The spring passed, and it was the eve of St. John, or Midsummer Day. This was the greatest holiday of the year, when the young girls met in the woods to dance and play. They went to fetch Snowflake, and said to Marie: ' Let her come and dance with us.'
But Marie was afraid: she could not tell why, only she could not bear the child to go. Snowflake did not wish to go either, but they had no excuse ready. So Marie kissed the girl and said : ' Go, my Snowflake, and be happy with your friends, and you, dear children, be careful of her. You know she is the light of my eyes to me.'
' Oh, we will take care of her,' cried the girls gaily, and they ran off to the woods. There they wore wreaths, gathered nosegays, and sang songs — some sad, some merry. And whatever they did Snowflake did too.
When the sun set they lit a fire of dry grass, and placed themselves in a row, Snowflake being the last of all. 'Now watch us,' they said, ' and run just as we do.'
And they all began to sing and to jump one after another across the fire.
Suddenly, close behind them, they heard a sigh, then a groan. 'Ah!' They turned hastily and looked at each other. There was nothing. They looked again. Where was Snowflake? She has hidden herself for fun, they thought, and searched for her everywhere. ' Snowflake ! Snowflake!' But there was no answer. 'Where can she be? Oh, she must have gone home.' They returned to the village, but there was no Snowflake.
For days after that they sought her high and low. They examined every bush and every hedge, but there was no Snowflake. And long after everyone else had given up hope Ivan and Marie would wander through the woods crying ' Snowflake, my dove, come back, come back !' And sometimes they thought they heard a call, but it was never the voice of Snowflake.
And what had become of her? Had a fierce wild beast seized her and dragged her into his lair in the