In the forest there is a Trapper. He was cunning and smart. He knew where the bears liked to go and what they liked to eat. It was said that no bear could ever escape the Trapper. He was just too smart, too cunning, and too powerful.
In this same forest there was there was a Ranger. The Ranger cared about the bears. He loved them and tried to protect them from the Trapper. He put up fences and signs to warn them. He picked up traps and pointed them out when ever he found them. Who knew to well the danger of the Trapper. He spent every day trying to save as many of the bears as possible from him, but not many bears paid attention to the ranger.
One day a bear was walking through the woods. He smelled something good and wanted to find out what it was. He walked through the forest following his nose. He passed one sign stuck to a tree that said, "DANGER: TRAPPER AHEAD. TURN BACK!" The bear thought for a moment about turning back and remembered that the Ranger had put up this sign and the Ranger was nice and always helped the bears. In the end the smell was too much for the bear. "Something that smells this good can't be bad", he thought to himself. He decided he couldn't stand it any longer, and kept on following his nose.
He moved deeper and deeper into the woods. Pretty soon he came to a fence. The ranger had put the fence up too. "The Ranger won't mind if I just go past this one time", thought the bear. "After all I just want to find out what smells so good, then I'll come right back. So he decided to keep going and he climbed over the fence.
The bear was really deep in the forest now. The trees were so thick that it almost seemed that it was night time. The bear started to feel a little scared, but he couldn't stop. He knew that he was getting close to the smell, because it kept getting stronger and stronger. In fact he could almost taste it. Then he saw it. It was honey!
"You don't need the ranger" said a voice from behind.
"Who said that?" asked the bear. Then he noticed across the clearing another bear stuck in a trap.
The bear was grey and ragged. He was lying down and had a chain attached to his trap too, but it was shorter and much thicker. "Doesn't that trap hurt you?" asked the bear as tears began to roll down his face. "No the trapper gives me a special drink and I don't feel the pain", said the grey bear. He keeps me here where I'm safe and comfortable. The Ranger tried to rescue me, but I would rather stay here and not feel the pain from the trap."
"But you still have a trap on your leg", said the bear. "You can't go anywhere with that chain attached."
"Yes, but at least I know that I will never have to feel any pain again and the Trapper will always give me my special drink" said the grey bear.
"Aren't you afraid he will eat you?"
"The Trapper gave his word that he wouldn't and that's enough for me".
The bear wasn't so sure that a person who would trick bears and trap them could be trusted, but maybe the Trapper would help him too. He needed help fast because the trap really hurt and he didn't know if would ever be able to escape. Maybe the Ranger would save him, but then again the Ranger had tried to warn him. Maybe the Ranger would think he deserved what he got. The bear lay down and covered his face with his paws and wished he had never come into the woods today.
"There, there", said a new voice. "It will be ok. I can help you. This trap doesn't have to hurt you. Let me give you this drink and you will feel all better."
The bear looked up and saw a man all covered in bear skin clothes. He was a nice enough looking man, but the bear was sure he knew who this must be. "You…you're the Trapper, aren't you?'
"I am, and you are a bear who looks like he could use some help. Let me give you this special drink and you'll feel all better again."
"How do I know you won't eat me or make me into a coat?' said the bear.
"I give you my word I won't" "These are from bad bears. They tried to hurt me. I had to make them into coats to warn the other bad bears. Besides you are a nice bear and I wouldn't do that to you. Now here take this drink and it will be all better.
The bear had to think. The Trapper seemed like he was trying to help. He wanted to make him to feel better. On the other hand he was wearing bearskin clothes and he had been the one to trap him in the first place. What could he do? The only way to stop the pain seemed to be to take the drink. Would it really help? Would he be there forever like the other bear? Would the Ranger save him?
The Trapper poured a drink from his canteen into a bowl and set it in front of the bear. What could he do? The pain was almost unbearable now and he had to stop it. Just before he was about to drink the drink the Ranger stepped out into the clearing. "Stop!" he said in a commanding voice. "Do not harm this bear Trapper!"
The bear was surprised. Usually the Ranger was very quiet and never became angry.
"Come now Ranger this bear is hurt and I am only trying to help".
"You know very well Trapper that you intend to eat this bear and make him into clothes like you have all the other bears before him including the grey bear over there." "You will keep him there attached to that tree until you need new clothes. Then you will take him back to your cabin and eat him."
"He's lying", said the grey bear.
"The trapper gave his word and he hasn't eaten me yet. Besides if he were going to eat me why would he help me?"
"He's only helping you so he can fatten you up to eat you. When the time is right he will take you to his cabin. I warned you before, but you will not listen".
"There is still someone I can save. I can save this bear."
With that he bent low and moved the bowl away from the bear. He patted him gently on the head and wiped away his tears.
"Bear, I know that you are in pain. I know that you feel ashamed about not listening to my warning and getting trapped here, but I can help you get better too. It won't be easy, but you will be a free bear. You won't have to be tied to a tree and I will show you how to find all the real honey you could ever want. You just have to do as I say. I love you bear. Will you let me help you?"
"Don't listen to him", said the Trapper. "He just wants to make a pet out of you. He wants to keep you for his own and lock you away in a cage somewhere. I'll keep you safe here in the forest where you belong. All you have to do is drink."
What was the bear to do? On the one hand the Trapper could offer him immediate relief from his awful pain and he had promised not to eat him. Would he really keep his promise or would he just keep him safe for a little while like the Ranger said?
On the other hand the Ranger said he could help him find real honey. It sounded hard, but the Ranger seemed to really want to help him. He didn't want to just numb the pain, but he wanted heal his pain and set him free. Finally he decided.
"Ranger I am very sorry I didn't listen to your warnings. I just wanted to see what the nice smell was. In the end it was a trick. I should have listed to you. Can you ever forgive me? Do you still love me?"
The Ranger bent down and released the trap from the bear's leg. Then he threw his arms around the bear's neck and said, "Of course I forgive you. You could never do anything so bad that I wouldn't love you. Come with me and I will heal you".
The bear's leg still hurt, but he knew that it would heal. It also felt good to know that he was free from the trap and with the Ranger who loved him. He limped out of the woods and back to the Rangers home where he was nursed back to health. The Ranger taught the bear how to find a safe place where there was always honey and the Trapper could never find him. The grey bear was never heard from again, but the Trapper was seen that winter with a new grey coat.