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Even though his belly prodded him to find food, Josiah remained in bed, silently watching Emma as she slept. The glow of the dim fire cast a warmth on her that went straight to Josiah's heart. Beside her lay Mary, cuddled in her blankets with the Christmas doll Emma had sewn.

With all the stealth of a Blackfoot warrior, Josiah left his bed without making a sound. Sitting down beside Emma's blankets, he lightly stroked her golden braids. He could barely feel the texture of her silken hair through his hardened callouses. Oh, how his soul longed for Emma!

As though sensing he was close by, Emma unexpectedly stirred. Before he could hide, two eyes were peering up at him.

"Is it morning, already?" asked Emma.

"No, it's still dark out. Reckon I slept the day through."

"There's not much meat left after today, but Mary and I saved you enough for a good meal."

Josiah was quiet. He thoughtfully caressed Emma's cheek.

"Please, Josiah--"

"Don't fret yerself, Emma. I ain't trying to get you to tussle with me." With a weary sigh, Josiah withdrew his hand.

"Did you see any signs of game?" asked Emma.

Josiah laughed softly. "If they're in the valley, God's doing a good job of keeping me from them." The firelight was playing with Emma's features again, making it nearly impossible for him to remove his gaze from her face. "I sure missed you, Emma."

Emma was cautiously silent. It was evident she didn't want to encourage him to lay down with her.

"It ain't what yer thinking," Josiah said with a small grin. "Emma, I can read yer face-- almost as easily as you can read that Bible of yers. I'm speaking of something else, altogether."

Emma looked puzzled.

"You and me was getting to be good friends, and I kinda miss that." Josiah studied her face with a wistful smile. "I surely do miss that."

Resting her head against the buffalo robes, Emma didn't say a word.

"Emma, when I was with that Shoshone woman, I wasn't trying to hurt you."

"Why did you do it, Josiah?"

Josiah hesitated. "Not too long ago, it was just me and the other trappers. Then you come along, and suddenly I have thoughts about turning Christian. And, as much as I'm ashamed to admit it, a little girl and a baby don't exactly make a man feel very free."
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