One steamy summers day Ursa watched as he lifted the end of a huge log and moved it to clear a trail to the stream.
Water ran down his face, and his chest and back were wet, yet she had not seen Putin go into the brook. She approached him curiously.
“You are wet,” she said. “It’s hard work,” he smiled. Puzzled, she leaned forward to sniff him.
It was an oddly pleasant scent, a mixture of food and skunk and earth. Slowly, tentatively, she put forth her tongue to taste.
The she-bear’s shining brown eyes widened in surprise. Putin’s water tasted of salt: It was delicious!
She could not help herself—she licked his back again and again. Putin stood still as the massive tongue rubbed him from waist to shoulders.
Slowly, Ursa moved around his side and to his chest, licking all the while. Putin stood relaxed, eyes closed, giving himself to her tongue.
Eyes closed, he felt the texture of her, heard her panting, smelled her dusty fur and hot bear’s breath. Never had he known such pleasure.
Neither Putin nor Ursa saw the eyes watching them from behind the peashrubs just off the trail—the eyes of Orso, the angry one.
Days passed, and Orso could not forget what he had seen from his hiding place: Ursa, the beautiful she-bear, Ursa with that … abomination.
One evening, as the bears gathered at the Great Den in the long summer twilight, Orso could stand it no longer. “Putin!” he growled.
The human turned to face the bear with one eyebrow cocked and a half-smile. This confrontation was not unexpected. “Yes?” he said.
“We brought you as food-sacrifice for Medved, the Great One! I myself carried you from the destruction zone! Now you live among us!”
“That is true,” Putin replied. “And so?”
“You live among us, but you are NOT one of us! You have fooled Ursa, but your trickery does not fool me!
Putin had only seconds to set himself before the young he-bear charged. Making use of Orso’s momentum, he lifted him into the air.
For a moment, the huge bear was suspended aloft … and then Putin slammed him to the ground.
As Orso fought to catch his breath, the other bears backed slowly away in shock and fear.
“Judo,” Putin smiled to himself, reaching out to plunge his hand into Ursa’s deep, luxurious fur.
Putin and Ursa walked slowly together into the Great Den, and no bear dared stop them.