The following day was filled with long practice hours and numerous house calls, but the morning after he was able to tear himself away from his medical duties. He was lucky, because Alden and Shaman were busy repairing fences and building a manger in the remote part of the farm, and Sarah was busy at church. Only Kate Stryker, who Sarah had hired to help after Moon’s escape, was in the house, but Kate wouldn’t bother him.
He carried pimples and shovels into the shed and went to work. It had been a while since he’d last worked hard physically, so he took it easy. The ground at the foot of the north face was rocky and as heavy as almost anywhere on the farm, but his pimples loosened the earth without any problems. From time to time he would shovel her into a wheelbarrow and drive her to a hollow well away from the stable. He had prepared himself to dig for a few days, but by early afternoon he came across rock. The rock wall, however, receded a little to the north, so that he could shovel free a cavity that was about half a meter deep at one end, about one and a half meters deep and about one and a half meters wide at the other. The resulting alcove was barely big enough to sit in, especially when provisions and other items were stored in it, but Rob J. knew it would be enough. He boarded up the opening with inch-thick wooden planks that had been outside for almost a year, so that it looked as old as the rest of the shed. He used an awl to enlarge several nail holes and oiled the nails so that a few of the boards could be easily and silently removed and reattached.
He was very careful and used the wheelbarrow to pull rotting leaves from the forest, which he sprinkled over the hollow to hide the freshly excavated material.
The next morning he drove to Rock Island to have a brief but momentous conversation with George Cliburn.
That fall, the world began to change for Shaman. It was not an abrupt, terrifying change like the one when he lost his hearing, but a complex shift of the poles that, despite its leisurely nature, was no less radical. Alex and Mal Howard had become close friends, and their noisy, boisterous companionship excluded Shaman most of the time. Rob J.