HOW THE ROBIN'S BREAST BECAME RED
Adapted from Cook's "Nature Myths."
 LONG ago, in the far Northland, where it is very cold,
there was, once upon a time, a great, blazing fire.
All day and all night a hunter and his little boy took
care of it and kept it burning brightly. There was no
other fire in the whole world, and the squirrels and
the rabbits, and the chipmunks crept near to warm their
toes before they hurried away for their winter stores,
and all the Indians came for coals, that they might
cook their food.
But one day the hunter became very ill, and he was
obliged to leave his son quite alone tending the fire.
For days and days, and nights and nights, the little
boy bravely kept it burning, running off to the woods
for twigs, and hastening back to toss them upon the
blaze. But at last he was too tired to keep his eyes
open any longer; so his head began nodding, and he fell
fast asleep on the ground.
In the deep woods of the Northland lived a wicked old
white bear. With his bright eyes he had been peering
out from behind the pine trees, and watching the fire.
He hated all warm things, and he wished to put the fire
out, but he was afraid of the hunter's sharp-pointed
arrows. When the little boy closed his eyes, the bear
laughed to himself and began to step softly nearer, and
nearer, and nearer the fire.
"Now is my chance!" he said. 'We will have no fire in
Then he jumped with his big, wet feet upon the logs,
and trod on the coals, and tramped back and forth,
until he could not see a spark. Then he went
 back to his cave in the woods again, for he thought the
fire was quite dead.
But up in a hemlock tree sat the little gray robin who
lives in the Northland, and she felt very sorry when
she saw what the white bear had done. She fluttered
down to the ground, and over to the place where the
fire had been, and she found—what do you think?—one
tiny spark of flame that was still burning, and one
little red coal! then the gray robin began hopping
about, and flapping her little, gray wings, and fanning
the tiny spark to make it burn brighter. And the red
coal began to crackle, and the flames to burn higher
and higher, until they scorched the poor robin's
breast; but she never minded at all, she was so happy
that the fire was beginning to blaze again.
When it was burning away cheerily once more, as if
nothing had happened, the little boy awoke, and the
robin flew back to the hemlock tree, but the old white
bear just growled and growled, to think that the fire
was safe. And the robin, who had always been only a
gray color all over, looked down where the flames had
burned her breast, and it had turned a beautiful golden
red. After that every gray robin had a pretty red
breast, too, for the bird who kept the fire was the
grandmother of them all.
The people in the Northland love the robin very much
indeed, and this is the story they tell of how she came
to have her red breast.