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Robin grunted disdainfully. "More like three, most likely. Anyway, I sat down and started thinking, back at the cave. I knew you'd make camp somewhere, probably screw that up, too." He appraised the boulders and the wall of snow. "You've got yourselves trapped in here. When that fire went down, the things in the woods would've jumped you from all sides. We saw a lot of them, but we stayed downwind and low to the ground, and they didn't see us."

There was, and the moonshine's fire heated Sister's belly. Robin sent the three boys out to stand guard around the camp. "The trick is to make a lot of noise," Robin said after they'd gone. "They don't want to shoot anything, because the blood would drive the other animals crazy out there." He sat down beside the fire, pulled his hood back and took his gloves off. "If you want to sleep, Sister, you'd better do it now. We'll have to relieve them on watch before light."

The barn where Josh had left Mule was on fire.

The bombs were falling again, the earth erupting into flames, humans burning like torches under a blood-red sky.

Robin grunted disdainfully. "More like three, most likely. Anyway, I sat down and started thinking, back at the cave. I knew you'd make camp somewhere, probably screw that up, too." He appraised the boulders and the wall of snow. "You've got yourselves trapped in here. When that fire went down, the things in the woods would've jumped you from all sides. We saw a lot of them, but we stayed downwind and low to the ground, and they didn't see us."

"Maybe I want some fresh air. Maybe I want to travel." His gaze flicked toward Sister's satchel. "Maybe I want to see if you find who you're looking for. Anyway, I pay my debts. You people helped me with one of mine, and I owe you. So I'll get you to Mary's Rest in the morning, and we'll call it even, right?"

A rifle shot echoed from the woods, followed by two more. Sister and Paul looked at each other uneasily, but the young highwayman lay motionless and undisturbed. The noise of rifle fire continued intermittently for another minute or so, followed by the angry shrieks of what sounded like several animals-but their cries were fading as they retreated. Paul reached for the moonshine jug to coax out the last drops, and Sister leaned back to contemplate tomorrow.

Swan said something in a soft, delirious voice, but Rusty couldn't make it out. She tried to sit up, and he put his hand on her shoulder to restrain her. Touching her was like putting his hand to the stove's grate. "Hold on," he said. "Easy now, just take it easy."

Josh shook loose from his nightmare. He could hear a man's voice shouting "Fire "Fire"

"Who put you in charge?"

"Why?" Paul asked. He was wary of the boy, didn't trust him worth a damn. "What's in it for you?"

"Okay," Sister agreed. "And thank you."

"Maybe I want some fresh air. Maybe I want to travel." His gaze flicked toward Sister's satchel. "Maybe I want to see if you find who you're looking for. Anyway, I pay my debts. You people helped me with one of mine, and I owe you. So I'll get you to Mary's Rest in the morning, and we'll call it even, right?"

A rifle shot echoed from the woods, followed by two more. Sister and Paul looked at each other uneasily, but the young highwayman lay motionless and undisturbed. The noise of rifle fire continued intermittently for another minute or so, followed by the angry shrieks of what sounded like several animals-but their cries were fading as they retreated. Paul reached for the moonshine jug to coax out the last drops, and Sister leaned back to contemplate tomorrow.

"I don't know. What's over in that direction?"

The bombs were falling again, the earth erupting into flames, humans burning like torches under a blood-red sky.

"Besides, if you two get killed tomorrow, I want the glass ring. You won't be needing it." He leaned against the boulder and closed his eyes. "You'd better sleep while you can."

"Thanks for the warning," Sister said.

"Besides, if you two get killed tomorrow, I want the glass ring. You won't be needing it." He leaned against the boulder and closed his eyes. "You'd better sleep while you can."

The barn where Josh had left Mule was on fire.

Rusty knew he'd collapse before he got ten paces from the shack. He almost wept with frustration, but he knew also that Swan needed to be watched over. He nodded and sank down wearily to his knees.

A rifle shot echoed from the woods, followed by two more. Sister and Paul looked at each other uneasily, but the young highwayman lay motionless and undisturbed. The noise of rifle fire continued intermittently for another minute or so, followed by the angry shrieks of what sounded like several animals-but their cries were fading as they retreated. Paul reached for the moonshine jug to coax out the last drops, and Sister leaned back to contemplate tomorrow.

He pulled his boots on, put on his gloves and his heavy coat. Glory and Aaron raced to bundle up as well. Red embers burned in the stove's grate, and Rusty was sitting up from his bed of rags; his eyes were still dazed, and cloth bandages were plastered to the side of his face and the wound at his shoulder. "Josh?" he said. "What's goin' on?"

"Maybe I want some fresh air. Maybe I want to travel." His gaze flicked toward Sister's satchel. "Maybe I want to see if you find who you're looking for. Anyway, I pay my debts. You people helped me with one of mine, and I owe you. So I'll get you to Mary's Rest in the morning, and we'll call it even, right?"

"Nothin'," she said. "Just the Pit, and-" She stopped suddenly, because both of them knew.

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