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"You will never change your ways," the old Blackfoot sighed in despair. He hesitated before turning to leave. "You still owe me."

"I ain't fergetting," nodded Josiah.

The old man gazed bitterly at Emma, as if blaming her for the fate he felt his grandson was facing. Then without another word, he returned to his people.

After the old man had left, Josiah gave Emma a laughing grin. "I don't think Grandpap is very fond of you."

Emma was quiet. "Is that why you brought me to these mountains?" she wondered. "So I'll become with child?"

"Among other things," he grinned, his smile masking the anger behind his eyes. "Now that yer tussling me, I reckon my neck is a little safer. Git yer things. We're heading back to the cabin."

After tying on her snowshoes, Emma picked up her pa's shotgun to follow Josiah home. Even though her husband was grinning, he was in a foul mood. He angrily slapped at tree branches as he went, not caring when they snapped back and hit her side. When Emma asked him to stop, Josiah only grunted and continued slapping branches.

Upon reaching the cabin, Josiah loaded himself with the usual supplies he took on an extended hunting trip. Then without telling Emma when to expect him back, he headed out the door with two of his traps slung over his shoulder.

Resting her head against the doorjamb, Emma waited until Josiah was out of view before closing the door and then lifting the heavy bar back in its place. To her surprise, she found herself pitying Josiah. It was strange to feel that way about a man who needed no one, but perhaps that was why she had pity. Josiah was like a bear, living out the majority of his existence alone, and only coming into contact with other bears when it suited him.

Even in her wifely concern, Emma tempered her pity with reality. Josiah might be alone, but he carried most of the blame for that on himself.

On his way to hunt game, Josiah made an effort to find out what had happened to the Crows he had traded with. He located their abandoned campsite, carefully examining tracks to determine the Crows' numbers. To his great surprise, most of them had escaped with their lives, after all.

"God hath heard [Emma]; He hath attended to the voice of [her] prayer."
~ Psalm 66:19 ~

"A man [Josiah] that hath friends must shew himself friendly."
~ Proverbs 18:24 ~

end of chapter
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