Through his open window that night as he lay in bed, Cork heard his parents talking as they rocked in the porch swing. Although he couldn’t hear most of the words, he could tell from the tone of her voice that his mother was concerned. His father said something about Cork’s “raccoon eye” and sounded reassuring. Cork didn’t want them worrying about him. And the truth was that he believed there was nothing for them to be concerned about. Jubal Little had made certain of that. The problem was Cork couldn’t decide exactly how he felt about it, particularly when he recalled the look in Winona Crane’s eyes as she stared at her rescuer. He went to sleep that night hurting in a lot of ways that had nothing to do with his shiner.


Although science said otherwise, Cork knew absolutely that the human heart was enormous. Inside that organ, which was only the size of a man’s fist, was enough room to fit everything a person could possibly love, and then some. Cork’s own heart held more treasures than he could easily name. But one that always stood in the forefront was Sam’s Place.

The old Quonset hut sat on the shore of Iron Lake, at the end of a road that ran from the edge of the small town of Aurora across an open meadow and over a long, straight hillock topped by the railway bed of the Burlington Northern tracks. To the north stood the abandoned BearPaw Brewery. A hundred yards south grew a copse of poplar trees that surrounded the ruins of a small foundry built more than a century before. The meadow stretched nearly a quarter mile, and terminated at Grant Park. Except for Sam’s Place and the half acre around it, the land was held in trust by Tamarack County, given as a gift by a wealthy developer named Hugh Parmer, with the stipulation that all the undeveloped property be left in its natural state. Parmer had meant it as a memorial to Jo O’Connor, Cork’s beloved wife, who’d been gone from their lives three years now.

When Cork pulled into the parking lot of Sam’s Place, there was only one other vehicle: the Subaru that belonged to his daughter Jenny. It was evening, and the sky was charcoal with overcast. The weather forecast was for snow flurries, and Cork, when he got out of his Land Rover, felt the cold kiss of a flake against his cheek. The sheriff’s department had kept and bagged as evidence his hunting jacket, which was stained with Jubal Little’s blood. Even though he was chilled, he stood awhile before going inside, staring down the shoreline of the lake into the gloom of descending night. Well beyond the poplars stood the tall pine trees of Grant Park, black now in the dim light, brooding sentries looking down on the place where he’d first met Jubal Little.

In all that had occurred that day, Cork hadn’t allowed himself to feel the loss of the man who’d been his friend since boyhood. He’d been intent at first on simply comforting Jubal as he died. Then he’d been involved in explanations. Now, alone, he tried to understand how he felt. Frankly, he was confused. Jubal Little was an easy man to like, but anyone who’d been close to him knew that he was a difficult man to love. The reason was simple. In the end, in Jubal’s heart, there was room enough only for Jubal.


Cork broke off his reverie and looked toward the Quonset hut, where his sixteen-year-old son, Stephen, stood in the open doorway, framed by the warm light from inside.

“You okay?” Stephen called.

“Yeah,” Cork replied. “I’ll be right in.”

The Quonset hut had been erected during the Second World War, and when the war ended had sat idle for some time, until it was purchased by an Ojibwe named Sam Winter Moon. Sam had divided the structure into two parts. In the front, he’d cut serving windows and installed a propane grill, a deep-fry well, a walk-in freezer, an ice-milk machine, and a food prep area. In the back, which was separated by a wall that Sam had constructed himself, was a living area, complete with a small kitchen and a bathroom with a shower. In the summer, Sam lived in the hut and ran his burger operation. Over the years, he developed a following of both locals and returning tourists, for whom a visit to Tamarack County wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Sam’s Place. Summers in high school, Cork had worked for Sam, and much of what he knew about what it was to be a man he’d learned from this friend and mentor. On Sam’s death, the property had passed to Cork, who’d done his best to honor Sam Winter Moon’s legacy. Now Cork’s children were involved in the enterprise as well.

He stepped into the Quonset hut and found Stephen entertaining Waaboo, Cork’s grandson, who was nearly two.

“Where’s Jenny?” Cork asked.

Stephen nodded toward the door in the room’s back wall. “Closing up,” he said. “I offered, but she told me she’d do it if I kept this little guy occupied.”

Waaboo was not the child’s legal name. Legally, he was Aaron Smalldog O’Connor, but his Ojibwe name was Waaboozoons, which meant “little rabbit,” and he was called Waaboo, for short. He was a wonder of a child, whose Ojibwe blood was apparent in his black hair and dark eyes, in the shading of his skin and the bone structure of his face. He bore a clear scar on his upper lip where surgery had closed a terrible cleft, a genetic defect. He was not Jenny’s by birth, but in her heart, in the hearts of all the O’Connors, he took up a great deal of real estate.

Waaboo smiled when he saw Cork, and he said, “Baa-baa,” which was his word for “Grandpapa.”

Cork lifted his grandson and swung him around, much to Waaboo’s delight.

“You’re home early,” Stephen said.

“You haven’t heard?” Cork put Waaboo down, and the child toddled toward a big stuffed toy bear that lay on the floor.

“Heard what?”

Cork was relieved that word of Jubal Little hadn’t spread. Dross and her people had, for the moment, done a good job of containment. But it wouldn’t last long. Something like this, it would go public quickly, and the jackals of the media would quickly gather to feed.

“Jubal Little’s dead,” Cork said.

“What? How?”

“Someone killed him.”


“I don’t know.”

The door to Sam’s Place opened, and Jenny came in, bringing with her the smell of deep-fry. She was twenty-five, a willowy young woman with white-blond hair, ice blue eyes, and a face in which the cares of motherhood were just beginning to etch a few faint lines. She’d become a parent through extraordinary circumstances that had involved the brutal death of the child’s birth mother. Jenny’s intervention had saved Waaboo’s life, and little Waaboo had, in a way, saved hers. She’d been trained as a journalist but had chosen to put her career on hold while she adjusted to these new circumstances. At the moment, she helped manage Sam’s Place, wrote short stories, and devoted the rest of her time to Waaboo.

“Thought we weren’t going to see you tonight,” she said, heading toward her son, who’d wrapped his arms around the big bear and had rolled the stuffed animal on top of him. “Thought you and our next governor were going to hang out and do manly things together.”

“Jubal Little’s dead,” Stephen told her.

She stopped in bending to lift her son and shot her father a startled look. “How?”

Cork explained what had happened.

“You sat there for three hours while he died?” Jenny had the same look that Cork had seen on Dross’s face and Larson’s, a look void of comprehension. “Why didn’t you go get help?”

He was tired of explaining, and he said, “At the time, staying with Jubal seemed best.”

“Was it an accident?” Stephen asked.

Cork shook his head.

Jenny said, “Why so sure?”

“Because what the sheriff’s people don’t know but will figure out pretty soon is that the arrow that killed him may well have been one of mine.”

“How do you know that?”

“I make my own arrows, Jenny. My fletching pattern is unique. When I saw the fletching on the arrow in

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