Macauley was a very
big, black bear with sharp claws and teeth. He polished his claws every
morning by rubbing them against big leaves that grew on the nearby trees.
Macauley was so big that he wasn’t afraid of anything. He wasn’t afraid of
the cows and bulls, the foxes, the snakes, the rams, or even wild cats. He
wasn’t afraid of lightning or booming thunder, or the icy cold winds that
blew so hard that the tallest trees blew over. There was only one thing
that Macauley was afraid of, and that was a spider. He hated spiders,
especially the kind that moved really fast or jumped.
One day a rampaging
storm came through the highlands. The thunder boomed louder than he’d ever
heard it before, but he wasn’t afraid. The lightning flashed across the
sky, fingering its way across the blackness, but he wasn’t afraid. The
wind began to blow so hard that the trees bent over and touched the
ground. Grouse, partridges and pheasants couldn’t fly and were blown into
the bushes. Even the snakes had to wrap themselves around the trees and
hold on tightly. Macauley stood bravely, until the storm passed.
When the last drop of
rain had fallen, he looked around. What a mess the woods were. He plodded
off through the mud and soon came upon a highland bull. A huge oak tree
had blown over and landed on the bull’s tail. The bull lay there, roaring
in anger because he couldn’t get his tail out. He looked up at Macauley
and pleaded for help. Macauley bent over and began to lift the tree up
with his huge arms. Just as he got it off the ground, a spider came
running out from underneath. Macauley dropped the tree and backed up in
terror. He let out a loud bear roar and at the same time the bull let out
a loud moo because the tree had landed back on his tail.
A spider stopped and
looked at them both. It ran right up to Macauley, who began to dance
around in the mud so that the spider wouldn’t crawl on him. The bull
turned to watch. He began to laugh. What a ridiculous sight it was – a
massive black bear dancing around in the mud, wailing, because of a tiny
spider, which soon crawled away.
Macauley watched it
leave, then stopped dancing about and stood still. The bull looked up at
him for help once more. Macauley was hesitant to help now because of the
spider. What if there was another one under there? Slowly he moved in
closer to the log and carefully put his strong paws under it to pry it up.
He lifted and no spiders came crawling out. He lifted a little bit higher;
high enough for the bull to pull his tail out, and high enough for about a
hundred spiders to come running out from under the tree and onto the mud,
right towards Macauley’s legs. He was so afraid that he tossed the tree
way up into the air, stood on his back legs, and let out the loudest
screech that any bear has ever made. When he landed back on all fours, he
was so big and so heavy, that he sent a wave of mud, with the spiders in
it, soaring through the air into the river.
The bull began to
laugh again. The spiders sailed down river on the mud, and poor Macauley,
not afraid of anything but spiders, threw his head up into the air,
turned, and walked back into the woods, towards his cave, knowing that
next time a storm came through, he was going to stay where he was!