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Chapter Ten
Valley of Decision

1837, South of Josiah's cabin, in what would later become the State of Montana.

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel...."
~ Isaiah 1:18-20 ~

By late afternoon of their first day's travel, Emma's strength was wearing thin. Already thankful Josiah kept their march at a slow pace, Emma was even more grateful when he announced they would stop and make camp for the night.

As Josiah built a lean-to, Emma and Mary gathered wood for a fire. Then it was time for supper, and Emma handed out their rations of buffalo jerky.

Except for loud chewing noises, everyone was quiet, including Mary. Josiah sat across the small fire from Emma, his eyes alternately studying Emma as though trying to delve into her private thoughts. Even under such scrutiny, Emma kept her demeanor well in hand, and prayed her face mirrored the resolve in her heart.

The sun had yet to set against the mountains, but Emma decided she couldn't wait any longer for sleep. Crawling into the lean-to for some much needed rest, Emma lay down as Mary squeezed in on her left side to keep warm. Before Emma could get the pine needles and buffalo robe beneath her into a comfortable bed, she fell asleep.

Barely half-awake, Emma felt passion stirring within her breast. Heat warmed her face, and then her mouth, until Emma slowly realized she was being kissed. Eyes fluttering open, she found herself in Josiah's arms!

"Stop it, Josiah!" Emma pushed him away as hard as she could until his back was against the lean-to.

In the darkness, Emma heard Josiah's quick breath and the angry growl of his voice.

"What are you trying to do to me, Emma? If you didn't want me, then why'd you start nuzzling?"

Emma was still trying to calm her senses, when she suddenly realized Josiah's accusation.

"Are you trying to say I started this, Josiah?"

Loudly grinding his teeth in frustration, Josiah scooted over as far as the tight lean-to would allow. "Mary, crawl over yer ma, and sleep between us."

"Honestly, Josiah, it wasn't me--" Emma stopped short of her own defense. Even in the heavy darkness, she could feel his displeasure boring holes through her skull.

"Go to sleep, Emma."

continued on next page...
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