came to a fast running river where several other bears were catching fish and throwing them on the riverbank for later. Brian just couldn’t help himself; he ran to the pile of fish and began to stuff one after the other into his mouth.
A rather large bear suddenly stepped out of the bushes nearby and growled, “Are you eating my fish?”
Brian looked a little scared, continuing to eat, and mumbled, “Yes, they were just laying here with nobody around, so they’re free for the taking.” By now, other bears were coming out of the river and surrounding Brian.
“You should know better than to take what is not yours,” they all growled at once, and with that, the first bear grabbed Brian, picked him up, and tossed him in the river.
“Now, fish!” they all yelled at the small soaked bear splashing around in the cold water.
“I don’t know how!” Brian wailed, trying to reach the shore, only to be pushed back in again.
After he was again prevented from leaving the river, he settled down dejectedly and started grabbing at the passing fish, without much luck.
“Put your heart into it, boy,” The big bear growled, wading into the river next to Brian. “Here, let me show you how it’s done.” The older bear showed Brian how to catch his own fish. Brian was soon catching more than he missed, and was even having fun and laughing. The other bears shouted their encouragement from the bank every time he snagged another fish. When he finally climbed out of the river, there was a huge pile of fish waiting for him to eat.
“Wasn’t that a lot more fun than just taking it?” Wiyukcan Hexaka asked as Brian dried himself off in the sun.
“Yes, it was,” Brian replied, through a mouthful of fish.
When he had eaten all he could hold, he gave the rest to the other bears and headed off with the Old Moose once more.
Next, Wiyukcan Hexaka took him to a giant tree that was buzzing with honey bees. There was honey dripping from a hole near the bottom. Brian wanted to run up and start digging the sweet treat out and lick it off his paws. However, he was afraid of being stung by the hundreds of bees buzzing around the tree.
“Why don’t you ask them if they wouldn’t mind sharing some of their honey?” Wiyukcan Hexaka suggested, gently pushing Brian forward towards the tree.
Brian nervously walked up to the tree as the bees buzzed angrily around his head. He started to turn away when one of the bees asked, “What do you want here, little bear? This is our honey and we don’t like thieves.”
“Can I… I mean, may I, have some of your honey, please?” Brian stammered out, as bees buzzed around his head.
“Well, since you asked so nicely, there is a hole around the other side of the tree that honey is dripping from. But please, if you would, plug the hole when you are done.” Brian found the hole and stuffed himself full. When he finished, he found a branch just the right size and plugged the hole as the bees had asked him to do.
They spent the rest of that day going through the forest, stopping whenever they came across creatures gathering food for the coming winter. Brian had a hard time at first, wanting to run up and take the food for himself. But, as the day went on, he learned how to gather his own food, and more than once, would help others gather what they needed as well.
That evening, as they were sitting on the porch of Wiyukcan Hexaka’s cabin, the Old Moose talked about the events of the day. “Those bears worked very hard fishing this morning, as did those bees making all that honey, as do the other creatures of the forest. When someone works very hard for something, it is not right that you take without asking. Had you asked first, they may have let you have some. Better still, you learned to catch your own fish. Those bees had more honey than they could have used, but it is still polite to ask first. Now, you go home and think about it, then come back and talk to me when you feel you have learned a lesson.”
Wiyukcan Hexaka didn’t see Brain again for almost a week, when he showed up at the door with a whole basket of acorns.
“These are to replace what I ate,” he explained, putting the basket on the porch. “I have learned my lesson. I won’t take what isn’t mine, ever again. I helped my mother gather food from those bees. I went and asked them first, this time. They were happy to give us some, and gave me a honeycomb as a special treat! Mom and I even went to the river where a few other bears taught me more about how to fish. It was fun!”
“I am glad you have learned your lesson. I am only sorry that it had to happen the way it did,” the Old Moose concluded, taking a sip of tea.
Brian went on to help out when he could around the cabin, and would bring fish he had caught himself for his dinner those times he stayed overnight at Wiyukcan Hexaka’s cabin. He would often share his catch with the other critters that stopped by around dinner time, and turned out to be a wonderful friend to all.