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"You can't see too good," he observed.

With a startled cry, Emma quickly scooted back to her side of the bedding.

Chuckling, Josiah sat up to look at his hunting shirt. "Where's supper?" he asked, easily removing the remaining spines.

"There isn't any," stammered Emma. "You fell asleep, so I only made enough for myself."

"Then git the fire started, woman!" Josiah swatted at Emma as she quickly scrambled from the buffalo robe. "It's a fine thing when a man can't take a short nap, without his wife eating his supper!"

Emma was about to protest that she hadn't done anything of the sort, when she realized Josiah was only teasing.

After his meal was cooked, Josiah ate while he checked on the buffalo jerky drying on the sinew ropes. Content that everything was as it should be, he returned to the fire while Emma folded the buffalo robe.

"How long will it take for the meat to dry?" she wondered.

"I reckon four days ought to do it," he replied. Finishing the last of his meal, Josiah wiped his hands on his britches. "I've a mind to see if there's any beaver signs by the river, but I'll stay within sight of camp to keep an eye on the jerky." He looked at Emma. "You can come if you want."

Rifle in hand, Josiah set out to explore the stream with Emma following at his heels. The wind was cold, and Emma shivered as she hurried to keep up with Josiah's long strides.

When they came to the stream, Josiah squatted down to get a better look at the tracks along the edge of the banks. "Did you ever have a beau?" he wondered, reaching down and touching a small track before glancing up at Emma curiously.

The question caught Emma a little off guard, and for a moment she couldn't find her tongue. "I've had a few," she finally replied.

"Thought as much," muttered Josiah, turning his dark eyes back to the tracks. "This here's a raccoon and this one's a skunk. I don't see no signs of beaver though. Looks like them critters are all trapped out, even in the Yellowstone!" Frustrated, Josiah clapped his rifle with a strong hand and looked out over the moving stream. "Why wouldn't any of them marry you?" he suddenly wondered.

The wording of his question irked Emma, and she decided not to reply.

"You got some ailment I should know about?" he pressed.

"Mr. Brown," sighed Emma, "this is hardly any of your business!"

The trapper stepped toward Emma, until she backed from him like a tree giving way to the prevailing wind. Josiah showed Emma his rifle. "This Hawken is mine," he declared evenly, "and so is this knife, my furs, my horses, and my woman. You're just another of my possessions." Josiah leveled his eyes with Emma's. "If you ever tell me what's my business again, you'll wish I never took you from the Blackfoot. You hear me?"

Frightened, Emma could only nod.

Seeing she was sufficiently reprimanded, Josiah looked back at the moving water. "The beaver are further upstream," he deduced. "They can't all be gone!"
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