Jubal’s heart, I knew where it came from. Or where it was supposed to look like it came from.”

“Somebody’s what-trying to frame you?” Stephen asked.

“That’s sure how it looks.”

“Does the sheriff think you did it?”

“At the moment, I’m the only suspect on the horizon.”

Jenny said, “Do you have a lawyer?”

“I called Leon Papakee. He got there in the middle of my interview with Ed Larson. I’m afraid he was a little late for damage control.”

“You let them question you without a lawyer?” Jenny seemed astonished.

“I know,” Cork said. “It’s strange how, when you’re on the other side of things, you’re not as smart as you think you’ll be.” He shrugged. “Maybe I was still a little in shock, I don’t know. I said more than I should have, and unless I can figure out who fired that arrow, I’ll probably regret it.”

Stephen had dark almond eyes, the eyes of his Ojibwe ancestors, and they were hard with concern. “What are you going to do, Dad?”

“I need some time to think, and I need a little advice. I’m heading out to talk to Henry Meloux. Look, I don’t think things will blow up tonight, but if they do, we’ll be getting calls at the house. Don’t talk to anyone, okay?”

“Sure,” Jenny said. “We’ll see you later tonight?”

“Morning, more likely,” Cork said.

To which Jenny smiled. “While you’re out there, say hello to Rainy for us.”


Cork drove north out of Aurora, along the shoreline of Iron Lake. Dark had fallen completely. At the edges of the headlight glare, the trees-pine and spruce and birch and poplar-were like stark walls hemming him in. Although he’d tried his best to hide it from his children, he was worried. Not only had someone killed Jubal Little but they’d also done their best to make it look as if Cork was guilty of the crime. The evidence was slight at the moment, and nothing that would convict him, if it came to that, but he had no idea how carefully the murder had been planned and what other evidence might have been created or planted that would point his way.

After several miles, he turned off the main highway onto a gravel county road, which he followed until he came to a double-trunk birch tree off to the right. The tree marked the beginning of the long trail that led to Crow Point, where Meloux’s cabin stood. Cork parked his Land Rover, pulled a flashlight from his glove box, got out, and locked the doors. If there’d been any kind of decent moon, he could have seen his way without the flashlight, but the overcast was solid and the night pitch black, and he flipped the switch and followed the bright, slender beam into the woods.

The hike was less than two miles, much of it through the Superior National Forest, on a footpath worn over the years by the feet of many who, like Cork, sought out the old man for advice and healing. Henry Meloux was a Mide, a member of the Grand Medicine Society. Although in his nineties, he was a tough old bird full of wisdom, compassion, humor, honesty, and, very often, gas. Cork had been in the old man’s company when Meloux let loose farts that could have felled a moose.

Cork had been along the footpath hundreds of times in his life, and it was always a journey he made with a great deal of expectation. Meloux knew things. He understood the complexities and conundrums of the human heart. He had his finger on the pulse of all that occurred on the rez. He knew about the natural world, what healed and what harmed. And he was in touch with the realm that could not be seen with the eye, the realm of the manidoog, or spirits, who dwelled in the vast forests of the great Northwoods.

What exactly Cork hoped to receive from Meloux on this trip, he couldn’t say. But in the past, whatever the old man offered had almost always turned out to be pretty much what Cork needed. And that was one of the reasons he was making his way through the woods on that dark night.

The other reason was Rainy Bisonette.

Rainy was Meloux’s great-niece, a public health nurse who’d come to Crow Point more than a year earlier to care for the old man during a mysterious illness. She’d come hoping as well to learn the secrets of healing that had been revealed to Meloux across his lifetime. She was headstrong, and she and Cork had had a rough time of it at first. That had changed. These days, Rainy was usually the reason Cork made this journey.

The air smelled of late fall, the wet-earth odor of leaves decomposing. This time of year always reminded Cork of death, and not just because winter was hard on the horizon. Autumn was the season in which his father and, much later, his wife had been lost to him, both taken through violence. Now, in this same season, Jubal Little was gone and, like the others, gone violently.

Cork was deep in thought and thoughtlessly following the beam of the flashlight when he became aware of a tingling at the nape of his neck and along his spine. He snapped back into the moment and had the overwhelming sense that he was being tracked. Someone was following him, or perhaps pacing him on one side of the trail or the other. He couldn’t say why he felt this. Had he heard the tiny, bonelike crack of a foot snapping a twig on the ground, or the sound of a body sliding through brush? He stopped and swung the light into the woods all around, then shot it down the path behind him. Nothing. He listened intently, but that, too, proved useless.

He wondered if his imagination was running wild, if he was simply being paranoid. On the other hand, someone that day had tracked him and Jubal in the woods without either of them knowing. Someone had been able to commit murder and slip away without being seen or heard. Was this person right now watching Cork from some dark vantage? Was another arrow, soundless in its flight, about to hit its mark?

“Jesus, Cork,” he said out loud. “Get hold of yourself.”

In the wet, heavy air of the enormous dark, his voice sounded weak, offering him little comfort.

He was relieved when he finally broke from the trees and saw, across the open meadow on Crow Point, the welcoming lantern light that shone through the windows of Meloux’s cabin. A cold wind had come up, and it ran through the pines at his back with a sound like the rush of floodwater. He was a dozen yards into the meadow when he heard the voice, and he spun, swinging the flashlight beam as if it were a saber hacking at the dark. As before, it illuminated nothing but forest.

Cork called out, “Who’s there?” knowing, even as he spoke, that it was useless. If it was only his imagination, no one was there to reply. And if someone had actually tracked him this far, why would they reveal themselves now? Yet he was certain he’d heard someone speak.

He retreated from the wall of forest and turned his back to the trees only when he was fifty yards away, a distance that, especially in the dark, would challenge even the best of bow hunters. He jogged the rest of the way and didn’t feel entirely safe until Meloux’s door was opened to him.

Rainy Bisonette was a lovely woman, though not pretty in a fashionable way. She never wore makeup or tried to hide the gray streak in her long, black hair. Her hands were callused and her nails clipped short. Rather than lithe or willowy, she looked strong. Cork thought of her as substantial, although he would never have said so out loud because it didn’t sound at all complimentary. In his own mind, what it meant was that Rainy, in her intelligence, her compassion, her humor, her enjoyment of life, was pretty much everything a man could ask for, and a great deal more. He thought himself lucky to have found her.

Rainy put together coffee in a blue enamel pot. She set it on the iron cookstove at the center of the cabin’s single room. While it brewed, she gave Cork a big piece of corn bread left over from dinner, buttered and topped with blackberry jam that she’d made herself, and that he gratefully devoured.

The room was simply furnished, mostly with things Meloux had made over the years. A table and three chairs of birchwood. A bunk with a thin mattress whose ticking was straw mixed with dried herbs that the old Mide chose for their fragrance and their particular power. A sink with a hand pump, and above it a few cupboards. The walls were hung with items that harked back across all the years of Meloux’s life-a toboggan, a deer-prong pipe, snowshoes whose frames were made of white ash and whose bindings were leather, a gun rack that held an old Remington. There was also, tacked to the wall, a page from an old Skelly gas calendar, July 1957, with a photo of a fine-figured woman in very tight shorts bending over the engine of a Packard to check the oil. It had been there as

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