"What lesson do you have for us tonight, Running Deer?" Little Bear and Red Fox voiced the question at the same moment. Other Indian boys gathered around Running Deer's fire waiting for the answer. They gathered as was the custom, around the wise man's fire to listen and to learn.
"I would speak this night," responded Running Deer, "of a matter that affects us all - the importance of good habits. We all have habits. We must be sure, then, that our habits are good friends that help us live better lives and not enemies that bring unhappiness and problems."
"What are some good habits, Running Deer?" asked Red Fox.
Running Deer looked into the young faces before him and replied: "It is better for you to answer this question than for me to give the answer. Tell me, what habits do you think are your good companions on the trail of life?"
"Honesty is one, I think," answered a young brave sitting across the campfire circle. Soon a chorus of voices offered other answers."
"We have made for ourselves this night a good list of habits that can be counted on as friends to help us live good lives. You have done very well," Running Deer spoke with appreciation.
"Running Deer, the twigs you have beside you there - what are they for?" questioned the ever-curious Red Fox.
"They are part of tonight‘s lesson. Watch and listen. I hope you will allow them to teach you more about habits good and bad." Running Deer picked up the first of the twigs.
"Each of these twigs we shall give the name of a habit. What shall the first one be called?"
"Anger," suggested a young voice.
"Anger it is then," Running Deer announced. With this he easily snapped the twig into two pieces. "You see how a single habit can be broken with only a small effort?" he said. Picking up two twigs, and with more effort, he broke them. "You see, two combined are harder to break. Watch closely now," he continued; this time picking up three twigs. Breaking the three together proved more difficult. Continuing, Running Deer added another twig and this time four twigs were broken together. Each time he kept adding another twig until he came to a number that he could not break despite his hardest effort.
"You see," Running Deer continued, "I have now combined so many twigs that I can no longer break them. This is true of habits also. A combination of several habits for instance, anger, dishonesty, impatience, laziness, untruthfulness can become too strong for a brave to break all at once. Be sure that your habits are good ones that need no breaking," Running Deer challenged the young braves.
"Running Deer," the voice was that of Little Bear. "By breaking one at a time, the entire bundle can be broken, can it not?"
"True, my friend," answered Running Deer. "This is another lesson we can learn from our twigs. If you have bad habits to break, work on them one at a time until all are conquered. It is also true that good habits can best be achieved one by one"