What's happening to the bear-girl?

"Tell me your name, you beauty."

"She that can bite y'head off."

The man laughed and left the beargirl to her wine, this new thing among many new things, which the man she'd just scared off had given her -- for whatever his reason. This wine that tasted of the best berries from her forest.

She had an eventful day.

After Bear Killer carried away his sick boy, she wandered, crying as if lost in her own forest, and then was discovered by a human girlchild picking mushrooms before the dawn. She'd never have hurt the child -- not even in all her anguish and hate for the humans -- and because that should only bring out the mother on her. Beargirl now understood the child saw only a crying naked woman when she asked her -- "Who did this to you?"

Beargirl said, "Bear Killer."

She let the girlchild lead her by the hand to the house where the forest ended. Her people still asleep, the little one clothed her in her mother's dress and shoes.

And then the dawn came, showing all that hid in the night. Beargirl felt the change coming too and understood -- fled, fearing she might hurt the child. Running and running among her trees -- the human clothes shed -- she changed, was again herself.

But then she changed again, at the last glimmer of the day. Became again the human. And she understood this too.

She shed fewer tears when the second night stood her on two legs, cold in the forest. Dawn would come. Adventurous by nature and putting on again the human clothes, she ventured to where her forest touched the places they made. At first afraid, Beargirl saw that none of these humans saw her real self. She walked with them, felt safe, wanted to see more. Emboldened, she entered one of their places, crowded and noisy with laughter, where none looked who might know.

A man talked of seeing her crying in the forest. This worried her only then, because she stood with those listening, so near he should have remembered her just from seeing her face. He did not.

Turning, she saw HIM, though -- her heart hammering for a fight -- Bear Killer, sitting, and a strange she-thing very like herself sitting on him. Then they went away, climbing a thing like a great tree fallen down to a place above. Beargirl hoped that strange she thing that took him away might eat his heart.

She just began savouring her summersweet berry wine. There came Bearkiller chasing down the she-thing. He was wounded -- and all the people laughed at him chasing the fast little hunter the she-thing had made herself. Sipping the berry wine, Beargirl watched. When he went outside, she waited too long and he was gone. She hoped he might die there, so she could watch. She felt warm, just the same as hot berries made her feel. She found that man she had scared: laughing, he gave her more berry wine -- for whatever his reason.

The End

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