The circle brought everything together. It took all that was distant and drew it close. Lines were joined, scattered herds became one. There were welcome faces and those hardly seen; cattle with varied hides. She counted eight dif ferent cuts on their ears. Even the souls were gathering. Approaching, she had listened to sounds that gained variety with each passing step. Summoned by the open ground, the birds sang with the voices of those who watched over the clan. Their descendants were all around her in the clearing, talking, working, gathering wood and news.