The cold rains of November swept across the plains as Malila and Jesse huddled under a small lean-to near the river Jesse had refused to name.
They had reached the banks that evening. Pruned of its leaves and limbs by death and the wind, an immense cottonwood tree had fallen across the small river that blocked their line of travel.
Malila, without asking, hopped onto the trunk and started walking forward.
“Get back, you fool.”
She turned to look at the old man. Since Bear, Jesse had seemed to shrivel within himself, older now than she could imagine. His eyes became dull, his hands bore livid bruises when he took his gloves off, and he winced with each mouthful of food. He had become vague and indecisive. The...
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