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"Yes, Ma." Solemnly, Mary took the heavy rifle from Josiah, and then went inside to gather their still-wet meat.

Ravenous with hunger, Josiah grasped at Emma's words. "You have meat?"

"Mary and I shot a wolf, yesterday," said Emma, as he leaned against her for support. "You need to lay down."

"I need to eat," said Josiah. When Mary appeared, he snatched a strip of meat from her small burden and began eating the morsel raw.

Kneeling, Emma hurried to untie Josiah's snowshoes while he busily ate. Unwilling to part with food for even a moment, Josiah clamped the unfinished meat between his teeth so he could get down on his hands and knees to crawl into the lodge.

Dropping on the nearest buffalo robe, Josiah continued eating. Emma struggled to pull his arms through his heavy coat so he wouldn't overheat in the warm shelter, but Josiah did little to help, for his attention was consumed with food.

Before Josiah had a chance to ask for more, Emma began cooking meat over the fire.

His first helping of meat safely in his belly, Josiah stared yearningly at the cooking food.

"Do you think you can wait?" asked Emma.

"I could, but I sure don't want to," said Josiah, wiping his mouth hungrily.

Reluctantly, Emma gave the partially cooked meat to Josiah. He eagerly gulped it down, wincing as the hot food burned his tongue.

By the time Josiah was nearing the end of his meal, he was falling asleep between mouthfuls. Emma made up his bed with blankets and buffalo robes, and the weary man tried to climb in before she was finished. As soon as Josiah's head hit the robes, he fell asleep.

"Ma?" a small voice called Emma to the entrance. "Is Pa all right?"

Crawling to the entrance to speak in hushed whispers, Emma smiled consolingly to Mary. "He's very hungry and weak, but I believe he'll be fine."

"Will he die, Ma?"

"No, Little One, he won't die. He's just very tired."

"Could we pray he won't die?" asked Mary.

Taking Mary's small hand in hers, Emma bowed her head. Keeping her voice low so she wouldn't disturb Josiah's rest, Emma asked God to help Josiah regain his strength, and to cause Josiah to learn from his suffering.

Having given their concerns to God's keeping, Mary smiled a little more bravely, and Emma felt a little more hopeful that something good might come from Josiah's ordeal.

Before he opened his eyes, Josiah savored the warmth of the blankets and robes; after being cold for so long, it was a welcome sensation. He first opened one eye and then the other, listening for the sounds of Emma and Mary moving about the lodge. Hearing nothing but the crackle of the fire, Josiah sat up in bed, only to discover that is was nighttime, and Emma and Mary were asleep.
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