Chapter 24: The River
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Crossing of the Ohio, Indiana Territory

Early evening, December 6, 2128

Malila sat tied with her back against the furrowed trunk of a tree, the ground littered with dried pod-like fruit, telegraphing her every motion. Since her attempt at the devil’s bridge, Jesse’s concern for her welfare had been almost endearing, making her ashamed to have ever thought he wanted her merely as a trophy. He kept her under “close arrest,” as he called it. She did not blame him.

In so many other ways, however, the old man was not playing fair.

He was an enemy. He was strange, old, and uncouth. Even so, Jesse had, without her permission, refilled her empty cache of self-esteem. Over the last week, ever since he h...

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