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"Woman!" he shouted to the lodge. "Unbar the door!"

One of the shutters peeked open as Emma cautiously determined who it was.

"It's me!" Josiah demanded impatiently.

The shutter quickly closed, and Josiah waited as he heard the sound of the bar being lifted. A wedge of light cut through the night as the door opened.

For a moment, Josiah forgot his impatience and hesitated to step inside. The cabin was inviting, with its brightly burning fireplace and a strong cozy feeling he could sense standing out there in the snow.

"Aren't you coming inside?" asked Emma.

Josiah shook his senses back to reality. "I shot two deer just afore sundown," he announced, stomping inside and then shaking the snow from his moccasins. He dropped the wet carcasses to the floor, opening them to reveal choice cuts of venison.

"I want this fer my supper," Josiah hungrily told Emma. He glanced at the fireplace. "You eaten yit?"

"No, not yet," replied Emma. Famished herself, she selected some cuts of deer meat and then carried them to the fire to start cooking. "It's late, and I was beginning to worry about you."

"I'll just bet," muttered Josiah. Her words sounded sincere though, and he secretly wondered if she was telling the truth.

With a tired groan, Josiah sat beside the fire to warm himself. He took off his buffalo hide coat, and then removed his moccasins. Unwrapping the strips of cloth about his feet, (for he had no socks), Josiah rubbed his skin until both feet felt warm again.

"This venison would taste good with some herbs," Emma sighed wistfully. "Next spring, I need to lay in a supply."

Upon hearing this, Josiah went to his belongings to locate a small leather pouch. "Here, use this," he told Emma.

Reluctantly, Emma opened the bag and took a cautious whiff. Josiah had many such pouches, filled with concoctions that smelled horrid, even though he insisted they all had a purpose. However, this aroma was very different.

"Sage!" Emma exclaimed in delight. She poured some of the dried flakes into her hand and then quickly returned them to the bag. Two eyes beamed up at Josiah. "Thank you, Mr. Brown!"

Grunting a little harsher than he intended, Josiah settled back on the dirt floor to rub his feet.

The cabin filled with the smell of savory venison, as Emma cooked their supper with her newly acquired sage.

"Emma," beckoned Josiah, "come sit with me if that meat doesn't need yer attention right now."

Obediently, Emma went to Josiah's seat on the floor. Once beside him, she stared at the fire as though her thoughts were far, far away from this tiny cabin in the mountains.

Without asking, Josiah possessively wrapped his hand about the back of Emma's neck. "Did you really worry about me?" he wondered.
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