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THE LEGEND OF THE ARBUTUS
C. S. B. Adapted from an Indian legend.
 IN the North Country there once lived an old, old man
all alone in his wigwam among the pine trees. His hair
and beard were so long and so white that they covered
him like a mantle, and he wore a bear-skin to keep him
warm. All about his wigwam it was winter. The little
brooks were locked fast under their ice, the wind cried
in the trees, and not a squirrel or a blue jay was to
be seen. The old man crouched over his little bit of a
fire and shivered because he was so cold.
But one day there came through the woods a beautiful
maiden. Her cheeks were as pink as roses, her eyes
were as soft and dark as the skies at twilight, and her
hair was as brown as October's nuts. The most
beautiful thing of all was this: wherever she stepped
on the frozen ground with her white slippers made of
lilies, the dew fell and the sweet grasses and ferns
So she came to the old man's wigwam. Her breath was as
sweet as clover, and when she lifted the tent-flap it
was not cold any more inside, but warm and
fragrant—like a June day.
 "Who are you, and why do you come?" asked the old
man. "I have breathed on the woods, and it is winter."
"When I breathe," said the maiden, softly, "the violet
and the wind-flower blossom."
"I shake my locks," said the old man, "and snow covers
"I toss my curls," said the maiden, "and the warm rain
"When I walk through the trees, the leaves fall, the
squirrels and the beavers hide, and the blue jay and
the wild geese fly south."
"When I come," said the maiden, "the branches break
into leaves, the brooks sing, and the birds fly back
And, as the maiden spoke, the air in the wigwam grew
warmer and warmer, and the old man lay down upon the
ground, for his eyes were heavy with sleep. The maiden
kneeled down beside him and just rested her warm
fingers on his forehead. And where the old man had
lain there was, all at once, only a mass of green
leaves with soft moss growing all about.
"I am stronger than the winter," said the maiden.
Then she took from her dress the loveliest pink and
white flowers, and she hid them under the green leaves.
"She took from her dress the loveliest pink and white flowers."
"I will give you my most precious flowers," she said,
"and my sweetest breath, but whoever picks you, Arbutus,
must kneel, as I do."
Then the maiden floated away over the woods, the hills,
and the plains, and wherever she went the flowers sprang
up, and summer came upon the earth.