Once upon a time, a man tried to fix his window while his three very cold daughters waited inside. Unfortunately, this particular man had never been good at fixing certain things, and the window turned out to be one of those things.
The situation became so desperate that the man resorted to asking anyone who walked by to help him out with the window. The first passer by to agree was a tall, broad shouldered polar bear, who happened to be very good indeed at fixing windows.
“Thank you, kind bear!” the man said when he was done. “Is there anything I can do for you in return?”
Yes, there was, the bear answered. And then he demanded the man’s youngest daughter for his wife.
When she was informed, tearfully, by her father about the arrangement, she just shrugged and agreed to go.
At this point, the narrator feels obligated to share with you certain information: the two elder daughters were dancers, famous throughout their town for their skill. And their younger sister, the one who agreed to go with the polar bear, was always their choreographer.
This is important because as soon as the girl reached her new home, she found a large crowd of bears waiting to be instructed in dancing. You see, the polar bears had long been at war with the penguins, and it had been decided centuries ago that the only way to resolve the conflict would be through a dance off.
The time for the dance off was drawing near, and the bears had no dance.
And so, the girl thought up a dance, and spent her days and some of her nights teaching it to the bears and having them run through the routine again and again. After some time, she discovered that she was actually quite happy living among the bears.
However, she still longed to see her family. When she thought to discuss her wishes with the bear, he agreed, but gave her one stipulation: she was not to tell her mother about the dance off, or the penguins.
And so the girl went home, and was received with much happiness and many hugs. She stayed up long into the night with her family, and before the sun came up, she told her mother about the dance off. And the penguins.
“That’s silly,” her mother said. “Polar bears live at the North Pole, and penguins at the South Pole. How can they dance against each other?”
The bear was cross indeed when he heard that the girl had told her mother, and what her mother had said.
“Now that that’s been pointed out to us, we will have to travel east of the sun and west of the moon, to where the penguins live.”
It was a very long journey, and the girl became worried that not all of the bears would make it. Every single one was vital for the routine.
Luckily, every bear survived the trip, and they danced their hardest and their fastest, and their routine looked even better than the choreographer could have imagined.
However, they did lose to the penguins. Penguins are fantastic dancers.
Source: East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Asbjornsen and Moe