Even with an arrow in his heart, Jubal Little took three hours to die. Politician that he was, most of that time he couldn’t stop talking. At first, he talked about the arrow. Not how it got there—he believed he knew the answer to that—but arguing with Cork over whether to try to pull it out or push it through. Corcoran O’Connor did neither. Then he talked about the past, a long and convoluted rambling punctuated by moments of astonishing self-awareness. He admitted he’d made mistakes. He told Cork things he swore he’d never told anyone else, told them in a way that made Cork feel uncomfortably like Jubal’s confessor. Finally he talked about what lay ahead. He wasn’t afraid to die, he said. And he said that he understood the situation, understood why Cork had put that arrow in his heart.
He died sitting up, his back against hard rock, his big body gray in the long shadow cast by the imposing monolith known as Trickster’s Point. If the political polls were correct, in just a few days Jubal Little would have won a landslide victory as the new governor of Minnesota. Cork had known Jubal Little all his life and, for some of those years, had thought of him as a best friend. Even so, he’d planned to mark his ballot for another man on election day. Partly it was because Jubal wanted different things for Minnesota and the North Country and the Ojibwe than Cork wanted. But mostly it was because Jubal Little was absolutely capable of murder, and Cork O’Connor was the only one who knew it.