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4

It was very dark in the orchard. The heartless cold wind blew over the leaves and scattered them. The trees were laden with dew and the drops dripped continuously to the ground.

Just then a gust of breeze blew across carrying the sweet fragrance of myrtle flowers.

Halku said, "What a sweet fragrance Jabra! Can you smell it?"

But Jabra had found a bone and was busy with it.

Halku placed the burning cow dung cake on the ground and began sweeping the leaves. Within a short time, there was a big pile of leaves. His feet were sore and his hands were numb with cold. But Halku was determined to raise a hill of leaves and burn the cold to ashes.

After some time, there was a nice crackling bonfire. The flames rose and licked the leaves of the trees high above. In the unsteady light thrown by the bonfire, it appeared as though the huge trees were balancing the eternal darkness on their heads. The glow cast by the flames was like a small boat rocking on the sea of endless darkness.

Halku sat close to the bonfire and warmed his body. He stretched both his legs as if challenging the cold: "Let's see what you can do now?" Halku could not suppress his pride at having triumphed over the mighty power of the cold.

He asked Jabra, "Well Jabru, are you feeling cold now?"

Jabra let out a happy woof as if to say, "Cold! What cold?"

"Why didn't I think of this earlier!" Halku said. "There would have been no need to shiver in the cold."

Jabra wagged his tail.

"Okay, let's see who can leap over this bonfire. Boy, if you get scorched, I will apply an ointment."

Jabra looked at the bonfire mournfully.

"Don't tell Munni, else she will quarrel with me."

So saying Halku leaped over the bonfire and crossed over to the other side. The flames did touch his feet but it was nothing. Jabra walked around the bonfire and joined him on the other side.

"This isn't right," Halku told him, "you have to leap over the flames". Halku repeated his feat.

The leaves had burned down. Once again the garden was engulfed in darkness. Beneath the ashes, there were still a few cinders which tried to wake up when the wind blew, but would go back to sleep once the wind passed.

Halku wrapped the shawl around him once again and sat by the side of the warm ashes humming a tune. He was feeling warm. A laziness crept over him as the warmth from the ashes began to die and it grew colder.

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