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"Some," replied Emma.

Josiah's hand slid to her shoulder as he moved her closer to him. He pressed her head to his chest and then settled back to enjoy the fire with his arm around Emma. She made no effort to move, and tolerated his presence with something akin to indifference.

"At least yer not crying," mused Josiah. "If I tussled you right now, you wouldn't shed a tear, would you?" There was no question in his voice, for he had his answer quietly resting her head against his chest.

"I'll be your wife, Mr. Brown, but I won't be your lover."

"Meaning, you still won't return my kisses?"


"All right, Emma, if that's the way you want it," sighed the man. "Only," he peered down at her, "if you could be a little more friendly when we're not on the buffalo robe, I'd count it a favor. These mountains are big, but this cabin ain't."

"That sounds fair," agreed Emma. She sat up and expectantly looked at Josiah. "Supper should be ready by now. Do you still want to bed me before we eat?"

Taken aback, Josiah studied Emma a moment before answering. "You've done some hardening since I was away," he observed. "You can ask me that without blushing?"

"As you said, we've got to be more practical." The resolve in Emma's face was unmistakable, and Josiah understood for the first time just how deep it went.

"I'm too tired for anything but food and sleep," he finally answered her question. "That venison smells mighty good, though. I should've given you that sage sooner."

Emma practiced a smile for her husband. "Pa always said I was a decent cook, though I think he was just being kind for my sake."

Going to the fireplace, Emma took the venison from the kettle hanging from a hook above the flames and then placed the meat on the single tin plate in Josiah's possession. She had used the sage sparingly, wanting to make it last for as many meals as possible.

Carrying the plate to where Josiah was waiting on the floor, Emma sat down and placed the food between them.

"Tomorrow, I'll make you something to eat on," Josiah grinned as they shared the venison on his battered tin plate. "I reckon you'll be wanting a table and chairs too."

"And a bucket to carry water from the creek," Emma brightened. "That way, we can wash before mealtime."

"Washing ain't necessary," he informed her. "A little dirt won't do a body no harm."

"I've been needing to bathe for quite some time," sighed Emma, not even attempting to argue with his reasoning.

"Bathe?" Josiah looked at her in horror. "Why would you want to wet yerself all over?"

Emma sighed patiently. He was obviously too backward to understand why bathing was necessary.
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