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After they reached camp, Emma was grateful to find an excuse to get away from Josiah. She slowly checked the ropes of jerky drying in the sun between the trees, and lingered there for as long as she dared.

By the fire, Josiah was seated on the ground cleaning his rifle. Every so often, he raised his head to see Emma still standing with the meat.

"It ain't gonna dry any faster with you staring at it!" he finally called to her.

That was enough to send Emma back to camp. She located the tree furthest from Josiah, and sat down at its base.

Josiah glanced up from his polished Hawken. "You're looking better," he remarked. "For awhile there, you were mighty pale-- even fer a white woman."

Emma wearily closed her eyes.

When Josiah realized Emma wasn't planning to respond, he resumed his task in silence. He refused to acknowledge the regret tugging at him somewhere within his breast; Emma was completely and entirely his, and the sooner she accepted it, the better off they would be.

Over by the tree, Emma was silently petitioning God for a promise of deliverance. "Please, God," she prayed, "remind me of a promise for escape, so I have something to hope for!" Emma didn't have a Bible to turn to, but a Scripture passage dimly sifted its way to the front of her mind. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife..." that was all Emma could recall. Even though it wasn't the promise of deliverance she had been hoping for, she knew within her spirit that God had brought it to her remembrance.

Josiah had finished cleaning his rifle and was about to call Emma to start supper, when she appeared by the fire and began cooking a few cuts of buffalo meat.

"You feeling all right?" he asked. "The color in yer cheeks is fading again."

Josiah was obviously trying to show some goodwill, but instead of turning it away, Emma politely acknowledged his concern. "Thank you, I'm feeling better." A small sigh escaped her lips, and Josiah had a feeling she was trying to bring herself to say something.

"If you have a piece to say," he prompted, "then spit it out."

"I think..." Emma hesitated, "no, I'm sure. I should have answered your question, Mr. Brown. You're perfectly within your rights to ask why I'm still unmarried."

"Then why are you?" he asked.

"No one ever proposed," Emma explained with some embarrassment. "Two came courting, but one died, and the other married my friend."

Josiah scowled. "The men back East must be blind as posts! Why, I ain't ever seen anything as purty as you!"

Smiling sadly, Emma turned the buffalo meat over the fire. "Mr. Brown, you're the only one to think so in a very long time."

With a harrumph, Josiah leaned back on his elbows to stare into the flames. "I'm not believing you, Emma. You've been admired, even if they never said a word about it to you. The prettier the woman, the more courage it takes fer a man to loosen his tongue."
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