THERE had once been a path along the backbone of the mountain, but the wilderness had undertaken to remove it, and had almost succeeded. The wind had gathered bits of moss, twigs and dead stuff into the slight depression. The great hickories had covered it with leaves. The rain had packed it. There was no longer a path, only an open way between the trees running down the gentle slope of the ridge to the mountain road. The ridge was heavily wooded. The primeval forest was there. Great hickories shot up sixty feet without a limb, and so close that a man putting out his hand could reach from one tree to another. A gigantic poplar now and then arose, a sugar maple, an oak—huge at the butt, deep rooted in the good soil.The afternoon sun, excluded of the forest, seemed to pack itself into this abandoned path.The leaves fallen from the hickories, under the touch of waning summer, took on now, by the magic of this sun, golden tones of red and yellow. Woodpeckers hammered on the great trees along this path. Insects moved between the branches, the wild bee, the hornet, the yellow butterfly, as though the aerial life of the woods had been drawn here to the sun.
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