LONG ago in the far North, where it is very cold, there was only one fire.
A hunter and his little son took care of this fire and kept it burning day and night. They knew that if the fire went out the people would freeze and the white bear would have the Northland all to himself. One day the hunter became ill and his son had the work to do.
Excerpt from the publication: Nature myths and stories for little children – by Cooke, Flora J. (Flora Juliette), 1864-1953 / Publication date [c1895] / Publisher: A. Flanagan – Chicago
For many days and nights, he bravely took care of his father and ‘kept the fire burning.
The white bear was always hiding near, watching the fire. He longed to put it out, but he did not dare, for he feared the hunter’s arrows.
When he saw how tired and sleepy the little boy was, he came closer to the fire and laughed to himself.
One night the poor boy could endure the fatigue no longer and fell fast asleep.
The white bear ran as fast as he could and jumped upon the fire with his wet feet, and rolled upon it. At last, he thought it was all out and went happily away to his cave.
A gray robin was flying near and saw what the white bear was doing.
She waited until the bear went away. Then she flew down and searched with her sharp little eyes until she found a tiny live coal. This she fanned patiently with her wings for a long time.
Her little breast was scorched red, but she did not stop until a fine red flame blazed up from the ashes.
Then she flew away to every hut in the Northland.
Wherever she touched the ground a fire began to burn.
Soon instead of one little fire, the whole north country was lighted up.
The white bear went further back into his cave in the iceberg and growled terribly.
He knew that there was now no hope that he would ever have the Northland all to himself.
This is the reason that the people in the north country love the robin, and are never tired of telling their children how its breast became red.