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The Bear and the Elk: A fable for parents



One day back in the early 1900s, I seen a bear and three cubs wanderin’ down the mountain toward the meadow to graze, and also a elk wanderin’ down that same trail with three of her calves to get to that same meadow.

I learnt sumpin’ real innerestin’ about the manner in which they taught their young’uns and the consequences of their methods of teachin’.

First I watched the mama bear with her three cubs. She told them to foller behind her and be careful of the dangers in the woods. As the bears came across a steep ravine, they had to find another way to git to the other side. Mama saw a large tree that had fallen across the ravine.

“Foller me,” she said to her cubs, “but make sure you don’t look down.” One of the cubs wasn’t payin’ too much attention, and when he heard his mama say sumpin’ about looking down, he looked down. He got scared and lost his balance, and away he fell to the bottom of the ravine.

As they reached the other side of the ravine the mama bear and two cubs came into cougar country. Mama bear told the cubs, “be sure and don’t walk slow”.

The baby bear pulling up the rear wasn’t paying much attention neither, but he heard sumpin’ about walking slow, so he walked along real slow. Just then a cougar came out of the bushes and snatched him away.

When the mama bear and last baby bear got to the meadow, the mama yelled to her last cub “look out fer that snake on yer left!” The bear cub heard her mama sayin’ sumpin’ about looking left, so she looked to the left and saw the snake. By then it was too late to react cuz the snake sprung out and bit the last little bear cub.

The mama bear was left in the meadow with none of her bear cubs left.

Then I noticed the elk and her calves. She told her three calves to foller her and be careful of the dangers in the woods, and to foller her lead.

As the three calves and mama elk came across the steep ravine, they had to find another way to git to the other side. Mama elk saw the large tree that had fallen across the ravine.

“Foller me,” she said to her calves, “and make sure you look up ahead and keep yer eye on the other side.” They all looked up and crossed to the other side.

Reaching the other side, the mama and her three calves were in cougar country. “Run along with me as fast as you can,” Mama said to her calves.

The calves heard sumpin’ from their ma about runnin’ so they runned real hard ‘til they got outta cougar country.

When the elk got to the meadow, the mama yelled, “Quick! Jump to yer right, and look out fer that snake!” The calves was distracted a little by the fun-lookin’ meadow, so they wasn’t paying too much attention, but they heard “jump” and “right,” so they all reacted quickly and jumped to the right. When the snake sprung out at ‘em, it missed cuz the elk was too far right.

Finally the elk and her calves reached the meadow and foraged on the sweet green grass, safe and happy. They also seen a sad, lonely bear wandering along all by itself.

Seemed kinda innerestin’ how the bear and the elk taught their young’uns the same things in such a different manner, and how them young’uns reacted to the way they was taught.

Buscrat’s fables are simple stories that teach a moral. Buscrat welcomes you to visit and post your comments regarding the fable.

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