The house he digs himself. In two years you wouldn’t know it was there from ten feet away except for the thin path beaten into the prairie and the coil of smoke rising from the chimney. Winters you couldn’t find him at all. He keeps to himself with his books and the flameless light of his lamp.
Manastabal comes to him often, now as a hawk with a woman’s head, now as a woman with blind eyes and a voice like a grass fire. She tells him of purgatory and the ordering of the world, the language of the angels and of hares. He doesn’t understand a lot of it, but he writes it all down faithfully anyway. During the slow days he riddles his way through the text, translating and interpreting, looking for patterns, looking for reasons. He comes to no conclusions.
They pester him with questions on the rare occasions he comes into town. What has he learned, will the weather hold, will the wheat do well this year, will the Apaches attack again? He has no answers for them, but he tries. If he gets it wrong they never seem to hold it against him. He asks Manastabal why they persist and she whispers the secret in his ear, her beak nipping cold and smooth against his neck.