It may not be as well-known now, but bears have always thought very highly of themselves. Their strength and size makes them feel certain that they are the most important of the woodland animals who share their home in the forests.
One day, a bear was turning over great logs in search of food and feeling very sure of himself indeed. "There's nothing I cannot do," said the bear.
"Oh really?" said a small voice close to the forest floor. The bear looked down to find a chipmunk looking up at him from his hole in the ground.
"Yes," replied the bear. "That is true." Then he reached out with one huge paw and rolled over a big log from a large tree that had fallen. "See? Look at how easily I can do this. I am the strongest of all the animals in the forest and I can do anything. All the other animals fear me!"
"Can you stop the sun from rising in the morning?" chided the chipmunk.
The bear paused in thoughtful silence for a moment. "I have never tried that," he said. "Yes, I am sure I could stop the sun from rising."
"Are you sure?" asked the chipmunk skeptically.
"I am sure," said the bear. "Tomorrow morning the sun will not rise. I, Bear, have said so." So the bear sat down facing east to wait.
Behind him the sun set for the night, but he did not move from his spot and sat there all night. The chipmunk went into his hole and curled up in his snug little nest chuckling to himself about how foolish the bear was. All through the night the bear sat waiting for the approaching dawn. Finally, the first birds began to sing their morning songs and the east glowed with the light of the rising sun.
"The sun will not rise today," said the bear staring hard at the glowing light. "The sun will not rise today."
Of course, the sun did rise, just as it always does and bear was very upset. The chipmunk, however, was delighted and he laughed and laughed.
"The sun is stronger than bear," goaded the chipmunk. He was so amused that he came out of his hole and began running around in circles singing, "The sun came up, the sun came up! The bear is angry, but the sun came up!"
The chipmunk continued running in circles until he was so weak that he rolled over on his back. Before he could react, the bear had him pinned to the ground by one great paw.
"Perhaps I cannot stop the sun from rising," said the bear angrily, "but you will never see another sunrise!"
"Oh, Bear," the chipmunk pleaded. "You are the strongest, the quickest; the best of all the animals in the forest."
The bear did not move his paw.
"Oh, Bear, you are right to kill me, I deserve it. Just please let me have a final word first."
"Speak quickly," said the bear. "Your time has come!"
"I want to, bear, but you are pressing down so hard on me that I cannot breathe or speak. If you would just lift your paw a little, just a little bit, then I could breathe and say my final goodbye's to the world."
The bear lifted his paw…just a little bit. That was enough for the crafty chipmunk to squirm free and run for the safety of his hole. The bear was furious and swung his mighty paw at the little chipmunk as he darted away. He was not quick enough to catch him, but the tips of his long claws scraped along the chipmunks back leaving three pale scars.
To this day, all chipmunks wear those scars as a reminder to them of what happens when one animal makes fun of another.