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The wind chimes rang softly in the dusk, reminding eleven-year-old Ina Pierce of the sounds she heard walking through the snow-covered pine forests of Switzerland as a breeze moved through the needles hung with millions of tiny icicles.

Her parents had moved their family to Tobacco Port, on the Harris branch of the Cumberland River in northern Tennessee, just a couple miles from the Kentucky border, in the spring, and the sweltering, humid summer was in full swing. What had brought them back to the United States, still struggling several decades after the end of a devastating civil war, was a long story. But Ina had lived through it and heard tales over dinner every night, so to her it was an outline consisting only of the most interesting parts.

Mr. Bill Pierce had been born in Tennessee, not...

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