Classic Myths

Page: 13

"One brave young hunter said, 'I am going into the heart of the forest. I will take only the bravest with me, and I will never return without the prize.'

"This young man was dearly loved by everyone. His mother had left him when he was only a few years old, and gone, no one knew where. He was cared for by his uncle, and grew up, hoping each year his mother would return. He took long journeys trying to learn if she were still alive, but no one could ever tell him a word about her. These journeys had made him very bold and brave, and there was no cave so dark, nor mountain so high, but that he would search it in the hope of finding his mother.

"He found six young hunters ready to go with him into the heart of the forest. They looked very fine in their bright, shining hunting-suits, with their bows and arrows, and every one wished them success.

"They wasted no time in the pleasant fields outside, but started for the dark, sunless forest. It was slow work picking their way through the tangled bushes growing under the trees, and it took many days to reach the place described by the hunters who had told them the story of the strange white bear.

"'Whoever sees it first must call to the others. It may be that this is enchanted ground, and something dreadful will happen to the one who is alone,' said the leader of the hunting party.

"'It is well said,' they all agreed. In the heart of this wild forest they wandered, shooting the strange birds they saw there, and saving the long feathers and wings, to bring home after the hunt was over.

"One day the leader of the hunt chased a wonderful bird for hours from tree to tree, riding beneath the branches, trying to get a shot.

"At last, just as he had his arrow in his bow, ready to aim, his horse reared and nearly threw him backward to the ground. There, beside him, stood the snow-white bear.

"Its two fore paws were stretched out to meet him, and its eyes seemed full of the love he used to see in his mother's eyes. It was a beautiful sight, and the arrow meant for the bird shot upward into the sky, harming no one, but bearing the next words of the hunter as a message to the great Jupiter.

"'O, my mother, let me live forever with you!' exclaimed the hunter, as his strong arms were clasped about the white bear's neck.

"'My mother is found!' he shouted, and Echo repeated over and over, 'Found! Found!' until the six fellow hunters came to where the mother and her son were standing, gazing with loving eyes toward Mount Olympus, the home of their gods.

"The winged arrow had taken its flight to Jupiter and the son's prayer was answered.


"Jupiter's lightnings flashed and the six hunters saw their strong leader change into the Great Bear, and gently guide his mother, the Little Bear, to her home in the sky. He took his place near her, at Jupiter's command, and now follows wherever she leads. He points forever to her and to the North Star which she keeps. Those who watch this unchanging beacon among the stars sometimes remember that the people of long ago thought that it was placed there to tell them of the unchanging love of mothers."