In Into the Painted Bear Lair (1976) a boy, a female knight, and a bear traveled the road together on a mission designed to save the kingdom. Here it's a jester, a king, and a bear with a similar goal. Wicked Queen Alys of a neighboring land has cast a spell of indolence on the king's domain because the king will not marry her and loves instead her sister Princess Jessy. It has been written that only ""the dancing bear"" can save the kingdom, but this bear, though a dancer, insists that he is not the one; meanwhile he must go disguised as a widow to escape the queen's bear-hunters as the trio journeys to clairvoyant April Flower for further clues. Highway robbers and the queen's evil minister Vos must also be dealt with, and so must the king's tendency to run off to the princess. Much of this falls to the jester, who insists that those in his profession are ""neither fond nor not fond,"" yet shows great care for the king--whom he has brought along for the ""bracing discomforts"" of the trip--and develops a gruff friendship with the bear, whose father turns out to be the awaited one. And so, it seems, selfless feeling conquers lethargy--in another of Stearns' well-finished, somewhat artificial fairy tales, embroidered like. . . the Painted Bear Lair with an overlay of dry repartee.