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Chapter Four
An Honest Heart

1836, Southwest of Three Forks, in what would later become the State of Montana.

"And herein do I [Emma] exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."
~ Acts 24:16 ~

Hearing Emma's call to lunch, Josiah climbed from the buffalo robe and scratched himself as he strode to the table. He swung his leg over a split bottom chair, planting himself at the table while Emma's lips silently moved in prayer over the food. Her eyes were barely open when he hungrily tore off a wing of the grouse and nosily began eating.

Today was Emma's first Sunday since coming to these mountains, and she wondered how much of a church service Josiah was going to let her get away with. "Will you be staying here all day?" she wondered.

"Why?" asked Josiah, morsels of food spilling from his mouth as he spoke. "You trying to git rid of me?"

"No," Emma invited, "I was hoping you'd stay for church."

"Church!" Josiah laughed mockingly. "Emma, you can play at religion all you want, but don't expect nothing from me. I've had all I can stomach from the white man's God."

"Then you share the same beliefs as the Blackfoot?" inquired Emma.

Josiah harrumphed. "I don't have any beliefs."

"Then you must hold nothing sacred," she concluded thoughtfully.

"I hold my word sacred." Josiah chomped down on the other wing of the cooked bird. "A man who don't keep his word, ain't worth the skin that holds him together."

Soberly Emma ate the rest of her lunch in silence. This man had no religion whatsoever.

"Reckon I'll go trapping after lunch," Josiah chewed freely. "The creek ain't froze over yet, so maybe there's a chance at some beaver."

Emma excused herself from the table. "I might as well start my service now. Would you mind terribly if I sang out loud?"

Looking up from his meal, Josiah eyed her hesitantly. "I'll allow it," he slowly consented.

"Thank you, Mr. Brown," Emma tried to smile as pleasantly as she could. She was doing good that he waited for her to finish praying at mealtime, before he started eating.

Feeling a little self-conscious as she went to sit beside her sewing table by the window, Emma tried to gather her courage. She felt awkward singing hymns when they weren't wanted by the other half of the cabin's occupants, but since Josiah had said he would allow it, Emma began: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!"

continued on next page...
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