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Now over ice-bound river or lake, or rushing past a myriad dark spires of spruce, then hovering wonderingly over a multitude of lights from the streets of some town, the strong Arctic bird forges southward, until one night, if we only knew, we might open our window and, looking upward, see two great yellow eyes apparently hanging in space, the body and wings of the bird in snow-white plumage lost amidst the flakes.
He paused, but she said nothing, and he continued, talking against time, "There was one piece of chewing-gum in that school which circulated from mouth to mouth. It had been originally spruce gum, I believe, but it was masticated beyond recognition: the parent tree wouldn't have known her child. One day I found it hidden away on a window-sill behind the shutter.
Between its craggy shoulder and the main body of the mountain, lay an unsuspected, wedge-shaped valley, down which a little brook went gurgling. There ancient spruce and yellow pine and quaking aspens grew in sheltered luxuriance. "Silent valley," I named it, though "Peaceful," or "Hidden," or "Happy" might have fitted it as well.
"The fact is, gentlemen, that if an oak an' a couple o' spruce first hadn't been cut down you wouldn't see the house even from where you are," he said. "Mr. Fenley had an idee of buildin' a shelter on this rock, but he let it alone 'coss o' the birds. Ladies would be comin' here, an' a-disturbin' of 'em." The detectives came down.
Its many coves and inlets where the tides ebbed and flowed among the weed-covered rocks; its bold cliffs, sea washed, and above which the white gulls and fish-hawks circled; the deep thickets of spruce through which the ocean winds murmured, and where great beds of ferns and clusters of red bunch-berries grew, were one and all left undisturbed, week in, week out.
The child faced the not far-distant line of thickly-ranked spruce upon the opposite shore of the little inlet, and from her parted lips there issued a strange, wailing cry: "He-a! he-a! he-a!" she repeated, three times; and back into her face was flung the mocking laughter of the echo. Janice had stopped again held spellbound by wonder and curiosity. The little girl stood in a listening attitude.
Did they appreciate this mathematical uniformity, this spruce and spotless residential air of their numbered rectangular rest; or was not the old way nearer to their desire, with soft mosses tucking them in from the garish sun, and Spring winds spreading coverlets of wild flowers above their sleep?
You meet him again in the depths of the wilderness. The smoke of your camp fire has hardly risen to the spruce tops when close beside you sounds the same cheerful greeting and inquiry for your health. There he is on the birch twig, bright and happy and fearless! He comes down by the fire to see if anything has boiled over which he may dispose of.
There he picked up the trail, followed over logs and rocks to the maple, up to the third branch, and across fifty yards of intervening branches to the giant spruce where his victim sat half paralyzed, watching from his crevice. Here Kagax was more deliberate.
Below, two thousand feet, lay the spruce forest, and it sloped and dropped into the White River Valley, which in turn rose, a long ragged dark-green slope, up to a bare jagged peak. Beyond this stretched range on range, dark under the lowering pall of clouds. On top we found fresh Rocky Mountain sheep tracks. A little later, going into a draw, we crossed a snow-bank, solid as ice.