had spent those years in the company of men who had money to share because they took it, and who, without thinking of it, offered her a certain safety because they inspired fear. At the end of the time, in a display of the preternatural cunning that people who live on the margins develop as a substitute for everything else, she had re- invented herself.

She had met Henry Whitefield, a worker in structural steel who traveled the country with a crew of men— three Mohawks and a couple of Onondagas from Grand River, and two other Senecas. Now that Jane was a grown woman, she knew that their chance meeting had been contrived. Her father, Henry Whitefield, had been too perfect a counter to the men her mother had decided to desert. He was tall, with skin like a copper penny and eyes like obsidian. He was scrupulously honest—even blunt—but most of all, he was manifestly not a man who could be dissuaded by any conceivable threat of harm. Men who walked on steel girders twenty-five floors above the street in uncertain winds were unlikely to be intimidated by anything they met on the ground. The fact that he traveled in the company of a whole crew of similar men would have reassured her too: she would have misinterpreted it at first, because it looked like the way her old companions behaved. But she had been a woman with acute instincts, and she had probably sensed that the misinterpretation was not entirely wrong: if he were in danger, the others would circle around him.

They were both long dead now, but they were not absent. They had taken up residence behind Jane’s eyelids. Jane’s mother had re-invented herself as Mrs. Henry Whitefield and lived the next eleven years in blissful imposture. She was the sort of wife who always looked as though she had just changed her clothes and fixed her makeup. She was the sort of mother who had time for everything and overdid the birthdays and indulgences. And she had tended Jane as though she were training her to rule a small kingdom.

Before Jane was born, her mother became conservative in dress and manner like other children’s mothers, but it didn’t disguise either the reasons why she had gotten into her troubles or why she had survived them. Henry Whitefield’s best friend, Jake Reinert, who still lived next door to the old house in Deganawida, had once said to Jane that her mother had been “the single best-looking female human being not only to live in Deganawida,” but, he had insisted, “the best-looking ever to pass through it by a nonflying conveyance.” Then he had added wistfully, “It’s a shame you didn’t get more of her … disposition.”

During the horrible summer, six years after her father was killed, when her mother was dying of cancer, there had been a frantic period of talk. Her mother would palm her medicine and fight the pain so she could talk to her for hours at a time. She had been doing something she admitted was laughable—trying to tell her daughter everything she would need to know from the age of nineteen to the age of forty.

Their conversations were full of things almost said: “After I met Henry I was never unhappy another day of my life.” For years afterward, Jane wondered at the foolishness of it, but she sensed that she had heard only part of it. Her mother had not told Jane that happiness was not something she had waited for, but something she had decided.

Jane had carried the things her mother had said and done as though they were statements in another language, then slowly, one by one, she had realized that she understood them. In a way, she knew, she was emulating her mother. She had spent the early part of her adult life doing something that was dangerous—always illegal, and on the occasions when she made a wrong turn or a wrong guess, punctuated with bright flashes of violence. She had been a guide. People whose lives were in danger had found their way to her—first a young man she knew, and after that, a woman who simply knew someone she knew, and, later, strangers. She had moved them to other places, given them other names, and taught them how to live other lives. Then one day, she had agreed to become Mrs. McKinnon, and begun to make Jane Whitefield the last of the fugitives to disappear.

Since then she had devoted herself, just as her mother had, to being the woman she wanted to be. For the past two years, she had refused to allow herself to fall asleep at night without being able to say to herself, “This was a good day. I’m glad I didn’t waste it.” She was not ashamed of her premeditation. When Carey got home, she was going to demonstrate that her mother’s wisdom had not been lost on her. Carey didn’t have to go to the hospital tomorrow until evening rounds, and she had decided she was going to keep him up for most of the night. She went upstairs and began to fill the tub for her bath.

Over the rush of water, she thought she heard something. She turned off the faucet. Was it the phone? Then she identified it: the doorbell. She looked down at the front steps from the upstairs window, and saw the girl. Jane didn’t have time to list all of the reasons why seeing her here caused a sick, breathless sensation in her stomach. As she hurried down the stairs to the front foyer, she let one reason stand for all. This wasn’t something a shy young girl would ever do.

Jane swung the door open and assumed a false smile. “Hello,” she said. “Didn’t I see you at the reservation?”

“I … ” the girl began, but it seemed that she had started wrong. “Can I come in for a minute?”

Jane stepped aside, took a careful look at the street beyond her in both directions, and found it empty. The purpose of the visit wasn’t to get inside and open Jane’s door to men who were here to harm her. Whatever threat the girl was bringing didn’t take that form.

Jane scrutinized her as the two walked into the living room. There were no weapons, and no purse to hold a microphone. There was the skirt that was fitted to hug hips that were too narrow, the halter top that left bare a flat stomach and bony lower ribs but was there to hide almost nothing, the blond hair that had begun to look dirty. Jane said, “I’ll bet you’re thirsty. What can I give you to drink?”

She surprised Jane by saying, “I just didn’t want to stand out there while I asked you.”

“Asked me what?”

The girl took a deep breath, and Jane could hear a quiver in it. “I’m sorry to come like this, but I.… You never seem to be alone. I talked to some of the kids out there, and they said your name used to be Jane Whitefield. Did it?”

Jane concentrated on making her breathing smooth and even. This was the first time since she had married Carey McKinnon that anyone had come to this house looking for Jane Whitefield. If the girl was asking, then she already knew. “Yes,” she said. “And what’s your name?”

“I’m Rita Shelford. If I’ve got the wrong person, I don’t know what I’ll do.” She looked around her at the big living room of the old house, and Jane could see it through her eyes. Jane had to resist a sudden impulse to make excuses for it. The heavy, shining pieces of antique furniture were there because Carey’s ancestors had been accumulating them since the 1790s, probably with as little awareness as he showed about such things. The enormous stone fireplace had been put there not out of pretension, but because that was the way to warm a house in those days.

Jane tried to help the girl, but warily. “I think you’ve got a problem?”

The girl nodded.

“Come on,” said Jane. “Let’s go into the kitchen and we can talk while I make some lemonade or something.” Jane stood and led her by the route down the hall so she wouldn’t be alarmed by the elaborate preparations Jane had made in the dining room. Each step on the wooden floor sounded to Jane’s ears like a hammer.

Jane entered the kitchen, where cooking smells and steaming pots made her feel as though her impersonation of an ordinary doctor’s wife was stronger. She had to be careful. She stood by the sink, where the sunlight streamed in behind her, and studied the girl’s face as she sat at the kitchen table. She had been right that the girl was older close up. Jane turned and cut lemons at the counter, then put them into the squeezer and watched the juice collect in the bottom. “How old are you?”


Jane remained undecided. In certain circumstances, a sixteen-year-old would say she was eighteen. In others, a twenty-two-year-old might. “Who told you to look for me?”

“Celia. She said you would remember her.” She looked hopeful. “Or somebody named Terry.”

“Celia Fulham?” It didn’t seem possible. Maybe Celia had moved north, or maybe Jane had detected the lie easily. “Where did you meet her?”


Jane was frustrated to hear the right answer because it didn’t settle anything. Celia Fulham was a social worker in northern Florida. Jane had met her seven or eight years ago, when the mess that had been a child’s life came to Celia’s attention. The child’s name had been Terrell James Arbogast, and at the end of that there had been a Roman numeral … had it been IV? It had been bestowed on him with the unintentional irony that always seemed to stick to people like his parents. When Celia had met them, they were being hunted by the sheriff, not for the

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