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"Give me the knife, and I'll do as you say," said Emma, holding out her hand for the sharp object. She still hadn't quite gotten over the fact this five-year old had a pistol, let alone access to knives. As Emma plunged the knife into the lifeless animal, she needed no reminders that this was the wild, and everyone had to do what they could, to stay alive.

There wasn't much to the wolf but skin and bone, but the little meat that was there, was slowly harvested by Emma. When Emma thought her work finally done, Mary pointed out the liver, heart, and eyes.

"We must eat those. Nothing must be wasted."

Realizing Mary was right, Emma carved out the wolf's internal organs.

While Emma cut the meat into thin strips, Mary located some tree branches that had broken off under the weight of too much snow. Pulling off twigs and debris, Mary stripped the boughs down to bare wood. After tucking her pistol into a fold of her blanket, Mary cut the belt around her waist into two lengths. Selecting four of the straightest branches, Mary bound them two by two with her belt, to form a pair of upside down V's.

"I am not big enough," said Mary, looking to Emma for help.

Going to Mary's aid, Emma stood the two upside down V's in the snow. Then Emma lifted an even longer branch over the two ends, to create a drying rack for the meat.

After placing their precious food on the rack, Emma built a small fire below the meat to hurry the drying process. Until everything was completely dry for storage, Emma and Mary needed to keep watch for hungry scavengers.

The very next day, Emma was awakened by the sound of crunching snow. Going for her shotgun, she crawled to the entrance, expecting to find some animal, attracted by the smell of the meat they had taken down for the night.

"Josiah!" Emma struggled through the doorway and into the mountain man's weary arms.

"Easy does it, Emma," Josiah tried to steady himself from being knocked over. "I ain't too strong."

Releasing the bearskin coat, Emma looked into the gaunt face of her husband. Josiah's back hunched forward with weakness, and his broad shoulders sagged, as though it were a difficult thing to hold his rifle.

"When have you last eaten, Josiah?"

Excitedly, Mary came out to greet him.

Weakly rubbing his forehead, Josiah paused before answering. "I ain't rightly knowing. I ate all the fringe off my buckskins, and was thinking long hard about starting in on my moccasins."

Mouth wide open, Mary stared at Josiah in horror. Emma understood how the girl felt, for he looked terrible.

"I ate some roots a few days ago," said Josiah. His knees started buckling, and Emma rushed to keep him upright.

"Mary, take his flintlock, and then put out the meat so it can continue drying. Can you keep watch without me?"
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One of my longtime readers, Myra Valcourt, has created a Facebook group just for you! "The Works of Judith Bronte" offers a forum to discuss the stories and characters, and a way to get to know other readers. I hope to see you there!