How Johhny, the fearless Bear, was born

Today there are very few bears in the Pyrenees but, before, large numbers lived amongst the mountains of the range that extends all the way from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea. Shepherds, charcoal burners, woodcutters and hunters also lived there. The bears moved from one valley to another... one day they would be in the Basque Country and another in Bearn or they would travel from Catalonia to Aragon. It was not unusual on these journeys for a bear to get lost or be left behind.

One such bear was once left behind and cut off in a cave in misty weather, not very far from a shepherds' hut. Weeks went by without the mist lifting and the bear didn't dare risking falling down a precipice. He was sad, not being able to put up with the lack of company. One morning he saw how a woman had left the shepherds' hut to look for wood. The bear grabbed the woman and took her to his cave where he placed an enormous rock to block its entrance.

After nine months a little boy was born. When the little lad was four years old he asked his mother,

“Mother, don't you want to see the world?”

His mother pointed to the big rock. The child pushed it aside with his left hand to open the cave entrance. He was only four but he was a very strong bear.

“My son, if your father comes back and sees what you have done, he will kill us both.”

But the little bear took her to the nearest village. And Johnny, as the bear was called, went to school. And all the children laughed at him,

“Your Daddy is a bear! Your Daddy is a bear!”

Johnny grabbed one of them by the two legs and, using him as a big stick, gave a good hiding to all his schoolmates. And Johnny said to his mother,

“Mother, I am going to find out about the world.”

“But, my son, what have you lost in the world?”

“I want to know fear”, responded Johnny.

His mother consulted the teacher and the teacher told her:

“I'll teach him fear.”

And he took Johnny to a barn where the teacher had a big box.

“Open the box”, the teacher ordered Johnny.

Johnny obeyed. On opening the box a multitude of pigeons came out, beating their wings in the lad's face. The truth was that Johnny was a little surprised.

“Didn't that frighten you?”, asked the teacher.

“It gave me a surprise, but it didn't scare me.”

And Johnny left the teacher, the school and his mother and went to look for fear.

Text: Koldo Izagirre

Translation: Joe Linehan

Voice: Tim Nicholson

This is the story that tells the tale of how Johnny the Bear was born in the Pyrenees

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