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There were no tracks to guide him to where the animals were sheltering from the harsh snows, and no indications that they were even in this valley. Doubt dogged Josiah's every step, accusing him of bad judgement and recklessness. Maybe he should've stayed at the cabin, and taken his chances there.

After all the scrapes and close calls Josiah had experienced throughout his lifetime, he wasn't too afraid. One way or another, he always made it, and now would prove no differently.

"But, what about Emma?" Josiah's deep voice melted into the wind, so that he could barely hear himself think. He knew that by leaving, he had made the food stretch farther, but it wouldn't last forever. Sooner or later, Emma would run out of jerky.

"Sure wish I could get out of this snow," he said to himself.

As a youngster, Josiah used to think those who talked to themselves were crazy; seclusion had cured him of that notion, and now he sometimes spoke to himself when loneliness was at its sharpest. Josiah had experienced such sensations before, but somehow, this time his loneliness was different. It cut into him deeper, and he felt bereaved, as though he had lost a part of himself.

"What has that woman done to me? This is what I get fer wintering with a white woman who has thoughts about God. And what did I go and do? Give her a Bible!" Josiah spit a profanity into the air, cursing himself for his stupidity.

The trapper's footsteps grew heavier, and he searched for a place to take shelter. The snow was still coming down, and his stomach growled so loudly he felt sure it was scaring away the very game he sought.

In an attempt to numb his hunger, Josiah cut some fringe from the bottom of his hunting shirt. Working the old leather in his mouth, his thoughts returned to Emma. Everything within him wanted her, and yet, Josiah had a feeling mere lust wasn't enough to make Emma happy; desire could while away the hours of a long night, but it wasn't enough to make him stop hankering after other women-- and that was what Emma wanted. Faithfulness.

Exasperated, Josiah groaned inwardly. How was a man supposed to be faithful, when opportunity kept presenting itself in the form of willing women?

Not to be fooled by the taste of buckskin, Josiah's empty belly rebelled. Driven by hunger, Josiah checked his flintlock and continued on his way.

It had been at least a week, and Josiah still hadn't returned. Emma was concerned for his safety, but another necessity was pressing hard upon her heart. There was only enough jerky to give Mary something for lunch. After that, they would be completely out of food.

"Please, Ma?" Mary looked at Emma, imploringly. "I can set snares for rabbit, just like Pa did."

Emma shook her head, knowing Josiah had left before showing Mary his technique.

"I know how," said Mary.

Feeling the beginnings of hunger, Emma rethought her resistance. For days, they had seen wolves prowling about their camp, and Emma was very slow to step outside where they would have little protection. The wolves were obviously hungry, and to Emma, this was just another sign that Josiah was having difficulty finding food.

Even the wolves were getting desperate.
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