Stump Island, the Canadian authorities finally agreed that they had no authority over or responsibility for Lily Smalldog’s child. At which point, it fell to the Tamarack County social services to deal fully with the disposition of the baby. At first, there’d been some question whether things would be complicated by the Indian Child Welfare Act. But Lily Smalldog’s tribal affiliation would have been with the Reserve 37 Ojibwe, where she’d never actually been an enrolled member, and so the court chose to treat her case as a routine adoption. The baby’s father, Joshua Hornett, was sitting in the maximum security facility at St. Cloud awaiting trial on a number of federal charges. He’d been more than cooperative in signing the consent to adoption, in which he gave up all parental rights. A dozen members of the Church of the Seven Trumpets were there with him, also awaiting trial. Seth Bascombe was being held separately, locked away in the correctional facility in Oak Park Heights, mostly for his own safety, because in exchange for leniency, he’d agreed to testify against his former cohorts.

Most fortunate was that, from the beginning, Tamarack County Judge Randalyn Nickelsen had overseen Waaboo’s welfare. She’d known Cork and his family forever, and when she understood the whole story of what they’d all risked for the child, she’d done her best to expedite the adoption process. She’d signed the county’s petition for protective services for Waaboo and had placed him temporarily in Jenny’s care. She saw to it that the requisite home study was completed with due haste and, in the end, had been the one to grant Jenny’s petition for adoption. Within two months of her return to Tamarack County, Jenny had, legally, become a mother.

The Sunday before the gathering on Crow Point, the child had been baptized at St. Agnes in Aurora. In the christening, Father Green had used the boy’s legal name, Aaron Smalldog O’Connor. The Naming Ceremony on Crow Point was an important Ojibwe ritual, one that would complete the process of bringing the baby into a family that embraced and celebrated its mixed heritage.

The only egregious absence at the gathering was that of Noah Smalldog, who’d been killed in the exchange of gunfire on Oak Island. The O’Connors and Rose and Mal had been present at his burial on Windigo Island and had watched as the Ojibwe there put tobacco between his fingers and placed a spirit dish in the coffin and closed the lid and lowered it into the earth. Now, on this overcast November day, as she gathered with the others around Meloux’s fire ring, Rose couldn’t help thinking about the observation Amos Powassin had made weeks earlier amid all the destruction on Lake of the Woods. He’d said that in everything good was the potential for evil, and in everything evil the potential for good. She had known Noah Smalldog for only a very short time. He’d held a knife to her throat and drawn her blood, and she’d been certain that he would have killed her without hesitation if doing so would have served his purpose. He was a man filled with anger, who had no use for chimooks, yet he’d willingly sacrificed himself for her and the others. And she thought about the terrible storm that had begun it all, the derecho. It had been a great destroyer, but it had also, in the end, been responsible for beautiful little Waaboo entering their lives. And last, she thought about Abigail Hornett and the Church of the Seven Trumpets, who’d taken the words of a man of peace and found in them justification for horrible violence.

It was just as Amos Powassin had said: Kitchimanidoo, the Great Creator, God—they were all different names for the same thing, which was creation in all its aspects and all its possibility.

The smoke from Meloux’s fire smelled of sage and cedar. A hush fell over those gathered on Crow Point, and the old Mide began the ceremony, offering tobacco to the four corners of the sky, speaking in each direction the Ojibwe name of Jenny’s boy: Waaboozoons.

In a whisper, Rainy explained to Rose and Mal and Tom Kretsch that the Naming Ceremony honored First Man, who’d named everything in this world. Speaking the child’s name in the four directions allowed the spirit world to recognize this new person and accept him.

When that was done, Meloux addressed the gathering. His words were Ojibwe, and Rainy gave her companions a rough translation of what he said:

“I am an old man. In my life, I have been asked to name many children. The names have always come to me after fasting and dreaming, which is the old way. This child’s name came in another way. A strange way. Maybe it is the new way. It was delivered to Silver Fox, Stephen O’Connor, in a diner in Koochiching”—which Rainy explained was the Ojibwe name for International Falls—”and he has told me that there was, most definitely, no fasting involved.” Meloux grinned at Stephen, and those gathered around the fire laughed.

Meloux grew solemn again. “In the beginning of the journey of this child, or any child, is the understanding that each foot will fall into a different track. Happiness on one side, sadness on the other. Pleasure and pain. Wisdom and folly. With each step, this child will learn that there is in him the possibility of great good and also great evil. It is a serious matter, guiding this child along the path of right living.

“Jennifer O’Connor.” Meloux now spoke in English. “Will you instruct Waaboozoons in ninoododadiwin, which is the way of harmony, the path between the two worlds of possibility—good and evil—created by the Great Mystery?”

“I will do my best,” Jenny promised.

“Have you chosen we-ehs for Waaboozoons?”

We-ehs, Rainy explained, were like godparents, responsible for the child’s upbringing in many ways.

“I have,” Jenny said. “Anne O’Connor and Stephen O’Connor.”

Meloux nodded, as if satisfied.

Jenny handed her baby to Anne, who kissed the child and said, “Waaboozoons.” She handed the baby to Stephen, who did the same and then returned Waaboo to his mother.

“This child,” Meloux said to the whole gathering, “this little rabbit, came into the world and survives because of the great sacrifice of others. But he owes them no debt. In his time, in his turn, he, too, will be asked to sacrifice. We live by the grace of Kitchimanidoo and the goodness of one human being toward another. That is all I have to say.”

Under the old-nickel sky, they filed through the rocks and returned to the meadow, and the feasting began.

Rose lingered near Meloux’s cabin, watching her family and the guests celebrate. Jenny stood in the meadow holding Waaboo, with Anne and Stephen beside her, all of them beaming. Cork and Rainy Bisonette walked together, involved in a lively conversation, and Cork was smiling, as if the happiest of men. Rose knew Jo would have been fine with all of this. The Great Empty that had come with her sister’s death would never quite be filled, but all around it lay the possibility of peace for those she’d left behind.

Mal came to her with a filled plate in his hand.

“Happy?” he asked.

“Immensely,” she answered.

He scanned the gathering. “You’ve got a great family, Rose, wonderful children.”

“I know.”

He smiled and looked up at the thick clouds and said, as if caught by surprise, “A beautiful day.”

“A beautiful life,” she replied.

And she kissed him, boundless in her appreciation and her love.

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