The mother bear napped in her den, leaving her three cubs to roam and explore the forest on their own. She fell asleep, telling herself it would do them good to learn about independence and courage without needing Mother there to make them feel secure and safe.
As she’d settled into the den, the mother bear recalled how her own mother followed her and her brother around the forest to protect them from any threats, especially those of the vicious wolves. She wondered if it was necessary for her to do for her own cubs, still young and vulnerable. But, alas, she was so, so tired and it was so cool and comfortable inside the den.
She had doubts about leaving her cubs to wander alone. She imagined her own mother disapproving of the neglect. But she was tired. So, so tired from raising the three cubs that nature and her wild instinct had thrust upon her. Three cubs, unlike her own mother’s two. Her own mother may have disapproved of her absence, she thought, but her mother bear knew nothing of the difficulty of raising three cubs.
Then she recalled how her mother had never had to save her cubs from the wolves. How the wolves were always some ominous threat that never came to pass. As cubs frolicking in the forest, the wolves had never come around the threaten them, so now she calculated they might not be that great a reason for concern. She decided the threat was never that severe, giving her the necessary comfort for an easy descent into sleep as her own cubs frolicked, unattended.
From her slumber, she was awakened by sounds that could have been distress cries from her cubs. And there were other sounds, which might have been the growls and howls of wolves. But she couldn’t be sure. She was still in that state of semi-slumber so she let it pass as any of the number of other things they could be besides the calls of her cubs or the growling of wolves.
Days and nights passed and the cubs hadn’t return. So the mother bear left to the den to roam the forest. Not far away she found bits of her offspring’s remains surrounded by wolf tracks. She found hunks of fur and some flesh and bones and blood. She sniffed. She knew the scents of her own cubs as well as the smell of the wolves.
She strolled back to her den. She settled deep inside, away from any worry for her three cubs. Before falling asleep, she wondered why her cubs never returned to the den to warn her of the threat of the wolves. She found it difficult to understand why they hadn’t returned. For, if they had alerted her to the wolves, it would have drawn her from the den to ward off their threat, so that now they’d be safe and sound beside her.