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"These hunting grounds may be in Blackfoot country," explained Josiah, "but the Nez Percé, Flatheads, and even some Shoshone and Bannocks think it's theirs. Then there's the Crows. If a people were ever borned to war against each other, it's the Blackfoot and the Crows. Grandpap met up with them Crows we traded with, and you heard what happened."

"Are the Crows all right?" Emma wondered helplessly.

Josiah shook his head. "I'm thinking they're dead by now."

"What about the children?" she cried. "What will happen to them?"

"There's nothing that can change it, so you best think on something else," advised Josiah.

"But, that sweet little boy," whimpered Emma, tears coming to her eyes. "God, please don't let them all die!"

"That 'sweet little boy' most likely would've grown up to be yer enemy, so stop crying." Josiah adjusted the coat to make sure Emma was keeping warm. Her cheeks were returning to a healthy color, though she still looked exhausted from shivering for so long.

"Don't you care what happened to those people?" wept Emma. "Where's your heart?"

"My heart is right here, where it belongs," Josiah thumped his breast indignantly. "If you don't stop yer moaning, I'll put you outside."

By the dark gleam in his eye, Emma knew she had pushed him too far.

"Death ain't a stranger in these parts, so it ain't no use letting yerself git too fond of anyone." Josiah tried to lessen the sting of his rebuke by resting his cheek against Emma's, and holding her more tenderly. "All I have are you and my trapper friends. No one else matters."

"What about the Blackfoot? They're your people, aren't they?"

Josiah harrumphed. "I have no people."

Startled, Emma backed her head away from Josiah's. She saw hatred flicker across his features before it disappeared in a weary grin.

"We're warm enough to git some sleep now." He returned Emma's head to his cheek, and then closed his eyes.

At Emma's side, she felt Josiah's strong hand secure their two rifles. If trouble came looking, he would be ready.

Beneath the lean-to, Josiah and Emma slept until the sound of crunching snow awakened them. The deadly end of the Hawken immediately raised, poised for action. Emma trembled as Josiah peered through the cracks of the lean-to's roof.

Outside, Josiah saw a mass of furs move about, and once or twice, it stooped to examine the ground. Then the furs moved toward their hiding place, and a human eye suddenly appeared between the tree branches.

Josiah cocked back the hammer of his rifle, letting the metallic sound warn the intruder that he was armed. At once, the form quickly backed off.
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