She was not made of wood and stone

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She was not made of wood and stone. She was made of love; and she loved well,
with a love so deep that it felt like a pulse, beating the warm and fragrant
air, beating the blood through her. She loved her family and her home;
and she was proud to belong to the family of the forest.

A day of sunshine and warmth, when birds sing her name and the butterflies
glitter her eyes, is the day she remembers best. There are many such days
for her.

*

“I’m going to take a walk in the forest by myself,” she said.

“Oh, are you?” her mother replied, and her father added, “We don’t want to be
disturbed when we have visitors.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve been thinking,” she said, “about what you said.”

“About what you said?” her father asked.

“About the children who come across.”

“The children who come across!” her mother exclaimed.

“I’ll tell you a secret,” she said. “You haven’t heard it before.”

“No,” said her father. “What is it?”

“It’s about my brother,” she said. “We don’t like him.”

For the first time in her life, she looked her father in the eye with the
love she had known only in the trees and brooklets.

“We don’t like him?” her father asked.

But her mother turned to her.

“We don’t want to have a lot of kids,” she said. “What’s the matter with you?”
she demanded of her daughter. “Has you got some problem?”

“No,” she said. “It’s just that we have a brother who is mean and cruel, and
he’s always thinking about other people’s feelings. He’s always making our
mother cry, and he tells us what we should do; he doesn’t tell us what to
do.”

“Why is he like that?” her mother asked. “Is he sick?”

“No,” she said. “He’s just mean.”

“He’s always teasing us.”

“Yes,” she said. She thought for a moment. “I think you should go to him,” she
said finally.

“We don’t want to go to him. He told mama and papa that he was going to run
away.”

“Away from our home?” her father asked, surprised. “Where are you going?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know where I’ll go. That’s the trouble
with a brother like him.”

“What should we do?” her father asked her again, but this time his tone was
more serious.

“I want him to go away,” she said.

“But he doesn’t want to go away,” her mother said.

She thought for a moment.

“How would you like to make a new home in the woods?” she asked.

Her parents were silent for a moment.

“A new home,” her father said, finally. “A nice new home.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” her mother said. “Why don’t we just make a new home to
take him to?”

“We want to come back to our real home,” she said. “We want to live in our
home.”

“You’re not talking about your home,” her father said. “We’re talking about
a real home in the trees.”

“A real home,” she said.

“You want to go home?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Then go home,” he said.

She stood up and began to walk out of the room.

“You shouldn’t go,” her mother said. She stood and caught her daughter by
the arm. “You shouldn’t leave us,” she said.

“I can’t,” she said.

“We don’t like him,” she said. “We don’t want him to come back.”

Her father left the room and came back with a towel and a comb.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t want to say this yet.”

“What is it?” she asked. “Why did you tell him he couldn’t come back?”

“Because,” he said, “he wasn’t invited.”

“Didn’t you tell me he was old enough to know that?”

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