The Bear and The Two Travelers

Two Travelers agreed to guard each other. A Bear rushed at both and one climbed a tree; the other played dead and the Bear told him to not trust the other.

Never trust a friend who leaves you when trouble approaches.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Travelers and Bear

Milo Winter (1919)

Two Men were traveling in company through a forest, when, all at once, a huge Bear crashed out of the brush near them.

One of the Men, thinking of his own safety, climbed a tree.

The other, unable to fight the savage beast alone, threw himself on the ground and lay still, as if he were dead. He had heard that a Bear will not touch a dead body.

It must have been true, for the Bear snuffed at the Man’s head awhile, and then, seeming to be satisfied that he was dead, walked away.

The Man in the tree climbed down.

“It looked just as if that Bear whispered in your ear,” he said. “What did he tell you?”

“He said,” answered the other, “that it was not at all wise to keep company with a fellow who would desert his friend in a moment of danger.”


Misfortune is the test of true friendship.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

Two Travelers were together in a wood, when a Bear rushed out upon them. One of the Travelers seized hold of the branch of a tree, and hid himself among the leaves. The other, seeing no help, threw himself flat upon the ground, with his face in the dust. The Bear, coming up to him, put his muzzle close to his ear, and sniffed and sniffed. But at last with a growl he shook his head and slouched off, for bears will not touch dead meat. Then the fellow in the tree came down to his comrade, and, laughing, said “What was it that Master Bruin whispered to you?” “He told me,” said the other, “Never trust a friend who deserts you in times of trouble.”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall (The Travellers and the Bear)

Croxall - Travelers and a BearTWO men being to travel through a forest together, mutually promised to stand by each other, in any danger they should meet upon the way. They had not gone far, before a Bear came rushing towards them out of a thicket; upon which, one being a light nimble fellow, got up into a tree; the other falling flat upon his face, and holding his breath, lay still, while the Bear came up and smelled at him; but that creature, supposing him to be a dead carcase, went back again into the wood, without doing him the least harm. When all was over, the spark who had climbed the tree came down to his companion, and with a pleasant smile asked him what the Bear said to him; for, says he, I took notice that he clapt his mouth very close to your ear. Why, replies the other, he charged me to take care for the future, not to put any confidence in such cowardly rascals as you are.


Whittingham - Travelers and Bear

C. Whittingham (1814)

Though nothing is more common than to hear people profess services of friendship, where there is no occasion for them; yet scarce any thing is so hard to be found as a true friend, who will assist us in the time of danger and difficulty. All the declarations of kindness which are made to an experienced man, though accompanied by a squeeze of the hand, and a solemn asseveration, should leave no greater impression upon his mind, than the whistling of the hollow breeze which brushes one’s ear with an unmeaning salute, and is presently gone. He that succours our necessity by a well-timed assistance, though it were not ushered in by previous compliments, will ever after be looked upon as our friend and protector; and, in so much a greater degree, as the favour was unasked and unpromised; as it was not extorted by importunities on the one side, nor led in by a numerous attendance of promises on the other. Words are nothing, till they are fulfilled by actions; and therefore we should not suffer ourselves to be deluded by a vain hope, and reliance upon them.

Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor

Taylor - Travelers and Bear 0127Two trav’llers one morning set out from their home,
It might be from Sparta, from Athens, or Rome;
It matters not which, but agreed, it is said,
Should danger arise, to lend each other aid.

But scarce was this done, when forth rushing amain,
Sprung a bear from a wood tow‘rds these travellers twain;
Then one of our heroes, with courage immense,
Climb’d into a tree, and there found his defence.

The other fell flat to the earth with his dread,
When the bear came and smelt him, and thought he was dead;
So not liking the carcase away trotted he,
When straight our brave hero descended the tree.

“Then,” said he, “I can’t think what the bear could propose,
When so close to his ear he presented his nose.”
“Why this,” said the other, “he told me to do,
To beware for the future of cowards like you.”

Those people who run from their friends in distress,
Will be left when themselves are in trouble, I guess.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Travelers and The Bear

Ernest Griset (1874)

Two men about to journey through a forest, agreed to stand by one another in any dangers that might befal. They had not gone far before a savage Bear rushed out from a thicket and stood in their path. One of the Travellers, a light, nimble fellow, got up into a tree. The other fell flat on his face and held his breath. The Bear came up and smelled at him, and taking him for dead, went off again into the wood. The man in the tree came clown, and rejoining his companion, asked him, with a mischievous smile, what was the wonderful secret that the Bear had whispered into his car. “Why,” replied the other sulkily, “he told me to take care for the future and not to put any confidence in such cowardly rascals as you are.”

Townsend VersionTownsend version

Two men were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the Bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone, the other Traveler descended from the tree, and jocularly inquired of his friend what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear. “He gave me this advice,” his companion replied. “Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of danger.”


Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.

1001Ursus et Amici Duo

Duo amici una faciunt iter. Occurrit in itinere ursus. Alter arborem conscendit et periculum evitat; alter, cum meminisset illam bestiam cadavera non attingere, humi sese prosternit animamque continet, se mortuum esse simulans. Accedit ursus, contrectat iacentem, os suum ad hominis os auresque admovet, cadaver esse ratus, discedit. Postea, cum socius quaereret quidnam ei ursus dixisset in aurem, respondit, “Monuit ne confiderem amico, cuius fidem adverso tempore non essem expertus.”


Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur.

Perry #065