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Long ago there was a coat maker named Emai who lived in the South Pole. Emai always enjoyed doing this, from the time he started making coats for the penguins where he lived. The penguins were pleased with the black and white coats, and as soon as their little grey children were old enough, they took them to Emai to have them fitted for new coats.
Emai’s father thought that making coats was not a noble profession, and wanted Emai to join in the family seal hunting business that helped support the village. Emai, however, refused, and made all the seals coats of their own to help them hide from anyone who tried to hunt them. When the birds saw the coats, the birds asked the seals where they had gotten them. The seals replied that Emai the coat maker had fashioned them. The birds were jealous and went to Emai, and asked for coats as well, coats that were better than the seals’. Emai made them coats that were light and good to fly in, that would keep them dry when they hunted for fish.
The fish had seen the coats that the seals wore, and now the birds were wearing them too! They asked where they were coming form, but the seals and birds refused to tell them, so the King of the Fish announced to all the animals and the people that he would give a grand reward to whoever could make coats for him and his people. Everyone except for Emai thought the fish was ridiculous; what reward could a fish give that would be of any value? Emai was the only one who stepped forward, and he made the fish coats that would make them sleeker and allow them to swim faster to escape the seals and the birds. To thank Emai, the fish king told all of his people to travel the waters of the earth and spread the word of Emai’s coat making talent; in this way, Emai would have more customers, and he would be able to prove to his father that coat making was a good job.
Animals came from all over the world to have coats made by Emai. When they went home with their brand-new coats, their friends asked them where they had come from, and they told them. Emai made coats to attract mates, to provide camouflage from hunters and the enemies of the animals, to keep them warm in the winter or dry in the water. Emai had never been happier to be doing what he loved.
Then there came the last family, a family of bears from the North. “We are the last to arrive because we come from so far away,” the said. “Please, Emai, the cold winter is coming; make us coats to keep us warm.”
Emai readily agreed, and asked the family to wait a moment while he gathered the proper materials to make them warm coats that would last through the entire winter. But as Emai was rummaging through his supplies, he realized that he had completely run out of dye from all the business he had had. It had been his intention to get some more, but in the flurry of all his customers, he had forgotten, and the dye disappeared quickly. He went back to the bear family and sadly told them that they would have to wait a few months time so he could make the journey for more dye for their coats.
“Oh, but we cannot wait that long; it will be the dead of winter by then,” they said. “That’s alright, Emai. We do not need bright colours; we only want to be warm.”
So Emai made their coats uncoloured, but they wore the warmest coats he had ever made. And that is why polar bears are white.
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