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Crouching as far away from him as her bound arms would let her, Emma kept to the shadows as the man sat down on the buffalo robe. He looked at her for a moment, and then unsheathed a long knife. Emma gasped in fear, thinking he meant to kill her. Instead of putting the knife to her scalp, however, the man leaned forward and cut the rope binding her hands about the tree. Emma rubbed her sore wrists, and shrank even further into the shadows behind her.

"You sure got yourself in a mighty tight fix, Ma'am," he declared, returning the knife to his belt and letting his arms drape over the rifle across his lap.

Emma was startled when she heard his voice. He spoke English like a white man!

Josiah looked at the campfire, allowing the woman to get a glimpse of his face in the dim light. He had no beard, and an eagle feather dangled from long dark hair that went past his shoulders. Emma could see the strong cheekbones of her captors in his face, but also something more. He didn't quite look like the other Indians.

"I'm half Indian, Ma'am," he finally answered her unspoken question. "Half Blackfoot, half white-- but all mountain man." At this, he grinned proudly. "Name's Josiah Brown." The woman was crouched in the shadow of the tree, so Josiah was unable to see her face or to tell whether she was happy if he was there. When he heard the rapid intake of her frightened breath, Josiah understood she was still afraid.

"Have you come to save me, Mr. Brown?"

"That depends," he hesitated, "on what you're meaning by 'saved.' Saved from them there Blackfoot... or from me?"

"Both." Her answer was quick and decisive, and it made Josiah shake his head apologetically.

"I'm afraid you can't have it both ways, Ma'am." Sensing she was about to bolt, Josiah quickly reached into the darkness and took hold of her by the ankle. "Them Blackfoot will kill us both if I don't take you to wife," he informed her bluntly.

At the feel of his grip, Emma struggled to free her ankle. "I don't believe you!" she cried. "You're one of them!"

Just then, the leader of the two Indians stood up from the campfire and looked in their direction.

Every muscle in Josiah's being tensed as he waited to see if the Indian was going to come and check him now, or not. "You'd best be believing me," Josiah growled in a low rumble, his eyes remaining glued to the campfire. His left hand gripped his Hawken rifle. The Indian was staring hard in their direction, as if trying to make up his mind. "Not now," Josiah's breath came out in a barely audible whisper. "Not yit. I ain't ready fer you yit." When the Indian sat back down with his jug of whiskey, Emma felt the hand on her ankle loosen its grip by just a little. "I'd better git started afore he comes," muttered Josiah, pinning Emma to the buffalo robe with one strong leg to free his hand from her ankle. "You got kin, Ma'am?"

"No," she whimpered.

"What about a man? You got a man?"


"You're gonna have one now," he declared, "so you'd better start getting used to me, Ma'am."

"Please, let me go, Mr. Brown!" begged Emma.

Josiah pulled off his buckskin hunting shirt and looked back at the campfire one more time. "Wisht I had me more whiskey. They ain't gonna git drunk off'a what's left in that jug."
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