Sunlight pierces the shifting branches bordering the clearing, forming shimmering pin-pricks of gold on her sleek brown fur. Yellow eyes fixed on the child, as she inhales his scent, her soft leather-like nose twitches gently.
The boy jolts suddenly from his fevered dream and begins to whimper. Unable to move, he lies helpless on the forest floor, his leg broken and bleeding in the jaws of the trap that had been destined for the bear.
He watches her shambling slowly towards him, her head swinging from side to side. Their eyes remained locked. A foot away from him, she pauses, extends her neck and cautiously sniffs his cheek. Stepping back, and rising on her back legs, she roars, a soaring crescendo of sound ending in a throaty snarl.
Alerted, the hunters change direction, shouting excitedly, anticipating a kill. The sweet prospect of discovery and survival flickers in the boy’s mind.
The bear skirts round the boy, and lumbers away to safety, looking back only once.