Her stomach grumbled audibly and she let out a soft moan. Where was that stupid teddy bear? She had told him to meet her here when the sun was close to setting. He even had ensured her that he wouldn't get lost again. So why was he so late? She decided not to wait much longer when she finally heard him trudge out of the forest behind her.
“What took you...” she started to say while turning towards him, but the rest of her sentence was forgotten at the sight of the small, furry object hanging lifelessly from his snout. “What's that?” Did he spent all that time trying to catch something to impress her?
He let his prey fall to the ground and grinned at her. “Squirrel is a great side dish to most fish courses, or so I've been told.”
She shook her head disbelievingly. “Do you seriously want to tell me the humans gave you squirrel to eat at the circus?”
“No,” he shrugged. “I met a fox in the forest who told me.”
“Well, then he made fun of you. Now come over here and watch me,” she growled.
When he stood beside her at the riverbank she walked into the water and waited while her companion watched her attentively. She saw the salmon come in her direction and tensed her whole body. Then, with one quick move, she speared one of them with her talons.
“Wow!” he shouted.
“I hope you paid attention. Your turn,” she commanded, leaving the river and taking a bite out of the fish.
“Why can't you catch one for me, too?” he asked, throwing her a begging look.
She swallowed another bite of salmon. “Because you said you wanted to learn how to survive in the real world.”
He held a foot into the water. “But this is icy!”
“Oh, shut up, it's not even winter yet!”
“If you catch me a salmon, I'll give you my squirrel,” he pleaded.
“How are you ever going to learn it, then?”
“All right, but you have to show me again. I didn't really see anything.”
She spat out the fishbone left from her meal and shook her head in exasperation. “Fine, come on.” And she dragged him with her into the river. “Now, hold still. Can't you even do that?”
But he could not stop shivering. “I'm freezing in here,” he complained.
She rolled her eyes. “You'd better get used to it, or do you want to go back to the humans?”
“Then shut up and learn how to work for your food the natural way. – Now watch, here they come...” With another swift movement she caught a second salmon. “See? It's easy.”
“I don't think I will ever be able to move as gracefully as you do.” His teeth were chattering while he spoke, interfering with his soft voice as he tried to compliment her.
She sighed and held the fish out to him. He shot her a questioning glance.
“You have it. We'll take this one step at a time; first you get used to the temperature, then I'll teach you the move. Lets get out of here.”
“Thank you!” he shouted with his mouth full as he followed her back into the forest. “Hey, don't forget the squirrel, it's yours now!”
Restraining a smile, she turned to fetch the squirrel. Sometimes she regretted having taken him on – the spoiled bear from the circus – but then, he was fun to be with. And there was no denying that he was very cute indeed.