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"Hungry?" asked Emma, taking out some jerky and handing it to Josiah.

He smiled wryly, the growling of his stomach answering her question. Tearing off some meat with his teeth, Josiah rubbed his sore hands while he chewed.

"What've you bin doing while I was felling trees?" he asked, wondering if he could catch Emma in a lie.

Emma looked a bit trapped. "I'm afraid I haven't been doing anything at all," she confessed.

"Nothing?" asked Josiah. "Nothing at all?"

"I've been watching," she mumbled.

"Watching what?" Josiah prodded with a knowing grin.

"You." Emma looked discomfited to admit it, but she was obviously trying not to tell a falsehood.

"Did you like what you saw?" he asked, his chest filling with pride.

Emma looked at him thoughtfully. "You're very handy with an ax," she finally replied.

Not the answer he had wanted, Josiah harrumphed and tore off another mouthful of buffalo meat.

When bedtime came, Josiah went to the buffalo robe and Emma soon followed. As Josiah was covering the robe with blankets, Emma looked at him in concern.

"May I see your hands?" she requested.

"What fer?" asked Josiah. When he held out a strong hand, she felt the rough skin that she had expected to blister from swinging the ax. "My hands ain't soft like yers, Emma. I reckon I'll hold together long enough to finish the cabin fer you."

"I wasn't thinking of the cabin," she replied, pulling the blankets up under her chin to keep warm.

Yawning, Josiah covered himself and Emma with one end of the buffalo robe. "It'll probably snow again tonight," he predicted.

In the morning, Josiah and Emma awoke to another inch of freshly fallen snow. After breakfast, the trapper harnessed a team of horses to drag the logs back to the cabin, one by one.

Without getting in Josiah's way, Emma tried to be helpful wherever she could. She carried armfuls of dead tree branches, pine needles, and other rubbish from inside the cabin, until the dirt floor was clear and one could move about without having to climb over anything just to cross the one room dwelling.

Now that the log walls had been lifted back into place, they still needed work plastering the cracks between them. While Josiah hauled logs for the roof, Emma mixed a mud plaster to begin repair work of her own on the walls.

Remembering his horses, Josiah chopped a few limbs from a cottonwood tree and then stripped the limbs of their bark. His hungry ponies eagerly feasted on the sweet meal, nickering gratefully as their master went back to work on the cabin.
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