Once upon a time, when animals could talk, a bear was walking through the woods. This big, strong bear was much like other bears – he thought he was pretty important.
“I can do anything,” Bear mumbled to himself as he foraged for food.
Just then, tiny Chipmunk overheard him, and feeling bold said, “Really? Are you sure?”
“Of course,” Bear said, huffing. To prove it, Bear knocked over a huge log with his giant paw. “See, that was easy. I am the strongest of all the animals. They are all afraid of me. I can do anything.”
Chipmunk asked, “Can you keep the sun from rising tomorrow?”
“I haven’t tried that before,” said Bear. After thinking a minute he said, “Yes. I’m sure I can. I could do it.”
“You think so?” asked Chipmunk.
“Yes. I am certain. I’ll show you tomorrow morning. There will be no sunrise.” And Bear looked to the east, and sat down to wait for the morning.
It grew later and later, the sun set in the west, and Bear waited. Chipmunk went to bed, snuggled tight in his hole in his bed of leaves, and thought merrily of how Bear would be disappointed in the morning. Bear simply waited, and convinced himself of his mission.
Morning came, and the sky in the east began to lighten, just as it did every morning. The animals all began to wake, and the birds began chirping. Bear mustered all of his will.
“Stay in bed, Sun,” said Bear. “You will not rise today. I, Bear, have said so. So it will be.”
But the Sun did not listen, and rose just as it always did. Bear was angry, but Chipmunk laughed at him. “You’re not as strong as you think you are,” said Chipmunk. “The Sun is stronger than you are!”
Chipmunk’s laughter got louder and louder, and his tittering was beginning to get attention from the other animals. Chipmunk was howling with amusement, over and over again yelling, “See Bear? The Sun came up anyways! Do you see?”
As fast as a flash, Bear reached out and trapped Chipmunk under his massive paw. “I may not have stopped the sunrise,” said Bear, “but you will never see the sun rise again.”
Chipmunk wasn’t laughing anymore. “Bear, I was only teasing. You are so strong, so quick… you are the greatest of all the forest animals. Please take pity on me. It was only a joke.” But Bear held Chipmunk to the ground.
“Bear, you’re right. I deserve to die for the awful things I said about you,” said Chipmunk. “I’m ready to pay for my behavior. Just, please let me say one last prayer before you eat me.”
“Be quick about it,” Bear said. “It’s time you were punished!”
“I will be as quick as I can,” Chipmunk said. “But I cannot breathe. Your huge, strong paw presses down on me so I can hardly squeak. If you would lift your paw a tiny, tiny bit, then I could have enough breath for my prayer. Then you can eat me.”
Bear lifted his paw just a tiny, tiny bit – and Chipmunk jumped. He wiggled himself free and dashed for his nest. Bear tried to catch him, and swung a giant paw at him. Chipmunk escaped, but not before Bear left three long scratches down his back.
To this day, all chipmunks wear pale scars down their back to remind them of the trouble that can come from making fun of another animal.