Chapter 44: Edward and Potemkin
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The snowbank in the shadow of the house waxed and waned as each snowstorm added a white layer and each brief thawing period compressed the snow into ice. By February, it glowed a glacial blue in the light of the rising winter sun. Sally tossed bread crumbs onto it and then identified for Malila the small birds drawn to the bounty: chickadees, titmice, and sparrows as well as the larger crimson cardinals, handsome jays, and eager finches. Malila watched for hours, fascinated, as the birds quarreled, intimidated, fluffed, tolerated, and stole the food from each other. The snowbank quickly became a squalid collection of discarded feathers, droppings, and overlooked crumbs.

Eduard Billings rode a sleek chestnut stallion to the Stewert farm once the roads were p...

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