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algae turned highly acidicand the ponds became vats of

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'Hush! Are you hurt?' he said, as he knelt before us. 'Git up now, see if ye can stand.'

algae turned highly acidicand the ponds became vats of

We got to our feet, neither of us much the worse for what had happened- My knuckles were cut a bit by a splinter, and Hope had been hit on the shins by the lantern globe as it fell.

algae turned highly acidicand the ponds became vats of

'By the Lord Harry!' said Uncle Eb, when he saw we were not hurt. 'Wonder what hit us.'

algae turned highly acidicand the ponds became vats of

We followed him outside while he was speaking.

'We've slid downhill,' he said. 'Went over the cliff Went kerplunk in the deep snow, er there'd have been nuthin' left uv us. Snow's meltin' jest as if it was July.'

Uncle Eb helped us into our heavy coats, and then with a blanket over his arm led us into the wet snow. We came out upon clear ice in a moment and picked our way along the lowering shore. At length Uncle Eb clambered up, pulling us up after him, one by one. Then he whistled to Old Doctor, who whinnied a quick reply. He left us standing together, the blanket over our heads, and went away in the dark whistling as he had done before. We could hear Old Doctor answer as he came near, and presently Uncle Eb returned leading the horse by the halter. Then he put us both on Old Doctor's back, threw the blanket over our heads, and started slowly for the road. We clung to each other as the horse staggered in the soft snow, and kept our places with some aid from Uncle Eb. We crossed the fence presently, and then for a way it was hard going. We found fair footing after we had passed the big scraper, and, coming to a house a mile or so down the road called them out of bed. It was growing light and they made us comfortable around a big stove, and gave us breakfast. The good man of the house took us home in a big sleigh after the chores were done. We met David Brower coming after us, and if we'd been gone a year we couldn't have received a warmer welcome.

Of all that long season of snow, I remember most pleasantly the days that were sweetened with the sugar-making. When the sun was lifting his course in the clearing sky, and March had got the temper of the lamb, and the frozen pulses of the forest had begun to stir, the great kettle was mounted in the yard and all gave a hand to the washing of spouts and buckets. Then came tapping time, in which I helped carry the buckets and tasted the sweet flow that followed the auger's wound. The woods were merry with our shouts, and, shortly, one could hear the heart-beat of the maples in the sounding bucket. It was the reveille of spring. Towering trees shook down the gathered storms of snow and felt for the sunlight. The arch and shanty were repaired, the great iron kettle was scoured and lifted to its place, and then came the boiling. It was a great, an inestimable privilege to sit on the robes of faded fur, in the shanty, and hear the fire roaring under the kettle and smell the sweet odour of the boiling sap. Uncle Eb minded the shanty and the fire and the woods rang with his merry songs. When I think of that phase of the sugaring, lam face to face with one of the greatest perils of my life. My foster father had consented to let me spend a night with Uncle Eb in the shanty, and I was to sleep on the robes, where he would be beside me when he was not tending the fire. It had been a mild, bright day, and David came up with our supper at sunset. He sat talking with Uncle Eb for an hour or so, and the woods were darkling when he went away.

When he started on the dark trail that led to the clearing, I wondered at his courage - it was so black beyond the firelight. While we sat alone I plead for a story, but the thoughts of Uncle Eb had gone to roost early in a sort of gloomy meditation.


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