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Chapter Five
Never Alone

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

"I [Emma] am not alone, because the Father is with me."
~ John 16:32 ~

When Josiah didn't arrive back at the cabin before nightfall, Emma wasn't very surprised. He had taken enough supplies to be gone for several days, so Emma felt no alarm at his continued absence. Instead, she contented herself with reading her Bible and keeping the small cabin tidy.

Night came, and Emma curled up on the buffalo robe by herself. She thought over the meeting with Josiah's grandfather earlier that day, and the bitter words they had exchanged.

Then the memory of her own family moved to the front of her tired mind, and visions of a happy childhood comforted Emma as she waited for sleep to come. She could see her father's face, and how his eyes often smiled when he spoke. And then there was Ma, with her encouraging words whenever her daughter became disheartened by life's inevitable trials. The contended evenings by the fireside when Pa read from the Bible, and the mornings when Emma could hear her mother moving about to fix breakfast, all came back to her like long-lost friends. Emma wished for the old days, when she was surrounded by people who truly loved her. She sorely missed the fellowship of her parents, and the friendship of familiar acquaintances. They were all the more cherished, now that she knew the loneliness of the wilderness.

A stab of grief cut through Emma's soul. Josiah might be a solitary bear, but she wasn't!

"Please, God," prayed Emma, "please don't let me wallow in self-pity. I am never alone, because You are always with me. But, dear God, how I miss my parents!"

Emma had hoped, rather than believed, she had finally shed enough tears over her parents' death that more would be unnecessary. She laughed at the naiveness of such a thought, knowing that for as long as she lived, she would never stop missing them. At least when buried in Josiah's arms, she wasn't so aware of how very alone she was.

In the silence of the cabin, Emma's heart reminded her that the next time she would see her parents, it would be in Heaven. If she remained in these mountains, Emma felt she would never again know the joy that came from the fellowship of such like-minded people. It was a lonely thought, and it made her shudder beneath the warm blankets.

Emma hastily turned onto her other side. "This is what comes of too much solitude," she rebuked herself. "I'm thinking too much."

How long it took for Emma to fall asleep, she didn't know, but the next time she opened her eyes, light was pouring through the cracks in the window shutters. Hearing the horses whinnying for their food, she hurried out of bed to tend to their needs as best she could.

The blue heavens were cloudless as Emma carried water to the ponies. Snow was temporarily retreating from the sun's rays, and bare patches of brown broke through the blanket of white still covering much of the ground. Though winter was just beginning, Emma was grateful for this small reprieve that let her go outside without putting on snowshoes.

After she had finished with the three horses, Emma started back for the cabin to thaw herself before the fireplace.

continued on next page...
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