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Just when Emma was certain that her own bottom had been deprived of every drop of blood, having been distributed entirely to her head and feet, Josiah lifted her onto the buffalo robe behind their tree. She noticed he had been careful to take the long way around camp, so she couldn't see the carnage of the slain Blackfoot nearby. Even now, Emma couldn't see anything from the vantage he had placed her.

"Stay put," he commanded before leaving to go restart the campfire.

Emma felt as though she couldn't move, even if she had wanted to, and was quite willing to remain where she was. At least the buffalo hide was softer than the forest floor with all its pine needles coming up to poke her body. Tired, Emma reclined on the makeshift bed and stared at the Autumn canopy of yellow above her. How could something so peaceful as these majestic trees still be possible, when she felt as though her life were over?

"God," Emma prayed once more, "I don't understand."

A gentle breeze picked its way through the trees and caressed Emma's cheek. A prayer Jesus had said in the Garden of Gethsemane came to her mind, and this time Emma could recall every word with perfect clarity, as though she had had an open Bible right before her: "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done." In the midst of the insanity around her, those words came as a balm to Emma's soul. Hadn't Pa always told her that God had a purpose for everything that happened in their lives? Even the bad things? "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Romans eight, twenty-eight had been one of Emma's Bible memory verses, for her Pa had promised there would come a time in her life when she would need to remember it. "Emma," he had said, "God has a purpose for your life, and He'll put you where He best sees fit. You just need patience to find where that place is."

Josiah returned and knelt down on the robe beside Emma. He was holding an old knife with a red hot blade, as if he had just drawn it from the fire. "Open yer mouth," he instructed.

Emma's wide eyes fixed on the glowing knife. "Why?" she timidly asked.

Not giving any explanation, Josiah forced a wooden stick between her teeth. "Chomp down," he warned, as he pushed back her dress.

Swallowing a deep gulp of air, Emma braced herself and squeezed her eyes tightly shut.

With the skill of a man who had done this before, Josiah cleaned and cauterized Emma's wound. The second the knife met her skin, Emma clutched in pain and moaned. She would have violently jerked her leg out from under Josiah's knife, but he held her down until his work was finished. When Emma didn't faint as he had expected her to, the mountain man smiled within himself. Brave men had passed out from less, and this woman was showing she had grit.

While Emma's pale face silently watched on, Josiah sat cross-legged on the robe and began tending to his own wounds. He pulled off his buckskin shirt and twisted himself around to get a good look at his shoulder. "I nearly went under with that shot," he remarked, knowing full well that Emma was listening. "That crazy young Blackfoot jumped the gun, and started shooting afore he was supposed to. It plumb took his elder by surprise, and even though his gun were loaded, he hesitated a mite too long." Josiah glanced over to Emma and grinned broadly. "That were all I needed to get him, and get him good! Lookit," he proudly showed off his wound to the woman, "fer all that, the ball only grazed me!" Josiah picked up his buckskin shirt and his face screwed in displeasure. "It sure left a good rip, though."

Josiah got up and went to his packhorse, returning a short while later with an awl and some sinew. He punched the awl into the leather and then forced the sinew through the holes he had made. Then he pulled the leather tight and tied it off.
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