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During her seclusion, too, she had to make miniatures of all the articles that Indian women make, or used to make, such as baskets, mats, ropes, and thread. This she did in order that afterwards she might be able to make the real things properly. Four large fir-branches also were placed in front of the hut, so that when she went out or in, she had to step over them.

One is crowing over the others because the "Grand Voyer," or Road Inspector, has already made a short cut from his village over fields and fences alike, marking out the new track with fir-branches stuck in the snow at intervals, so that by night or by day there is no fear of missing the impromptu highway. But it was hard work for all that.

I sit and seem to see that street at Posen, the wide street with the windows illuminated by the Christmas lights, the green fir-branches grazing the window-panes. Christmas Eve, Midnight. I have done it. I slipped out noiselessly. Sor Asdrubale and his sisters were fast asleep.

And sure enough that was the voice of the woods, cleaving the night air, not distant. A sleepy fire of early moonlight hung through the dusky fir-branches. The voice had the woods to itself, and seemed to fill them and soar over them, it was so full and rich, so light and sweet.

Some hours were spent in collecting tufts of grass in places sheltered from the snow, and in cutting off great bundles of young fir-branches and the heads of evergreen bushes, and the horses arrived almost hidden under the load of grass and foliage they carried.

The stealthy movements came nearer, nearer, then suddenly died out. A moment more and a dark bulk took shape noiselessly among the fir-branches, some ten or twelve feet beyond the spot where the helpless calf was lying. For a second Melindy's heart stood still. What was her little axe against a bear!

The cart containing the coffin was drawn by oxen, and followed by a little white dog and a few decrepit sailors. There was no sign of mourning, but a reverent look in their faces. The body had been wrapped in a flag by brotherly hands. The deep music of the surf followed them, and the dark fir-branches met overhead.

She kept on the belt of grass, which got narrower, so that the path ran close to the hedge. On the opposite side, a clump of silver-firs threw a shadow across the road, and a patch of pale-yellow sky shone behind an opening in the trees. The stiff fir-branches cut sharply against the glow, but where she and Kit were the light was dim.

But, reader, I had gone out this afternoon in the interest rather of fresh air than of sentimental topography; and it was quite enough for me to feel that somewhere in that great belt of pinewood it had all been true, and that it was through those fir-branches and none other in the world that that 'sleepy fire of early moonlight' had so wonderfully hung.

There was no one in sight, but some one certainly must have been there, for by the door of the house rose a wonderful triumphal arch, made of two tall bean-poles tied together at the top, and thickly covered with fir-branches. A large piece of card-board hung down from the arch, and swung back and forth in the wind, and something was written on it in big letters.