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Gazing at her with a small grin, Josiah caressed Emma's shoulder. "I weren't mocking you," he assured her.

Emma smiled sadly. "I know you aren't trying to." Her eyes wandered to the small cracks in the window shutters for the light that signaled morning, but saw none. "It must be snowing," she concluded.

Following her gaze, Josiah got up from the buffalo robes to open the window. "It's morning, but the snow's coming down hard," he announced. He quickly closed the shutters before all the warmth of the cabin escaped. "Didn't I tell you a storm was coming?" Josiah looked down at Emma, and discovered her eyes modestly diverted from his undressed self. "Emma, you beat all!" he laughed, climbing back beneath the blanket and drawing her close.

Snuggling with Josiah, Emma closed her eyes and tried to find comfort in his arms. Happiness didn't come easily, but she was determined to be thankful for any that she found.

That night, as they ate buffalo jerky by the fireside, Josiah went to his large leather bag to get the last of the coffee beans still in his possession after trading with the Crows for Emma's Bible.

"It ain't everyday a man celebrates his new wife," he grinned. After preparing the hot beverage and pouring it into his single battered cup, Josiah let Emma have the first sip. Then he settled back to enjoy the fire with Emma and to take turns drinking the hot beverage.

"You want the last sip?" offered Josiah. "There won't be more coffee until after we rendezvous with the others in summer."

"You can have it," Emma declined. She leaned her head against Josiah's shoulder, watching as smoke from their fireplace rose up the stone chimney.

After Josiah swallowed the last bit of the treasured liquid, he put an arm around Emma and for a long while, they were both silent. Only the distant baying of a wolf pierced the solitude of the night.

"The creek will probably be froze over tomorrow," predicted Josiah. "I'll have to break through the ice so I can draw water fer the horses."

"Do you need my help?" volunteered Emma. "I have moccasins now, so I can walk in the snow."

"No, you'll have enough chores without doing mine." Josiah planted a kiss on the crown of Emma's head. He nuzzled her neck, and eventually took her back to the buffalo robes where their honeymoon continued.

Just as Josiah had predicted, the creek froze over, making it necessary to break the ice to get at the water below. Emma trudged through the snow in her warm moccasins, carrying her empty bucket to the creek so Josiah could fill it with fresh water for the cabin.

The cold nipped at Emma's face, turning it pretty shades of numbing pinks and reds. As Josiah handed the full bucket of water back to Emma, he paused a moment to take in the picture she presented. Emma's blonde hair was pinned up in braids as usual, and her new dress of deerskins fitted well over her slender form. Josiah silently remarked to himself that she wasn't quite so thin and gaunt anymore, but had an attractive figure that showed she no longer knew starvation.

Surprised to see Josiah staring at her, Emma waited for him to speak. His face was expressionless, as though he were carved from wood and unable to be read.
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