Cover Page

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pp. 1-1

Title Page

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pp. 2-7

Author’s Note

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 10-13

I owe a great debt of gratitude to Cherril Sparks and Tom Rice. Having first surprised me by reading my nonfiction book Spider Woman Walks This Land: Traditional Cultural Properties and the Navajo Nation, both friends sat me down and insisted I consider what at the time seemed like an impossible plunge into fiction. Thanks to you two...

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Chapter One

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pp. 1-7

Meg Harrington’s grip on the datum stake was tight as she first started hammering it in the ground, but then her grip had better be tight, or else the darn thing wouldn’t go in straight and she’d have to set it all over again. But with each new strike of the hammer, the skin of her palm grew colder as it gripped the rough iron rebar on this...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 8-17

The rifle’s sharp retort slapped the steep gray rock of the knobs, then echoed into the forest. Virgil Mullins followed the tangled tracks and fresh trickles of blood on snow to the base of the knob where the deer had finally fallen. When the man came to stand before the fallen animal, their eyes met in a glimmer of shared anguish as the dying...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 18-31

It was not a difficult decision for Meg Harrington to decide where to place her excavation units. Although the data gathered from several days of shovel probing were helpful, they were relatively minor compared to the most obvious evidence of all: two thick rows of irises thrust up through the pasture sod. It was an “X Marks the Spot..

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Chapter Four

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pp. 32-48

Thomas woke to find his world completely changed. His hands rushed to the painful throbbing in his head, but the instant he tried to move he realized he was bound tight, feet and hands roped behind him like a farm animal ready for slaughter. He lay on his side, someplace dark and warm and full of strange smells—of smoke, of fresh animal...

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Chapter Five

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pp. 49-63

She appeared every day without fail. Sometimes Meg glanced up several times in one day and there she was just sitting on the back deck of her new Creekside home. Occasionally, the old woman even stood at the rail, leaning out toward the excavations as if to get a better view, even though the distance was too far to see much. Why didn’t she come...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 64-77

The pastor unfolded the letter and cleared his throat. “My Esteemed Sir, I have recently returned from travels through the Indian villages to the north,” he read officiously, peering over the thin gold rim of his spectacles. S tanding at the porch rail, both Estelle and Lizzie listened carefully. Only moments earlier, the pastor had ridde...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 78-92

Meg looked at her watch and rolled her eyes. The crew had already been milling about ineffectively for fifteen minutes that Monday morning, inventing myriad and ingenious forms of procrastination. Some were slowly pulling their equipment together, only to realize they forgot some item and had to rummage through the colored trunks to find it. Others accidentally squirted copious ...

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Chapter Eight

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pp. 93-110

They appeared suddenly, hundreds of them, that warm spring morning. Their long, shifting V emitted boisterous, intermittent honks as it glided low and unhurried across the gray sky. Then the geese banked in the air and flew a slow, ample circle around the edges of the clearing, as if seeking a closer glimpse of the cluster of humans gathered below. A s one, the wedding couple lifted their faces, following the honking geese with bright smiling eyes...

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Chapter Nine

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pp. 111-124

Each slab of heavy limestone had fallen flush with the earth, embedded beneath a thick layer of sod. Trapped below, each slab was little more than a strange swelling scarcely discernible in the soft rolling green. Her eyes glued on the slab in front of her, Meg set her paintbrush on the ground. She reached out her hand...

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Chapter Ten

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pp. 125-140

“Ma, I reckon Pa needs help settin out the ’bacca today,” Caleb said hopefully. He kept his eyes on the floorboards and kicked at the edge of his boot, miserable at the prospect of another day in school. Lizzie put her fist on her hip and shook her head as she opened the cabin door. “Son, you get yourself down...

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Chapter Eleven

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pp. 141-155

“Let’s try the twenty-eight-inch,” Meg told the salesgirl behind the jewelry counter. The girl popped her gum, sighed under her breath, and reached below the glass countertop once again. She flicked through a few tags and pulled out a twenty-eight-inch silver chain. Meg held the ends behind her neck and turned back and forth in front of the countertop...

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Chapter Twelve

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pp. 155-168

“Got some more nails?” Isaac called over to Caleb, feet braced wide against the wooden beam to keep his balance on the rooftop. Isaac, his hair shot full with gray, creases etching his face, stood nearly eye level with the canopy of dull, wilting foliage that encircled the parched clearing below. Heavy clouds hung...

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Chapter Thirteen

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pp. 169-180

“This is such a fine opening, isn’t it, Dr. Harrington?” the mayor asked, his eyes scanning the faces in the room. “And the Creekside exhibit is quite interesting.” He waved and nodded to someone on the far side of the refreshment table. “But I dare say you’d have a hard time digging in that getup,” he chuckled and gestured at her suit with...

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Chapter Fourteen

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pp. 181-188

Lizzie bent her head, dabbed her eye with a handkerchief. “I’s just gettin too old for all the work,” she confided to the new pastor, her voice shot with emotion. “I just don’t believe I’ll live to see the day those young ’uns are all growed up.” The new pastor pursed his lips and nodded, running through the available possibilities. “I’ll do some...

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Chapter Fifteen

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pp. 189-202

Meg held up the pinafore apron, turned to catch her reflection in the department store mirror. She liked the mixed fruit pattern with a bright blue ruffle. She set the pinafore apron down, held up the simple skirt apron with the yellow daisies and green ruffle. Her eye roamed the shelf: matching dishtowels, oven mitts, tablecloths, and toaster covers...

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Chapter Sixteen

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pp. 203-218

“Dr. Harrington? Can I bother you with a problem?” Emily asked. Immediately, Meg stopped sorting through the plastic curation bags and looked at her. Emily’s voice sounded timid and forced; and she didn’t just swivel around on her stool in the archaeology lab and ask her question, the way she usually did. “Sure, Emily, of course you can.” Emily, too, stopped sorting through her stack of curation bags. Heavy rain that day had kept the...

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Chapter Seventeen

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pp. 219-226

Early that Monday morning, Meg and Emily stood at the edge of their old excavation units. They stared down at the perfect dark squares, spread with a few pointless shovelfuls of backfill dirt flung toward their centers. They awaited the fullness of that graying dawn in silence. It was often a melancholy...