The Old Bear and the Moon – Helen Moat

Every night when the light faded from the sky, an old bear sat at the front of his cave listening to the soft lap of the waves on the seashore, waiting for the Moon.

Sometimes it appeared in the darkening sky, and sometimes it didn’t. Or sometimes, it appeared just as a silver thread curled up in space.

But when the full Moon rose in the sky, the old bear sighed and gazed jealously at its luminous silver light. Oh, how he longed to have the Moon for himself so that it could light up his dark, shadowy cave.

Now the bear had heard of an eagle, who lived beyond the forest on a rock simply named ‘Eagle Stone’. Reputedly, the eagle was wise and strong with powers and abilities that were far beyond any other creature in the territory.

Old Bear determined to reach Eagle Stone to make a special request. The next day he set out for the rock at dawn, laden down with gifts for the great bird of prey: the freshest salmon caught in the river that flowed into the sea outside his cave, the biggest and juiciest buffalo berries and the soft fur of a skinned squirrel.

The journey was long and arduous for an old bear of great age, but still he plodded on, stumbling over hills, slipping down inclines, ducking branches and occasionally falling over, his great weight sliding heavily downhill as he gripped the earth with his large claws.

At last he reached Eagle Stone as the sun was setting, and there was the eagle perched on its pinnacle.

The eagle flew down to the old bear, who had laid out his gifts ceremoniously on the forest floor.

“Great Eagle,” he said. “Your powers are known throughout the land. Only you can help me achieve my dream. You have strong wings and can fly a long way. Bring me the moon to light my cave.”

So the eagle stretched out her strong wings and flew over the forest until she reached the ocean; then followed the silver path across the sea to the moon.

But the Moon saw the eagle coming and called to the clouds. “Quick, hide me from the eagle for she has come to steal me from the sky.”

The clouds swirled and danced around the moon until the Moon was wrapped in a large cotton-wool blanket.

Disappointed, the eagle returned to the old bear, now back in his cave.

“Bear,” she cried. “The Moon has gone!”

“No,” the bear replied. “The crafty Moon is simply hiding behind the clouds.”

So the Great Eagle called to the wind.

“Wind,” she said. “Blow the clouds away.”

The Wind blew and blew, scattering the clouds across the sky and far away from the Moon.

“Go quickly,” begged the bear. “Now the Moon cannot hide in the sky.”

But as the exhausted eagle made her way back towards the moon, the night grew into day and the moon faded from the sky.

So the old bear waited patiently for the next full moon. Slowly the silver thread of the new moon grew from crescent to half-moon, and from half-moon to full moon until it was big and round and fat and full of wonderful light.

The old bear made the journey back to Eagle Stone, bringing even bigger salmon, a whole sack of pine nuts and the fur of a skinned beaver.

The eagle agreed to try again. This time, she glided stealthily through the sky, but still the moon saw her coming.

So the Moon called to his friends, the Earth and the Sun.

“Sun,” said the Moon. “You light me up. But Earth, if you stood between me and the sun, you would block the sun’s light. Then the eagle would not be able to see me.”

So the moon and the Earth and the Sun lined up and the Earth threw a shadow over the moon and the Moon became dark.

The eagle flew round and round the blackened sky, but could not find the moon.

She returned to the bear, tired and angry.

“Where is the Moon?” she demanded.

And the old bear told the eagle about the eclipse of the moon.

“I will not try to catch the moon again,” said the tired eagle, angrily. “The Moon is too clever for me. Each time, she has a new trick.”

But the old bear pleaded and pleaded with the eagle until she agreed to try one last time.

Once more the eagle stretched out her wings to follow the silver path across the sea to the Moon.

Then the eagle swooped down and snatched the Moon in her beak.

Quickly she returned to the bear back in his dark, shadowy cave. The old bear took the Moon from the eagle with a great growl of delight and hung it up in his cave.

The cave shone with a bright warm light and the old bear curled up happily in the corner to sleep.

But the bear could not sleep for he did not like the bright light in his cave – but worse than that he missed the soft whoosh of the waves on the shore.

“Why has the sea become so quiet?” the old bear asked the moon in a puzzled voice.

“The sea’s tide cannot flow and ebb without me,” replied the Moon sadly. Her reflected light from the sun was also beginning to fade in the dark cave and she now looked a sorry sight.

Then the bear realised the Moon did not belong in the cave.

“I’m sorry,” said the old bear. “I will ask the eagle to return you to the sky where you belong.”

So once more the bear made the trip to Eagle Stone, laden down with gifts of choice salmon, a bag of fat juicy bugs, tender spring roots and the fur of a skinned moose.

The eagle flew to the cave, took the moon in his strong beak and soared across the ocean and up into the sky.

“Fare Well!” the eagle cried as she let go of the Moon.

The Moon floated up and up until she was high about the Earth. Once more the light of the moon could shine out across the sky and bathe the Earth and the sea in luminous silver light.

Far below on Earth the old bear waved to the Moon. Then he curled up in the cosy darkness of his cave and fell asleep, listening contentedly to the lapping tide.

Helen Moat Travel Writer

http://moathouse-moathouseblogspotcom.blogspot.co.uk/

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